Size isn’t everything when it comes to a home.
When I pitched this post to my marketing team, I wanted to name this post “Size doesn’t Matter.” I was voted down by majority vote. Majority being EVERYONE…
The truth is I wanted to write some tips and tricks on how to tackle awkward spaces. Everyone has areas in their living spaces that don’t work for them. From storage dilemma’s to strangely shaped rooms; houses don’t always work for the people inhabiting them.
We love these types of homes. They keep us in business but we wanted to share some of our best tips and tricks for handling the three most commonly weird quirks homes have!
Look at your existing layout and ask yourself, what’s not working here? Maybe your kitchen is too small, or your front entrance doesn’t have any necessary storage. Or maybe there is an unused second sitting room, when there is not enough space in the rooms that matter to you— normally the kitchen or the lack of a proper mudroom.
With our Bennett Project these clients came to us with a less than ideal footprint.
Firstly, the main level was small (690 square feet) and the L-shaped first floor layout around the stairs also made flow tricky. The kitchen was tucked into the shorter tip of the L making it an awkward space for the kitchen to store anything, let alone breath. This was the first and most important conundrum. I came back with three kitchen layout options that moved the kitchen from the tip of the shorter piece of the “L” to the corner of the “L.” All of the kitchen layouts we came up with were functioned much better from a usability standpoint, as well as a floor plan flow.
The needs were the following: Increase the size of kitchen, increase amount of usable storage, be able to still fit a dining room in the layout, and update the kitchen to reflect the clients style preferences. No small feat! By moving the kitchen to the corner of the L, we were able to free up the room that the kitchen was originally in. The width, length, and shape of the old kitchen location lent itself to better be used as a dining room.
WEIRDLY SHAPED ROOMS!
Look around and see if you have weirdly shaped rooms. Not sure what those are? Look for angled walls, odd window placements, strange ceiling tie ins etc. Rooms that aren’t a perfect square or rectangle can have its usability challenges.
We recently tackled this on our Golden Oak Project. We believe the builder who built this house had something against square rooms. This house was punctuated all over the place with octagonal rooms and angled walls. Fitting standard size furniture in these rooms had the visual effect of squares you could never center, in a circle! To top it all off, the kitchen was tucked behind the stairwell into a literal octagon at the back of the house.
As a result, storage was limited, space was wasted, and the layout was awkward. By relocating the bulk of the kitchen to one of the exterior walls, we were able to solve ALL of these problems. In turn, the octagon was freed up and made an ideal spot for a built-in banquette eating nook, and the awkward octagonal room at the front of the home made for a beautiful dining room.
SKATER BOY HAIRCUT ISSUES
Definition: When the ceiling is short on one side and tall on the other; Like a big slant. Our Golden Oak Project also had this conundrum.
There are a few ways to tackle this if you don’t like the slant:
You can create visual weight somewhere else to balance the space where it needs balancing.
You can create a focal point to detract your eye away from the slant.
You can orient the room to face either the short side or the long side.
We didn’t have the clearance to position the room to the short side or the long side so we had to tackle this lopsided “haircut” in other ways. We decided to do option B; Create a focal point and detract the eye! By anchoring the space with a spectacular fireplace flanked by custom millwork built-ins, we were able to draw your eyes away from the slant and onto the fireplace wall. By flanking the fireplace, we were also able to add a sense of symmetry to the space. Finally, we anchored the space by adding visual weight with a dramatic light fixture centered to the room. Goodbye skater boy. The 90’s called, and they want their hair back!
NARROW FRONT ENTRANCES
I was in Europe twice last year and was amazed by how cars could fit down narrow street’s which seemed more suitable for a donkey. In a similar way, I’m amazed at how families operate in homes with almost NO entrances or foyers. I work with a lot of century homes and narrow front entrances seem to be a running theme. Our needs have changed since the time the house was built and storage by the front entrance today is a must! Retrofitting a narrow front vestibule can have its challenges and takes some thinking outside the box.
The best way to solve this problem is to open it up! In our Project Crawford we cut the wall back so the hallway had a more open feel vs a long corridor. The width did not change, but it sure felt wider. We also used a narrow shoe cabinet (you’re in luck— it’s a cheap one!), cute West Elm wall hooks and a herringbone tile pattern to lead your eye to the stunning modern staircase.
Homes are never perfect. It’s great when the imperfections add character to a home but it’s not so great when the imperfections impede its usability. We firmly believe that every home has potential. With a little bit of ingenuity and a proper budget, a house can become imperfectly perfect!
Send us your most awkward layout— we LOVE a challenge!