SIZE OF YOUR HOME
What about the Number of Bedrooms?
We all know how many bedrooms we’d like – the question is whether the bedrooms have enough space in them.
Bedrooms are especially important for children over 8 who show the world they are growing up by moving away from the areas where parents are mostly found. They use their bedroom as private space, often playing on their own, and later the bedroom is likely to be their best place for homework. So think about clothes storage such as a wardrobe and a chest of drawers along with a bed. Then plan for a desk and chair. Bedside table needed? Make sure your child will be able to move around between them.
Tip. Smaller rooms usually earmarked for children often tend to suggest you can have a single bed down one of the longer walls and storage at one end of it – so look to see if there is enough space at the bottom of the bed to pass by, and that drawers and wardrobe doors can be opened, and that you can put a chair in front of a desk and actually use it! Is there enough space in the bedroom for it to be safe? If someone opens the bedroom door when the apple of your eye is getting stuff out of the chest of drawers or something, will they get clouted by the opening door? Can the window be opened and closed easily, or will you need to reach over the bed or furniture?
What about the Number of Bedrooms?
Gentoo Group Ltd chief executive Peter Walls has a rule of thumb for living rooms: “If you can change the TV channel with your big toe from the settee without needing the remote, your room’s way too small.” That’s the kind of living space in the two-up two-down houses built before the First World War. Houses built in the 1930s and 1960s and 1970s tend to be more generous. But the high cost of property today means more very small units are making a comeback. The best of these designs include mezzanine decks for storage but the worst will leave you and your furniture fighting for floor space.
Tip. When you look at a show home, check furniture is full size. Some developers use 3/4-sized furniture to make a room look big enough to accommodate the furniture you would expect to use in it.
Tip. Where do you like to eat? Where do you eat when you’re not watching your TV favourites? Round a table in the kitchen? Or in a separate dining area? How about an open-plan living-dining space? Whichever, think about the size of your family, its dining patterns and the table and number of chairs needed.
Tip. In a kitchen, vendors will present a table pushed up against a wall set for one or two for breakfast rather than for a family lunch on a Sunday - so you don’t see the impact of extra chairs.
Tip. Research indicates that different types of households have different views about the usefulness of separate dining rooms. Parents of young children often used the dining room as a place of sanctuary away from the chaos of the rest of the house!
Tip. Dining rooms are also often used by older children as a place to do homework sometimes, as a change from their bedroom. They may want to be around other people, but in a quieter environment than in the main living room.
Most of the participants with dining rooms in the research mentioned above thought they were too small to be "proper" dining rooms as you could not get much into the room apart from a table and four chairs.
First, the basics: space for an oven, hob, microwave and fridge, work surfaces in the right places and lots and lots of storage for your pans and plates, liquidisers, food mixers, cereal packets and cleaning paraphernalia.
Cupboards at eye level make a room feel smaller and there is a fashion for putting all storage under worktops in larger kitchens to emphasise space. But the kitchen is the one room where you’ll probably live with feeling cramped if you are happy with storage.
But the real issue in kitchens now is locating the new generation of white goods. Today’s new-build does much better here than, say the 1930s when washing machines, tumble-driers, dishwashers and larder-type double height fridges and freezers were little more than prototypes. New-build units often accommodate these much less haphazardly and will even plumb in washing machines in cupboards under the stair where the noise of a spin cycle going through on Economy Seven at night does not wake the whole house.
So think about the white goods you can’t live without and whether having them all will mean losing too much storage under worktops. You may need to make another trade-off.
Tip. You should also look for the "Golden Triangle". This looks at how the sink, hob and fridge are located, as the cook shuttles between these three pieces of kit time and again when rustling up a tasty something. This idea was born before microwaves were invented! Now we need to think about the Golden Quadrilateral. Eh? Yes, four sides!
The point is, as you are getting eggs from the fridge, moving hot things to and from the microwave and hob, and trying to get to the sink, is anybody trying to run past you to get to the back door? In larger kitchens the sink, hob, fridge and microwave should be positioned so that they are all reasonably easily accessible by the cook, not spread all over the place.
What about smaller kitchens? The problem here may be a lack of work surface, meaning that the chopping, slicing, grinding and mashing may all be in rather cramped conditions. Look to see if there is a decent run of worktop, uninterrupted by fridge freezers, tall cupboards, sinks, hobs etc.
Another common kitchen problem is the lighting. Will the cook always be working in their own shadow, either from the ceiling light or the window? Or does the nice length of worktop sit underneath the window, getting lots of light? Are there lights underneath the wall cupboards,
© Gentoo Group Ltd 2006