Monday, June 23, 2014

Customize the Space Under Your Stairs

One of the best accomplishments of custom building and remodeling is that a custom project can make the best use of under-utilized spaces. One often overlooked spot in a home is the space under a staircase, and there are some truly brilliant ways to make something special out of those few available square feet.

Several ingenious ideas can make a special feature under the stairs for bar spaces. This can be done a few different ways. The first is a small counter and cabinet space tucked under the steps, with wall mounted storage for glasses and bottles. Another option is a pull out drink cart that slides in, out, and all around on a set of casters. One more elaborate possibility is to have a bar extend outward in an L-shape or curve that connects under the stairs and has storage tucked under the stairs, both behind the extended counter top in the area beneath the staircase, as well as storage under the extended counter space.

More recently home magazines are featuring pull out shelving that functions the same way pull out cabinetry works in the kitchen.  In this case a cabinet front door pulls forward from the wall with shelves behind that roll on drawer glides. Given where staircases are usually located these could be perfect for shoes and bags or linens.

Most often you see a closet. Using the exact same space planning that you would for a closet, you can reinvent it as a fantastic playhouse space, turning the miserable cupboard that Harry Potter lived in on its ear. This could also be the perfect spot for a built in crate space for the dogs to give your furry family their own special place in the home.  Desk space, a reading nook, a powder rooms or wine cellar style storage are other brilliant uses for this little spot in your home.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Space Planning Tools

Harmon Builders built our fabulous addition about seven years ago, and every day we love how it has made our home more beautiful and livable. Since then we have shuffled around pieces of furniture that we already owned, and we are only now buying most of the furniture that we specifically want for the space. To my amazement, there are many free room layout programs available online that are great fun to play around with and give a high quality image of your interior floor plan.

I have spent the most time trying out one by Autodesk. The same company makes professional software for architects and interior designers, but their free web based tool is quite user friendly and enjoyable to use. You can toggle between 2D and 3D, drag and drop shapes, alter dimensions, and experiment with an actual catalog of real products.

This feature might also be useful for a homeowner during the early planning stages of a project, to get a better feel for what the end result will be as you make decisions. Freshome has a list of ten free online room layout tools to check out for these purposes. I have not experimented with any of the available tablet apps, but one that is highly rated for the iPad is Home Design 3D, which is also free.

Whether you are imagining a new project, you would like to start furnishing one years after completion, or anywhere in between, these planning programs are not only practical tools but exciting ways to get the creative juices flowing.