Schedules for Generation X families can be extremely busy and chaotic. In many families, both parents are working and each child has after school/evening activities to attend. All of this hustle and bustle make family dinners nearly impossible to organize but more important than ever. Knowing you have about 40 minutes in your evening schedule to prepare, serve and eat dinner can be overwhelming. However, having a kitchen designed appropriately will help streamline this process and maybe allow your family to sit down more often to enjoy dinner together.
1. Plan ahead for multiple cooks. As you look at the layout of your kitchen cabinets and counters try to envision, who will be helping to prepare meals. If Sally is in charge of putting together the salad, where will she chop vegetables and mix ingredients? Should the counter height be lower in this area, or will your child use a step stool? If Billy sets the table, are the plates, cups, and utensils at a level he can reach and in an area he can access without being in the way of cooking? If you often use your slow-cooker to prepare meals, is there adequate space to leave it on the counter?
2. Much like with closet space, there are many accessories that can be used to streamline your kitchen. Under cabinet cookbook holders, spice racks, wall mounted utensil racks, wall or ceiling mounted pot racks. Google “kitchen organization” for more ideas about kitchen accessories to match any style. These accessories can add functionality to your kitchen without taking counter space. This is especially important in smaller kitchen or in kitchens with multiple cooks.
3. Being able to put a meal on the table quickly comes down to organization… keep your most used items easily accessible. Why put your most used pot in the back of the cabinet even if it fits best there? Leave it on the front burner of the stove, this way it is ready and waiting for you. Organize a small lazy susan or organizer next to your cooktop with cooking spray, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a small crock filled with your most used cooking utensils. This same trick can be used in the pantry and kitchen cabinets. Group like items together so they can be found easily. Use baskets to help keep items accessible in your cabinets.
Planning ahead and organization are key to streamlining your kitchen to be an efficiently used space. These three simple tips can help guide you in your kitchen design process, and when combined with the tips from our previous blog, “Kitchen Design Tips (kind of)”, you are sure to design a kitchen that meets all your families needs. In our next blog, we will move out of the kitchen and discuss design tips for the overall living space and layout of a home for a Generation X family.
Other previous blogs for Generation X:
Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage
Home Design Tips for Generation X
Also, check out our Blog Series for the Baby Boomer Generation starting with: Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home
The internet and home design magazines are flooded with picture of gorgeous kitchens that we all look at, fall in love with and dream of having. But let’s face it, most gen Xer’s (myself included) cannot afford such a kitchen. Designers are finding that most Generation X families value function over fashion. Also noted by Designers, easy to clean and maintain are top priorities.
Let’s talk first about non-kitchen design ideas for the kitchen. In the past this room was closed off from the rest of the home so that “the mess and work” could easily be hidden. This is not the case anymore. Lives are busy, and in order to keep up with family and life, it is important to multitask. This means: cooking dinner, helping with homework, chatting about the upcoming dance, and planning for the weekends schedule all at the same time, in the same room. This room would be the kitchen. Kitchens are not just about cooking anymore, they need to be very multi-functional. Here are some tips to promote this new facet of kitchen use while maintaining the kitchen’s true function.
1. Kitchens for Generation X must have a drop zone/organization center. This is an area that homework, mail, grocery lists, schedules can be tucked away in order to make room for cooking. Without this area, counters become cluttered with daily life. By designing an area to keep paperwork organized, you can save yourself time and stress. This area could be a desk, or some pockets on the wall, even the inside of the pantry door can be used to organize your life, as shown in the picture.
2. Another key design feature that shouldn’t be overlooked is a charging station! My children do not have phones yet, and I’m dreading the time when I will be fighting for outlet and counter space to charge my lifeline. A dedicated area to charge phones and other electronic devices that have become such a huge part of life helps reduce clutter and eliminates the stress of “Where’s my PHONE?!” Some charging stations also have an area to hang keys…
3. Many Gen Xer’s have included an office area into their kitchen design. Homework is often completed in the kitchen, and while most homes now have wireless networks, having laptops clutter counter space is not convenient. Having a space designed into the cabinet layout that matches the style of the kitchen is the perfect solution. If designed well, this office area can take care of the above two tips as well.
4. We have looked at how our children may use the kitchen, but there is another group of beings using the kitchen space… pets. Many times the kitchen is not only where we prepare food for our families, but it is where our dogs and cats are fed. Keeping this in mind, while you are designing your kitchen space will ensure that you are not tripping over Rover during his meal time.
In our next blog, we will discuss design tips for the kitchen (in it’s true function).
As the years march by, the use of space within a home may change for Generation X. However, the need for organized, accessible storage is constant. From kitchens to bedrooms, to garage & basements there are easy ways to add storage without adding square footage to the floorplan or taking away from the room itself.
- Invest in closet kits!!! Think about how each closet in your home will be used and browse the wide area of options for closet kits available at any home good store as well as online. Closet space can easily be doubled or even tripled by using the right layout of shelves, rods, and drawers. Once you have decided the best use of space for each closet, get accurate measurements of each closet. Using graph paper to help you draw the closet layout will help ensure the closet is built to your expectations.
- Use the space traditionally used to “catch dust” above the top of standard kitchen cabinets. Design your kitchen with taller upper cabinets, this will give you an additional shelf in each cabinet. Now, this shelf is not within convenient reachable height, so reserve this shelf for use for the most seldom used items in your kitchen. Also, consider incorporated drawer base cabinets instead of the standard. This will allow you to store pots, pans and covers all within easy reach, with no need for you to sit on the floor to reach all the way to the back of the cabinet! Browse the internet for other space saving kitchen cabinets such as spice cabinets, cookie sheet racks, sink tip outs, under cabinet wine glass holders…
- Mainers are notorious for parking their vehicle at their garage doors, never in the garage. This is due to a lack of planning and forethought into what you will be putting in your garage. The minimum parking space in a parking lot will be about 8’x18′, this would be for a compact vehicle. If you are driving a S.U.V you WILL need more space. As you plan your garage space, use graph paper to draw out the space. Make sure you have room to open vehicle doors, get bicycles in and out of the garage with a vehicle parked, and store the snowblower and/or mower. Then look at the space you have left over on the plan and decide if there is there enough room for the extra stuff you plan to store in the garage.
- Basements are another area to look at when you consider storage. This space is extremely open, and fairly empty, with convenient, easy access. However, there are some drawbacks to consider. Basements in Northern New England are notoriously cold, damp and yes, sometimes wet… Use caution when storing items in your basement. I highly recommend using Rubbermaid (or similar) tubs and shelving systems. Cardboard boxes offer no protection. Wood shelving will absorb moisture, metal will rust and deteriorate. Never, never, never put boxes directly on the concrete floor.
Once you have your closets, cabinets, garage and basement storage properly designed, the key to staying organized is to use the systems you have in place.
In our next blog, “Kitchen Design Tips (kind of) for Generation X”, we will take a close look at design tips to make your kitchen more useful.
Generation Xers are 30 to 45 years old. Lifestyles for the generation vary greatly from those just settling down and starting a family to those whose children are heading off to college. Generation X was the first generation to have a majority of families with double income. Even with the increase of working parents, Generation X pushed to find a work-life balance. Employers have seen a shift in loyalty. Generation X has been willing and able to pursue better positions in other companies where previous generations would “climb the ladder” by committing years to the same company. Many times Gen Xers will change jobs for better hours, more vacation or a better benefits/insurance package, not just for more money. It has become clear over the years, the number one priority for Gen Xers is family, not providing financially for their family, but providing for the overall well being of their family. What does this mean when it comex to home design?
Generation X wants to enjoy their family time in and out of their homes. Gen Xers want homes that are efficiently organized with adequate storage and minimal wasted space and energy efficient. Buzz words like “cozy” and “inviting” abound in this market, Generation X is looking for informal but not chaotic. Emphasis is usually placed on kitchen design, and the ease of transition between indoor living space and outdoor living space.
In our next blog “Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage”, we will discuss design tips for an organized home and how to add storage.
This is the final blog in our Home Designs Tips for Baby Boomers series. Previously we have given tips for the Exterior of the home, the functionality and livability of the design. In this blog we will look at how to design a home for longevity.
Designing a home for longevity simply means you are thinking ahead to prepare for what you might require in a home 20 years from now… For now a home designed like any other home may suit you just fine, but in the future you may have accessibility issues to deal with. Does that mean you have to have a bathroom full of grab bars and hand rails in your hallways. NO! But there are steps you can take to prepare your home.
1. Have your builder “prep” your bathrooms for grab bars. This may entail extra blocking for grab bars to be installed at a later date. Do not skip your guest bathrooms… chances are you will have visitors similar to your age periodically who may appreciate the availability of a grab bar.
2. Upgrade to lever handles throughout your home. These handles are a bit of an upgrade, but make entrance into rooms easier than knobs. And the practicality of this is disguised with “I like the elegant look better than the plain old knob…”
3. Transitions between flooring materials can be a trip hazard. The same can be said for high pile or plush carpeting. Talk to your builder about flooring options.
4. Opt for wider… Wider doors, wider hallways. 3′ doors allow most wheelchair to pass through. This would make your hallways a minimum recommended 3’6″.
5. Take a look at your kitchen design. Focus on height. Anything you currently have to use a step stool to reach is a fall waiting to happen. Optimize base cabinets with drawer, pull out shelves and lazy susans. Add pantry cabinets or closets to give you more accessible storage areas.
These 5 simple tips can ensure that your home will support you and allow you to enjoy your home as you grow older.
Next up in our Home Design Tips Series, we will look at designs for Generation X.
Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Livability
Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality
Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home
As previously post in our blog “Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality”; the keys to the over all design for a home for Baby Boomers, are very simple. Functional, Livable, and Longevity. In this blog, we will discuss what makes a home Livable for the Baby Boomer generation.
In the words of BabyBoomer-Magazine.com, “We Baby Boomers are conscientious and picky, busy and family-oriented, and we will age in a new way, connected to modernity, with an eye to beauty, high design, easy maintenance and energy efficiency.” In my words, Baby Boomers know what they like and do not want to settle. They have on-the-go active lifestyles, visiting family and friends. They may not be home-bodies, but they want their home to be their sanctuary. Key areas to focus on when considering how to optimize the livability of a home design are: amenities and efficiency.
Amenities includes furnishings, electronics, fixtures, and appliances.
- Furnishings: What furnishings will you be using in your new home. Are you buying all new, or moving your existing furniture? If you are buying all new, you can purchase specifically for the design of the home. If you are moving your existing here are somethings to consider: Most Baby Boomers are right-sizing their homes. For a lot of people this means, getting rid of clutter and excess belongs that have accumulated over the years. Take a look at your current home and decide what you will be taking with you and how these pieces will fit the feel you want your new home to have? As you design your home, make sure there is room for the furnishing you will be moving into the space. Any extra belongings can be gifted or sold.
- Electronics: Let’s face it, electronics are part of life. Computers, TVs, Radio, etc are all part and parcel to the lives we now lead. As you design your home, keep in mind where and how you will use the electronics in your new home. Do you listen to music or watch The Food Network as you cook? Watch the News, while preparing for your day? Spend an hour each night “visiting” with grandchildren via webcam? Designing your home with all of this in mind will help make electronic use seamless. Designing a computer nook in a centralized location of your home will allow easier access and make your “visits” more enjoyable. Outlets and cable jacks can be placed in the appropriate areas to allow TVs or radios in kitchens or bathrooms… it is all in how the home is designed and the fore thought that is put into the design of each room.
- Fixtures: this category applies specifically to Plumbing and Electrical fixtures. Why design a huge master bathroom centered around a garden tub, if you never relax in the tub? They have AMAZING steam showers with multiple jets and different settings that will relax the muscles as well as any spa tub. And plumbing fixtures are not just found in the bathroom… take a look at the kitchen. If you share the kitchen while preparing meals, consider placing a prep sink in an island as well as your standard sink. On the electrical side of things, do you want to have to go to the basement if you trip a breaker while stringing holiday lights? Why not design the electrical panel into your laundry room? Lighting is many times an after thought, but considering how each room will be lit, may help you avoid running an extension cord behind the couch to plug in the lamp… Again, it is all in how the home is designed and the fore thought that is put into the design of each room.
- Appliances: The important factor here is having right size appliances for your life. You may cook a large family meal several times a year, but day to day only cook for 2… Why heat a standard size oven for a casserole for 2? Why have a have a dishwasher you only fill twice a year? Appliance manufacturers now have oven ranges for smaller meals, compact dishwashers that use less water and take less space. Combination convection and microwave ovens are an appliance that once you have, you will never be without again. Looking at the overall design of the kitchen is also important. The standard work triangle that connects the 3 main “appliances” of the kitchen (refrigerator, range and sink) may not work for two cooks.
Efficiency is important to all families. Designing and building a high efficiency home will lower the cost of home ownership. The less you spend to run your home, the more funds you have to support your lifestyle. This is especially important for retirees. Building a “tight” home will mean less drafts, less heat loss, less heating costs. Energy Star appliances and fixtures means less power consumption, lower utility bills. Every aspect of the home’s building specifications effects the efficiency of the home. From R-values of insulation, the type of flooring installed, type of heating system, proper installation of windows and doors… Talking to your builder about how to increase efficiency is important.
Next in our Home Design Blog Series: Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Longevity
Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality
Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home
The keys to the over all design for a home for Baby Boomers, are very simple. Functional, Liveable, and Longevity. In this blog, we will discuss what makes a home Functional for the Baby Boomer generation.
Every family needs a home that works for them. For Baby Boomers it is essential to look at your current lifestyle. Some Baby Boomers have guests that will stay for extended periods of time. Families of four to six people may come to stay for a week or more throughout the year. Other Baby Boomers may travel to visit family or for vacations, but maintain a “home base”. And others, Summer and Winter in separate homes. If designed properly, your home can support your lifestyle.
- If you have guests on and off throughout the year, it is important to have multipurpose or flex rooms. It is great to have a dedicated Guest Room, but multiple guest rooms are not feasible. Flex rooms are designed for multiple purposes. Such as a craft room with built in cabinetry to store all your material and supplies as well as a drop down desk as pictured that can be tucked away neatly. This room can also have a daybed and bureau that matches the cabinetry for guests. Another area to look at would be the living space. Two people can be very comfortable in an open Living/Dining/Kitchen space, but this same space can be very cramped when guests arrive. Incorporating islands or peninsulas that can be used as buffets along with extra seating is a great way to add more “space” without adding square footage.
- For those whose homes are their home base while they travel, the first area I would recommend looking at is storage. No one wants their home to feel like a hotel they are visiting. Whether you travel for a week at a time or a month at a time… home is Home. Your home should be designed to accommodate your jet setting lifestyle. Consider incorporating a Laundry Room that has abundant storage options. Space to pack and unpack suitcases, as well as store them between traveling. Another great idea is a centralized planning center. This would be a place for a computer system, baskets for mail, bulletin board for notes and idea. An area to plan your trips and an area for the house sitter to drop mail, leave and receive messages.
- Baby Boomers that maintain two homes, need to consider all of the above as well as the “off season.” What are your plans for the home when you are not in residence? If you will be renting the home carefully consider the furnishings. Obviously you do not want to leave the care of Great Grandmama’s armoire to total strangers. Consider gifting some of your more precious pieces to family members whom you trust to cherish the treasures as much as you have. If you will be closing the home in the off season, there are ways to design the floorplan for easy “shut down” and opening. Details like centralized plumbing to protect against freezing or to simplify draining the system, can save you a lot of time. Also, plan ahead for security. Designing the security into the home as opposed to installing after the fact, can save you time and help make the system seamless and virtually unnoticeable.
Stay Tuned for our blog on what makes a home livable: Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Livability
Check out our previous blog: Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home.
Many people from the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation moved into Retirement Communities upon retirement. From there they moved into Retirement or Assisted Living Homes. These were moves that were planned for. People looked forward to the amenities and activities afforded in the communities. While there is still a group of Baby Boomers that are following this path, there is also a large group that is planning to stay where their roots are, where their families are. In the communities where they have built life long friendships. Some baby boomers are renovating their existing homes and some are selling their homes, to purchase homes better suited to their needs. In the next few blogs, I will focus on design tips for Baby Boomers who are planning to build a new home.
The advantages to building a home are amplified for the Baby Boomer Generation. There are a limited amount of homes are the market that are designed specifically for retirees. Building a home allows you to customize the home to your current needs and prepare for down the road while keeping the home style and function inline with the vision you are looking for.
So lets get to the nitty-gritty of what Baby Boomers may want to consider in their home design. This blog will highlight trends for exterior of homes. The key trend here is low maintenance. Who wants to spend the retirement they have worked so hard to achieve maintaining their home.
- Exterior finishes: wood siding is out for a lot of Baby Boomers. This generation loves the look and energy of wood siding but the cost and work entailed in maintaining the finish is too high. Vinyl siding doesn’t appeal to many Baby Boomers as it does not have the depth or detail they are looking for. Fiber Cement Siding has become popular in the past few years. There are now several brand names and most carries a 50 year warranty if installed properly. It is a great fit. It is virtually maintenance free, and available in a variety of styles and finishes from rustic to stately.
- Roofing: asphalt shingles are still the leader for style. There are dozens of colors available to match trim or siding colors. Most architectural shingles carry a 30 year warranty for materials. Metal roofing is growing in its market share, especially in the Northeast. The advantages of metal roofing are durability and its “shedding” ability. Simple fact is, snow slides right off , as do those dreaded pine needles. Plus, metal roofing is now available in a growing color range and several different styles. There have even been a few studies comparing the energy efficiency of metal roof and asphalt. Depending on the style and installation of metal roofing the net air space created actually acts as an insulator and stops solar radiation typically conducted thru asphalt shingles. Metal roofing has a 30-50 year warranty on materials.
- Windows: name brands such as Andersen, Pella and Marvin are still tops in the window market. However, homeowners are now comparative shopping and learning that there are a lot of well built energy efficient windows on the market. Baby Boomers are looking for high energy efficiency, remembering too well the drafty windows of the past with the tedious swap-out of screens to storm windows. Oh and lets not forget the rattle of those storm windows during winter storms… Vinyl clad, double pane, Low-E windows are energy effiecient, require little maintenance and have a wide array of styles and colors. I would recommend double hung windows for easy cleaning. No need to get out the ladder, just tilt them in and wash.
- Landscaping: another area where homeowners can spend a lot of time working. Some people enjoy working on landscaping, some do not. There are ways to ensure that the landscaping does not take over all of your time and still maintains a look of a well manicured lawn. First, plan your space. Decide before hand where gardens, bushes and grassy lawn areas will be. Use mulch and landscaping fabric liberally to cut down on the amount of time you spend weeding. As you plan your lawn area, keep in mind that sweeping curves are easier to mow than 90* angles. Another tip: lawns with a high ratio of clover require less water and less mowing.
- Decks and porches require quite a bit of maintenance and upkeep. Consider incorporating a patio into your design. Patios can be more costly to install, but require less maintenance if installed properly than a deck.
- The less steps you can have leading into your home the better. Less steps to shovel and sand in the winter (or slip on when you have done the previous). Less steps to haul shopping bags up. Talk to your contractor about how to eliminate the need for a full set of exterior steps at the front entrance of your new home. Also be sure to have a secure railing at your front entrance for guests to use if need be.
Coming up next… Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality.