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Carve Out A Truly Great Space
After years of filling overwhelming
great rooms and domineering kitchens, designers are viewing the heart of
the home in a more holistic way. Make way for "lifestyle spaces" that
are in better sync with how people live today.
For years, the kitchen and great room
have fought for prominence in the minds of house hunters, designers, and
home builders. But 2013 is the year when both spaces are pulling their
New home construction is shifting away from the once-ubiquitous great
room design. And that shift can make it a challenge to update or show a
home that was originally focused around a large, open living space,
says Heather McCune, director of marketing for the Newport Beach,
Calif.â€“based architecture firm Bassenian Lagoni.
Finding the right house is just the beginning. These articles help
you tune into whatâ€™s trending so that you can help sellers set the stage
and buyers transform the house into their perfect home.
Hot Color Palettes
Take it Outside
â€œThe downside to the great room house has always been that you walk
right into the living space,â€ says McCune. Her company is on a mission,
she says, to remake the great room by helping owners figure out â€œhow to
create a sense of entry.â€ Some techniques for this include expanding the
entry space vertically and creating a more classic foyer to better
welcome visitors. Not in your sellersâ€™ budget? A rug, small table, and
wall mirror can serve as an entryway focal point.
Shutting Down Clutter Central
Besides often being an abrupt welcome to the house, great rooms tend
to act as a centrifuge for all items associated with living. Lita Dirks,
founder and owner of Denver-based design firm Lita Dirks & Co.,
says she sees a growing desire among home owners to reduce this
tendency. â€œThey want to eliminate all that clutter,â€ she says. â€œThey
just want to clean up their lives and simplify everything.â€ Builders and
designers are trying to meet those needs by integrating so-called â€œdrop
zonesâ€ into entryway design. Theyâ€™re adding nooks and tucking away
storage where home owners can stow keys, mail, and all the other items
that so easily fill up the living space when occupants come home for the
day. â€œA drop zone is a requirement in every one of our designs,â€ says
Mark Patterson, co-owner of PATCO Construction in Sanford, Maine.
Even in a small corner of a listing, you could put this idea to
action. When staging the entryway space, use a small table with a
drawer, a mail organizer, key hooks, and a charging station.
Still, not everything can be left in the drop zone. Instead of
allowing the great room to become a place for everything, designers are
trying to put each thing in its place. Theyâ€™re carving out small spaces
such as homework nooks for kids, food prep stations in the pantry, and
other spots that allow a delineated area for common household
activities. McCune says these â€œlifestyle spacesâ€ help home owners break
up larger great rooms into usable, well-defined areas.
Kitchens: The Heart of the Living Triangle
Thereâ€™s nothing like an impressive kitchen to help sell a house.
Jerry Gloss, senior partner of KGA Studio Architects in Louisville,
Colo., says his companyâ€™s designs integrate concentric circles of spaces
that cluster around the kitchen, which is placed at the heart of the
house. â€œAll those rooms radiate from it,â€ he says.
Architects and designers call the integration of living and dining
space a â€œliving triangle.â€ The triangle helps home owners connect living
space in the front of the home to the â€œfamily service areaâ€ in the
back, says Dominick Tringali, founder and president of Bloomfield Hills,
Mich.â€“based Dominick Tringali Architects. â€œThe kitchen is still the
heart of the home,â€ he says. â€œThatâ€™s where we start designing,â€ he says.
â€œItâ€™s all integrated in the back of the house. This is what we see
Dirks agrees that the living triangle pulls all of the central living
spaces together. â€œWhat backs up the great room but the kitchen?â€ she
asks. â€œI think of it as â€˜prep, eat, and play.â€™â€‰â€
Bring It Together With 2013 Design Touches
You can borrow some design shortcuts in your staging, so home owners
can achieve the look of integrated spaces without extensive remodeling.
Common finishes across rooms can help tie them together. Dirks notes
that the use of soft grays, metal backsplash tiles, and
furniture-matching wood stains create a â€œtransitionalâ€ space in the
kitchen. And donâ€™t forget to look down. â€œWe donâ€™t like flooring breaks,â€
says Jerry Collin of Kay Green Design in Orlando, Fla. â€œYou can make a
small home look bigger by not breaking it up.â€
Taking kitchen elements beyond their traditional scope can help
expand the space while at the same time integrating it into the living
triangle. â€œExtend the backsplash over the cabinets,â€ advises Mary DeWalt
of Mary DeWalt Design Group in Austin, Texas. â€œIt makes it feel so much
richer and more complete.â€
Beyond integration, Tringali cites horizontal lines, flamed granite,
and beamed ceilings as examples of kitchen design trends for 2013. But
perhaps the most universally agreed upon change for 2013 kitchens is in
the heart of the heart of the home: the kitchen island.
Center island shapes are gaining variety, from retro, kidney-shaped
workspaces to triangles that gesture toward other centers of activity.
And material choices are opening up too, with new Formica options, solid
stone, and recycled beer bottles gracing work surfaces.
Whatâ€™s out of fashion? â€œThose elevated bars that are trying to hide a
sink. The sinks are beautiful today!â€ says Dirks. Besides, she adds,
itâ€™s all about functionality: â€œYou canâ€™t work at an elevated bar.â€ The
result: kitchen islands everywhere are flattening out. DeWalt says this
choice is trending everywhere from Pinterest to Restoration Hardware.
Meanwhile, builders are responding to universal design by
differentiating countertop heights to accommodate all.
Implementation on the Cheap
The eclectic nature of this trend means that room integration
solutions are aesthetically forgiving and available at many price
points. For example, elements from a kitchen backsplash can be brought
out of the space without spending a fortune. â€œIf you canâ€™t do tile all
the way to the ceiling,â€ DeWalt says, â€œuse paint above the cabinets
thatâ€™s as close to the tile color as you can get.â€
And donâ€™t assume the living triangle is only for mansions. Even a
kitchen situated in a hallway can be inviting and feel integrated. â€œThe
galley kitchen is a personal favorite of mine,â€ Dirks says. â€œItâ€™s so
efficient. Itâ€™s sort of fun to see these kitchens coming back.â€ He cites
the embrace of new urban living environments as a reason for the
comeback and again advocates the use of those metals and soft grays to
create â€œa softened industrial look.â€ That can tie together such spaces
and â€œthe galley kitchen becomes memorable,â€ he says.
So whether youâ€™re melding the cramped confines of an urban loft or
the amorphous shapes of a dated minimansion, you can find countless ways
to help each living area relate to the next to display the true
greatness of the space.
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