There are so many things that make a home easy to live in. I call them “ease of living” features, and some are more obvious than others. These are the items and spaces that I find most important when designing and planning your home. Different features can drastically affect your mood, efficiency, and sense of peace in a busy lifestyle; when attention is given to specific areas, life can be a lot more enjoyable and less hectic! Most of these features do add some cost, but in the long run it is well worth it once you are able to access the benefits of a quality of life. I would say most are categorized as storage items, but layout and custom features are also very important.
Storage is one of the most important features that can add to a sense of peace and order in your home. Think about the moment you arrive at home — whether that is with a couple of kids, book sacks, and groceries or just purses, keys and briefcases. It is really nice to have a place to deposit these items. We often recommend a built in unit with just a few cabinets, drawers and a place possibly to hang and set things down; nothing too large. This area is a convenient place to put cell phone and iPad chargers hidden away in a cabinet, as well as plug-ins for an answering machine and cordless phone, hooks for purses and bags, drawers for phone books, pens, and cabinets for shoes — all these things help tremendously.
Another invaluable storage feature is a slightly larger pantry with lots of shelving to be able to accommodate baskets and bins that can help with organization and make it easy to find items. This is also a good area for storing large pots that we often use for gumbo, as well as large appliances, etc.
Custom features in the laundry room can also make life much easier. Things like: a folding table, cabinets for items like detergents and fabric softeners, as well as cubbies or shelves for laundry baskets are wonderful. A laundry sink is also quite useful; this does not have to be an expensive sink, but with the addition of this feature you can have the benefits of a combination mudroom and laundry room. Washing dirty shoes or pets, soaking items, and washing muddy little hands can all be done as soon as they hit the door (given you position your room near the back entrance).
The garage is another area that is useful to have access to additional storage. The addition of a few features such as shelving for items like sporting equipment bins, infrequently used seasonal items, and a small space to stack bikes and scooters can all make life much easier!
Closets are another area to pay attention to detail. By enlarging the space slightly to add a few racks for shoes, purses, bins, and things like sweaters/folded items, we can add to our sense of calm and help us stay organized and efficient.
Another space for useful storage space is in our bathrooms. This is an area that seems to accumulate products and extra household items; having a place for these types of things helps to make life flow, lending to a positive feel. Any kind of storage units with cabinets and drawers for things like towels, personal care items, styling tools, toothbrushes, etc., can all help keep the bath free of clutter and useful items handy. Cabinets over toilets for storage of toilet paper, bathroom spray and personal items also help tremendously.
Regarding layout, open floor plans are not only on trend but they also really fit the way we live. People can move about without interrupting kitchen activities and can participate in conversation and visit with the cooks. Islands with space for homework, plugs and seating are a great addition in this area. If budget allows, an area for seating and visiting right off the kitchen is great; this allows family or guests to continue to visit and move around the activity of the kitchen easily.
As you can see, just a few intentional and well-thought-out features added to your home can help you stay more peaceful, organized and lend to a less chaotic lifestyle. These small things add big value that we can enjoy daily and that means a lot in today’s culture!