Exploring Green Interiors

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Exploring Green Interiors

Re-evaluate your home—working with small spaces.   In today’s climate of building and renovating homes, it has become increasingly clear that many families want to have a home that is more functional, suits their everyday lives, and works better for their day-to-day routine.

The easiest solution always seems to buy or build a bigger home or add on to your current space, essentially, to give you more room to spread out and operate. What many homeowners fail to realize is that there can be valuable untapped real estate inside in your own residence, and the home of your dreams may be sitting right inside.

When you think about your home, especially if you have a limited footprint, think about how utilitarian your home is for your lifestyle. Are there rooms you pass by day-to-day without using, or are the rooms that you do use not working together to create a practical space for your everyday routine?

No matter how small or large the project, determining your immediate needs helps to create a functional space plan, and effectively change  
the way you use your space. The most important aspect to creating a completely functional home is having clearly defined areas that serve  
a specific purpose. Ask yourself: Could there be a way to reconfigure my existing layout to become more functional for my lifestyle? Say, for example, you have a formal dining area that is rarely, if ever, used, but your kitchen is so crowded you feel cramped every time you cook a meal.

A solution could be as simple as tearing down the adjacent wall to extend the kitchen and create an open entertaining  area.

There are also many environmental and economical advantages to staying in your current home. First, you can stay in your current location, which means keeping the same schools and neighbors. Second, fewer materials and resources are needed to renovate compared to starting from scratch. Third, you’ll save money! It is much more cost-effective to renovate an existing space than to build a custom home to suit your needs. If done correctly, the changes in your home will contribute to energy bill savings by making your space more energy efficient.

Another obvious challenge with working in small spaces is making the layout not feel cramped. There are simple solutions that trick the eye. Consider simple profiles. Anything fussy and complicated will be overbearing to the space. Reflective surfaces extend the space in your mind’s eye, and light colors will make walls recede.

Innovation can go a long way. Think vertically when designing. Take the kitchen cabinetry all the way to the ceiling, and as a result, you will take your eye off of limited counter space. You will also need less bulky furniture for storage. Less space can mean a better space, as your budget will stretch much further. Instead of purchasing extra furniture to fill up a room, which may rarely be used, use your budget to get higher quality materials that will look great and last longer.

Taking the steps toward creating a better use of space in your home can help you maximize the way you live for a more efficient life.  Think about what it will take to use your space effectively and how to better utilize unused space. Find out what works best for your lifestyle. Instead of more space, think better space!
—By Maggie McClure of Beth Haley Design

Editor’s Note:
Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes.  Maggie McClure is an allied member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). E-mail your questions to her at ngregg@ngregg.com or visit http://www.bethhaleydesign.com.

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