Measure for Measure
Room size is like air — you don’t think about it until you start gasping. Too small a space for a particular function and everything is constricted; too large and you feel lost. Whether you’re planning a new house or remodeling your current home, understanding basic room sizes for different purposes is essential. However, unless you’re an architect or designer and have access to technical resources, it’s hard to find useful measurement information. But help has arrived with Right-Sizing Your Home: How To Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle (Northwest Arm Press, 2010) by former Home magazine Editor-in-Chief Gale Steves.
Gale is an articulate, wise, and eminently practical Ariadne who leads us expertly through the house design maze (remember it was Ariadne’s ball of silken thread that allowed Theseus to find his way out of the labyrinth after defeating the Minotaur — that early and unscrupulous mortgage broker). She includes a very helpful Dimension Guide for every major room
like this one showing the minimum small bathroom size (top left layout) at 60- by 90-inches; and recommended size at 66- by 108-inches. The book helps you think through the function, size, and character of every room (and how furniture choices affect each space) with so-called “Audits” or brief questionnaires that you complete for things like your cooking style, relaxing style, or even comfort style (for people thinking about Universal Design). I like her no-nonsense advice: “Magazines show images of impeccable tiny spaces for a home office, but the question is, who really works there–or could? It is time to get real.” This is the book to have on hand as you browse our house plan collections.
The Useful Porch
Room size reminds me of one my pet peeves: porches that don’t pull through. In other words I want a porch that’s not just some vestigial dead-end bumper, or decorative accessory, but one that can function as a real outdoor room, with space for sitting or even dining, the way this front porch on our Vacation House Plan 443-1
does: it’s ten feet deep.
And so is the porch off the master bedroom, providing comfortable room to expand in good weather.
Rebooting the Modern Ranch House
I’d like to welcome award-winning architects Gregory Walker and Hank Houser to our Signature Plans Collection. Gregory’s Master of Architecture is from Harvard University; Hank’s is from Georgia Institute of Technology. Their Courtyard Plan 488-1
with the living-dining area occupying one wing; the kitchen and bedrooms the other. The garage shapes a separate entry court off to one side. The architectural aim is straightforward: take advantage of an open site, maximize daylight and cross ventilation, and use locally standard construction techniques and materials for efficiency and minimum waste. It’s a fine recipe for easy indoor-outdoor green design.