Is it time to design quiet spaces in your home?

For years, open floor plans were all the rage. Having a sightline for keeping an eye on young children and the desire for a wide-open entertaining space helped drive this trend. But young children became teens, and the demands of everyday living quickly outweighed the desire for a huge great room and hosting space.
Additionally, current pandemic realities added new insights into how homes need to function. During the most restricted Covid-19 period, what was once was deemed cherished family time became, let's say, an interesting social experiment. Tammy, a professional with a young child, said, "I completely started to rethink our home layout when I needed to work at home and keep our son engaged in his studies. So many of our friends struggled with the same problem and are now considering making permanent changes to their home." The extreme togetherness demonstrated that each family member has different agendas. Whether cooking, studying, relaxing, or watching TV, these activities are best served in their own space.
The good news is that whether you're contemplating building or dreaming of remodeling, there are several ways to include personalized refuge spaces in your home creatively.

1.) Creating quiet

Libraries evoke the ultimate sense of quiet. Warm lighting, hardwood shelves, and a crackling fireplace are all elements that are conjured up when thinking of a classic library room. Yet, you don't have to be locked into a traditional approach to getting that same feeling of contemplation and peace. A device-friendly 'reading nook' can be incorporated into any style. Horizontal fireplaces, sleek shelves, and even color-coding your books are all ways to infuse a fresh vibe into a traditional library space. An inventive approach is to reimagine and transform an underutilized space. If your current home includes a formal dining room, lining the walls with bookshelves creates a cozy and inviting space that you'll be drawn to hanging out in - beyond just for holiday dinners. Once you're sold on the idea of a library space, online resources like Pinterest offer great ways to assemble your thoughts. Talking to local building pros and even hiring an interior designer will help transform your dream into a new Pinterest-worthy space.

2.) Carving out a corner

Harry Potter's bedroom under the staircase may be an extreme example. Still, there's merit to taking a fresh look at your existing floorplan or blueprint to design dedicated spaces for your family. Spurred by work-from-home trends, many families are expressing the need to have a dedicated home office. There's even a term, "cloffice," which describes turning any existing closet into an office. Along the same vein, non-bedroom, dedicated study spaces are hitting the top of many home building and remodeling wish lists. Home plans often have a tricky corner or two where homeowners can carve out creative space. Where can you find inspiration? Megan Schlimm, director of marketing and business development at Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities (HBAFC) recommends, "Attending a home tour like the Fox Cities Parade of Homes gives you a unique perspective of layouts that blueprints can't provide. Experiencing a variety of designs allows you to envision spaces based on your lifestyle and gives you confidence as you approach your family's needs."

3.) Light therapy

Especially in northern climates, having the advantage of strategically placed windows, internal courtyards, and indoor gardens can offer just the year-round respite you crave. Light-filled spaces and enormous televisions don't mix well, and that's part of the point. Having an area where you can do yoga, meditate or sit with indoor plants and your pets can provide great mental therapy. Creating a nirvana-like space can be achieved by deploying a smart window plan, but knowing what's possible can be a bit daunting. A few tips from provide the context of what to consider when bringing sunlight into your home: 
  • The technology used to manufacture windows, doors, and skylights continues to evolve. Don't judge what can be done in your climate zone based on old or outdated experiences and data.
  • Heat Gain and Loss have several energy performance characteristics, such as U-Factor, Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), and air leakage.
  • ENERGY STAR®'s qualified window, door, and skylight products base their qualification only on U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient ratings.
  • Sunlight Transmittance – the ability of glazing in a window, door, or skylight to transmit sunlight into a home includes measurements of Visual transmittance (VT) and Light-to-solar gain (LSG).
If your zen vision for a sunny space burst as soon as 'coefficient' was mentioned, do yourself a favor and connect with a trusted building and remodeling expert. Not only can they walk you through the best choices for your situation and budget, but during the Parade of Homes, you can see first-hand how they incorporated that knowledge into their recent home builds.

Putting plans into action

It's easy to be seduced by the idea of a reimagined space, but long-term enjoyment comes from knowing your dreams fit within your budget. As you approach the financial part of your plan, it's essential to have trusted resources. Some financial institutions offer free Home Affordability calculator tools to determine lending ratios and monthly payment estimates. Community First Credit Union is a great resource when you need some sound financial advice. 
Remodeling may be the answer to adding custom spaces to your home. If so, you can look at financing options, including a home equity fixed-rate loan with a locked-in rate or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) loan with access to funds for up to ten years. 
After reviewing your current space, you may decide that a new home is the best way to customize your living, working, and playing spaces. Visiting the website of your local home builders association for a list of builders will kick-start your process. "Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities’ website provides consumers with a directory of its members; this online resource is extremely helpful when looking to hire a professional for your home building, remodeling and financing needs," said HBAFC CEO Heidi Zich.
What may have started as scrambling to have a decent backdrop for a Zoom call could indicate a much deeper need. Homes are havens from the outside world. If yours falls short in providing flexible refuge spaces to fit whatever that outside world throws at you, it may be time to invest in your perfect quiet place.

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