We wake up in the morning a bit too late. Alex gets the dogs for a morning walk, while I am left to my own devices, free to ritualize at my own pace. As any new-agey intellectual, I know all about the benefits of a good morning routine. If Tim Feriss does it, it must be good, right? So I start off with a cold shower, which, you will say, does not go well with my personality. Well, it doesn't, but I try nonetheless, and it really perks me up to start the day with something that requires so much willpower. Next up, sports, meditation, journaling, writing, the list could go on until noon! What could I integrate in my home design to accommodate this lengthy (and frankly, mostly imaginary) process of self betterment? Maybe make the uneasy parts a little easier, add new potential to parts that work?
Habits form by triggering. Take a look at Charles Duhigg. He says that the loop of habit formation is: cue, routine, reward. So a sequence of triggers that keep us on track would be a good starting point. Something inviting, than lures us into doing the routine. That would be reinforced by a space that makes the routine as pleasant as possible and finally by a soothing space to get your reward.
If it's morning showers, the trigger is just waking up, so that's easy. You might consider having a well-lit, large shower, with a view to the outside, like an inside garden filled with plants. I know, it sounds dorky and expensive at the same time, but trust me, thinking stuff ahead …
10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 6
First-time modern home builders soon realize that, while their spaces look great, they have nowhere to put stuff. From Le Corbusier's first fancy modern buildings until today, the problem of home storage has been avoided by architects in favor of sleek design. Apart from basic usage areas like kitchen, sitting area, office, every house needs those additional spaces specifically purposed for storage. Built-in storage is also a great way to avoid hallways. Any mismatch in the way walls meet up can become the perfect storage room. But watch out, built-in storage becomes a fixed feature of the room: try to keep your layout flexible enough that you can still use the room if its function changes.
10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 2
Advancements in technology have lately made it possible for humans to bypass most of the natural building constrictions. If only a couple of decades ago, a harsh environment would have deterred us from building altogether on a specific site, today we can do almost anything anywhere. And it is almost the definition of our times that we are global. What works for you must work for me and what works here is bound to work there. And this is the way architecture had been made for generations. This does not mean we should disconsider the environment when we design. Bio-climatic design harnesses age-old sets of techniques for embracing and responding to the local environment. Much of the world's vernacular architecture responded to the regional climate, like heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, looking for the sun rays and avoiding the cold winds. What makes a house comfortable year-round depends on the specificity of the place. The basic layout of the building emerges from the questions you ask the land. Take a look at the Permarchitecture Site Analysis Checklist. You can find it here.
10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 5
Head bumps at the end of the staircase.
I live in such a house with my very tall boyfriend, so I speak from the heart. When drafting in 2D, some elements seem obvious, but when you build them, surprises occur: the space above the last steps of the staircase is very often the main culprits here. The trick is to simply be aware of this when drafting stairs and, if you can, draft your plans in 3D to be sure you have enough space to get upstairs. (she whispers in your ear: "come, book a session")
10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 1
Drawing to scale is an acquired skill and drafting by hand is, for a beginner, the best way to make rooms way too big. The generosity of the enthusiastic designer will give each bedroom at least 20% more space than it actually needs and the living room the proportion of a football stadium. So be sure to check your dimensions often and don't forget to furnish the rooms, even in the first drafts. Furniture will make big empty areas stand out. It will also give you a first glance at the circulation flows of the layout.
Try to avoid non-allocated space, but also stay away from too-small spaces, especially in the bathroom and kitchen area. Tip: When drafting your layout by hand, you can cut bits of paper to size for your main furniture elements. You can move them around your puzzle and play with them. Their presence also intuitively gives you a sense of how much space you need when drawing up a new room.
"In these trying times" we could all benefit from a bit more fun. It's depressing what's going on, I know. And a lot of the people I know have been avoiding these low feelings by waiting the pandemic out, like a tsunami that you can let pass and magically start again where you left it when it passes. They've been watching an endless stream of TV shows and movies, all precisely chosen for their feel good vibe. From the whole HIMYM series to LOTR, there is no end to the amount of stuff we can passively sit in front of. Well, actually there is.
People live in two main states, passive and active, input and output. The state of quiet amassing of information like watching TV or reading a book and the actions we do, when information pours out of us, like talking, singing, moving about with a task, creating.
And I would argue that the balance between these two states is what keeps us sane. You cannot possibly give and give, because you quickly burnout. All working person or single mother knows this. But you can't do the opposite for long either. Passive states bring about lethargy and more passive states in a vicious circle. The result is depression of course, which is the exact thing we were trying to avoid by watching the whole series of Friends.
The culture of mass entertainment we live in is eager to see us loose ourselves in this mental fog. It's easy to offer more and more content for more and more consumption, regardless of the void it brings with it.
The only way to fill …
The bedroom is one of those essentially "yours" spaces in a home.
It's funny because, not so long ago, it used to be a pile of straw on the floor in the main room. People all slept in one big room, the same room where they spent their days as well. The one room of the house. It was easier to heat, of course, and furniture was still a sort of foreign concept. Instead, the room was empty in the middle and chairs or benches were stuck to the walls.
We now have the luxury of private sleeping areas and we should make the most of it.
Master bedrooms with en suite bathroom and dressing room can be pretty cool. So can tiny den-like sleeping spaces with a fantastic view. Let's see which combination might fit you.
Here are some things to consider when designing your own bedroom.
It is one of the nicest things to start your day with. Seeing the sun getting ready for the day at the same time as me puts me in a good mood for the whole day.
You want to know where to place you bedroom windows so as to get the most out of the East morning view as possible. That means placing the bedroom on the East side of the house obviously, as well as placing the windows in such a way as to see the sun in most of the years' mornings. Note that from December to June, the sun moves a lot. A North-East view will let you see the sunrise in June, but it will be at five am! South-East is where Sun rises in the winter months at 7-8 AM. Of course, you can have windows on two sides, which …
Read part 1 here
We all know how bad it is for our sleep to watch TV before bedtime. We associate the bed with Netflix binging. Blue light messes up our brain waves. It's plain bad. Yet we do it out of habit, like the automated monkeys we are. Ask yourself: do you really need one? If you do, you are welcome to it. Just make sure it's a conscious choice, not a reflex.
- Morning rituals
All the things we do before the children wake up and the day starts. For years Alex used to make coffee in bed for us. It was our morning ritual. You might have tea and the newspaper on a wicker chair. You might do Yoga and meditation. Journaling.
Imagine the space that would accommodate that activity and incorporate it into your design. You might end up placing it outside the bedroom and that's fine too. Or you might not have morning rituals in which case, you're probably an alien.
- Placement of the mighty bed
Fengshui will probably tell you that the bed must be head towards the East, or the North. I have slept in countless places in my digital nomad life. I never noticed a difference in my head position relative to the equator. If you feel the need to use that, go ahead. Another feature stands more prominently on my priority list with regards to the bed: the door. Our ancestral brain needs to know where danger is at all times. Standing with our back to the entrance makes us feel vulnerable. The same goes for desks or reading lounges.
I think that's about it. If course this list is far from …