Friday, April 24, 2020

Window Seats

Window Seat is game/reading nook in a casual dining area 
Reading nook window seat on edge of master bedroom
Window seats are special. They are carved from the edge of a room, either bumped in or bumped outward to create a special zone of space unique from the rest of of the room. The nook they create has a smaller scale where a single person can sit, read, think, or just gaze outdoors. It can feel like a room within a room, and can allow a room to feel more comfortable and be used for a greater variety of functions.

Long seat at Dining Room feature window

I love using window seats in my designs, and many clients ask for one. They are space saving and evoke a homey, hygge sense of comfort. I’ve placed them in bedrooms, as a cozy reading nook. I’ve used them in kitchens or casual eating areas as a built-in seat along one side of a table. (Used in this way, the room can be smaller than if chairs, which need space to slide backward, need to be placed all the way around a table.) I’ve used them in large rooms, like living or formal dining spaces, that may not be used daily or often, so that when one is home alone that large space can offer a personal-sized space in which to feel comfortable. I’ve used them in hallways or foyers as a way to make that space more than just a pass-thru area, by creating a place to sit and stay a while.

Built-in bench seat- or display shelf surface- in Farmhouse Kitchen
The design and construction methods for building a window seat can change to fit the space or use of the seat. Sometimes the seat flips up to access storage space inside, sometimes we have cubbies or drawers that are accessed from the front. We can plan for cushions, lighting, and an angled back for comfort. Bookshelves and woodwork and trim and soffits can all be custom designed so that the window seat is a real architectural focus in the space.

Cubbies below seat and bead board wainscotting accent woodwork
Of course to be called a window seat, it has to have a window- or three windows- which is what I tend to do, as you see in my projects featured here! Next blog post I’ll share photos from projects with built-in seats or benches that are not at a window, but are just as functional and beautiful and also add a certain desirable homey quality.

Farmhouse kitchen table designed with built-in bench seating

Monday, April 13, 2020

Renovating for Accessibility & Efficiency

Tub, Vanity Cab, Tile was removed
New Curb-less Shower, Open & accessible
This ranch house was purchased by a couple in order to age in place and some immediate renovations were implemented for accessibility and energy efficiency. The existing slab-on-grade construction already had the perfect "no steps to get inside the door" feature that my client's needed, and this was true whether one came in from the front door/driveway or the attached garage. What didn't work was that some of the passageways were too narrow, the metal-framed sliding glass doors and heating system were old and in-efficient, and the bathrooms needed grab bars and fixtures that allowed for wheelchair access.

Bathrooms were gutted of all fixtures and finishes and a foot was stolen from the dining room (you can't even notice!) to allow space for a roll-in curb-less shower with a linear drain, niches, grab bars, a hand-held shower wand, and space for a bench seat in the master bathroom.  An ADA compliant toilet with grab bar was installed (same location as before), and a new floating vanity counter top offers open knee space below. Door widths into the master bedroom and bathroom were increased to allow passage of a wheelchair or walker. It's difficult to perceive the difference, but the master closet lost a few inches in length to allow enough space to enter around the corner, and new full-height closet doors were installed to increase ease of access and storage.

New Master Bedroom with wider doorway, re-worked closet, and new lighting

BEFORE- closet corner impeded access to the room
One of the sweet features about the existing house was the over-sized triple sliding glass doors off the back- one in the dining room, and one in the family room. The family room door led into a small screened porch, which made that room dark, so we removed it. The family room also had a poorly-placed door leading to the garage, making the room difficult to furnish. We moved that door closer to the kitchen, making the family room have a much better layout. We replaced the cold, metal framed triple sliding glass doors with new insulated glass units. The existing hardwood flooring was damaged by the old metal doors, due to all the moisture and condensation that had built up where they had let in so much cold. The wood was striped back and black stone tile was installed all along the new glass doors- it became an elegant design feature! The home also received all new insulation and an upgraded efficient mechanical system. In the future, a new screened porch will be built off the kitchen, so as not to darken the family room again.

New glass doors w/  stone tile floor inset

Door to garage used to be right where the elephant art is... we moved it so the sofa could be near the fireplace
As we all do our part to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, I hope that those of us lucky enough to have a cozy home and good health can find peace and gratitude while we follow the "Stay Home" orders and find ourselves inside our home much more than usual. Take Care and Be Kind.