Designing a Family Home: A Guide to Understanding How Your New Space Can Affect Parenthood…
Ran Ankory, Director at Scenario Architecture and a father of two young boys gives us points worth considering when embarking on the project of your first family home
Our home, the main space we share with our families, has direct and tangible effects on the type of activities and spatial relationship we can have as a family within its walls. These effects are magnified for families with children at a young age, as activities and relationships present greater demands of the space.
The tips below will encourage you to ask specific questions and provide you with points to consider and discuss with your architect/ design professional to uncover the specific needs of your new home prior to launching any build.
Document Your Specific Family Dynamics and Activities
Write down your personal brief for the house. Base this on your current everyday activities as well as new ones you see yourself engaging in the new house.
Think about what type of activities which are most important for you as a family e.g:
- Do you like to cook together or is dining together the main social time?
- Does anyone play a musical instrument and where would you like this to happen in relation to the other family members?
- Would you like to be able to supervise or help your children while they do their homework?
- What kind of activities are the ones that you define as quality family time?
- Do you picture playtime with your children on the kitchen table or on the rug by the fireplace?
- When and where will you get more separation and privacy?
Once these top level considerations have been answered you can then begin to think about specific questions in more details like:
Where would you like your children to play?”
- “Do you have many large toys?”
- “Do your children engage in a lot of crafts activities, or is it more board games?”
Asking these questions will help you consider the specific actions and visualise where you would store your children’s toys and arts and crafts supplies in a way which is both easily accessible to them, and can be kept out of sight once they are fast asleep. These design nuances can lead to you getting some well-deserved child-free time in the evenings.
The purpose of this exercise is once you start visualising your family’s specific routines in the new house, you will be surprised at the design ideas which will naturally emerge, to ensure your new home is personal to the way you use it.
Carefully Consider Safety and Security
Parents of young children know that when it’s finally quiet for more than three minutes, it probably means upstairs your child might be testing how well a fork fits into their bedroom socket…..or if your mobile phone can actually float [Trust me, it can’t].
A young child in the house requires constant attention, yet at the same time you may not wish to spend the next four years sitting in your child’s bedroom watching over their every move. The solution to this is a designated play area, carefully integrated within the main family space. This allows your child to play independently while being visually supervised.
Spend time researching safety and security features for a growing child in a new home and verify these have been considered by your design professional. It is often the case that young parents are naturally tuned to the small but important details which may have been overlooked.
Things to consider might be:
- Stairs, Railings & banisters must comply with current building regulations
- Anti-slip surfaces should be specified were appropriate,
- Safety locks and window restrictors should all be specified and installed during the build
- Another important and often overlooked consideration is that the areas and storage spaces that are in use by the children are all safely and easily accessible as well as operable.
If careful consideration has been applied, when it is time to move in you can feel reassured that the environment you have created for your family is a safe, fun and engaging space to be.
Designing your home for the future – Consider your family dynamic in 10 years’ time
Most people plan to live in the house they are renovating/extending or building for at least 8-10 years and many see this as their main family home for many years to come. An architectural project is always an emotional experience and one which you are unlikely to repeat in the next 10 years.
The Lego and dollhouses will most likely make way for desks, sports equipment and drum kits. The nursery turns into a teenage bedroom, which you may not anymore wish to be too close to your own bedroom. This is why it is important to consider whether the space you are designing can be repurposed?
Considering the dynamics of the house in relation to your changing family and how rooms can be re-designated in a few years’ time is a vital consideration at this early stage.
Homes are vessels for everyday activities and their design strongly affects quality of sleeping, playing, cooking, dining, socialising and the entire experience of life at home.
The quality of this experience will depend on the relationships created between these activities which in return are defined by the way the spaces are designed and connected.
As the client you can help to make sure that throughout the process from brief to completion the particular requirements and aspirations of your family are kept in mind and reflected successfully in the final design of your family home.
Here at Scenario Architecture we work with our clients, to develop a high definition brief. We put a strong emphasis on how you currently use your space. We consider the evolution of your family dynamics and how these will have to be reflected in the design of the space. To speak to us about how we can help your space grow with your family, give us a call on 020 7686 3445.