Great ideas are everywhere! “Steal” the best of them, build on the basics, and make them your own. Here are four of our favorites. What can you envision?
Add a Granny House:
They’re all the rage in Australia — call them what you will; Mother In Law suite, guest house, escape pod, hobby space, writer’s room, or “crash pad” when a college-age son returns home. The purpose is privacy.
Attach it to the main house by means of a shared patio or breezeway. Worth stealing is the emphasis on adaptability. Outfit it suitably for future use by an aging parent, or by a nanny or caregiver. That includes planning for accessibility and universal design, allowing space for wheelchairs and walkers, and eliminating hazards like steps and changes in level. Include appropriate grab bars and a large shower with a fold-up bench in the bath. install basic food storage, preparation and cleanup space; it can be as simple as a bar sink, under-counter fridge and microwave; include a pantry cabinet and some space for dishes and glassware. Think luxury hotel rather than hospital room, and you might want to spend a few nights there yourself!
Go Beyond the Media Room or Man Cave:
Specialized space is always good to have, but multi-purpose additions are even better. Unless you have enough basement and attic space to carve out multiple specialized rooms, you will be better off if you think in terms of single spaces that can accommodate many people and a variety of interests. When you plan an addition, let your imagination run free: You might not be able to incorporate a welding studio in the same space as a ballet practice room, but you could certainly place workout equipment in a sunny garden room off the master bedroom.
Clever space planning involves zones, rather than walls. Built-in storage, ample open space and easily-movable furniture can transform a large space from hobby center to party pavilion within minutes. Consider hiding computer workspace behind large sliding doors, hide rock band equipment behind screens or curtains, and wire for all the audio-visual equipment you need. The addition of a glass-paneled garage door opens even more possibilities. Poolside cabana, perhaps?
Add a Garden:
Yes, we’re serious! The chance to harvest fresh vegetables and herbs and enjoy colorful blooms (how about orchids?) is just too good to keep outdoors. In the tradition of historic conservatories, traditional sun rooms and modern greenhouses, you can add a real garden room in a practical way as well.
Check out “living walls” that allow you to grow anything from mint and basil to tomatoes, salad greens, strawberries and even lemon trees in a soil-free hydroponic growing system. Yes, you can have your “kitchen garden” even during the winter months!
Plan to orient your addition so that you have a solar advantage from large windows and/or skylights, install appropriate summer ventilation and consider a brick or tile floor with a radiant heating system underneath. You’ll not only gain a comfortable extra room, but you’ll probably be the envy of all your neighbors. Will you mind sharing the tomatoes?
Build It Out:
Whether your addition is planned on grade or will encompass upper floor or attic space, try if possible to open it to the outdoors. A roof deck, balcony or patio is not only attractive from the interior, but can become extra living and entertaining space on its own. In addition (pun intended), psychologists and mental health professionals speak of the equilibrium that accrues from weaving natural elements and greenery into hectic and stressful lifestyles.
Even commercial buildings now routinely include attractive landscaping in both interior and exterior spaces. It makes for healthier, happier and more efficient workers and workplaces. That’s definitely an idea worth “bringing home.”