While recently attending my undergrad Homecoming, I spoke to a lot of friends who own homes or condos in and around the GTA. Many were looking to renovate by opening up their main floors, redoing their kitchens, bathrooms or basements and almost all struggled with a lack of storage. Whether in a condo, townhouse or a home, we can all relate to lacking enough space to store all the things we’re constantly bringing in. Beautiful fall weather, like we’re experiencing now, often delays these sorts of important decisions since fall is also the perfect time to re-evaluate your home’s function and aesthetic. Doing so now will help ensure you’re well served once the weather inevitably turns and we all spend a lot more time hibernating in doors.
PHASE I - Purge Now and Purge Often!
Although it hasn’t felt like it this past week of incredible weather and the Indian Summer we’ve all deserved, fall is technically upon us and with it comes time to ask the age old question: “Do I really need this?” I like to go through my closets, drawers, home office, and storage areas at least twice a year come spring and fall. This semi-annual purge is not only cathartic it’s necessary, from both a function and design perspective, especially if you live in a smaller home or condo with minimal square footage. By sacrificing a bit of time now I guarantee you’ll feel as though a weight has been lifted, while your home also benefits from looking and functioning better all year round!
Re-evaluating the accessories, books and clutter in your main living area is a great way to begin or if you’d rather not give up the sun just yet, start outside and work your way indoors. I promise the more often you de-clutter and purge, the less daunting and fun it becomes. You’re also helping those in need by taking your barely used and good condition items to local charities. If you’re a self-proclaimed hoarder or the least bit indecisive, pair up with a couple friends to help each other make important judgment calls!
PHASE 2 - Maximize the Space You Have
Whether you’ve just moved in or have been living in your home for a while, it’s never a bad idea to step back and re-evaluate how your home functions. A good designer can help you with this or you can once again entrust the help of family and friends. Just be careful not to involve too many people with too many differing opinions as this inevitably results in option paralysis and yet another year or winter of living in a less than optimal home...
Ask yourself all the important questions: Are there areas of your space you barely use? Can some of these areas be turned into valuable storage or transformed for an entirely different use? Is there an opportunity to take down walls and achieve the open concept you’ve always wanted? Does your kitchen function for day-to-day cooking as well as entertaining? Can you add another washroom or renovate existing ones to improve their function? Could your basement be finished to provide the additional space you need?
One of my favourite fall challenges is helping families create a functional entranceway where one doesn’t currently exist. This is especially important as kids get back into the groove of going to school. By simply adding prefab built-ins from IKEA to truly custom made storage units and everything in between, what was once the source of arguments and frustration can become a well functioning primary or secondary entrance to your home. Many retailers offer well designed standalone multi function furniture that also works as a place to put on shoes, hide unsightly objects and hang coats. Another great option is to create closet space behind or under your stairs. You may also want to build a closet into the entrance space you already have. There are tons of options to help even the smallest of front or back doors and if you’re stumped, a design consultation may help inspire or provide the direction you need.
PHASE 3 – Renovate or Build
I can’t overemphasize the importance of planning well and starting early when renovating! As much as I hate being the bearer of bad news…Christmas is officially less than 3 months away and if you’re looking to make small or large changes to your home this year or in 2015, fall is the perfect time to begin, especially if you’re hosting family and friends for the holidays!
Ask yourselves do we need more space and if so how? Consult professionals to determine your options whether digging out your basement, adding an addition to the front or back of your home or growing up with an additional floor. Hiring the right team is critical and a good designer will pride themselves on their network to help minimize the stress and uncertainty that comes from finding and trusting your architect, general contractor, trades people etc.
Despite also cringing at the thought of being trapped indoors by subzero temperatures…I’d hate for any of my readers to let this beautiful weather prevent or delay them from enjoying their home all year round! It won’t be long before Thanksgiving and the holidays take priority so be sure to enlist the help you need early and often. That way you and your team can guarantee a project that’s both on time, on budget and as stress free as possible before the snow falls.