Building Homes with Women in Mind
Home construction remains an industry made up largely of men and as a result, homes are often built without some of the elements and features women prefer. For example, women usually find the height of kitchen cabinets out of reach and there never seems to be enough storage! It is often a point of frustration in daily life when homes do not reflect the preferences of approximately 50 percent of their end users. If you are planning to build a new home or renovate your existing home, consider the following tips:
- Formal dining rooms are elegant but rarely used in today's more casual social atmosphere. Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen making wonderful dishes while the guests are off in another room? Open concept designs allow the chef to cook and talk with guests at the same time. A growing interest in cooking often means that guests are happy to help out or at least to watch and chat as their meal is prepared. Parties often gravitate to the kitchen and an open concept makes this a natural transition. Sleek, coordinated appliances, counters and cabinets make the modern kitchen a design focal point. Ideally, the design concepts used in the kitchen will coordinate with the adjacent dining and living areas.
- The person who designed recessed cabinets over the refrigerator must have been seven feet tall! No one else could possibly reach to open the cabinet doors without a ladder. This problem can be corrected by bringing the shelves forward or by constructing a space in the wall to move the refrigerator back. Another thing women typically want in a kitchen is some built-in organization in the form of pull out shelves, revolving shelves and drawer organizers. It is usually easier to add these features when the cabinets are first installed; cabinet styles change thus homeowners who wish to install them at a later date may need to have them custom-made.
- Bathrooms are no longer merely functional-they incorporate luxurious details such as a Jacuzzi tub, spacious layout, and beautiful dÃ©cor. This 'spa ambiance' can be achieved with careful planning; it need not cost much more than a traditional bathroom. Thoughtful use of lighting, shelving and choice of fixtures and cabinets can deliver cost-effective style. Ideally, the bathtub and shower stall should be separate. This makes it possible to include built-in shelves around the bathtub for towels, candles and perhaps even a television for entertainment after a long day. Whereas standard bathtubs have narrow ledges, a separate bathing area can be constructed with a wide ledge for resting a book, elbows or perhaps, a glass of wine.
- Rather than installing traditional bathroom cabinets-the cavernous variety without shelves-consider installing a cabinet with numerous shelves and/or drawers. Women tend to have more cleansers, moisturizers and beauty products than men and they need a place to store them.
- Natural light and good ventilation are two other important considerations for the bathroom. Natural light from a window or glass blocks will brighten the room. Frosted and etched glass on a windowpane can provide privacy with style. Artificial lighting should not be overly harsh but should be adequate for applying make-up. Overhead lights plus soft lighting from the side are flattering and practical.
- Scrubbing tile and grout is a labour intensive cleaning job. With today's busy schedules, who has the time? Solid plastic shower stalls are easier to clean and manufacturers have created a wide range of styles to suit almost any dÃ©cor.
- On the topic of saving time and effort, a laundry shoot in a multi-level home is a great convenience. Rather than hauling clothes and bed sheets down stairs, simply drop them in a shoot that ends up at the laundry room.
- Hardwood and tile in high traffic areas are preferable to carpeting. They don't show dirt as quickly as carpet and it is faster to thoroughly clean hardwood and tile.
- A built-in vacuum cleaner is another convenience that can be particularly helpful in large homes. The vacuum mechanism remains stationary and is connected to several outlets around the home where the vacuum hose is plugged in. Only the hose and attachments are carried from one room to the next. This system is particularly beneficial for elderly homeowners and those with mobility limitations.
- If a builder were to ask women what they want in a home, chances are most of them would say more storage! A good bedroom closet would have multiple shelves, a built-in dresser of drawers, and sections where full-length dresses could hang without touching the floor. Mirrored doors on bedroom closets are also convenient since many people don't own a full-length mirror. Camouflaged closets are a new trend and a good option for any room in the home. These clever storage systems blend in with the wall so that they don't detract from the furnishings.
- Having a quiet, soundproof room where it is possible to get a good night's sleep is essential, especially for busy parents. An adequate sound barrier in the form of insulation in the walls or a buffer such as a wall closet can reduce noise. There seems to be a direct correlation between a child's age and the stereo volume so parents are wise to plan ahead by constructing some type of sound barrier between bedrooms and living areas.
Women do have some unique requirements and preferences and fortunately, these elements often add to the ambiance, user convenience and even the resale value of homes.