Taking the time to understand clients and their needs is the most important thing an architect can do to ensure the success of any residential project. Every custom home is as unique as the family who will live in it, so the architect must always begin by getting to know the family: their values and personalities, how they will use the home, what their daily lives are like.
One of the main concerns of high-end home design is achieving balance between private and public space. This article describes the importance of private and public spaces and how to allocate them according to the family’s needs.
The layout (or floor plan) of a home is critical to the well-being of its users. The floor plan must achieve a balance of public areas to bring the family together, and private areas to provide quiet spaces and privacy for individuals or couples. The exact nature of this balance will depend on the family’s lifestyle and personalities.
In multi-storey homes, public areas tend to be located on the main floor and near the central space of the home. Private spaces, in order to achieve peace and quiet, are often placed on the upper floor of the home or adjacent to the public areas, towards the periphery of the home.
Ideally, the layout should permit free flow from the public areas of the home to private areas. Doors, hallways and staircases can be used to create boundaries and functional transitions without impeding movement.
However, private spaces should be off of the main traffic routes of the home, so that one person’s quiet time is not interrupted by others passing through. Soundproofing is a helpful tool for creating privacy; it can be installed or improved through proper insulation, closely fitted doors, or acoustical wall and window coverings.
For adults, private spaces are needed for personal conversations, intimacy and romance, difficult conversations and/or quiet, focused activities. Examples include:
For children, private spaces are needed for entertaining friends, schoolwork, play and sports, and creative pursuits like painting, writing or music. Examples include:
For all generations, bedrooms are the most important private spaces in a house; they are the last refuge of a person seeking some peace and quiet. The floor plan should account for a master suite and the appropriate number of bedrooms, with accompanying bathrooms, closets and laundry room. Soundproofing is key here, to allow for privacy and sleep. Bedrooms for children, due to their earlier bedtimes, should be positioned away from noisy high-traffic areas.
The ensuite bathroom is quickly gaining importance as a private space, used for relaxation and personal care regimens. Private his/hers bathrooms can allow some much-needed extra-private space, fully customized to each partner’s needs, with high-end features such as a vanity table, heated towel racks, steam shower and in-floor heating.
Public areas are specific to the lifestyle of the family; how they spend time together, and how they choose to entertain. However, gone are the days of the formal “sitting room” that was only used for guests. Entertaining, for many families, means sharing the family spaces with guests in ease and comfort. Examples of public and semi-public spaces include:
Another public space, the multi-purpose room, is very useful for adding some versatility to the layout of the home. It can be a play area, book club meeting room, project area, holiday scene, guestroom, music room, Friday night poker room, craft room, and anything else the family needs it to be.
Peace in a multigenerational home comes from a successful mix of public and private areas. Understanding public-private issues before designing and building will allow the resulting home to support family life, creating a sense of comfort and enjoyment for the whole family.
To learn more about how we can help you create the perfect layout for your custom multi-generational home, please contact us to book a consultation.
Photo credit: Magdalena Kurylowicz
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