When a client calls you for a home renovation or expansion project, you’re going to enter a job with lofty expectations. You will be required to bring a dream into reality. No matter who your clients are, it’s not unreasonable to say that they want only the best. And you will do your best to align your construction with their goals and desires.
However, reality is not always cooperative. Budget frequently plays an issue, as not everyone can afford the dream palace they desire. Sometimes it is as simple as space. If a home is on a small plot of land, then there’s only so much you can do to make it feel open, at least by doing traditional construction. Many clients may be disappointed to learn that, no matter what, they can’t make their kitchen 10 feet longer (unless they want to buy the neighboring property).
That said, there are other ways to satisfy your clients’ hopes for a more open living space. The next time you’re working on a home expansion project that has hit a wall, try these innovative ideas to get around it:
Build taller if you can’t go wider
When clients want a larger room, odds are that one of the main drivers behind their request is a need for more storage. As houses fill up, your clients may feel too squeezed for comfort. For instance, a kitchen with limited cabinet space may have been perfect for one, but feels crowded with four. Many rooms, especially bathrooms and kitchens, have counters that cut into livable areas. Some of this can’t be avoided, especially where plumbing is concerned.
Building higher ceilings, however, may help solve this problem. If a room cannot become wider or longer, then it can still gain new storage options by simply becoming taller. Bathroom cabinets are moved to head level, giving your client’s family more room to move around in the space. According to Co.Design, heightening the ceiling may also create positive feelings in the brain, helping your clients enjoy the room more.
Utilize smart cabinets
The traditional kitchen cabinet is made for the traditional kitchen space. Those living in cramped quarters need to be inventive at every turn. If you’re installing new cabinets and notice a plethora of dishes, utensils, and other cooking items, suggest smart cabinets for better storage.
Smart cabinets, as their name suggests, offer more than just the basic bin. Oftentimes they’re shelved, allowing your clients the ability to cleanly store more items per cabinet. Apartment Therapy recommended this option for homeowners who love to cook and have more appliances than usual.
Whether you’re trying to help your client pursue a culinary passion or simply make room for six people’s dishes, smart cabinets can help a cluttered kitchen look more spacious. They can also be applied in living rooms and family rooms as well.
Suggest tables that allow tucked-away seating
Nearly everyone has had to squeeze by a chair due to space constraints. You know it’s not the best feeling – it’s almost impossible to be anything other than cramped during that time. Well, you can help your client avoid it through proper furnishing selection. While many people are familiar with tucking chairs under tables, your client may not know that you can also do this with an island or a counter.
True, this may require choosing a slightly larger island, but many models are built with some space already available underneath. If your client is already using smart cabinets and higher ceilings, they may not need the island undercarriage for storage.
Construct for mobility
Counters do not need to be permanent to be sturdy, especially if they are only used for eating or light cooking. Find out your client’s needs and then construct accordingly. Fold-up counters and collapsible tables are definitely more flimsy than their stationary counterparts but not everyone needs the durability for a 30 lb. turkey.
Fold-up counters can work with otherwise open design layouts without ruining the desire for continuous space. This option isn’t for everybody, but, when you know your clients’ needs and situation, it may be considered a valuable solution.
Other design tips
In general, open home layouts create a feeling of space. This room design typically involves removing excess walls in favor of simplified support beams. However, if your client can’t afford an operation this extensive, something as simple as installing mirrors can also help.
According to House Beautiful, lightening a room’s colors can also produce a larger size perception. This is typically done through paint selection, although adding natural lighting can’t hurt either. Clients may be surprised to learn how this simple shift in shading can provide a different mental reaction, but many home designers have found lightening the room an effective method of overcoming size perception.
Not all clients can have their desired home, but it is your job to give them a house they’ll love. Sometimes this requires complex solutions to simple problems – such as a lack of lateral space. Remember, you’re not just a contractor, you’re an artist hired for creativity and experience.