Room to Spare - Creating spaces you'll value

Real comfort, visual and physical, is vital to every room.
— Mark Hampton, Interior Designer

While summertime hasn’t traditionally been thought of as the time for major home improvements; I’m glad to see more people are thinking ahead of the calendar. Depending on the size of a project, it can take at least several months up to even a year! (This is comparing a bathroom remodel to a whole-house revamp.)

An owner’s suite in the beginning stages - bedroom, bath, and closet we’ve been working on, this summer. Our clients’ home will be on a holiday tour, in November, so this isn’t a moment too soon! And we’re also tackling their kitchen. Stay-tuned!

An owner’s suite in the beginning stages - bedroom, bath, and closet we’ve been working on, this summer. Our clients’ home will be on a holiday tour, in November, so this isn’t a moment too soon! And we’re also tackling their kitchen. Stay-tuned!

Any home update can generate important and valid questions. This is especially true in remodeling or renovating as it comes down to adding value. Though I often can answer these questions from a designer’s perspective, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to gather more insight from another home industry professional.

Earlier in the spring, I had the opportunity to share a great conversation with my client, David Huss, who also happens to be one of Charlotte’s top Realtors. We really dug into the topic and discussed everything from the importance of capturing multi-use spaces to home design trends to life stage and lifestyle preferences. It was very informative and I’ll share my take-a-ways with you. Thank you, David!

David Huss      - Allen Tate Realty - Monthly Top Performer - President's Circle - and a witty, super nice guy!

David Huss - Allen Tate Realty - Monthly Top Performer - President's Circle - and a witty, super nice guy!

TOP PRIORITY SPACES

Kitchens & baths: It’s probably no surprise that kitchens and baths still reign when it comes to the top rooms for updating. A twenty-year-old space not only shows its age in appearance, it functions as an older space, too. David pointed out that modifications, made every five years or so, tend to help homes maintain or even improve their value. (This topic alone is worth exploring further so we’ll include it in our next blog post.)

From a homeowner’s standpoint, more frequent refreshes softens sticker shock. Comparing costs from decades past can cause a big budgetary disconnect. Keeping current also allows your home to support your own life cycle of five to seven years. This applies to your physical and emotional state-of-being as those requirements evolve. Reflect back on the last ten to twenty years of your life—both the major and minor changes. How have they impacted where you are, now?

Every inch of this      1920’s kitchen      was designed with the homeowners in mind. We used the space we had to make it live larger through smart storage and cohesive finish selections. The style was influenced by the period of the home. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Dustin Peck (Image Copyrighted)

Every inch of this 1920’s kitchen was designed with the homeowners in mind. We used the space we had to make it live larger through smart storage and cohesive finish selections. The style was influenced by the period of the home. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Dustin Peck (Image Copyrighted)

This is the ‘before’ of an owners’ suite bath project. It had dark cabinets, a cultured marble vanity top, an old, jetted corner tub, white tile, a smaller shower, poor lighting, and the cabinet vanity design needed better function. The space felt chopped up and small.

This is the ‘before’ of an owners’ suite bath project. It had dark cabinets, a cultured marble vanity top, an old, jetted corner tub, white tile, a smaller shower, poor lighting, and the cabinet vanity design needed better function. The space felt chopped up and small.

Here is the after: We started with the same square footage of floor space and we were able to create a vanity for his and her sinks, beautiful storage, and a requested dressing table. We even found a lovely, free-standing tub to fit back into the corner. (Though spa showers are often desired, David noted if there’s room for this type of tub, it’s a nice selling feature.) The shower was made larger by shifting a door at the water closet and using frameless glass panels.

Here is the after: We started with the same square footage of floor space and we were able to create a vanity for his and her sinks, beautiful storage, and a requested dressing table. We even found a lovely, free-standing tub to fit back into the corner. (Though spa showers are often desired, David noted if there’s room for this type of tub, it’s a nice selling feature.) The shower was made larger by shifting a door at the water closet and using frameless glass panels.

Outdoor living areas: Homeowners are looking to expand living experiences beyond their interiors. Whether it’s an extension including an outdoor kitchen and fireplace, or a screened and covered addition, David shared finding enough yard area is important as it provides options for all of the above. At minimum, there should be a nice deck or patio area allowing for comfortable seating.

Landscaping for privacy is also important, unless you want to share every moment with your neighbors. A trellis or screened fence can provide for breezes while creating a discreet enclosure. In all cases, check with your HOA and city/county jurisdiction to see if there are any restrictions, including property lines and setbacks. Make sure you’re a good neighbor by planning for proper drainage, if disturbing any soil surfaces.

You can see a glimpse of the porch area beyond my clients’ casual dining space. We photographed the interiors before it was enclosed by our contractor to create a screened porch. The south is notorious for being buggy in the summer months so this made for a well-appreciated update. There’s a fireplace at the end so they can use this area almost year-round.

You can see a glimpse of the porch area beyond my clients’ casual dining space. We photographed the interiors before it was enclosed by our contractor to create a screened porch. The south is notorious for being buggy in the summer months so this made for a well-appreciated update. There’s a fireplace at the end so they can use this area almost year-round.

Multi-use spaces: Though some homes have been highly-specialized, over the years, David shared most of you are interested in having areas you can use all of the time and with a degree of flexibility. For example, home offices are not getting the same attention they once did. Corporations are bringing employees back to central locations to foster collaboration. Even those working from home can do so from laptops and tablets.

As long as there are extra bedrooms or bonus areas, you can float the use between a home gym, a hobby room or an office/lounging/bedroom space. The key is in addressing broader needs.

Of course, luxury properties may have highly individualized areas tailored specifically to the owners. Some properties may need to be remodeled for resale if the use only applies to a few buyers. The return on your dollars can mean selling the property faster and without a large price reduction.

David and Vonda Huss in their redesigned living room. We created a multi-use space—which is important to consider in designing for today’s homes. Vonda uses the desk to catch up on evening correspondence, via her laptop. David can catch the latest score or stock market update on a TV hidden in the cabinet. It’s a great place for entertaining after dinner or for relaxing at the end of their day. (Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton - Photography: Dustin Peck)

David and Vonda Huss in their redesigned living room. We created a multi-use space—which is important to consider in designing for today’s homes. Vonda uses the desk to catch up on evening correspondence, via her laptop. David can catch the latest score or stock market update on a TV hidden in the cabinet. It’s a great place for entertaining after dinner or for relaxing at the end of their day. (Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton - Photography: Dustin Peck)

A BONUS READ:

Though hoping to keep my post from going too long, our discussion covered too many good things to leave out. I know it’s summer and you’ve got lots of great plans to pursue, so you can always come back anytime for a blog visit!

Staying In place trends: Being a CAPS specialist, I would be remiss not to address this topic. I asked David about what he’s seeing and he confirmed that some of his clients are beginning the downsizing process in their late 50’s and 60’s, though some are even delaying this until their 70’s, depending on their health and physical capabilities. One level living is preferred, or at least with a main bedroom on the first floor. Adapting areas for the “aging in place” population is actually a wise investment for any age. It isn’t just about grab bars and downsizing doesn’t mean less luxury. In fact, luxury translates to comfort and being supported by where you live.

Smart homes and technology: Not only are your TV’s and devices allowing for more space, designing your homes around automation is becoming more common place. It allows you to bundle controls together and removes wall clutter. So much can be and is controlled by your smartphones and tablets. Instead of having to allow space behind furniture to reach shades or draperies, a remote can do it for you. Setting lights, temperature, and even cooking is made easy. Swapping outlets and switches for WiFi capabilities provide for a quick upgrade. We’re entering the era of the Jetsons!

Light-filled, open spaces: It’s almost a given for today’s homes to allow for clear, open views and windows for natural light. It does require a good floor plan as arranging open areas and transitioning between them can be either easy or a challenge. Aside from natural sources, adding proper artificial lighting with dimmer options is highly desired. Layering the lighting and understanding the different types can make a huge difference, too. LED comes in all kinds of “colors” and it’s touted for its energy efficiency.

DIY – A do or a don’t?: Unless you’ve put in the hours to learn how to properly execute a home project, and in particular certain items that may be called into question by a home inspector, the answer is “no”. David and I spoke about being able to detect DIY efforts and though we both may have a more critical eye, the best policy is often to bring in a pro. Sometimes dried paint drip marks and poorly installed trim moldings can raise questions about the quality of other home repairs—a red flag as to what may be hidden. No one wants to have objections or a request for a price reduction in anticipation of correcting the work. while entertaining a potential sale.

HOME EQUALS AN EMOTIONAL JOURNEY: David astutely observed that many home-related decisions are based on emotion.

Let me provide some phrases for your imagination: A calming water view from your porch. A cozy nook for reading in the evening. A large kitchen island for family to gather around to share about their day. A spa bath to soak away your cares. An extra sink and area for cutting and arranging flowers from the garden. A light-filled room for painting. A space for wellness, be it via your Peloton or Yoga mat. The stairway your child descends in their graduation gown. The extra space where one day a parent may come to live. Though you may have painted a visual picture of these spaces, didn’t you also associate some sort of feeling or emotion along with them?

In the end, David and I both believe in making this journey to a place called “home” one of ease.

Be sure to reach out to him if you’re considering a home buying or selling decision. (Contact David > here.)

And thank you for keeping me front-of-mind if you’re ready to make some important design decisions.

All my best! ~ Wanda