From Point A to Point B
With over 25 years in the business, I have work worked with scores of homeowners to help them remodel their kitchens. Over this same time, and with the proliferation of home design magazines and websites, clients are coming to the process with more information. Often times this information comes from sources that put fashion above function and efficiency. I enjoy creating beautiful spaces, but I also feel a responsibility to engage with clients about things they may not notice. One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of kitchen design is circulation -- or flow from point A to point B.
getting clients to fix poor circulation can be like getting kids to eat broccoli.
Mary had a large home but an outmoded kitchen cut off from the flow of the rest of the house. She brought me in with the idea of a kitchen addition to give her the more modern look and function she wanted. A larger house is often a target rich environment for finding efficiencies and in this sprawling home, I was able to recover 40% of the circulation space without having to do an addition by doing two things: relocating the main family entry closer to the kitchen and moving the staircase to a more central location. It was a radical idea to suggest putting the new stair where the kitchen had been when the owner had requested an addition but the results produced the effect Mary was hoping to achieve while resisting the idea that more space is always the answer to a home’s deficiencies. In the end, the kitchen ended up with a slightly different view and a more an inspiring place in which to cook and live.
In a small house, the circulation savings are even more rewarding. If you don’t have much space to start with, every little gain is significant. In this home, the door has been moved to align with the natural aisle behind the barstools. Moving and aligning doors made for more storage, more work space, and a better layout. Most square house plans like this one employ a loop circulation pattern as opposed to a spine. A fat or wide loop is workable if the space contained within the square is usable. A fat loop doesn’t work if the loop cuts through the usable portion of a room like it did in this living room..
I have always been a stickler for tallying circulation space statistics on my larger remodels so I can quantify the value of this type of remodel verse expansion. For most of my career I’ve felt like I was constantly swimming upstream against a current of real estate and remodeling trends and it is satisfying to see a growing trend towards simpler, smaller homes in recent years. I am proud of my ability to repurpose space. Repurposing inefficient circulation space creates living space. Houses that are logically laid out are the ones that will survive many owners.
There is another benefit of repurposing space and it is one that is near and dear to my own heart – the environmental benefits. By fixing circulation issues and keeping houses smaller you reduce material and energy use during construction and promote more responsible consumption in the long run. It can both make for fancy magazine covers and create a more sustainable home and a better point A to point B.