When you’re planning a new build, or remodeling your home, the fun part is designing the layout and the look, creating something that has a wow factor and reflects your personality. There are a wealth of décor choices on the market; you can happily spend hours choosing from vast ranges of granite worktops, floor and wall tiles, wallpapers and paint colors. These elements are the key to your finished design living up to your expectations, but while you are trying to choose between glass topped and chrome taps for the new basin, don’t forget the less exciting but fundamental importance of the functionality of your rooms. When you are living with the design, having perfect aesthetics is of little use if the room doesn’t match your practical requirements, so take some time to consider the way the room needs to work, as well as how you want it to look.
The toilet is probably the least exciting but most essential and regularly used feature of the house. You can choose to have a square toilet, have the tank hidden, low-level seats, quiet closing lids, and push or lever flushes, but whichever look you go for, ask yourself a few questions about the product you’ve chosen. For example, some very nice-looking toilets don’t perform well when it comes to the flush. You don’t want to be constantly cleaning or unblocking the toilet because the shape of the pan doesn’t make it the most efficient exit for the contents! Basins that are freestanding on top of a unit may look beautiful, but when you are using them, you will have twice as much cleaning to do compared to a recessed basin. Black tiles in the shower cubicle may look splendid when they are fitted, but will show up water marks and soap scum far more obviously than paler colors, so again there’s extra cleaning to consider.
The kitchen has one of the most specific and important functions in the entire house. You will be both preparing and cleaning up after meals every day, and you will be using a variety of equipment and appliances to cook and clean. Large appliances often come as integrated units which you can hide behind doors that match the rest of the room, but they need to be positioned in the most accessible place to make them easier to use. You also need to be sure a machine will be capable of doing the work you require of it rather than thinking just about what it will look like. It’s no good buying a dishwasher that won’t hold enough place settings for your family just because it fits the space you have in mind. When you are deciding what to buy, you need to look at these appliances carefully and make sure the functionality and efficiency are appropriate for your needs. If you love the look of granite (and who doesn’t!), there’s no doubt it will make a beautiful finishing touch to your worktops. Just bear in mind that it will need special cleaning and polishing treatments and you will need to use heat resistant racks and trays to avoid the possibility of marking the surface with mugs and cooking pots.
You will be spending what adds up to years of your life in bed, so having a comfortable bed and mattress combination is a top priority. Take the time to try out as many mattresses as you can and make sure it’s comfortable for both you and your partner. If the bedroom has glass walls that allow a panoramic view of the picturesque countryside or a stunning cityscape, you will be delighted every time you wake up and gaze out at your extraordinary vista. What will be less delightful is when the glass turns your bedroom into a greenhouse, and you feel like a lobster on a barbecue, so finding the right glass or reflective coatings should be part of your planning process to avoid this scenario. You might long for super king size bed but can only fit one in if you don’t have bedside cabinets. Rethink your longings and settle for king size – the frustration of not having somewhere to put your coffee, book, phone, glasses, etc. at night will ruin the joy of the extra-large bed.
Aesthetics vs. functionality
Two dull but important considerations for every aspect of your home are convenience and ease of cleaning. Real wood floors, for example, look amazing and are much warmer when you are barefoot. Unfortunately, they also need far more care and attention to keep in good condition. They are more prone to scratching, damage, staining, and watermarks, and you must be careful about what kind of cleaning fluids you use. They will also need regular maintenance in the form of oiling or treating to preserve their lifespan. This may turn out to be a major chore if you have children and animals running around the house. Glass bannisters or panels on the stairs can look stunning when they are newly fitted, but it will only take a day or two of dust and fingerprints for them to need polishing to restore them to their unblemished appearance.
Throw caution to the wind
If you’re feeling like this advice is spoiling your fun, remember you have the final say in designing your home. If you love cleaning and will enjoy the extra labor involved in keeping high gloss kitchen tiles sparkly clean, or if you have the wherewithal to employ someone to clean for you, then no, you don’t need to worry so much about some of these practical aspects. You shouldn’t feel like you are compromising your dreams for the sake of functionality; it’s about being able to make an informed choice based on what is most important for your happiness. The trick is not to get so swept up in the excitement of choosing new items and finishes for your project that you lose sight of how you will live with them day to day.