4 Organizing Questions to Ask Before You Remodel
While remodeling presents the opportunity to showcase your personal style, it also allows you to create optimal functionality for everyday living. Here are four questions to ask yourself so that your new space will make life easier.
1. How is the space used?
Think about the routines and habits of all household members that will utilize the area. How is the space currently being used by them? Could things work better?
As an example, for a household that removes shoes at the door, do shoes tend to pile up near the entryway? It might be a good idea to consider adding some sort of storage solution for shoes, such as adding a built-in to the front entry or incorporating a freestanding shelf or cabinet.
Likewise, for those with children, where do they sit and work on their homework? If you’d like for them to be in common spaces near you as they study, it might be worth incorporating work surfaces, with storage space closeby for their school supplies. This type of setup will cut down on complications and lingering homework clutter.
In addition, think about your own work area. You can stay organized easier by dedicating room for basic office supplies, important papers, checkbooks, cords and equipment for electronics, and stationery products. How often do you spread out papers and work on your laptop? If it’s often — including work managing household schedules and papers — you’d most likely benefit from a dedicated workspace that will increase productivity and create a healthier environment for your body than hunkering down on the couch. Conversely, if you simply pay a few bills online each month, a dedicated workspace probably isn’t necessary, but it still might be a good idea to plan space to keep office supplies and files together in one location.
Hiring a professional organizer is a huge help when trying to assess your needs and come up with appropriate storage solutions to maximize your space before you settle on any remodeling plans.
2. How many people plan on using the storage areas?
Adequate storage to accommodate everyone in the household should be part of any remodel plan. If not, you’ll end up with too much stuff for the space and a home that feels cluttered. Some forethought will prevent this issue.
Kitchen Pantry — Designing a pantry that isn’t large enough for the household’s needs is a common problem that results in clutter, overflow, and messy counters. Before finalizing the size and layout of your pantry, assess your grocery shopping habits. How often do you shop? How big is your household? Do you buy in bulk or smaller quantities? If you bake often, is there enough room for all your baking tools and ingredients?
Drop Zone — Nailing down a natural flow in your home that matches your lifestyle will go a long way toward managing messiness. To start, when your family enters the home, where do they put the items that they’re carrying? Think purses, keys, mail, backpacks. Should there be a designated spot for this instead of the kitchen counter, hall table or floor?
If there’s enough room in your home, a mudroom is the ideal drop zone for these items. It also makes the perfect place to stick items that need to be returned (to stores or people) so that they don’t mess up your main living areas. If mail is an issue for you, a small recycling container and shredder can also be stored in the mudroom to deal with junk mail quickly and easily.
While the mudroom should be located close to the main entryway of the home, for purely aesthetic reasons, it’s preferable that it isn’t visible from the main entrance. The ideal situation would be to have a mudroom with side-door and garage access.
If you are unable to fit a full mudroom in your square footage, a drop zone can easily be incorporated elsewhere, maybe in the garage or laundry room with a small bank of cabinets and a countertop.
3. Are there any potential family changes in the near future?
It’s always smart to think ahead and consider any potential changes that might come up in the near future.
• Kids — If you plan on having children, remember that kids and their stuff take up a lot of room as they grow up. For example, opting for an adult-size closet will make a useful addition for storing and organizing throughout all the stages of childhood — from baby diapers to teen sports equipment — and help maintain an uncluttered environment.
• Empty Nest — Maybe your remodel is timed right at the end of your child-raising and your household size will see a reduction in the near future. This might be a good time to start thinking about how you will repurpose your kids’ rooms. Would an office that serves double-duty as a guest room when your child visits make sense? If that’s the case, you may want to consider versatile solutions like a built-in wall unit with drawers that could serve as both long-term storage piece and a dresser for quick visits. To give your child some sense of ownership of the space, add small touches like decorating with a few of their belongings and painting the room a color they like.
• Elderly Parents — If moving aging parents into your home is likely, features like a bathroom on the ground floor and a walk-in tub are important for those with limited mobility. Plan on having your parents with you indefinitely? An in-law suite is a great way for them to maintain independence while still being safely nearby.
4. Are your spaces useful?
Do you plan on staying put for a long while? Don’t be afraid to customize your home to support your lifestyle. When you think about it, it’s actually wasteful to pay for a home and not maximize the usefulness of the space.
Think about how you can rework existing areas to better accommodate your needs — such as taking out a rarely used fireplace and replacing it with a large storage spot that you’ll use all the time.
Not all changes require knocking down walls. Sometimes a home’s flow can be improved just by re-evaluating the purpose of existing spaces. For example, for homes that have both a living room and a family room, consider converting one of them into a dining room, which would serve you better when entertaining. Another common but highly effective way to repurpose space is to convert an extra bedroom into a home office.