Architect's Clinic: A place for everything and everything in its place
Q. We live in a detached, two-storey house. We have four children under the age of seven. We seem to be drowning in a sea of clutter due to a lack of storage. What do you advise?
A. This is one of the most common questions I get asked as an architect. Experience has taught me that the most important element in any home is appropriate storage. "A place for everything and everything in its place", as they say. We live in a consumer-driven world surrounded by our ever-increasing possessions at a time when our homes in towns and cities are getting smaller. In speculative housing developments storage is rarely provided and when it is, it's usually inadequate.
The key areas that are problematic when it comes to household storage are cloaks and footwear, laundry and kitchens.
Start at the entrance to your home by providing ample storage for shoes, boots, coats, sports kits, school bags, etc. A bench will allow you to sit and take off your shoes; it should feature two-tiered footwear storage beneath. On the wall above, place coat hooks (and plenty of them) and above the coat hooks could be more pigeon-hole storage with a small storage box for hats, gloves, scarves and other items for individual family members.
Having eliminated the clutter at entry level, the next area to tackle is laundry. If you have young children, then laundry is the bane of most parents with inadequate facilities. Clothes horses spring up in kitchens, living rooms and halls, with every radiator in sight crammed with drying clothes. Laundry rooms, or as we call them 'utility rooms', need to be large enough to accommodate one or two clothes horses, separate storage bins for laundry, whites, colours, delicates, etc. An internal clothes line or sturdy hanging rail from the ceiling is a great idea to allow all wet laundry to be hung on plastic hangers, which makes for efficient use of small spaces. Individual linen baskets in cubby holes can act as shelving for each member of the family, so that when laundry is clean and dry each person knows where to find it and put it away!
The next area that generates lots of clutter in our homes if not properly ordered is the kitchen. Eliminate visual clutter and reduce the extent of kitchen units by providing a 'pantry'. This small walk-in cupboard with floor-to-ceiling shelving will store within easy reach all the dry goods, platters, pots and pans and the myriad of electrical gadgets that inhabit our modern kitchens.
Clever and well-thought-out storage solutions will eliminate the clutter from your home and help create a positive living environment for all.
If you are planning on up-grading your storage solutions, get the right design advice from the start by involving a registered architect.
The RIAI is the registration body for architects in Ireland, you can find a registered architect on riai.ie
Do you have a design dilemma we can help with? Email problems to firstname.lastname@example.org. Advice provided is for guidance only and readers are advised to seek professional assistance for any proposed project.
Thomas G Flynn is a registered architect specialising in bespoke home design; his practice is TGF Architecture, see tgfarchitecture.ie