Monday 27 March 2017

Making room for teenagers

Considering open plan? Keep a separate space for the teenagers
Considering open plan? Keep a separate space for the teenagers

Jack Norton

Q: We live in a typical semi-D of 120sqm. With teenage children, we need more space but can't afford to move. Have you any advice? The most we could afford would be a small extension.

A: FDK Ching wrote: "Space constantly encompasses our being... As space begins to be captured, enclosed, moulded and organised by elements of form, architecture comes into being." All well and good but how can this help with teenagers?

Working with international companies has taught us that what is a warehouse today will be tomorrow's office. So designing spaces to have flexibility is vital. A similar approach on residential projects can show real value.

Extensions can be costly. As a first step, an architect will carry out a detailed assessment of your house, assisting you to look closely at use and space to identify your family's future needs.

Perhaps the solution is as simple as creating a second bathroom to cater for the morning rush. Remember, life is a cycle of change. I recall a space which started as a store evolving to a study room at Leaving Cert time and finally a home recording studio in college.

Most developer-constructed homes from the 1990s to the 2000s have an element of open-plan design to the kitchen/dining space. Not to everybody's tastes, such floor plans do provide a cost-effective layout and a way for families to spend time together. Clients tell us that an open-plan layout enables them to cook and observe younger children doing school work or monitor their TV/internet/game consumption without them feeling supervised. Older teenagers can take the space over with friends, allowing mum and dad to withdraw to a quiet space. In all cases, good natural light is a key element. Where possible, a connection to an external open space provides great value, even with our climate.

With older more sub-divided dwellings, the addition of an open-plan kitchen and family living space is very much the trend. Yet often such layouts are missing a secondary living space. Do consider keeping a separate space for teenagers.

Applying for planning permission can allow you to seek the best design option for your extension. However, being creative and working within the exempted development planning guidelines can save both money and time.

Look around, read and ask yourself what is it you really need. The best reference I have come across is a book by Stephen Crafti, Making the Most of Small Spaces. If you are planning design or structural work to your home, seek architectural advice. You can find a registered architect on riai.ie.

Jack Norton is a registered architect; his practice Portal Architects work nationwide; portalarchitects.ie

If you are planning design or structural work to your home, seek architectural advice. You can find a registered architect on riai.ie

Do you have an architectural dilemma we can help you with? Email your problem to designclinic@independent.ie. Advice provided is for guidance only and readers are advised to seek professional assistance for any proposed project.

Sunday Independent

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