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Today’s home is working overtime as adults and children are using it as their restaurant, office, classroom, entertainment spot and vacation destination.
NARI Milwaukee members report homeowners are looking to improve, repurpose and expand their space due to these increased demands.
Since March, many families have been putting their kitchen to work three times a day, every day. They’re now preparing and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home.
“People are discovering their kitchen isn’t ideal because it wasn’t designed for more than one cook,” says Heather Brannan, an interior designer with Callen Construction in Muskego. “We’re currently remodeling kitchens to give homeowners a better work triangle and more space to operate in.”
Ideally, the placement of the sink, refrigerator and stove should form a triangle to allow for a smooth flow between those three main work areas.
Galley and U-shaped kitchens often pose challenges to this design concept. If a kitchen is used infrequently, some inconvenience is tolerable. However, these days, homeowners are looking to remedy situations that have escalated from annoying to “must address.”
“To increase the size of the kitchen and improve functionality, we’ve been removing walls between the kitchen and living room,” says Michael Maple, general manager of Renovations Group in Hartland. “In addition, since the dining room isn’t used as much as before, removing the wall between the dining room and kitchen allows us to reconfigure the space for a larger kitchen.” Older homes often have a number of compartmentalized rooms that can be opened up and reconfigured to deliver more space. “If we’re creating an open concept room, we sometimes end up with dead space that we’re able to turn into a walk-in pantry,” adds Brannan. “Removing soffits in the kitchen is another way to deliver additional storage since we can install taller cabinets.”
Another area of the home that’s getting a second look is the basement.
“Basements have typically been seen as a storage area,” says Nicole Raffensperger, owner and lead designer with Design Tech Remodeling
in Mequon. “Homeowners are now utilizing basements to meet their needs for additional space. They’re creating home offices, entertainment areas and bedrooms so the family can spread out more.”
Any basement remodel should begin with a thorough inspection by the homeowner and contractor to look for signs of water infiltration. A radon test is another smart move. The basement might also require the addition of an electrical sub panel, especially if the space needs an additional heat source like electric baseboards.
For those considering a basement bedroom, it’s important to know that building codes mandate an egress window. Egress windows must meet specific requirements in terms of size and height from the floor so, in the case of a fire or another emergency situation, anyone in the lower level can escape and emergency personnel have access.
HOME OFFICE BOOM
While home offices are popping up in the basement, little-used bedrooms are also being converted.
“To have a fully functioning home office, we’ve been adding electrical and lighting to bedrooms,” says John Nehmey, MCR, CR, UDCP, owner of Nehmey Construction, Inc., in Oak Creek. “We’ll install recessed lighting throughout the room or above the desk. We’ve been doing the same thing in children’s bedrooms to accommodate the fact that many are attending school at home.”
Nehmey notes that an ideal home office should be completely enclosed by four walls and have a door so the space is quiet, private and removed from other household activities.
Some homeowners are turning to their attics for extra room. “Depending on the structure, roof height and stairs, the attic is a perfect space to subdivide for an additional bedroom, workout area or a multi-use space,” says Maple. “When it comes to attics, many of our clients are asking for a master bedroom suite.”
An attic remodel does have its own special considerations. The layout must accommodate a staircase. Additional plumbing and electrical might have to be run and adequate lighting is essential. Skylights, solar tubes, oversized windows or a dormer can beam natural light into an attic space.
“From a construction standpoint, the attic floor joists might need to be enhanced to support the added structure and intended use of the space,” explains Brannan. “However, you’re adding more livable square footage to your home so it’s definitely a positive conversion.”
To receive a free copy of “Renovate,” NARI’s new consumer magazine and membership directory, visit NARImilwaukee.org or call 414-771-4071.