Often I study consumer behavior statistics to get to know changes in my market. Some studies say that women are the primary decision makers in almost 90% of all home purchases. In all my projects this statistic has been correct, unless I dealt with single men. In my homeland Italy, we have a saying that goes like this:
“I am the boss, but the person who bosses me around and makes decisions is my wife”.
In my career as a designer, I made many observations on how today’s homes often don’t reflect people’s needs. Generally, the square as shoebox is the most common shape for homes (round shapes are difficult and costly). The shoebox homes have large rooms to fill with stuff and possessions, high ceilings to waste a lot of space and very little attention devoted to the spirit.
If I were a builder, I would pay more attention to people’s living habits. I would make the necessary adjustments to the concept plans to make sure the home has harmony and beauty first, then comfort. Coming home from work should be a pleasant experience, even when we have a lot of chores waiting to get done.
In all my years in design business, I have observed how people enter their homes. The front door is beautifully decorated, but they hardly see it. Home owners reserve to themselves the ugliest part of the house to enter from: the garage, where a pile of laundry, cars, stuff and all the mess will greet them everyday. They reserve the best for the guests: the front door.
During the year, I make a round of visits to my clients’ homes and leave a small token at the door if they are not there. Then, I will call to let them know I was at the house and left a package at their front step, otherwise they will never see it. What is the point of making a surprise visit if I have to tell them to open the front door and pick up my small token? The phone call spoils the surprise.
One day, I thought if I were a builder, I would design the house with a back door foyer, where one door would lead to a mudroom/garage and one door would lead to the kitchen. In the back door foyer, I would create a drop zone for the mail, keys and charging area for phones and electronics, that way all that stuff will not end up on the kitchen counter.
The list of areas I don’t like in a modern home is very long. I have spotted a point of disadvantage in all the closets in American homes. They have no window and being positioned just in or outside bathrooms, it’s only natural that clothes smell musty, molded and old. One more thing, people who live with pets, wears the smell of their pets on their clothes. Think about it, just an operable skylight will suffice to get rid of house and pets smells. I get up in the morning and open my bedroom to let fresh air in. I would do it even if I lived in a cold climate. A few minutes of fresh air don’t hurt anyone, it helps clothes smelling fresh and keeps the house healthy.
If I were a builder, I would add a window in all the closets. I would move the linen closet outside the bathroom and find a way to circulate fresh air into it, if there was no possible way to add at least a window.
How about hosting dinner parties and entertainment? I remember a different functionality in European kitchens. We had a small area off the kitchen, closed with a door, where food preparation and cooking took place, we called it the hot kitchen, where there was the essential, a chopping table, a sink, the garbage and the refrigerator, the rest of the kitchen cabinets, storage and small appliances were in the better part of the kitchen. As soon as food was ready, we brought the plates to the table in the better part of the kitchen used for everyday informal eating. This same area was also the place where we had a cup of coffee with close friends, we paid bills, kids often did their homework and we mingled with family. Formal dining room was close to the kitchen, but not close to the hot kitchen, just so the cooking smells would stay away from the formal area. Outside the hot kitchen, we had the spice garden for our cooking needs.
(Photo: Il Lauro, Italy)
If I were a builder, I would return to the European way of planning the kitchen for real cooks. For people who don’t cook but spend a bundle of money in remodeling the kitchen just to have a good resale value, I suggest to save that money and go on a fantastic trip. People who use microwave to reheating store-bought food don’t need to have a fancy kitchen. Any house will sell for various reasons, not because there is a fancy kitchen in it.
If I were a builder, I would pay attention to open spaces, dual-purpose stairs, I would turn a non-utilized spaces into workable zones and I would pay attention to creative details to build a livable home my way that would embrace soul, mind and body of everyone living in the house.
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Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer working in the USA and Europe since 1990, specializing in kitchen, bath, wine cellar, and outdoor kitchen designs. Often people describe her as “the colorist” as she loves to color her clients’ world and loves to create the unusual. “Vogue” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. Author of three published books, the latest ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors is on the subject of colors. Get your copy through