Miami Green Homes


Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home – Part II: work, friends, and family

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the home needs to adapt for our personal use, what changes may be needed for work from home and visiting friends and family?

In the home – Part II:

The first part of this question is relatively easy: “Remote work from home” now includes some area with a computer setup that has a reasonably clear background for video calls and conferences. Few homes are designed with an extra room or space with this function in mind, so there is another change that will be forthcoming for future design. A home office or home office nook will be a feature that will be standard in post COVID-19 residential design. Even for professions that do not need this setup for their basic livelihood, the feature is sure to become a standard, much like the entry foyer noted in the related post, in the home Part I. Beyond work, this area can be used for a new type of happy hour, remote classrooms and other social interactions. But what about multiple people working or learning from home in the same schedule? To create a home office space for each family member is not feasible, so creative partitions with sound isolation may be the answer.

Built-In Home Office Ideas by Paul Raff Studio

Integrated Home Office Design

Creating an office nook can present a solution to carve out space in an easy arrangement and configuration to shield from view and sound. Similar to an open studio setup, multiple stations may be created in this fashion. Designating an existing room, where possible, allows for more functional use and setup but may be especially challenging for renovations and existing homes that look to adapt. After all, most homes were not designed with a spare room for future use adaption in mind, a concept that will likely change in new design thinking – adaptability!

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Front Entry to the Left, Office Nook to the Right

The challenge with creating a small space or using an existing room within the home however, lies with the psychological burnout, that is showing up in many workers already who are being “on” all the time. The kitchen becomes the breakroom to fill up on coffee, the living room reminds of the chores that are typically left for the end of the workday and the school books on the dining table remind of homework and classes that need attending to. The 8-hour workday stretched to 10 hours, to 12 hours, and blends with the home life. The workday itself is now part of the design challenge.

A better design solution is to revisit the home office space as a separate structure that allows for a mini commute, by taking a few steps into the office and when at lunch or at the end of the day returning to the home. Planning and zoning codes will need to change and adapt, to allow for this to happen. Auxiliary structures are already allowed under most zoning codes, but property size may restrict this function due to requirements for building separation, connectivity, and setbacks.

Let’s return to the design opportunity of the home office as a separate structure: Former site design program choices such as pool cabanas, covered BBQs, granny flats, or storage sheds now present the opportunity to create the at-home office studio instead. The design should be complete with a kitchenette to include the coffee maker, sink and a small refrigerator, etc. as well as a bathroom. This function can be accommodated within a fairly small footprint, 10’x 12’ to start. If more space is available, multiple stations for all members of the family, as well as a meeting area or miniature conference room may complete the layout.

Garden office ideas – garden office pods and garden office sheds ...

The work from home studio would likely be connected to the home with an open covered walkway and allow for independent direct access for clients and visitors from the outside. The home office transforms into a true work from home set up, and at the end of the day, the commute also reduces the carbon footprint!

Prefabricated design solutions provide a great opportunity for quick installation, rather than lengthy construction, as these spaces have urgent need. Design options are growing in this industry, including modern solutions, like the Coodo.

coodo

What about friends and family? The Home office studio ideally should not become the weekend hangout to maintain a dis-association form the work week. Instead, the transition into the home for visitors should start at the foyer, as noted for the personal use in Part I. Just like for our own use, this space will function as a transitional area that allows for an initial disinfecting and reduction of the viral load that comes into the home. Removing shoes should become standard as is already common practice in many cultures around the world. The focus now, however, is on minimizing the introduction of foreign particles. An integrated shoe storage compartment in the foyer will facilitate this process. Hand sanitizing stations and even a small sink may be items that are incorporated into the design. The latter will most certainly be part of the mudroom transitional space on larger homes that feature a garage. This access point, however, is unlikely to be used for friends and family.

Once the initial shedding has been completed more spacious furniture arrangements to allow for groups to maintain a small degree of physical distancing will influence future designs to create overall larger spaces. The need to fill these rooms with a lot of furniture should be balanced with the function and anticipation of people other than the immediate family. If the in-laws visit frequently or the home is the go-to spot for the crew to watch the game, keep it open and spacious.

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Foyer with Powder Room

Already a popular design feature, the powder room will become an important post-COVIT element for families that have frequent visitors. The private bathrooms need to remain just that – private to avoid contamination. The solution is to provide a half-bathroom near the general living areas. Depending on the layout and adjacent functions, this room may expand to include a shower if connecting to the outside or other uses of the home and yard. The powder room should include a small changing area, think mini locker room, that double serves as guest storage and is large enough to comfortably allow for a change of clothes. Ideally, the location is in close proximity to the foyer as well.

Lastly, the space every party always ends up at. The kitchen! Already a focal point in the home for daily use, this is the spot that inevitably any group ends up at some point. To avoid close quarters, the center island, already a popular feature in larger homes will become the single most important post-COVIT-19 design feature. An accessible island without a cooktop or sink provides an excellent workstation during normal use, easily extends to include informal seating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and maintains good physical distance for gatherings – the larger the counter, the better.

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Oversized Kitchen Island with Integrated lower seating counter – classic design style

Inspired to adapt your space or design your new homes yet?

www.SebastianEilert.com



Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home, Part I

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the office and office culture are likely affected, what do changes to the home may look like?

In the home – Part I:

“Shelter in place” and “remote work from home” are certainly familiar terms these days. But how does this cozy space need to change to continue to be the safe haven we all seek? The answer is linked to our daily use of familiar areas and activities.

Let’s start with the approach. Coming from the outside world; work, shopping, exercise, etc. into the home in South Florida its likely done by car. If you are lucky to have a garage, that will be the point of first contact. Otherwise, the front door will serve as this space. Technology is already widely available to assist with remote unlocking and opening, so the touchless entry is already safe and will likely expand into a standard feature. Materials used for hardware will also change to reflect easy cleaning and disinfecting. More apps are likely to make the transition from the approach into the house easy, sensor-based, and even remote.

The next space is the actual entrance. South Florida rarely features a true foyer as commonly found in northern regions. The main reason for this architecturally speaking is the lack of need to keep the cold out and shed all clothing relating to severe or unpleasant weather. This too will change by design. No longer concerned only with air condition leaking to the outside, the entrance vestibule or foyer will find its way into the updated post COVIT-19 designed home. This can be new or retrofit to create the buffer needed to bring items from the outside into the home and transition out of protective clothing as well as provide a first layer for viral shedding and reduced transmittal of possible contaminants. Doormats, filters, and UV cabinets for certain clothing may look futuristic but are likely to be integrated here with new materials and will take up some of this space.

mudroom

Mudroom transition from the garage into the house.

In more spacious homes this room may also be added as an interface between the garage and the house. Already a popular feature in new home design, the mud-room – a transitional space between garage and kitchen or pantry – no longer will be used for backpacks, school supplies, and large shopping trips only. It will now include a disinfection station and for front line workers, may include a disposable section, similar to a sharps or biohazard removal container setup.

Once inside the home, personal interactions will also be guided by hands-free decisions and upgrades. Appliances, light control, sound systems, faucets, showers, etc., are already integrating these features. More is sure to come, combing voice and motion activation. Think about your favorite Spaceship Enterprise stage setup…

Rain Shower Set System 20" x 14" with Touch Panel Smart Mixer and Remote Controlled LED - VAVALA Vavala FLUXURIE.COM

Free access – modern voice-command controlled shower

Lounging in the living area, working in the designated home station (look for part II B on more for this feature), or getting the well-deserved shut-eye are areas of personal use that should not change a great deal from current design preferences. The 2 most impacted areas are the bathroom and the kitchen. Following a typical daily routine, the first step once rolling out of bed, having told the alarm to stop ringing, would be the use of the toilet. Touch unavoidable by sitting down, but “clean-up” is changing. Besides the paranoia of purchasing toilet paper, there is no real need for this ancient relic in the post COVIT design. Paperless cleansing toilet seats do not just eliminate the need for paper, but will also reduce the need for touch; flushing voice active as well.

Touchless Toilet Seat Covers : Toilet Seat covers

The bathroom sink will also be touchless or voice-activated and will likely include some UV lighting to further incorporate disinfecting. This is more important upon the noted return to the home above, but will become a standard feature in the near future. Next is the shower, again simple already in place solutions for turning on/off, regulating temperature and pressure. Accessibility is likely to be the big winner not just though incorporating commands, but also by the increase in space to avoid tight areas more likely to touch someone or something, think shower curtains, versus a nice roll-in shower.

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Doorless shower access. Enlarged shower for easy access

On to the kitchen: The kitchen counter is already typically a biohazard, no matter how well it is maintained. We use it daily and materials will change to be both user friendly and sanitary. Microbial cutting surfaces and disinfectant under cabinet light are good choices. The fridge, appliances, and cooktops all will be retrofitted with voice commands and contribute to the touchless function of the kitchen space. Eating will hopefully still be manual !

10 Best Under Cabinet LED Lighting - (2020 Reviews & Guide)

With this increase in technology, reliable power and data will become paramount. An increased energy demand can be offset with photovoltaic systems and supported by other renewable energy resources. A designated server space will also find its way int the post COVID designed home, maybe with a pantry or otherwise near the kitchen for easy access.

With so many integrated features to make one s life better, how do we now interact with others inside the home? Look for part II about the family group, friends and family visiting, and the work at home environment.

Sebastian Eilert, AIA

PS: Side note about the daily routine. A great read I found is “A Million Years In A Day” by Greg Jenner, following the history of many of the daily routines and chores done in the home.



Design highlights. The Bathroom:

Bathrooms. European design trends tell us that this space is more important than the kitchen when allocating space. The spa-life within one’s own four walls has an increased importance in home remodeling as well as new construction.

Basic function remains a budget favorite. Starting on the small or standard end of the spectrum, my personal preference is a 6×8 bathroom over a standard 5×8, which is also fine. This dimension results from a standard low tub of 60” x 30”. These tubs present the most cost efficient way to do a bathroom, with the tub starting at $250. These tubs are great for families with small children or to bathe small to mid size pets…but pretty much useless otherwise.

shower

On to the question then of tub versus shower. In lieu of the above mentioned builder special tub, most projects will opt for a nice size shower. Indeed a 30” by 60” shower is very generous, though a little deep. I like to go a little wider to at least 42” with a minimum depth of 48”. Access to the shower is another item to be considered. Building code requires that water from the shower remains within the shower boundary. To achieve this, most projects require a basic lip at the edge of the shower, typically 4” tall to step over. This lip will then also serve as the base for a glass enclosure, if chosen. The sleeker alternative to the lip edge is a recessed edge or sloped approach. The latter is a favorite for age in place solutions, as it allows easy access for a wheelchair, if necessary. Either of these 2 options must be considered during planning stages and do depend on the possibility of lowering the floor in the shower area.

tub

Back to the tub. In our practice the tub is a vanishing commodity, both in new construction and certainly in renovations. If a tub is requested and enough space can be allocated, free standing soaking tubs, over jetted or drop-in Jacuzzi tubs are preferred. These tubs can create a wonderful feature for any project and provide a sanctuary within the home. One last word on tubs: it remains a good idea to have at least one tub in the home for the above noted uses.

After selection of tub versus shower, the next item to consider is the toilet. In the standard size space, I prefer to locate it next to the tub or shower for the added feel of space. If space allows, a separate toilet room is a great feature for obvious sound and smell separation. The code required spacing for a toilet is 15” on center to each side and under ADA (Americans with Disability Act – while not required for residential projects, a good guideline for accessible living) requires 48” clear space in front. I prefer a 18” by 60” layout, which is a lot more comfortable.

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Finally, the sink and counter must be considered. The following items should be addressed: counter material (traditional marble or granite, quartz, composite, etc.), sink type (drop in, under mount, vessel or integrated), faucet location (on counter or out of wall), vanity design (floating, standard full height or counter only) and of course number of sinks. In a standard bathroom a single sink with a wall mount faucet on a standard cabinet is my preference; it optimizes use of the counter and storage under the sink. When space allows, 2 sinks facing each other create a great “his and hers” layout and the incorporated toilet room noted above likely gives more space to one side, creating a good amount of space to use as a make-up station or simple extra counter space.

I do like integrated sink designs for ease of maintenance, but any of the above selections will do – be mindful when selecting a vessel sink to lower the counter to accommodate proper height of the sink edge. Also be considerate of faucet selection; nothing worse than a faucet that is too short or too low to get your hands under.

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Two items are frequently missed when designing a bathroom. 1. A medicine cabinet for additional storage – preferred off to the side as not to become the main mirror, and 2. Lighting. While overhead lighting is great to illuminate the space, a light source from the front is preferred for make-up, shaving and other uses involving your face; a combination of both is my favorite.



Design highlights. The Master Suite:

The Master Suite is a renovation and addition favorite. Next to the kitchen, this is probably the second most requested item when considering work to an existing structure. Indeed the improvements to this area are not just good for the immediate living situation, but also are key features for future value of the project. Frequently a master suite involves an addition to the house, rather than only a remodeling, thus increasing the square footage of the overall property.

A master suite, as opposed to a master bedroom, involves a grand bathroom and en-suite closets. The design typically begins with a small entry area into the suite. If space and budget allow, a small seating are is the ideal connecting point to the rest of the house. This area then serves as the connector as well as a buffer from the other spaces.

bedroom

The bedroom itself is generally larger as compared to the other bedrooms in the house. It is important to maintain an overall sense of scale in relation to the overall home. A good size master bedroom should be no smaller than 14’ x 18” and may be as large as 20’x 20’. Very large homes could go over bigger however, I generally advise to keep the bedroom function as a true bedroom and consider adding a seating area or small den to the suite in lieu of an oversized bedroom.

Once the living components are settled, the bathroom and closet relationship must be laid out next. Options include fully separate spaces, resulting in a large number of doors, a closet to bathroom connection in a corridor style or finally an open connection between them. The latter requires a good amount of area as well as excellent air control to avoid any moisture form the bathroom seeping into the closets.

closet-to-bath

The bathroom itself should have a separate toilet room as well as a large feature shower. Here again, the scale of the shower should be larger than those in the rest of the home. Bathtubs are a vanishing commodity and are often forfeited in lieu or a larger shower, possibly used as a steam room. If a tub is desired, it can be integrated with the shower in a single enclose or be freestanding as a feature.

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A spin of off the Master Suite is the guest suite. Similar in approach, these spaces are sometimes referred to as a second master suite and follow the same composition of spaces as above, at a smaller scale. Guest suits are frequently designed in multistory homes and located on the ground floor rather than upper floor to prioritize access over views. They serve as an alternate master suite to allow for aging in place.