Holiday season tests your home the most and sparks remodeling discussions

By Annie Schwemmer and Ann Robinson

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Dec. 21 2012 3:00 p.m. MST

This family in the midst of a holiday party preparations recently expanded their kitchen and added the great room, creating a spacious and functional entertaining space.

Annie V. Schwemmer, Renovation Design Group

Enlarge photo»

The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for gatherings, so it is also the time when your home's capacity and functionality are tested the most. This is when you learn (or remember) you really could use that extra bedroom for house guests, your dining room isn't quite big enough when you add that second leaf in the table, and that it might be nice if your guests didn't have to pass through a bedroom to get to the bathroom.

Therefore, it is about this time of year that many of our clients start discussing options for remodeling. If one of their goals is to have a home that lends itself to entertaining, they often consider great rooms, guest bedrooms and additional bathrooms during the planning process.

While issues related to gathering or entertaining may be the catalyst for finally talking to an architect, we help our clients determine how they want their homes to function in everyday life as well as when company visits. The remodel has to make sense for more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Adding extra rooms for occasional guests can be more than just a luxury if you plan a room that can be used for multiple purposes. For example: an office with a Murphy bed, a craft room with enclosed cabinets and a trundle bed, or a hide-a-bed couch in a library. Depending on your needs, you can design your seasonal guest room to function actively during the rest of the year.

Additional bathrooms are also a common wish. It could make a pleasant difference if your dinner guests could use a powder room as opposed to the children's bathroom.

Likewise, a private bathroom associated with a guest room makes for a more relaxing long-term visit. Your guests will feel more welcome if they don't feel they are disrupting the normal routine of the household.

While extra bedrooms are fairly cost-effective to create, bathrooms get a little more complicated and expensive with plumbing and electrical costs. In addition, the simple finishes of a bedroom (painted walls with carpet on the floor) are a bargain compared to the tile, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures required in a bathroom. However, those extra costs should also bring an increase in your property’s overall value. Adding a bathroom of any size changes the ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms and automatically increases the appraised value of your home.

Now that your guests have a comfortable place to stay, they need a place to party.

Most social gatherings, especially around this time of year, are associated with food. Even preparing food becomes a bit of a party with some families. Therefore, the kitchen is often the place to be.

That is why an open-design concept lends itself well to party people. In fact, many of our clients who have finished great-room remodels say they entertain more, even if they weren't entertainers before. They say they are more likely to be the host (or be volunteered to be the host) because their home is more comfortable with a designated gathering space.

Again, you can't justify remodeling only for special occasions. You have to look at your family and determine if transitioning a living room, dining room and kitchen into a great room is right for you at your stage of life.

If you’re considering creating a great room to increase your gathering space, begin by analyzing how your family functions and allocate and arrange the space accordingly.

Make sure your design clearly defines each space and function so your new area doesn't feel like a warehouse or furniture showroom. While you may no longer want that formal dining room, you want to make sure you have a gracious dining area rather than a table stuck in your kitchen.

A renovation that enhances and supports your lifestyle will embrace those who live in the home as well as family and friends who gather there. If possible, now is the time to begin your project so you will have a great place to gather throughout the coming year and have an even merrier holiday season next year.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the Principal Architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com

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