Renovation Design Group
The Sorensons had to build an addition to get the space they needed.

Wendy Sorenson's five children used to fit perfectly around the kitchen table in the nook, but she eventually found herself with five teens and no room to breathe.

Sorenson's family was growing, and they needed a main-floor gathering room. The Sorensons' Tudor home in Salt Lake City's Harvard-Yale area was built for two people. The family decided to build an addition on the back of the house.

The addition worked because the Sorensons understood the function of the space they created. They knew what they wanted the new space for and how they would use it every day.

Many times clients will come in and request a remodel that they haven't analyzed. We are often surprised by how many clients come to us and say, "I really want a bonus room upstairs." And we say, "That would be fun. Why do you want a bonus room?" And they say, "Well, because all the new houses have bonus rooms."

The key to designing space that functions well is analysis. You don't have to come up with all the answers, but you should think through your family's needs and your house's shortcomings.

Step 1: Analyze your current house in terms of what's working and what's not. For a recent client, a second marriage meant blending two families. A home remodel was definitely in order. For them, location (staying within the same school boundaries) and a fabulous valley view was on their "what's working" list. On their "not working" list was a lack of bedrooms, bathrooms and a large gathering space.

Step 2: List your needs and wants. This family decided a separate bedroom for each child was key to their success as a new family. Because the children were older, the new bedrooms didn't need to be near the parents' bedroom. They had two existing bathrooms but wanted four. A space for doing homework was important, along with a larger kitchen and great room. They also wanted to keep their backyard pool, so any additions to the house could not extend out back.

Step 3: Talk with an architect. When these clients came to us, they had analyzed their home and their family. When it came for this step, they were prepared. When they said, "We want more bedrooms," and we said, "Great! Why?" they knew exactly how to respond.

When you meet with an architect, bring a list of needs and wants. The architect will help you refine your list and use this information, along with their knowledge of building codes, structural issues and good design principles, to start on plans.


Architects Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com.