Quality of life can come down to something as basic as lost car keys. It’s such a simple thing, but when you’re rushing to get out the door, it can be a major source of stress. Same goes for kids dropping their backpacks in the kitchen when they get home from school or tracking muddy shoes over your freshly mopped hardwood floors after soccer practice. Disorganization can completely mess up your day — and your mood. As much as we try to prevent life’s chaos, it worms its way into our lives.
With so many external factors impacting you every day, your timber home should be the one place where you have control. But if the elements of calm aren’t considered in the early stages of planning and designing your house, there’s a pretty good chance pandemonium could infiltrate, stealing the Zen from your soul.
There are two easy ways to combat chaos in your timber home’s design: through practical means (think storage and drop zones) and aesthetics (e.g., daylight and outdoor rooms). Creating a stress-free abode comes down to serious contemplation about how you really live day to day, and making smart, thoughtful design choices based on that information. With that in mind, we’ve compiled 10 ideas that may not always keep the maddening world at bay but will at least provide a refuge from the noise.
1. Functional Foyers
Photo: James Ray Spahn, Courtesy of Combined Timber Crafts
The idea of a drop-zone has been in vogue for a number of years now. But limiting your home to a single area where anything from your keys to your gym bag lands is a no-no. Ideally, your home should have several, with the most important being your entryway. A closet is essential at each of your timber home’s entrances. Perhaps the formal entry’s closet is reserved for guests, while a second closet, near the garage, provides coat storage for residents. Whether it’s a formal entry or a mudroom, each space should have warm, welcoming lighting, built-in cabinetry and comfortable furnishings (think benches for removing shoes or dropping handbags) that are also beautiful. An entryway is an architectural first impression you carry throughout your home.
2. Kitchen Command Center
Photo: Oakbridge Timber Framing
Home offices are commonplace, but they’re often located in areas that aren’t on the front lines of your family’s daily battles: Bill paying, homework, charging devices and more. An oversized kitchen island could suffice, but then you have the clutter of papers, computers and wires snaking across your food prep area. When designing your kitchen, consider incorporating a command center, either in one corner of the room or an adjoining space, like a mudroom or butler’s pantry. Then your paperwork and electronic devices can be stored out of the way while still being easily accessible.
Photo: Robin Stubbert
Though the name connotes messiness, this space is truly all about order. In fact, it may be the most important room in the house, since it can hold hooks for grocery bags and purses, storage bins for umbrellas, cubbies for shoes and hats and a table for magazines and mail. Take the space up a notch by incorporating a sink for rinsing everything from gardening tools to paint brushes. It often pulls double duty as a laundry area, too.
4. Butler’s Pantry
We love the fact that the butler’s pantry has made a big comeback! Much more than extra space to store dry goods and kitchen appliances, this pass-through between the kitchen and a living space also can serve as a staging area for entertaining. Plus, as mentioned in Tip #2, you could put a mini-office in this area. The butler’s pantry makes so much sense that some people opt for fewer kitchen cabinets to make way for this multifunctional space.
5. Storage, Storage and More Storage
As a nation who likes to accumulate stuff, our homes often feel a little tight. Most new homeowners, after being in their home for a year, will tell you if there’s one thing they’d change about its design is that they’d incorporate more storage space. Pinpoint under-utilized areas, like pantries, bathrooms, lofts, half-walls and the area beneath the stairs, then explore ways to maximize these spaces.
6. Outdoor Living
Outdoor living rooms and kitchens aren’t over-the-top indulgences anymore. In fact, they match the lifestyle of the typical timber homeowner who believes in seamless transitions between indoors and out. Some quick tips include outfitting your outdoor rooms with electricity and plumbing before your home is complete to avoid costly retrofitting later. Flooring should be fireproof — brick pavers or flagstone are both safe and beautiful. And choose appliances and fabrics to withstand the elements.
7. Screened Porches
Photo: Appalachian Antiques Hardwoods
Get the best of both worlds — the ambiance of the outdoors with the protection from sun, rain and insects the interior provides — by designing a screened porch. When planning, consider what you will do in this space and size it accordingly. If you will simply lounge on a hammock or porch swing, it could be smaller than if you intend to host al fresco dinner parties here. Keep it close to the main living areas so you actually use it, but removed enough for privacy. And be sure to take advantage of your views.
8. Window Seats
Photo: Rich Frutchey, Courtesy of South County Post & Beam
Cats have it all figured out. The back of a couch propped against a window — or even the windowsill itself — provides an ideal place to relax away from the commotion of the main living space. Take a lesson from our feline friends by incorporating a window seat or two into your timber home’s design. The best spots are in a kitchen bump-out, a stair landing and in the bedrooms. Plus, take a page from Tip #5 and utilize the area beneath the seat for built-in pillow/blanket storage.
9. Bedroom Balconies & Patios
It doesn’t take much to transform a basic bedroom into a private sanctuary. A small balcony or private patio serves as a retreat where you can enjoy your morning coffee and the paper or quiet evening conversation with your spouse and a glass of wine. Adding timber elements to the outdoor space will allow you to enjoy all the beauty of the interior rooms while you steal this secretive time outdoors.
Photo: James Ray Spahn / See more of this home here.
Research shows that natural light calms our moods and makes us happier. It seems fairly obvious, right? But it’s a little more complicated than building a timber home with soaring ceilings and lots of windows. To maximize your sunshine benefits, be sure to site your house on your land with daylighting in mind. A southern exposure will give you the most sunlight, but it could also increase the temperature inside your home. As with all of our 10 brilliant tips, strategic room planning and balance are the keys to success.