These thoughts are from Karen Lambert, Building Designer and Architectural educator. The paper “storage brief and the dream”, edited below is the start of the conversation she engages in with clients when asked to look at their projects.
House is an interesting word, whether a noun or a verb. We build our dreams in a template of four walls and a roof, but a house is so much more than this. The complex series of interrelated actions that take place in your home are defined by the design of the space.
The goal is making the house perform to delightfully support your living. Having a dream and make it the reality of your day to day existence, by embodying your ideal lifestyle and , increasingly, it’s about finding the most sustainable and efficacious way to do this.
So much of what we humans devote our houses to is storage space, this is a key consideration of mine when designing and spaces to live in. The functionality that we require of our ‘things’ forms part of the script for how we imagine our life is played out, or how we want it to be.
When considering creating a new home or changing an existing building, your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work is an invaluable starting point. Efficiency here is key – both in planning your storage (keeping in mind how it will facilitate or inconvenience how your time is spent), and in organising how your home will get the energy it needs to keep running.
As you wouldn’t live where you do, nor want to keep living there unless the place held some intrinsic value for you, part of designing or reworking a house is identifying where that value lies and enhancing it. The connectedness of your home to its physical place is a fundamental starting point. This isn’t merely its geographical location (vistas, neighbouring community, landscape), but the raw elemental factors of the site too – sun, wind, earth and water.
The daily activities that occur do so within a time continuum that the spatial flow of your house either enables or blocks. The movement that living in your home necessitates can utilise these spatial flows to create space that connects to your dreams for how you would love to live.
But… dreams do have a pragmatic side and, that is budget. How your house is made will require materials and labour, both of which are going to cost! The approach you choose has real environmental impacts, from building methods and long-term sustainability in terms of operation, materiality and response to the physical surrounds and how you connect with them..
So we return to the seemingly prosaic concern of storage. This is such a crucial part of the design focus, and by getting these needs and desires right the living that follows is transformed.
Thinking about the list below is a first step to get some sense around what your storage needs are for your house. Rather than a definitive list, these points are here to trigger thoughts about the general storage needs of a house, and how to create the poetry of your life – and of your dream home!
Each of these storage needs can also imply the series of actions that you effect in order to retrieve and use your stored ‘stuff’.
The storage is organised under:
1) General: non-house based,
3) Other objects and,
4) Age related considerations.
An inventory of what you have – with dimensions – is important, to identify existing building objects, items and furniture that you may have collected and that want to use in your house. It is also useful to collect images or identify spaces that have qualities that resonate with you.
1. General: non house based: sheds/water tanks/cellar etc
What do you need to store outside of your house. What opportunities does the site where your home is offer. How can inside and outside work together to sustain your life?
2. The House and house based storage
What are the spatial requirements you think you need? What type of rooms or spaces and how many of them? How much of your living do you want to be able to be outside? Do you want to dissolve the barriers of inside and outside?. Issues like views to particular parts of your surrounds, and getting northern sun into your living places in winter are qualities you need to think about.
The qualities of living spaces including kitchens and how bedrooms work reflect personal values that require specific discussion and are not attempted here.
A few prompts to get thinking about more utility or general spaces are given below to illustrate.
- What does coming home feel like? Is it about opening into your world? Closing out another? Where does your sense of entry to home begin? What do you want the transisition to be like?
- Do you want a place for wet weather coats and hats/umbrellas – how many?
- Do you want hanging space for warm coats near entry door ? or would you prefer pegs?
- Is there somewhere for outside boots and shoes (drying and storage)
- Is there a ledge/table for set down at entry?
- Is there a hook for keys?
- Do you have internal views to specific part of your house from the entry?
- Is this a major or minor issue for you? Is it for one or many? Is this a chore you can transform?
- Is it the sun or the wind that matters most to you for drying? Where does the water come from?
- Is the laundry something you pass frequently or is it isolated?
- Do you need a washing machine, laundry tub, clothesline and undercover drying area?
- What are your needs for sorting, airing and drying laundry? Is it shelves or cupboards?
- How do you want to store towels, sheets, and extra bedding, pillows?
- A house has to be cleaned and maintained, how this occurs relates to the materials and finishes you choose. The products you use to clean and their environmental impacts need consideration.
- A self-cleaning house is not an option! But making is easy is!
- What do you need to clean with? where does this get stored?…do you want it readily accessible – or forgettable? Do you clean as you go? Or all in one go?
- Is cleaning storage required in one place or many?
- How does the garbage/recycling get handled?
3. Other Objects
This list can be endless, but how you want to live in your home will define what you want and don’t want to house within it. For example:
- dining tables and the number of chairs (storage for more chairs somewhere else?)
- technology needs..are they central or peripheral to how you live?
- places for sculpture/ornaments/bowls/paintings etc
- Piano or other musical instruments?
- Lounge room arrangements
- Etc, etc…etc!
4. Age Related Needs
Does your home need to accommodate the needs of children, young adults and elderly people? Is how you use the space able to transform to meet specific age related needs? Is there a flexibility that enables multiple uses of spaces?
To conclude,, we all have many things and the storage you have may never feel like enough…but in relation to our consumption levels this could translate as “too much stuff”. How much you really need to store, and what do you really need to have accessible, impacts on the size of what you need to build or rework.
Well organised storage can be compact and accessible, it all depends on how you set up your systems…whether it be the ease of making a great cup of tea, or the ease of washing and drying clothes for a large household. Tailoring your design to work for how you want to do things is about chasing your dream, storage is an enabler.
If mindful environmental responses are incorporated, then impacts are reduced, and lifestyle and house achieve those worthy principles of Architecture: firmness, commodity, delight.