How Do We Create Modern Homes Fit for Future Lifestyles?

Part 2 – Perceptions Create a Flexible Reality

We could refer to the widely used and somewhat tired expression that size isn’t everything and that the best things come in small packages.  However, when it comes to organising our lives and keeping a convivial atmosphere in the home, there is definitely a case for bigger is better.

Most new home owners in the last 10 years have grumbled about not having sufficient space to fit in all of their furniture and over a third said they didn’t even have enough room to have friends over for dinner.

Compared with many of our global neighbours, the British public have a point.  When it comes to the international league of house sizes, the UK is definitely languishing in the relegation zone.  In fact, the average British home is only two thirds the size of the average home in the densely populated Netherlands and less than a third the size of its American equivalent.

Maybe it is time to consider a different approach.

Actually many home owners have already taken action to address space issues.  Many period homes have tiny kitchens that few of us can bear and separate dining rooms are now widely viewed as a rather quaint relic, a bit like a scullery or separate w.c.  Across the country, these homes are being internally remodelled or extended in vast numbers to try and shape them to a form fit for modern ‘open plan’ living. The kitchen has become the central show-space with open plan dining and living areas. This has also become the trend in new homes as it plays into three other key factors: energy, environment and lifestyle.

So, whilst our homes may not technically be getting larger, creating a perception of space and utilising what we have in a more creative way, is the way forward.

As this trend filters through, it will impact how we assess homes.  Priority will be given to space and storage provision and instead of measuring by the number of bedrooms we will focus more on square meterage.  But perhaps we need to invent another measure though, one that emphasises the value of the space rather than just the amount.

The true assessment of space is more about how it is used and perceived rather than just the specific physical measurement, particularly in the context of our changing, busier, digital lifestyles.  The need for combining functions such as monitoring the children while cooking, helping with homework whilst eating breakfast, checking emails and keeping abreast of the news whatever we are doing, has become a priority. The impact of technology in last 10 years means that in our homes we need to be able to cope with the concept of living in a 24/7 culture.

Rooms in the 1970’s were clearly defined boxes with each space designated to specific activities.  Over the decades the concept of through rooms developed and now we have homes where interaction and control takes place on tablets in the kitchen, living rooms and bedrooms.

The layout of the modern home needs to be fluid and dynamic and be a ‘human home hub’ for study, eating, cooking and play.  Therefore measurement of space has to go hand in hand with its value in terms of practical, life-style usability.

Perhaps we need to define a set of criteria that will enable us to assess the Practical Lifestyle Usability Meterage (or PLUM for short!).

More ponderings to follow – Part 3 – Morphing, Maintenance and Mathematics


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