Make your house do the housework

pinktoesSeptember 6, 2007

We're getting ready to build a new/final house and I'm trying to plan my choices of finishes and my organization so as to semi-retire from my lifelong career of tending the house. For years I've had a book titled Make Your House Do The Housework by Don Aslett and daughter Laura Simons. While I laugh at the title, I want to post his 7 basic principles here and see if anybody has examples of how they use them or would use them in a new house:

1) Simplify. (ex: one striking vase, not a collection of them.)

2) Camoflage (ex: a patterned rug rather than solid color)

3) Concentrate the cleaning. (ex: all your houseplants in one area, not all over the house)

4) Make things convenient. (ex: people set things on the nearest surface--plan accordingly)

5) Avoid high-maintenance materials. (ex: a gas rangetop with unsealed burners compared with a ceramic cooktop)

6) Avoid multiple surfaces. (ex: one floor covering is easier to care for than several different ones)

7) Keep things compatible (ex: use the same faucet in every bath and getting replacement parts is simpler)

I am quite willing to sacrifice a great deal of style for function and ease at this point in life. I've had it with pretty and demanding. So, if you have any tips in Aslett's categories--or outside of them--I'd love to have them before it's too late! TIA

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I will tell you that my sealed gas burners aren't really that much easier to clean--stuff gets baked on MUCH harder than w/ unsealed gas burners. And I'm not willing to use a ceramic cooktop instead of gas.

But I like his idea. I once had a similar book; maybe it was his? Although I think the one I had was mostly kitchens.

I mostly like the simplify one--fewer decorative objects to dust around, etc. It's hard for me to go there right now, what w/ kids' craft projects to display, etc.

And getting stuff that's easier to clean, as in #5--I had meant to get a range w/ fewer nooks and crannies, and goofed at the last minute; that would have made my life easier.

One thing though--you might concentrate all your houseplants in one area, but then will your home look empty, lopsided? Having different floor surfaces is sort of nice, aesthetically--though I guess having larger swatches of the same flooring, instead of a patchwork effect, would be good (My vote: hardwood floors w/ a really tough but beautiful surface--Bona Kemi's Traffic, actually--easily renewed, moppable, etc.)

I would say, in terms of building a new house, create storage!

Having a place to put things you truly need, and put them out and sight and undercover from dust, and put them near where you use them, is one thing I don't really have in my home. A closet in every room--especially in entryways! That's my hardest part, the entryway. I would love to have a place to put snowboots, coats, bike helmets, etc., that isn't deep in farthest closet.

And well-organized storage would be good, too--w/ hooks and shelves and shoe racks, etc., that mean it's easy to get to stuff.

This isn't just organizational--if stuff has a place it can be put, then it's not in the way when you actually clean.

Having furniture that's easy to clean around is good--my MIL has French Provincial furniture, which means they're very leggy--and that makes it easy to vacuum under them, and easy to move them (bcs they're lightweight).

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:44AM
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talley sue nyc: I see you're on the ball as usual. Well, as you advised, we already planned one thing right, and had to fight the architect at every turn: I said, Every room will have a closet. ("But you didn't mean the Dining Room, surely." Yes I did. "But not in the Family Room--that doesn't really look good." I don't care; it needs a closet. You get the drift.)

The other one I did right was a closet at every entry. We're actually going to enter through the front door (I know, very strange). We designed the garage's human door to open onto the front porch, giving us a covered entry to the front door. I figured we're as important as the Avon lady or UPS. DH has a WIC off the foyer, which he must share with the occasional guest coat. It's his drop-off zone. I have my own reach-in CL off the foyer.

But I know I've missed a lot, folks, so keep your specifics coming if you will.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 10:40AM
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Entryways are typically very poorly designed. Maybe better now with more homes having mudrooms, either on new construction or is a popular remodel. I would now never buy another home that does not have all entrances designed to reduce dirt and allow removing clothes and shoes. No main entrance into living room, etc. A closet is nice, but is not actually how people handle most of their entering-house-clutter and doesn't help with dirt. His section on extensive door matting--outside and inside--very important. Since I don't want to use an "outdoor" mat inside, I have budgeted to use and replace at intervals an inexpensive but okay-looking pseudo-Oriental area rug inside (dark patterned)that tolerates foot-wiping of what may be left after using the outside mat. Also, lots of families take off their shoes. A nice mudroom or specific entry area makes this easy, or atleast for muddy/snow days.

Area rugs on wood floors are so popular and look great, but create cleaning nightmare. Rug+wood+edge of rug collects stuff +surrounding wood strip may be smaller than vacuum.

The Not So Big House book actually has some related ideas--more built-ins means fewer free-standing bookshelves, cabinets. Less space used more efficiently is less to clean.

Master closet big enough to keep most things in, less dust and dirt and fewer pieces of free-standing furniture in bedroom. Or, built-ins in the room. Night tables can be built in or simple shelves = easy to vacuum under. Go for the serene look.

Shelves built into wall studs in bath means less on counter. Still have to dust, but less clutter.

Speaking of shelves, glass doors are great when they can be worked in as looking nice, for books and collectibles. Would use them both on built-ins and good-looking free-standing units. I won't buy anymore open bookshelves or cabinets.

Long-haired cats--arrgghh--my sweet kitty makes fur bunnies everywhere. So try to brush him everyday.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 11:10AM
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I've never read the book, but we used/are using some of the basic principles for the house we are currently living in. My lifestyle still heavily revolves around kids so this may or may not relate to the OP's situation.

My requirements for this house were:
-a master that is near two smaller bedrooms so I could have my kids close to me at night. I don't like the master way on the other side of the house.
-a playroom so the kids didn't have an excuse to have toys strung out through the rest of the house
-a place to have my hobbies and a computer that we could close off and leave things sitting out
-No upstairs because my last house had two story living room that was difficult to paint without hiring someone to do it.

I got everything, but the no upstairs. In this house, there is only one two story wall and it's not a problem since it is not in the main area of the house. My master plan for the house is working. We stay a lot cleaner around here. For the most part, the kids keep their toys in the playroom. I don't have to pick up a whole bunch of 'stuff' off the floor before I sweep or vacuum so I do it more often. I don't care who drops in and sees a messy playroom because I can blame that on the kids.

Another recent change I made was downsizing the bedroom furniture. I posted about this in another post. My goal is to actually use the walk-in closets for storing the majority of the clothes so I don't have surfaces sitting around waiting to get cluttered. It took me about half a day for dh to comprehend what I was asking for, but he came around and actually told his boss about the idea. I just got my new bed and two nightstands on Tuesday. Dh got a small desk/secretary for his laptop, cell phone and pda so the cords and equipment can be out of sight when not in use. We're going to see how this works before we add anything else.

We have about a 25' hallway that leads from the front doorway to the main areas of the house. We have a table there, but it sort of gathers that dropoff clutter when you come in from the outside. I saw an idea in a magazine the other day to add a bench there. I'm not yet sure what I would put in the under bench storage, but it would be more functional than the table. I don't think we would clutter it as much.

I have purchased two sets of coat hooks for the entry way. We haven't hung them up yet. One set will be up higher for me and dh. The other set will be down at the kid's level. I want everyone to take off their coats and jackets when they come in the house and they'll be right their handy when we're running out the door for the bus in the morning.

Another idea I have whenever we build a house is pocket doors for those rooms where we don't shut the doors very often. The doors in my children's rooms for the entrance and the closet hit each other. It makes the room less functional because the kids don't like to close the closet which means they end up playing in there and messing it up.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 11:28AM
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One of the first things I thought of when I read this, is frankie's suggestion of glass doors. My last few houses had a lack of tabletop space, yet I seemed to have "collections" that were important to me. Although it was easy to dust, I didn't have many places to set things down. I started buying cabinets/bookshelves with glass doors, which helped a lot. That way, I can pull that ''one striking vase'' for a tabletop, and rotate it because the collection lives together under glass. It's also an easy way to change looks with the seasons, without going overboard on the room clutter.

Sarah Susanka, author of ''The Not So Big House'' was inspirational to me as well when I planned my kitchen and bath. We have lots of built-in storage now, especially for things like my vacuum sealer and cellphones/sunglasses/keys drawer. One of my most favorite things is the pull down panels inside the house/garage foyer that open to the trash/recycling bins that live in the garage. The built-in window seat makes a great landing pad for shopping bags, and the drawers underneath are bulk-shopping storage. (They're also deep enough for backpacks, purses and shoes for each family member.) I feed the dog from a low drawer, with the food in trash bins that live next to it. (Her water lives on the tile foyer floor.) If I'd had a better opportunity, I would have incorporated a vac pan system for making the floor easier to sweep. Ditching the white cabinets and sink for wood makes it harder to see dirt. I want it to be clean, but I was tired of being a slave to white cabinets that looked funky all the time. When we remodeled, we opted for windows instead of upper cabinets because I could never reach them. All storage is within reach now, and my home is safer because I don't need a ladder anymore. The pull-out BB cutting board next to the stove is open so I can roll a chair underneath and still use it as a working surface. When I injured my knee and couldn't stand much, that was a lifesaver. Lowering one end of our island so we could sit there has also served the same purpose. It's the right height for a working surface for me (short), where the island is good for DH (tall). Our kitchen and dining room chairs roll, so they can easy be moved out of the way; since they have arms, they are also easy to get out of. We added more lighting (recessed, pendants, hockey pucks, lamp outlets) than I ever thought we'd need, yet there have been times I've needed them all. (Just yesterday in fact!) My kitchen is highly functional in a way I've never experienced before.

When I realized my living room rug was off-gassing and making me sick, we rolled it up and got rid of it. (It was a beautiful wool rug, and it made me sad to let it go.) You know, I don't miss it for a minute, and the floors are SO much easier to clean.

We changed to gas logs in the fireplace when I realized the mold on firewood was causing respiratory distress. The house stays cleaner since we're not dragging wood in. Also, because we also live in an older neighborhood with overhead lines, storms creating power outages are a common occurrence. When we changed to ventless gas logs that roll heat back into the room, we can stay warm without power. I still love a romantic fire, but we burn our wood outside now.

The plants come in for the winter, and we keep the majority in our dining/living room since we have southeast facing windows. It is easier to take of them because they are clustered, and the plants make a ring around the perimeter of the dining room and surround the dining room table. I notice the air is much fresher there, and love the sweet smell of soil when they're watered. Because of the ficus trees (there are three large trees we have to cut 3 feet off of every year when we bring them in), there is room in the big pots to set smaller ones into. When the small pots are watered, the trees receive the water that drains from those and I don't need extra saucers. Our dining room turns into The Garden Cafe every fall in October, which I always look forward to.

For the summer, the bedroom rug is rolled up and only put back when the dog quits shedding in the winter.

I layer tablecloths on my dining room table. It's one easy way to store them, and to refresh it, all I have to do is remove the one on top. They all have colors that coordinate, and are different shapes, so I can get a new look by putting a square on top of a round; 60 inch round looks great on top of 70 inch round. The padding it provides is also great for dishes.

The laundry moved from the basement to the bedroom hall, which made doing it so much easier. I hang a lot of my clothes to air dry in the guest room (directly across from the laundry closet), and since they're already on hangars, they're easy to put away. You already know about the Luna Laundry system!

Most of my furniture has some type of storage capacity. My living room coffee table is a cedar chest, extra toiletries go in a pine pot cupboard in my den. The dining room sideboard has drawers for placemats and napkins, shelves for cookbooks and doubles as a sofa table with two lamps. When we reconfigured the laundry closet, I had to move my linens to another place which was very deep. By putting slide-out shelves there, I can still access everything, even on the top shelf. (Since I'm not tall, that was very important!)

The bathroom has a flip down seat in the shower, no curbs and no door. The tiled floor is heated and I picked a terrazo floor tile that hides dirt very well. Since my dog has discovered the shower, it's become one of her most favorite places to hang out and sleep during the day.

We only have carpeting (wall to wall) in two fairly small adjoining rooms. Although it was more expensive, we picked a low-pile wool sisal and it has worn like iron. The color is khaki/gold and it doesn't show dirt much until it's really dirty. The carpet is 10 years old and when cleaned, still looks like new. Picking better materials is always worth it if it continues to look nice for the long haul.

I work on my problem areas by asking, ''What isn't working for me?'' When the neighbor behind me kept turning his outdoor flood light on (that would shine into my house like a D*MN freight train), I decided to hang a stained glass window to block the offending light. That way, I'd get some benefit from the light instead of having it drive me crazy!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 1:17PM
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Some of my items are repeats, but here is what we did.

The Master BR closet opens to both the master bath and the laundry room (laundry room also has entrance from kitchen area). We have a laundry chute from the kids bathroom upstairs. So all dirtly clothes, as well as mom and dad's clean clothes, are only steps away from the washer dryer. And we have counter space for folding. Laundry rooms are great if you've lived with just a laundry closet.

One entry for front door and garage door, and it's directly next to the kitchen. Freezer is also in the laundry room which is just around the corner. So the car, pantry, fridge and freezer are all in a relatively close vacinity. Great for unloading the groceries.

Entry closet is wide and extra deep. Enough room for backpacks to hang on the sides and still have coats behind them. Wire pullout bins for kids hats, gloves, etc.

Only 3 types of flooring - tile, wood laminate, and carpet. A central vac including the undercounter dust bin whach-a-ma-call-it in the kitchen. Easy for sweeping up quickly.

Storage storage storage - lots of built-in cabinets in the study, laundry room, bathrooms. Near the entrance we have a drawer with his and her bins for keys, cell phones, etc. There is a powerstrip in the back of the drawer for charging the phones. We also have outlets in a built in cabinet between our Master Bath sinks for the hair dryer, curling iron, electric razor, etc. - looks sort of like a kitchen appliance garage. Having lots of storage near the bathroom sinks, but minimal flat surfaces around your sink bowl, helps keep it clean.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 5:51PM
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Well, I am just blown away. I'm printing all this so I can review it against my plans, room by room, and function by function.

If anyone has an idea on how to prevent one specific problem I'm anticipating I'd love to hear it. I will finally have a 4 ft. long folding counter in the laundry room, low so I can sit and fold. I know that a clear, flat surface is a temptation for clutter. This is a walk-through room to a side vestibule, then outdoors. I want it to stay clean and clear. My thought is to place some sort of large, lightweight, maybe foldable, and easily-moved "space holder" on the countertop. DH will not move anything, but an open surface will be hard for him to resist (it's just the two of us and the two cats.)

I wouldn't mind keeping the cats, or at least their hair off MY counter, too. I was thinking of a big towel to catch the cat hairs when they lay up there. But DH will just put stuff on top of a towel. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 7:02PM
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Fori is not pleased

Perhaps a folding or retractable table instead of a counter?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 7:25PM
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Sure, Fori's suggestion is mine as well. A drop down counter, one that stores flat against the wall until you need it would solve the problem. No cat hair, no temptation to clutter. You have the advantage of a more open space as well, until the counter is needed.

I just have to add that I'm always flattered when someone puts an outlet behind a drawer, since I was the first one to do it!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 7:35PM
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Fori and Claire: Old age, arthritis, etc. It's just too hard for me to use a dropdown counter. I'm thinking of a lovely parasol with the handle shortened so it fits better on MY counter!

Yes, Claire, you have many good ideas and that's why have to ask you again: so when are your writing a book???

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 8:52PM
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Great book and concept. Agree entry mats are a big piece. So is getting stuff up off the floor as much as possible. I think of that every time I reach way down to empty a little trash basket mostly for dryer lint in the laundry(once a week X 9 years now = ??) and every time I sweep up the dog hair around said basket (many times/week X 9 years now = ??).....Celtic, when are you going to nail two moulding strips under this counter to suspend this stupid trash basket???! Make it slide out to you already!!!!!

Honestly. One little thing like that makes SUCH a difference!

If I were building I would:

1. Make the main bath a 'wet room'. All tile and porcelein, drain in the center with a pitched tile floor. No shower curtains or doors. All wet. Easy clean.

2. Put the laundry near the kitchen, but have a pass through from the laundry to the master closet. I swear I would design the house to start there. Oh, and insure easy groceries in and trash out movement.

The older I get the more struck I am about how I do the same 'maintenance' things over and over. And over. And over. Getting the design right will net you years of your life back, LOL.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 11:16PM
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pinktoes, you need hinges with a pneumatic lift for your counter! (I don't know where to find any though.) At the very least, I know it's a good idea!

A book is a great idea; I'm just not certain I have enough of them to fill a book! I actually do have some I'd like to try out though, if I could only find someone to build them....

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 11:45PM
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I took care of the dryer lint/softener sheet problem. DH uses a lot of tissues in the square boxes, so I save one every now and then and keep it on top of my washer. When its full it goes into the main trash. No more hairy basket :-)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 5:33AM
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1. Make the main bath a 'wet room'. All tile and porcelein, drain in the center with a pitched tile floor. No shower curtains or doors. All wet. Easy clean.

Were I building, I would do this as well--the entire floor sloped gently like a shower drain. Interestingly, we have heard that in our 1921 apt. bldg, the kitchen floor used to slant ever-so-slightly to a drain, at least on one end.

When I was a kid, I fantasized about an entire house made of molded plastic w/ all orders gently rounded, and a drain in each corner. So you could hose down every single room.

2. Put the laundry near the kitchen, but have a pass through from the laundry to the master closet. I swear I would design the house to start there. Oh, and insure easy groceries in and trash out movement.

I might start there, too. Or make that second, w/ Priority No. 1 being entryway/exit storage.Bc the ability to store books, bike helmets, school bags, etc., is the biggest issue to me.

I also vote for a laundry table that's hinged and either flops down or folds up when not in use.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 9:48AM
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celticmoon: I'm laughing because I swore in the new house I would have trash cans suspended off the floor. I shopped online and only found commercial ones, stainless, for something absurd like $200. EACH. Hah! For the spatially-challenged here (Uh, me) please explain exactly how the grooves-sliding thing works. DH will build what I design. In rooms with no counter I don't have a clue how to suspend them off the wall. But I need to; I can make them look as attractive as possible--furniture quality wall plate with metal garbage can suspended from it. The older I get the less I care what anyone thinks about my inventions. I'm tired and things hurt; I want it easy!

Claire: Well, if you insist on restricting yourself to non-professional efforts, how about taking up some basic carpentry/woodworking yourself? My DH does ours. I could never afford to hire it done; although, if I priced out the cost of his shed and tools I'm sure I'd come out MUCH cheaper to hire it. It's the finding-someone factor that's always the problem. Do you have a Woodcraft or similar store near you that might post business cards or know of someone? Or make friends with the local technical high school; maybe their student placement office could help.

TalleySue: I'm laughing at your hose-it-down house. Do you know why I rejected that idea? (Aside from some practicalities related to construction.) I don't want to have to clean the floor drain. Ever notice how nasty those are in public buildings? And they're so far away from where my hands are. Before long I'll be using my toes to clean everything that requires manipulation down at floor level.

One more step-saving comment from what I think I've designed right for the new house: In trying to determine WHY it takes me so long to get everything done, I studied how I spend my time. Most of it is wasted walking from one end of the house to the other because my office is away from the kitchen/laundry--which is my other "workspace". Also, because the only baths we have are in the office end of the house; not a one near the living areas or entrances. Bad, bad design.

The new design has a Washroom (NOT for guest use; guest bath is elsewhere) for our daily use. Plus one of the cat's litter pans (they won't share). Washroom is near the entrances, living areas, kitchen, etc. It's pretty indestructible. Not designed for pretty.

Also, I worked on the plan till I achieved an adjacent kitchen/office/laundry--and Washroom there too. My thinking is that this will save enormous amounts of time. I didn't want the laundry near the bedrooms because so much of my laundry is for the living areas rather than clothes. Plus, all the work done while laundering is not done while I'm in the bedrooms, so I'd have to walk back and forth to it all the time. Hope my Workspace Core serves well for multitasking.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 10:52AM
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wall-hung trash can:

There is a type of pullout trash can for kitchens that's designed w/ a wooden platform w/ a hole cut out of it. The trash can drops into the hole,a nd the lip catches and holds it in place. That sort of wooden collar could be wall-mounted very easily (of course, you'd end up wanting to wash the collar off)

Here's a pull-out showing sort of what I mean

Your DH, if he's got a jigsaw, could trace the top of a trash can, then move the line IN a little bit so the trash can won't slip through, then cut out the hole.

You can also mount a shelf on the wall and set the trash can on it, of course.

If you wanted to completely enclose the trash can in a wooden box (then paint, stain, or wallpaper it), look at the how-to below; they have you make that wooden box.

replacement (or original) trash cans

I LOVE the "Workspace Core" idea.

And the grooves thing--what Celtic would do is mount an L-shaped molding so the lip of the garbage can would slide into little grooves. Sort of like the top-mount garbage cans, but open on the front.

Oh, also, there are wire trash baskets that would be not-too-hard to wall-mount.

Here is a link that might be useful: This how-to shows how they cut the hole--shldn't be hard

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 12:15PM
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pinktoes, it sounds like you have the logistics worked out well for yourself which is great. I think you're going to find your new house much easier to live in, since you're doing your own planning for the way you live. My laundry closet is off the bedroom hallway, and since my home office is one of the three bedrooms, it works for me. I personally like the separation from the kitchen in my home since I don't multi-task very well. When I ''travel'' to the kitchen, it's a destination and I like that my focus changes there.

Besides the wall doors for trash (which are up about chest high for me) that go directly to the bins in the garage, I have the type of trash bin that Talley Sue links to (the first example.) My bathroom is situated close to the washer/dryer and my trash there is one of those tall cans with the PUSH top that swings. (It's a vintage can I bought for practically nothing, but had to have sandblasted/painted. It has a small footprint and exactly what I needed for my space.) Since it's located just inside the door, I just clean my lint filter and deposit it in the bathroom can because it's close. If you can afford the cabinetry, I love my trash bins in the cabinets, along with the toe kick pedals that open them. If I had to look for a freestanding model, I like the tall, skinny ones that aren't wide. Pictures to the kitchen are on My Page, for examples if you need them.

My bathroom was remodeled along the ''hose-it-down'' theory. Although it's only the shower that has the drain, being doorless, the water travels on the floor near the toilet. The heated floor dries it well, and I don't have issues with mold or mildew because of it. My Kerdi drain isn't hard to clean, especially with the hand-held shower. Your bathroom won't be a public space, so the cleanability factor won't be such a big issue! I also had a long countertop in the old bathroom which I got rid of because it collected clutter and always looked a mess. Instead, I ran a ledge along the length of the medicine cabinets which provides plenty of space. My bathroom is small, but I planned it for handicap accessibility because of my dad. The genetic pool being what it is, I could clearly see having issues with this as I age. My goal is to age with grace and be able to stay in my home as long as possible. What I'm absolutely certain of is that my dad would have loved our new bathroom, which I designed with him in mind. He's gone now, but in a way, I guess you could say it honors him and I think of him everyday. Here's the link to my bathroom, in case you haven't seen it. Pictures are worth a thousand words!

Claire: Well, if you insist on restricting yourself to non-professional efforts, how about taking up some basic carpentry/woodworking yourself? Now there's a thought! (As I laugh to myself trying to picture it.) Actually, I want to design the space, not build it. Some of my ideas would have to be incorporated during the planning/drawing stages, which I'm very comfortable with. Since I don't plan on moving, seeing them implemented would involve a lot more detail for someone planning a new home. That could get me excited, but I'm still waiting on just the right opportunity.

Gosh, I'm chatty lately!

Here is a link that might be useful: Claire de Luna's Vintage Inspired Bathroom

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 1:20PM
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So many great ideas here ... and you already seem to have a good handle on what you want/need.

As for the closets in the family room and dining room, have you considered sliding pocket doors instead of doors that open out? I really like pocket doors - they save space and aren't obtrusive.

When your house is finished I hope you'll post some pictures!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 7:45AM
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ALL: Just wanted to say thanks for your always-helpful ideas. I've printed them out so I can mull a lot of these things over in more depth. Yes, this is sort of a hobby of mine, but not the kind I list under "Interests" on my Playboy Playmate page. How a hip young chick ever became so devoted to the study of trash cans and such is beyond my understanding, but here I am. Oh--oh--I think it's partly a function of age and experience with the inconvenient aspects of life that I never thought about during the Woodstock years!

It finally dawned on me what the L-shaped suspension for the garbage can was. Duh. I think DH could also rig it off full-extension drawer slides.

claire: I bookmarked your bath. Sure I will be borrowing some ideas. I know what you mean about your dad.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 10:42AM
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Claire said, "I just have to add that I'm always flattered when someone puts an outlet behind a drawer, since I was the first one to do it!"

I haven't seen your set-up, Claire. Or maybe I have if it's listed on the kitchen forum. We purchased our 1965 built house 3 years ago. Previous owner redid the kitchen in 1989 or so. They had a drawer in the kitchen which had an electrical plug and a traditional phone jack installed at the side of the wall of cabinets. The drawer rolled on on a bottom track and the face of the drawer could fold down. The side of the drawer with the plugs had been removed. It was pretty neat, but it just wasn't where I wanted to put the phone or the chargers. We haven't figured out why they had the plug there, since we didn't even have much in the way of cell phone service up here then. It must have been for an answering machine set-up.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 4:13PM
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Well, Gloria...I stand corrected! It sounds like your former homeowners were a bit ahead of their time.

I hadn't really heard of anyone doing it when I planned my cellphone/sunglasses drawer, so it was fun to think I'd helped start a trend. It felt like something people started including in their kitchens shortly after I posted my original pictures. Just when you think you have a unique thought, you find it wasn't at all!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 4:37PM
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claire: It comes under the "great minds think alike" category!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 5:47AM
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One little thing came to mind that we are thankful we purchased - a toilet that has a "smooth" solid pedestal rather than those that have the curvature showing the drain outline. So much easier to clean.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:25AM
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rosesr4me: Oh, I'm so glad you said that. I've selected those for all 4 baths, but to save money have considered something less expensive for at least 2 baths. Now I'm gonna stick to what I want if there's anything else I can cut. Between knee and back problems, and increasing age, it's just one horribly nasty mess I won't have to try to clean. Yea!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:33AM
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pinktoes - you are on the ball! Great thread you started. By the way, I have found that using microfleece fabric really helps with cat fur. I use 3x3 squares to cover the areas they like to lay - it really grabs the fur and keeps it contained. I just pop them in the washer once a week and they air dry in no time at all.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:25PM
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rosesr4me: microfleece. Since it doesn't ravel I could just cut it to whatever size/shape for the cats' various beds. Wonder if JoAnn's has it. Several years ago I found some lightweight baby blankets, fleecey but micro?? I use those all the time for the cats because they dry so fast without having to go into MY dryer--gotta draw the line somewhere. Plus, they're so cute! Pale blue with white clouds.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 1:21PM
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Another thing you may want to consider is the option of a Washlet for one your toilets. It would require an electrical outlet right behind the toilet for plugging in. Although it doesn't actually fall into your house doing the housework category, but having the toilet help with cleaning is a beautiful thing! Even if it's something you wouldn't want to do right away, putting an outlet in while you're building could be considered very good planning for the future.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Those are all great concepts, however I don't quite get the third one. Concentrate the cleaning. Is there another example of this concept?

House plants in one area? He doesn't mean keep all the plants in one place, does he? What's the point of having them if you don't put them where you want them? Does he mean bring all the house plants to one place to water them? I can see that. Flylady suggests watering the plants in the shower. But there's always the possibility that you'll dump dirt when you move the plant from the bedroom to the shower. Best to leave it where it is. And I can't see hauling around the 5-foot ficus in the giant ceramic pot out of the living room.

I figure either you have house plants and enjoy them, inspite of the potential for mess, or you don't bother with them.

The rest of them all make sense to me. The first one, Simplify, applies to all aspects of life, really.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 2:04PM
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Pinktoes - yep, you can get microfleece at JoAnn's. It doesn't unravel, but you may want to blanket stitch the edges to keep them from curling up. I bought my microfleece blankets on clearance at Petsmart. But JoAnn's would be MUCH cheaper!

I also second the idea of installing an outlet on the wall behind the toilet, off to the side. Mine has come in handy when using a fan, heater, nightlight, or a small lamp.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 11:21AM
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claire and roses: Yep, won't have the washlet now but I'm putting the outlet there because who knows what we might need later on.

journeymom: Sure, you gotta put your houseplants where you want to decorate with them or enjoy them. The book's author owns a commercial cleaning company and he thinks of everything in terms of cleaning efficiency. I do more and more with age and infirmity myself! I do recall a friend years ago who had a walk-through wide sunny hallway in her condo. She rounded up all her plants and installed a waterproof gravel lined area to one side. Put all her plants in there, closed off the doors on both ends, openened the blinds and had a mini-greenhouse. She visited with her plants to water and tend them.

But for examples that might better illustrate his "concentrate the cleaning" concept I'll list some here. The idea is that it's easier to clean one small, very dirty area than to clean up moderate messes all over the place.

* concentrate all your mail, keys, cellphone, backpacks, ets in one drop-off zone (we're all seeing these nowadays)

* in fact EVERY room should have a similar control center as its dropoff zone for messy things. In a BR, group the garbage can, bokshelf, tissue dispenser, clothes hamper, junk drawer all together, preferably between the bed and the closset

* this is mine: store everything you need for dressing/undressing in one place rather than all over the room. In our new MBR, we will have no dressers or other storage for clothes and such. It's all in the WIC along with a clothes hamper. Fresh linens have their own cabinets inside the WIC too.

* the concept of various "centers" in your kitchen is an example: a prep. area where all the things you need to prepare raw foods are kept together. It should also be near the raw foods (the fridge mostly). And a baking center, with the appropriate gadgets plus flour, sugar, whatever you use all right there. Mess gets concentrated; cleanup is easier (theoretically)

* for concentrating all the lint, loose threads, etc. you set up a laundry room where you also keep your sewing machine, ironing board, a folding table, and possibly any fur-bearing pets.

* Design your house so family enters through one door where there is a walk-off mat, mudroom, half bath for people coming in from yardwork and similar, storage for all their stuff--esp. dirty sports gear, nearby laundry room, etc. Do not give family members a key to the front door.

And like that!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 12:54PM
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