There’s no question that designing a new home is the perfect time for homeowners to dream up new features that will contribute to a more comfortable lifestyle. Home designer Rick McAlexander of Associated Designs in Oregon has reviewed thousands of must-have features over the years with clients who plan to include as many amenities as possible when designing their new home.
While each person’s vision of their new home is as varied as the homeowners themselves, one new trend that Rick is definitely seeing is the request for a centralized mobile device charging center. This idea is akin to a clutter-catching spot for various wired devices such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, MP3 players, E-readers and cameras. Americans own an average of 24 electronic devices per household, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, and each has its own custom charging pack. All those devices need a spot to suck in electricity.
Susan Lafky is a mother of active teenagers, whose entire family is involved in multiple sports while she and her husband also work. “Everyone plugs in their chargers on the desk in the kitchen and I’m tired of trying to clean around all the wires,” she said. “And, when the kids come home, their backpacks and gear are dropped from the entry way to the dining room table. We need a real solution for all of it.”
But the old standard clutter catcher, the kitchen desk, is going away, according to Patti Julber, owner of Complements Home Interiors in Bend, Oregon. She’s designing cleaner lines, sleek counters and more built-ins. “My clients are trying to de-clutter their lives and the kitchen desk acts as a big magnet for junk,” says Patti. “I’m looking to move that clutter away from the cooking and entertaining areas.”
Dump the Junk
With the kitchen no longer the preferred area for a family’s dumping spot, Rick has started to incorporate more organizational space into the classic mudroom, creating a drop zone to hide the clutter and manage loads of family stuff. He says it’s the best place to “dump the junk”. In this space, all members of the family can find a spot to cast off backpacks and boots, car keys and laptops, phones and outerwear, school work and even the mail. It can also work as the staging zone for carrying groceries or other items to and from the house.
“We’re also designing new home plans with separate spaces for the laundry, away from the mudroom,” Rick explains. “Some people don’t want to pass by dirty clothes as they walk into their home. In those plans, I put the laundry room next to the bedrooms where the clothes are.”
For Patti’s clients, she orders top quality cabinets, counters and cubbies for the mudroom to create a well-appointed room for all the stuff. “I like the entry space off the garage to have the same level of quality as the rest of the house”, she says,“so that it feels good to come home.”
Patti’s husband, Evan Julber, is used to working with Patti on her various interior design projects as well as his own commercial ventures. He says the best concept for this electronic hub is to build in a long strip of 110v outlets in the wall above the counter for the ever changing chargers and docking stations.
“We can’t predict what’s coming our way,” Evan says,“but we know it’s going to require electricity and perhaps, cable. So, it’s important when designing the area to include space for outlets, cable and enough room for a wireless router or the hub for a future smart-house.”'
Mike Gansen, of Gansen Construction in Eugene, Or, likes the Tillamook house plan from Associated Designs in part because the mudroom calls for plumbing to be built into the room’s corner with ability to expand even more into the garage. This feature allows Mike to work with the homeowner and truly customize the area, adding a cleaning station, a toilet or even a dog washing tub. “The homeowner really likes to put their stamp on this space”, Mike says,“configuring it to match their own lifestyle. It makes the final build-out unique to them.”
Whether it’s the older couple who is ready to de-clutter their well decorated living areas, or the large and busy family with an active lifestyle and loads of stuff, a well-planned entry room or mudroom is the ultimate solution.