“May You Live in Interesting Times” is just about the definition of the modern family. Circumstances seem to be changing daily with those that we love and our homes are required also to be flexible. It has, in a sense, always been this way. The practice of real estate has always been connected to major life events: marriages, divorces, births are the big ones. Now our homes are being asked to be our business centers and even perhaps long term medical care. If moving isn’t the right choice at this moment how do we create the necessary space out of what we have?
1. Step one is a step back. Starting from outside write a list of all the interior spaces your home has including the garden shed or pool house and garage. The garden shed you say? The one that’s full of rusted trowels and snow shovels? Indeed – with a little elbow grease a garden shed could be a swell office.
2. Once you have a list of all of the interior spaces in your home make a second list of what spaces are now needed. Will you and your beloved both be working from home? Will a virtual learning space be required? Are Mom and Dad coming for an extended stay? Are all of those things happening at the same time?
3. Now we have to take a hard look at the systems we have in place to allow for the newly returned to jump right into virtual college or several people to be zoom meeting all at once. It could be as simple as purchasing a wifi extender to cure that dead spot in the house that connects too slowly or it could be as complicated as adding unground electricity to the garden shed you will be turning into an office. Do you need professional help? Plumbers, electricians, painters? Better line them up now.
4. Now it’s time to play the mix and match game.
My office Garden Shed
Beloved’s Office Sunroom
Junior and College Switch to the Master Bedroom
Mom and Dad Dining room
Daughter and the kids Finished Basement
5. Paint, electricity, strip baseboard heat and even a window AC can all be added to that garden shed and you will have an office that gives you privacy and a feeling of normalcy amidst the chaos. And it’s a lot better than retreating to the bathroom to try and have a quiet conversation with your clients!
6. A more complicated solve to a space problem is changing the use of a room completely. When you took a sober look at your interior spaces did you realize that your large dining room was underused? Maybe the last large gathering was that party a year ago and everyone hung out in the kitchen anyway. Can you add doors to the dining room and create a first floor space for Mom and Dad with easy access to the kitchen? Perhaps there is a wheelchair involved – adding a barn door to the inside of the archway allows for privacy but when it’s opened the archway is wide enough for the wheelchair to get through.
7. Now that you have your needs and spaces aligned it’s time for creative budgeting. These guests won’t be here forever – what changes can be made for the length of the visit that can also be removed when they are gone? Or maybe they will be in and out – so the rooms need to do double duty only occasionally?
Though the process may seem complicated and even expensive ultimately you are given your guests – and yourself – the gift of comfort and autonomy. Having a place that is suited to their needs makes guests, and us, feel fully welcomed and eases the transition of coming together.