Category: Other Rooms


Weekend Projects: 5 Flat-Out Wonderful DIY Platform Beds

The sleek lines and compact design of a platform bed suit a variety of interiors. Platforms can be inexpensively made and can easily incorporate storage—which makes them great for small bedrooms and small budgets alike. Witness this all for yourself with our roundup of DIY platform beds.

Platform beds never go out of style—unlike, say, platform shoes, but that’s a different story. Appropriate in a range of decorating schemes, the long-and-low design of a platform bed appeals not only to the eye, but also to the wallet—and to those who are above all practical-minded. It may be obvious but is well worth mentioning that a platform bed lets you save a bunch of money by not having to buy a box spring. Another important advantage: Platform beds lend themselves to built-in storage cubbies, shelves, and drawers that conserve valuable floor space. If you’re intrigued by the style’s many selling points, scroll down to see five different ways to approach building a DIY platform bed.

 

1. PICK PALLETS

DIY Platform Bed - Pallets

Photo: theplatformbed.com

Shipping pallets, with their rough-hewn texture, yield a DIY platform bed with a distinctively handmade aesthetic. Fasten a couple of pallets against the wall vertically, and in an instant you have a low-cost headboard that coordinates perfectly with the frame. If you wish, paint or stain both for a more finished look.

 

2. BE SHELF-ISH

DIY Platform Bed - IKEA

Photo: vanillajoy.com

We’ve noticed several ingenious DIY platform bed projects involving IKEA shelving units, either alone or in combination with wood framing. It’s hard not to love how easy these are to assemble—and afford. Of course the real clinchers are the storage compartments, which make this design ideal for anyone starved for space.

 

3. GO MODERN

DIY Platform Bed - Modern

Photo: mid-century-modern.net

The sleek profile of a DIY platform bed looks very much at home in a modern space, particularly when the bed frame has been graced with mid-century-esque details. With little more than oak boards and metal hairpin legs, you can build a piece just like this one, which recalls an earlier age but retains timeless charm.

 

4. ASSEMBLE A KNOCKOFF

DIY Platform Bed - Copy

Photo: caldwellcouple.blogspot.com

By following an online tutorial, The Caldwell Couple managed to knock off the design of a Pottery Barn Kids bed, completing the project for about $120 (hundreds less than it would have cost to buy from the retailer). Platform beds are easy for children to access, and because the beds are so close to the ground, they’re quite safe.

 

5. FLOAT AWAY

DIY Platform Bed - Floating

Photo: stylusa.com

Some platform beds look as if they are floating when in reality they are perched on a smaller base that you could see if you were to peer underneath. You can add functionality to this form by making the platform about six inches wider than your mattress; the extra space becomes a sort of nightstand for odds and ends.


Planning Guide: Mudrooms

Every house needs a clean, well-organized spot where family and friends can hang their coats, stash their boots, and neatly rest all of their bags, hats, scarves and backpacks. Yes, everyone needs a mudroom—and with careful planning, you can create one that's not just a staging area, but a true command central.

Photo: cynthialynn.com

As the main staging area for arrivals and departures, the mudroom is a much-relied-upon space. If your floor plan doesn’t include a mudroom, you can create one by screening or walling in a section of an existing room, by finishing an attached porch, or by building a small addition. However you go about it, once you have a mudroom, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one!

LOCATION
Whether you start from scratch or convert an existing room—or part of it—into a mudroom, choose a location that is frequently used by your family to get in and out of the house. Kitchens or pantries with entry doors to the exterior are ideally suited to incorporate a mudroom. Garages are also excellent candidates. Utility or laundry rooms with an outside entrance make good mudrooms as well—you can wash and dry the wet, dirty clothes on the spot! The same is true of basements that are equipped with plumbing and have entry doors to the exterior.

Farmhouse mudroom

Photo: pocketfullofblue.blogspot.com

FLOORING
Because the main function of a mudroom is to keep mud and snow away from the rest of the house, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting the floor dirty—there will be plenty of dirt. So you’ll need to select a durable flooring that is easy to clean.

Tiles make hard-wearing and decorative floors, but for safety reasons choose nonslip styles. Vinyl tile and linoleum flooring is durable and washable too, but make sure that the color and pattern you pick will hide dirt and stains easily. Another good option is concrete. Its easy maintenance makes it perfect for mudroom floors, and when stained, colored, or painted, it can be a very attractive flooring material.

Related: How to Stain Concrete

Whatever you choose as your flooring surface, be sure to place fiber mats or absorbent rugs near the entryway to catch water and dirt before they get tracked through the house. It’s a good idea to install a boot scraper just outside the entrance to your mudroom, so dirt and mud won’t even make it over the threshold.

If you have the budget and your home allows for it, consider installing a drain in the center of the room and angling the floor slightly so that water and slushy, melting snow can drain away and you can easily wash out the room as often as required. If it’s not practical to place a drain in the center of the room, consider putting it in a corner where you can set a mesh rack above it for wet boots and shoes. If a drain is not possible, a sturdy rubber mat with sidewalls should do the trick.

Mudroom  Decor

Photo: bhg.com

EXTRA STORAGE
As any homeowner knows, you can never have enough storage; this is especially true in your mudroom. Because it’s the main pickup and drop-off spot in the house, the mudroom needs to accommodate coats, scarves, boots, cycling helmets, and backpacks—thereby stopping these items from littering entryways, hallways, and bedrooms.

One way to eliminate clutter is to install cabinets fitted with pegs, shelves, and drawers. Assign a specific storage space to each family member. Make them all responsible for putting away their own coats, shoes, and other items they use every day. If the budget allows, include upper cabinets in the plan. They’re great for stashing out-of-season items.

It’s also a good idea to include a storage bench in the mudroom. It’s not only convenient for removing wet shoes, but it also provides a space below where those shoes can be stowed. (And if the bench is sturdy enough, you can use it to reach those handy upper cabinets!) Again, if you are going store your shoes in cubbyholes beneath the bench, use plastic trays or mats cut to size to make cleanup easier.

QUICK EXIT AND ENTRY
Mudrooms can help create a hassle-free start to the day and a relaxing homecoming in the evening—if they’re well organized. As you’re planning, make sure there’s a place for everything. For example, set up decorative bowls or pegs for car keys and keep a notepad by the door for reminders, or even put up a cork board, whiteboard, or chalkboard where family members can leave notes. Set up a charging station for your electronic devices (if your mudroom is heated) so that you won’t forget your phone in the morning. Use pegs or a vintage coat rack to hang dog leashes, shopping bags, and coats so they’re easy to grab quickly. One more practical addition: a mirror to ensure that you leave the house looking well turned out.

WARM WELCOME
Your guests, family members, and even pets will appreciate coming in from the freezing outdoors to a warm and cozy mudroom. To keep the space toasty, you may need to rely on a space heater or heat lamp (which can also help dry damp clothes), or you can connect the room to the home’s central heating or hardwire an electric baseboard system. If you have a pet, once the room is sufficiently heated, you could consider putting a pet bed in a corner and making the room your companion’s special retreat.

In addition to adequate heating, it’s essential to have proper ventilation in a mudroom to keep the air fresh (there are likely to be a lot of shoes here after all!) and to prevent the growth of mildew and mold. If there are no windows in the room that you can open for fresh air, a bathroom-type exhaust fan can do the trick.

CONTROL ROOM
For frequent travelers who worry about bedbugs or dedicated hikers who are concerned about ticks, the mudroom can be a great place to “decontaminate” when you return home. If you have a washer and dryer in the room, simply unpack or undress in the mudroom and start up a laundry cycle. (Keep some robes and slippers in the room to help with this process!) If your laundry facilities aren’t close by, keep plenty of heavy-duty plastic bags on hand to transport clothing from the mudroom to your laundry room.

One final selling point: If you suffer from allergies, a mudroom can be effective in minimizing the amount of outdoor allergens like dust, pollen, and mold that enter the house on your clothing.

CHEERFUL DECOR

Even though it has the word “mud” in its name, your mudroom does not need to be drab. You can paint the walls in bright colors and use color-coded storage units and decorative baskets, making the room lively while still keeping things stored neatly and out of sight. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint and you’ll also have an attractive and useful means of keeping your busy family organized. Installing pendant or recessed lighting instead of fluorescent will make the room feel more like home than a storage area—and, after all, it’s both!


How To: Install a Dryer Vent

Having your dryer properly vented is crucial in keeping the appliance operating effectively and avoiding the risk of fire or water damage to your home. Fortunately, installing a dryer vent is easy to do.

Dryer Vent Installation

Photo: familyhandyman.com

Developed in 19th-century England, the first mechanized clothes dryers were perforated barrels that rotated over flames. Today’s appliances are not so very different, at least in principle, with heated air blown through a tumbler. But where does the air go once it has stolen moisture from your socks, shirts, and hand towels? If you’ve ever walked or driven past a modern-day Laundromat, then you already know: For a dryer to operate safely and effectively, it must vent to the outside.

Related: 15 Laundry Rooms We Love

In recent decades, it’s been common practice for homeowners to use flexible vinyl or metal tubing in dryer vent installation. The ridged design of these ducts, however, tends to pose a fire hazard: In short, they trap lint. For that reason, experts now instead recommend the use of rigid or semirigid hose; either can be found easily and purchased inexpensively in the diameter appropriate for your appliance (for most dryers, the correct duct size is four inches).

STEP 1
Dryer vent installation begins with a decision: By what route will the duct travel from your appliance to your home’s exterior? The shorter, the better. A straight path is the shortest possible route, but not always practical. If, say, your dryer sits in the basement, then the hose needs to make at least one turn. To complicate matters, the total length of the run should not exceed 25 feet—and that’s for a straight shot. From that maximum, deduct five feet for 90-degree bends, and two and a half feet for 45-degree ones.

STEP 2
Now comes the most challenging part of dryer vent installation: putting a hole in the exterior wall. In most cases, the opening must be four and a quarter inches wide (for confirmation, consult the instructions provided by the manufacturer). I suggest drilling a pilot hole first, then going outside to double-check its position. If there’s no impediment, and you’re boring through wood, proceed to use the drill/driver, first outfitting the tool with a hole-saw attachment. To penetrate stucco or concrete, it’s easier to use a masonry bit to drill multiple holes around the circumference of the desired opening before manually chiseling out its interior.

Dryer Vent Installation - Exterior View

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 3
Install the dryer vent cap against the side of your house, being sure that its attached pipe fits through the wall opening you have made. Secure the cap with the provided screws, and don’t forget to caulk around the edges for protection against the elements. Now go inside and connect the dryer duct to the vent cap pipe (a 90-degree elbow may be needed), securing the connection with a hose clamp.

STEP 4
Having moved the dryer into the desired spot in your laundry room, measure the distance from the back of the machine to the vent opening, accounting for all the necessary turns in the ductwork. With a pair of tin snips, proceed to cut the tubing to the length of the measured distance. If you are joining more than one length of tubing, reinforce all joints with foil tape. When you’re finally attaching the tubing to your dryer, remember to secure the connection by means of a hose clamp, as you did in Step 3.

STEP 5
At this point, it’s important to make certain your dryer vent installation has been successful. Switch on the dryer, then go outside to inspect the vent cap: It should be emitting warm air. If it’s not, head back indoors to review your ductwork. The most likely explanation is that one of the connections has come undone.

Remember that in order for your dryer to keep operating at maximum efficiency, you must periodically vacuum inside the vent system, as lint has a stubborn way of lingering, even when there are no ridges in which it can get lodged.


Bob Vila Radio: Doormats

To protect your floors and home from dirt, rain, and other debris, turn to the humble doormat as your first line of defense.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it can feel like the whole world is beating a path to your door, bearing gifts, desserts, and… dirt. A good doormat is your first line of defense for stopping that dirt at the door.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON DOORMATS or read the text below:

doormats

Shutterstock

For maximum protection, put one mat outside and another immediately inside every entrance to your house. Both should be at least 80 percent of the width of the door and deep enough so that visitors can step on each mat twice as they enter. The outdoor mat should be made of an all-weather material and have a textured surface, so visitors can scrape debris off their shoes. Don’t ignore aesthetics—your doormat is one of the first things your guests encounter. Make it welcoming.

Your indoor mat should be skid-resistant and have enough texture to catch dirt, but mostly it should be absorbent—this is, after all, where your guests hand over coats and dripping umbrellas. Before you start using a new mat, make sure it isn’t so thick that it interferes with the door. And vacuum your indoor mat regularly. You don’t want people tracking in dirt they pick up from your mat!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Planning Guide: Laundry Room

Take some of the drudgery out of doing the wash by creating a cheerful, better organized, and more efficient laundry room.

Laundry Room Ideas

Photo: agreatkitchen.com

The space where you wash dirty clothes need not be dirty too. Whether you’re starting from scratch or updating an existing space, these laundry room ideas can help you design a cheerful, comfortable, and efficient area for this often dreaded but necessary household chore.

LOCATION
In the typical home, the laundry room is in the basement, and for good reason: Washers and dryers are notoriously noisy contraptions. With advancements in their technology, however, these machines have grown quieter. As a result, more and more homeowners are choosing to locate the laundry room closer to main living areas, especially those rooms where clothing tends to come off—namely, bedrooms and bathrooms.

Bear in mind that laundry equipment needs two things in order to operate: first, a plumbing hookup, and second, a means of ventilation to the outdoors. Given the plumbing requirement, it’s wise to position a washing machine near existing water supply pipes, otherwise you’ll need to call in a plumber to install new ones. Review local building codes; a plumbing vent, which allows air to escape the system, may be required.

Related: 15 Laundry Rooms We Love

The necessity of ventilation dictates placement of the dryer, because its vent works best when it spans a short distance with few (if any) redirections. For this reason, locating the dryer against an exterior wall is strongly recommended. If you’re given a choice between a metal vent pipe and a corrugated metal tube, choose the former. Its smooth interior enhances airflow and reduces lint accumulation, making drying quicker and safer.

Putting a washer and dryer in a room that’s never before held heavy appliances? Look into reinforcing the floor joists so they can safely carry the load. Doing so also helps contain noise or vibrations. Although many energy-efficient machines are small enough to occupy nontraditional laundry spaces, such as closets and pantries, double-check your measurements to be sure the appliances will fit through the doors and staircases in your home.

FLOORING
Traditionally popular laundry room flooring choices are vinyl or linoleum. Both are more affordable and less maintenance-intensive than either wood or tile. Today, however, as homeowners seek to humanize these formerly utilitarian spaces, there has been a surge of interest in cork flooring, a handsome, hard-wearing, and relatively inexpensive material. Consider also rubber mat flooring, commonly used in fitness gyms, which is quick to install, sound-muffling, and comfortable underfoot.

Laundy Room Ideas - Beadboard

Photo: whittenarchitects.com

STORAGE
Although designed for other applications, closet storage organizers and kitchen cabinets adapt well for the purpose of minimizing clutter in the laundry room. Home improvement centers offer a wide selection of cabinets and countertops that can be installed with ease by intermediate-level weekend do-it-yourselfers. Above the washer and dryer, use wall-mounted units to conserve valuable floor space. And, if you have the room for one, set up a permanent rack on which to hang clothes as they come out of the dryer. You can also use it to air-dry delicate items, if desired, but for best results, install a dehumidifier or exhaust fan to take moisture out of the air.

LIGHTING
Good light is essential at different stages of the clothes-washing process: You must be able to see stains in order to treat them prior to washing, and you can’t iron out a wrinkle that you failed to notice in the first place. In a laundry room, track lighting excels, because its multiple heads can be adjusted to illuminate different work areas. Meanwhile, windows are advantageous, because they not only usher in fresh air and release humidity, but they also provide ambient light.

INSULATION
Washers and dryers sometimes make a racket like an alien spacecraft revving for takeoff, so insulating against sound can be very important in a laundry room. Two layers of wallboard on the walls and ceilings suppress noise better than one, and the cavities between wall studs and floor joists should be filled with fiberglass, rigid foam, or spray insulation. Any of these prevent sound from reaching adjoining rooms, including those on the level above or below.

ELECTRICAL
A licensed electrician must install dedicated lines for both the washer and dryer. If you have an electric dryer, you need 240-volt service. Gas-fueled dryers, by contrast, operate on standard 120-volt lines. With a gas appliance, however, be aware that building codes often require a plumber to handle the piping between the municipal supply and the on-site gas storage tank.

FLOODING
To prevent the damage that a malfunctioning washing machine can cause, situate the appliance in a drip pan—or better yet, install a floor drain. Water valves should be easily accessible to the homeowner. As an added safeguard, opt for an automatic shutoff that halts the flow of water in the event of a leak. Another prudent measure is to install a raised threshold at the entrance of the laundry room; that way, if the room ever floods, the rest of the house is spared.

Laundry Room Ideas - Ironing Board

Photo: crisparchitects.com

Worthwhile Extras
- A laundry chute spells the end to those exhausting trips down the stairs, basket in hand, to laundry rooms on lower floors or in the basement.

- For many tasks, and not only those related to washing clothes, a laundry sink may prove to be a valuable asset—for example, they’re great for rinsing gardening tools.

- An ironing board hinged to the wall, incorporated into a pull-out drawer, or stored in a tall cabinet beside the dryer makes ironing more convenient—and may even inspire you to do it more often!

- Consider mounting a small flat-screen TV to the wall of your laundry room, so all that stain-treating, folding, ironing, and hanging will seem to go by more quickly.


Weekend Projects: 5 Fresh Laundry Room Storage Options

Create a less cluttered, more efficient laundry area, so you can easily get this chore done fast.

Whether you have a small closet or a large room devoted to doing the laundry, chances are that you want more storage in your laundry area. While there’s no avoiding this chore, having a more functional and efficient laundry area can at the very least make the task less of a nuisance. These DIY laundry room storage solutions won’t necessarily make you love washing your clothes each week, but they can assist in you completing the job more quickly and with a minimum of headaches along the way.

 

1. MAKE A DRYING RACK

DIY Laundry Room Storage - Drying Rack

Photo: centsationalgirl.com

How many times has one of your favorite shirts emerged from the dryer two sizes too small? The surefire way to protect delicate articles of clothing from a similar fate is to let them air-dry. Centsational Girl shows how you can build your own wall-mounted, fold-out, space-saving drying rack in no time.

 

2. BUILD AN IRONING BOARD

DIY Laundry Room Storage - Ironing Board

Photo: designdishes.blogspot.com

Make the most of every inch with this simply genius DIY laundry room storage trick. If your washer and dryer are front-loading, they can easily support a combination countertop-ironing board. Yes, you can finally say goodbye to that clunky, creaking, stand-alone ironing board that you loathe to unfold.

 

3. CREATE A LOST-AND-FOUND

DIY Laundry Room Storage - Sock Board

Photo: shopruche.com

Few things are certain in life, but besides death and taxes, you can also count on occasionally losing a sock or two in the wash. Here’s a project that can help ensure a happy ending for incomplete pairs: Build a board to serve as a DIY laundry room storage area for single socks in search of mates.

 

4. INSTALL A RISER

DIY Laundry Room Storage - Riser

Photo: justagirlblog.com

The dead zone above side-by-side washers and dryers is especially frustrating where floor space is limited. Installing cabinets beneath laundry machines is smart for two reasons: Not only do such units add storage space for supplies, but they also eliminate the need to hunch over when loading and unloading.

 

5. GO MOBILE

DIY Laundry Room Storage - Mobile Station

Photo: hoosierhomemade.com

From Hoosier Homemade, this DIY laundry room storage cart can be modified to hold as many baskets (or shelves) as desired. Designate one compartment for each family member, or use the sections to separate whites, colors, and delicates. The best part? Casters make the cart effortlessly easy to move.


Bob Vila Radio: Upcycling Cribs

In 2011, federal safety standards for baby cribs changed, making it illegal to sell older, unsafe models. Rather than send yours to the landfill, consider new ways of putting that old crib to some good use.

In 2011, federal safety standards for baby cribs changed significantly, making it illegal to sell older models that no longer make the grade. Even thrift shops no longer accept these cribs, because they cannot be resold.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON UPCYCLING CRIBS or read the text below:

Upcycling Cribs

Photo: shutterstock.com

That left an awful lot of families with beautiful cribs languishing in their attics and basements, unable to donate them and unwilling to pass on potentially dangerous designs to family or friends. Short of sending these lovely and sentimental pieces to the landfill, what can you do?

Well, I’ve been amazed at what some people have done—I’ve seen creative upcycling ideas including chairs, benches, dish racks, desks, chalkboards, easels, magazine racks, even a garden trellis!

Keep in mind that cribs were designed to be structurally sound only when assembled as intended, so you’ll have to be smart about designing your new piece so it doesn’t wobble. Draw a few variations on your ideas before you start cutting anything, and try to anticipate weak spots that may need extra support or bracing.  Just remember, any project is a success that keeps the old crib useful and out of the landfill!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Ways to Organize Your Bedroom

Promote rest and relaxation in your nightly refuge from the world at large with thoughtful, stylish, and budget-friendly DIY bedroom storage solutions.

At the end of another long day, doesn’t everyone want—or even need—the bedroom to be a place of peace, a relaxing refuge removed from the rest of the world? And let’s face it: Messes are stresses. If you’ve been too busy lately to organize your boudoir, devote time to DIY bedroom storage projects this weekend.

 

1. CUT CORNERS

DIY Bedroom Storage - Corner Shelves

Photo: apartmenttherapy.com

Corners get a bad rap. People assume they’re good for nothing. But in the case of DIY bedroom storage, corners become very valuable, if only because they are so often left empty. Fill yours with a wooden magazine holder (Design Sponge), a space-saving corner table (Martha Stewart), or floating shelves (House of Rose).

 

2. CREATE A WALK-BY CLOSET

DIY Bedroom Storage - Walk By Closet

Photo: marthastewart.com

Some grumble over not having a walk-in closet, but others must suffer bedrooms with no closet space whatsoever. For those miserable unfortunates, there’s the option of creating a walk-by closet like the one pictured. Here, a vintage ladder bridges two shelving units, and a bench sits between. So simple, and so effective.

 

3. USE UNUSUAL STORAGE

DIY Bedroom Storage - Clothes Organization

Photo: ikeahackers.net

Like skinning a cat, there is more than one way to store clothing. If you love quirky minimalism—and frankly, who doesn’t?—check out this funky yet functional IKEA hack. Surprisingly, vintage suitcases also lend themselves to DIY bedroom storage solutions that are at once decorative and effective.

 

4. ORGANIZE WALL HANGINGS

DIY Bedroom Storage - Wall Hangings

Photo: pegasuslighting.com

Cutting clutter plays a major role in successful DIY bedroom storage, so it’s time to finally hang that poster you bought at the museum gift shop last year. Wood-mounted artworkclipboard displays, and picture frame collages stand out among countless gallery wall project inspirations over on Apartment Therapy.

 

5. INSTALL FLOATING SHELVES

DIY Bedroom Storage - Floating Shelves

Photo: bobvila.com

Especially in small bedrooms, bulky standalone storage units hog what precious few square feet there are available. A space-saving alternative is to install floating shelves. You can achieve this sophisticated modern look on Saturday morning, leaving the rest of your weekend free for browsing bookstores!


Planning Guide: Home Office

For an increasing number of us, a functional and comfortable home office design is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Home Office Design

Photo: bh2.com

With more and more people telecommuting to work each day, the home office is no longer a luxury—for many, a productive and comfortable work space at home is now a necessity. Numerous factors must be considered as part of an effective home office design; before setting up phone and fax lines, invest time in developing a plan.

Identify Your Needs
Figure out what kind of home office space you require. Do you work from home every day or only on occasion? Will the space be shared with family members? To perform your job successfully, what equipment must the office contain? Will you be video-conferencing or meeting clients in person? The answers to all of these questions may influence your home office design plan.

Pick Your Space
If you regularly work from home, having a dedicated office space may help you foster improved at-home work habits (and if you meet the IRS requirements, the room can be a write-off on your income taxes). Choose a space—a room with a door, ideally—removed from the distractions of your home’s main living areas. Don’t have such a space? There’s always the possibility of converting a prefab shed into a backyard studio.

If your home office will be used by different members of the family for different purposes, then be sure it’s large enough for more than one person but also private enough to facilitate work getting done.

Home Office Ideas - Desk Area

Photo: bh2.com

Putting It Together
Once you’ve determined the “what” and “where” of your home office design, several key components must be added for the space to perform its role satisfactorily.

Desk
Choosing the right desk depends on two things: the type of work you do and the amount of space you have. If your responsibilities are mainly confined to the digital realm, you may not need a lot of physical real estate. But those who regularly work with print-outs and reference books may require a large desk top, perhaps even multiple work surfaces.

Before committing to buy, sit down at the desk and test the feel. Is the desk a good working height for you? Will it accommodate all of the equipment you require?

If you access files frequently, a desk with built-in storage may be your best bet. Streamlined, modern table styles are fine to use in office settings but necessitate a separate file storage solution. You ought to have no trouble finding a desk to suit your style and budget, but remember, there are DIY options, too.

Related: Create a Home Office That Works: 10 Expert Tips

Chair
The most important piece of furniture in your home office design is the chair. There are many styles from which to choose, but resist the temptation to make your selection on the basis of aesthetics alone. Look for a chair that offers sufficient depth; the ideal seat supports your thighs without touching the back of your knees. If you are prone to lower-back pain, insist on a design that provides adequate lumbar support. And if not adjustable, be sure the chair’s height is appropriate for your desk or worktable.

Plenty of excellent options exist in the $100 to $200 range. Take your time and when faced with a choice between comfort and good looks, err on the side of comfort, which is likely to enhance your level of productivity.

Other Work Areas
What other work areas would it be wise to add? Those who review large documents or assemble materials may appreciate the virtues of a standing desk. If you expect to host clients for face-to-face meetings, think about including a small conference table. The best home office design will respond sensitively to the realities of your day-to-day schedule.

Technology and Peripherals
Love it or hate it, technology is the reason so many of us are able to work from home—embrace it! If you are shopping for a new computer, fax machine, or copier, get the best your can afford. That way, you can be assured that your equipment will be compatible with the latest software and operating systems. When possible, choose hardware with wireless capability, and if you can, go paperless.

Lighting
Lighting plays a major role in home office design. As in other rooms, the best approach here is to layer lighting from multiple sources. Use table lamps, floor lamps, and wall sconces to achieve diffused, ambient lighting that fills the room. While natural light is certainly a plus, direct sun may result in glare. Install window treatments so that over the course of the day, you can control the amount of daylight admitted through your windows. For task lighting, use desk lamps that not only deliver the quality and intensity of light you prefer, but also provide flexibility through design features like adjustable swing arms.

Organization and Storage
No matter the details of your home office design, organization is key, particularly in a shared space. Find a categorization routine that works, then stick to it. Since all those cords and cables are a distracting eyesore, look for ways to consolidate and conceal them as well.

The last step in creating the perfect home office space is making it your own. Add personal touches that make you feel comfortable and that inspire creativity. Your home office can and should be a place you can grow and prosper.

Now, get to work!


Planning Guide: Home Theater

Design a blockbuster theater room for convenient, casual, cinema-style entertainment at home.

Home Theater Ideas

Photo: HGTV

Millions of Americans are plugging into dedicated home theaters as their ticket to relaxation and casual entertaining. Though any space with a TV and a surround sound audio system qualifies as an entertainment area, only a home theater room simulates a sensory cinema experience. Here are four key considerations to help make an attractive, comfortable space with top-quality acoustics and viewing.

Room Place, Shape and Size
Unless you have exceptional wall insulation, locate the home theater room in an area of the house where ambient noise won’t disrupt viewing, and where cinema sounds won’t interfere with other household activities. Possibilities include a basement or a space adjacent to the family room with minimal natural light.

Choose a rectangular-shaped room rather than a square space where sound build-up bounces off the walls. For excellent acoustics, most design experts suggest an area that measures about 20′ x 13′. Others point to an acoustics room ratio, which indicates that room width should be 1.6 times, and room length should be 2.6 times, the ceiling height. Considering cinema sound is as powerful as its imagery, acoustics deserve to be a big deal.

Projectors vs. Big-screen TV
Deciding between a television or a projector should be based on how you plan to use the room. If you’re keen on TV programs or gaming, then image quality is usually better on a flat-screen TV. But if you’re more interested in watching movies (DVD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD) and entertaining friends, then a projector offers the better picture, the largest screen size, and a more authentic experience. Projectors trump televisions in tendering realistic 3D escapades, too.

Screen Size and Viewing Experience
Remember the days when owning a 27″ TV model practically ensured you’d be hosting the next Super Bowl party? Today 4′ and 5′ screens are the norm (with 6′ and 7′ models gaining ground). Bigger isn’t always the best choice, however. When the screen is too large for the viewing distance, the individual pixels are evident, and the eyes are strained by the need to scan the whole thing. When the screen is too small, viewers miss the experience of being drawn into the show.

As a general rule, select a screen size that is about one third of your viewing distance. For seating about 13′ (156″) from the television, for instance, opt for a 52″ screen. One way to test optimal viewing distance is to measure between your seating area and the television, then stand that far away from the displays at the store. If you can see a model’s whole screen without moving your head or eyes, you’re in the right range.

Finally, when it comes to size, projectors go up to 300″ diagonally, compared with 70″ to 90″ for flat-screen TVs. Keep in mind that projectors have “throw” ranges, indicating the distance between the projector and the screen. (Find a throw range calculator on individual manufacturers’ websites.)

Home Theater Ideas - Cinema

Photo: HGTV

Furnishings and Lighting
A home theater room can trump even the poshest cinema in terms of comfort and personal style. To set a specific mood, turn to theme decor ranging from swanky Hollywood glamour to cozy wine bar or lively ’50s drive-in. Or take design cues from favorite genres like Westerns or from beloved series like Lord of the Rings.

For the sake of both comfort and acoustics, begin with carpet that adds warmth and absorbs sound. Next, indulge in comfortable seating. Though sofas, chairs, and even bean bags will work, the ideal arrangement is a row or two of cushy chairs facing forward to mimic theater seating. Consider using risers or platforms to elevate the second row and add LED step lighting that can be dimmed. In fact, wall sconces and subtle lighting controlled by a remote can greatly enhance mood—everyone enjoys the suspense when the lights go down. And because you want things as dark as possible for improved viewing, choose deep colors for walls and dress any windows with blackout curtains.

Finally, add in special touches like a star ceiling made from fiber optic tiles, acoustic panels on the walls, a mini concession stand with popcorn machine, movie posters and a velour curtain to trim out the screen.