We all know that it is the love of family and friends that makes a house a home. It takes just a little more to make a home comfortable and convenient. We are starting to learn (or relearn) that the spaces we live and work in have a profound effect on our health and state of mind.

A house, after providing basic shelter, is useful only if it works well. It can't be too hot, too cold, too cramped, or have vital components that break down. A house must be pleasing to the eye, and it must feel “just right”.

Some of the factors to consider to make a house “feel right” are:

  • Air – fresh, clean, natural air flow; cross ventilation throughout the house; high ceilings (vented if practical) to take excess heat out and draw fresh air in.
  • Light – natural light though the day, minimizes the need for artificial light during daylight hours with proper window and skylight placement and use. Use appropriate task lighting after dark for where you are and what you are doing.
  • Sound – exterior sounds should not intrude into your living space. The shape and layout of your home, as well as trees and vegetation around it, can help control sound. Interior sounds vary, with some being welcome through the house and others needing to be contained to a very local spot. Sound can be regulated easily, dependent upon the shape and layout of the home.
  • Temperature – a house should be warm when it needs to be warm, and cool when it needs to be cool. Warm means no cold corners, warm floors, and as little blowing air as possible. Radiant heat sources can warm a house evenly, quietly, and cleanly. Cool means moving air into and through the house to carry away excess heat. Cross ventilation and ceiling fans can provide easy and inexpensive cooling. Air conditioning may be needed only in a sleeping room, if at all.
  • Size – the size of home that feels right will, of course, vary with individual needs and family size. A “tiny house” feels cozy for a while, but for most is quickly outgrown. A very large house also feels good until the mortgage payment comes due, or it's time to clean and do maintenance. Building only what you need and keep the layout as open as possible so that the interior feels big. Store seasonal or seldom-used items outside of the living space. Those things do not need the same air, light, and temperature that a person needs. Build your home the appropriate size for you to live in.
  • Layout – a well planned house layout makes your life much simpler. Keep to a clean, open, single level home for the most convenience. A good kitchen will mean fewer steps during meal preparation. Keep the kitchen open to dining and living areas. This helps to foster family conversation, without having everyone physically in the kitchen. Make your laundry space close to your bedrooms – no bedrooms on the second floor and laundry in the basement! Some people prefer large open spaces and some small cozy spaces. A good layout can provide for both. Use light and furniture placement to create a cozy “corner” in a larger space, or use natural light and air to create space in a smaller footprint.

There are many options and opinions of what will make a home comfortable and convenient. Think through your daily routines and chores, and find what it takes for your home to feel “just right”.

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