The Convenience Is Built in ; When Building or Remodeling, Homeowners Have a Wide Choice of Handy Amenities

By Ross Atkin writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 5, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Convenience Is Built in ; When Building or Remodeling, Homeowners Have a Wide Choice of Handy Amenities


Ross Atkin writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


When it comes to customizing their homes, Americans are great ones for choosing paint colors, floor coverings, and the latest appliances.

Where homeowners often fall short, in the estimation of one consultant, is in thinking through some of the lifestyle and efficiency improvements that can be built in when building or remodeling.

"People think about things they need to buy, that they can go to a store and see," says Carol Abrahamson, an adviser to homeowners, architects, builders, and designers.

But when it comes to greater livability, she's convinced that many of the best improvements are not about buying expensive products and high-tech gadgetry from specialized vendors or suppliers.

"It's about vision and information," says Ms. Abrahamson, who specializes in identifying "affordable built-in convenience features for every home."

These run the gamut: everything from floor-level kitchen drawers for storing platters and shallow pans to a three-way mirror in the master bedroom closet to battery-charging stations for small appliances and tools in various utility areas.

During the past four years, she's gatheredmore than 1,000 ideas for built-in projects.

"Most of these ideas don't involve a lot of specialized equipment or installation technique, so they kind of slip through the cracks," she says.

Because the master bath is where many people begin and end their days, Abrahamson says the room definitely deserves careful attention during building or remodeling.

So what would she do to enhance the master bath? Here is a smorgasbord of her recommendations:

* Choosing kitchen cabinets instead of bathroom cabinets accomplishes two things: It provides more choices for cabinet styles and configurations, and it saves money - sometimes as much as half. Why? Because kitchen cabinet manufacturers sell a lot more cabinets, so their costs are less and prices better.

* Extra sound insulation in walls between bedrooms and bathrooms to muffle flushing toilets and running water.

* Low-voltage lighting, such as that used in airplane aisles, between bedrooms and bath. Connecting these lights to a motion sensor can illuminate the way in the dark. Sensors, however, are not a good choice for people with cats or dogs.

* Extra heating vents so the room is always toasty during the winter months.

* A set of water controls outside the shower. The extra controls would help bathers achieve a reasonably comfortable water temperature before getting in - a plus with today's large walk-in showers.

* An electrical outlet inside a drawer so small personal appliances such as shavers, toothbrushes, and hair dryers can be plugged into a power strip and be ready to use, without their cords being in the way. …

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