The Home Zen Experience for Buyers

I like to enter a home for the first time without preconception or at least to set aside all knowledge of the type and style of home. I want to be in a neutral mood as I enter so that I’m open to feel the flow or rooms, halls and centers of interest. It’s as if I were water, I want to experience the push and pull of the space and how light moves me through the house. I call this the Zen of experience of home. Do I walk down a hall or climb some steps? Do I enter an open room with high ceilings or am I allowed to anticipate subsequent larger spaces? No matter where I am directed in an unconscious manner there are three primary zones inside the home; cooking and sharing of food, entertaining and private areas. There is a mechanical area often in the basement and exterior which make up the forth and fifth zones. The shape size and interplay of these rooms constitutes good home design and the potential for easier living.

The main entry should have a strong flow to the kitchen area which I think of as home central and from there to the dining and entertaining areas. I want to see a kitchen well laid out with natural light and space to prepare food and have sufficient space to have helpers join in. Next I want to see how the private rooms tie into the kitchen. The bathroom and bedrooms are a separate privacy zone separate but nevertheless tied to the kitchen centre. I like an easy flow between the two. A short hall or a couple of wide steps are all that is needed to a walk to the bathroom. Everyone likes to feel the kitchen as an adjunct to their bedroom especially at night time when they want a glass of juice. convenience! It’s just easy living that way.

The third zone is the entertaining area. It used to be called the front room, the salon, the formal room but increasingly, the family room or den has become popular. This multi purpose room has seen changes in contemporary home design and older homes are transforming the entertaining areas to keep up with changing needs of a busy home life. Everything happens in the family room. It’s usually in line of sight of the kitchen counter. A fire place often balances the kitchen at the opposite end of the room. There is an area to relax, to work at a project, to do homework and to read. The expansion of the family room and the shrinking of the formal room has led to the growth of fun rooms, theme rooms, home theatres, and games rooms. These additional rooms frequently find a place in the basement where space is not at a premium. Parties and home entertaining is still at a formal level and people like to gather in the kitchen at party time where warmth, food and friendship are shared. Home is still a shelter and refuge so only chosen people are welcome in the entertainment zone of the home. Strangers are kept at the exterior of the home; at the entrance and not beyond.

Finally the utility room is an area where heating, cooling, workshop and laundry are located. The attached garage is frequently related to the mechanical components of the utility room. This is where engineering and renovation experience can tell a volumes about how a home has been cared for and what can be done to structurally change the house. The mechanical area is often neglected because it is sometimes windowless, dark, smelly and noisy. Its in the basement. The mechanical room instills an element of fear. But with some engineering and renovation experience the basement can reveal volumes about how a home has been maintained and what can be done to improve the house design.

When visiting a home for sale, picture in your mind’s eye the zones of use. Take into account how you would use the home in the dark when you rely on touch and feel of walls to guide you about. Think about the party of 30 people and how the group interaction will conform to the house layout. Consider in what areas you will most likely find comfort on a stormy winters eve when there is only you and another special person to share the home.