You’ve already poured hours into the layout. You’ve moved the kitchen to one side and then to another. Originally you planned for four rooms, then three, but finally decided to go with five. And now the design is finally ready, so why can't you sleep at night? Does this sound familiar? We’re all afraid of making mistakes that we’ll only discover once it’s too late to fix them.
In order to help you prevent making these mistakes in the first place, I’ve prepared a list of items that seem so minor that we don’t think about them until it’s too late – and then they don’t seem so small anymore!
- Broom, squeegee, bucket. Where to store them? First of all, we can store these three items in separate places. Although we use all of them for cleaning, we don’t necessarily use each one as often as the others. We might sweep the kitchen a few times a day, so the broom should be stored near the kitchen. Second, if your home has two floors, you should have a place to store a broom and cleaning supplies on each floor.
- Kitchen garbage can. Is your kitchen garbage can always getting in the way? If so, plan a storage place for it ahead of time! It’s also worthwhile to think ahead to the day our small country will join the rest of the world and require us to separate recyclables from the real trash. You might want to take this into consideration when you’re planning where your garbage can will go. You’ll be shocked when you realize how much space garbage takes up in our lives (literally and figuratively).
- Electrical outlet underneath the kitchen sink. (sound familiar? we went through this in a previous blog) If you have a dishwasher or a garbage disposal, then you’ve probably already planned to install an electrical outlet underneath the kitchen sink. If so, skip ahead to tip #4. But if you haven’t though, it’s worth paying for an extra outlet underneath the sink. Why? Because one day you might want to install a water purifier, or a garbage disposal, or a dishwasher, or some other device that hasn’t even been invented yet. (I bet you’d never heard of a Smartphone five years ago, either). It’s almost impossible to install a new electrical outlet in the kitchen without making incredibly ugly gashes or breaking tiles, so it’s best to plan ahead.
- Electrical outlet for vacuum cleaner. Make sure you install an electrical outlet in the hallway (around 30-60 cm from the floor) so that you can plug in a vacuum cleaner and easily reach the stairs and few rooms.
- Emergency lighting. Plan a spot to install an emergency light next to the electric box and other places where you would like to have a light in the case of a black out. One option is to prepare an electrical outlet high up on the wall where you can install an emergency light. You can also order recessed light fixtures that function as regular lights, but which also turn on automatically when the power goes out. (If you're interested in the latter, you need to inform your electrician ahead of time since this setup requires separate wiring.) Every winter I receive emails from clients who thank me for their emergency lights!
- A place to hang wet towels in the bathroom. You should think about where you plan to hang your wet towels. Where do you usually hang them? Do you use towels or bathrobes? How many wet towels are normally hanging at any given time? You absolutely need to have a place to hang those towels! I know it’s difficult to think about this now while you're worrying about using every available centimeter of space, but you’ll regret that you didn’t plan ahead when you realize you have nowhere to hang your towel!
- Shabbat clock timer. You’ve finally moved into your new house, everything is crazy and disorganized, but somehow you make it to Shabbat. The house is clean, you can actually see some of the floor tiles, you remember what it’s like to breathe again and then you open up the electrical box to set the Shabbat clock and OOPS! You have no idea what's going on here!. We tend to rely on the electrician to take care of these types of things. Each family has its own habits. Some people don’t leave a light on in the bathroom and some can't live without it. Some people are big noshers and so they leave a light on in the kitchen all night, whereas others prefer it to be pitch black. It’s possible to add circuits to a Shabbat clock at a later time, but if a few lamps are grouped together in the same circuit, you can't have just one of them turn off with the Shabbat clock.Therefore, early on in the planning stage you should already be thinking about which lights you want to set with the Shabbat clock. This way, the electrician can group the circuits according to your preferences for Shabbat lighting. consider multiple Shabbat clocks. For example, you can have one timer for the outside lights, one for the bottom floor and one for upstairs. This way, each area can be set for different times. But even if you don’t have more than one Shabbat timer installed now, you can ask for an electrical box that has room for a couple more timers in case you decide to add more in the future. And one last extremely important tip: Make sure that the electrician does NOT add any of the wall sockets to the timer – it’s very disappointing to wake up Shabbat morning and realize your cholent pot had turned off when the lights went out the night before….
- Suitcases. Where should we store our suitcases?! There are certain objects in the house we want to be easily accessible. For example, a carry-on suitcase, folding chairs for when we have guests and large plastic storage bins. We don’t want to store these items in the outside storage room, but they're too big to fit in a closet. So where can we store them? The best solution is to build one closet in the house that is deeper than the standard (about 70 cm deep). Doesn't have to be the entire closet- even part of it will do. This way you can store large and irregular sized items inside this closet.
- Plan for the unexpected! We live in a world of dizzying changes. Computers we installed five years ago are now obsolete. Our family size and shape changes over the years. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? We can’t plan for something we don’t know about, but we can plan a house with flexibility. For example, install electric sockets in every area of the house even if you aren’t currently planning on plugging anything in there. Include a variety of types of kitchen cabinets, some with drawers and some with doors. Plan storage areas of varying sizes. And so on…
And let’s not forget what the shoemaker told Rabbi Salanter as he worked late into the night: "As long as the candle burns, it’s still possible to fix"
And so, if you find a mistake, or if something didn’t turn out exactly as you had planned, don’t fret – a solution can always be found. Serenity, knowledge and creativity will lead you to your answer.
Until the next design tip, yours truly,
Creating space people want to live in