Today (as on every April 7th) we celebrate No Housework Day. Although many of us delegate our chores, hire housecleaning services, or even have a full-time housekeeper, we still spend time making our beds, organizing our stuff, or picking up after our kids. But time is a very precious commodity – probably the one we value most. Shouldn’t we be spending it with our family and friends, doing what we love to do, instead of using it up for cleaning and caring for our material belongings? What if your house were to be designed as low-maintenance, making it possible to minimize the daily upkeep (giving you back your time to enjoy)?
Many years ago I read a book by Don Aslett titled Make Your House Do the Housework, which changed the way I look at the space I’m in. From that time on I see the interior design not only as a combination of form (the aesthetic aspect) and function (the utility factor). I am able to see the amount of time and money that is or will be spent by the owners on the process of maintaining it. This idea is one of the basic principles of healthy interior design my company, Bozena Studio, promotes and pioneers in (find out more on Healthy Interior Design blog).
I bet you’re eager to find out how to make your house to clean itself (I remember I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book!). Some of the author’s ideas include:
- Before you buy anything for your home, find out if it will: rot, fade, stain, dent, peel, scratch, rust, soil, shrink (in other words: what it’s made of).
- To minimize dust, use radiant heating (hot water or electric). Forced air systems move dust around, dirtying drapes, walls, etc. (it can eventually irritate your respiratory system – I know I’m susceptible to this).
- Get rid of excess furniture and stuff – it eliminates dust-gathering surfaces and floor obstacles to fast and efficient cleaning. If possible, suspend or build-in some furniture items.
- Buy self-maintaining furniture: sofas with attached pillows, no-nap upholstery fabric or self-straightening swivel chairs (like the Alster chair I just saw at the Ligne Roset showroom – a wonderful idea for all the Miss Perfects like me).
- Pick the right light fixtures. Avoid flat-bowl ceiling mounted ones (they collect grease and bugs and are hard to clean), minimize the use of floor lamps (many surfaces to dust, cords obstruct the path of vacuum cleaner). Choose hanging or built-in lamps, smooth surface lampshades, and use long-life light sources like LED or fluorescent.
For almost 10 years I’ve been trying out many of those techniques. Some require the home to undergo a remodel or general redesign (like the installation of radiant heating and low-maintenance tile flooring with minimal grout line), but most can be applied to any existing home, just by changing our way of thinking (like using door mats and taking off your shoes after entering the house).
Bozena Studio clients are made aware of the future maintenance of a space we design for them, and based on this knowledge they are able to make educated choices regarding the selection of materials and items for their project. I sincerely believe that their time and money is not being spent on maintaining their new space, but on the things they love to do: career, family, friends.
The interior design process is a constant right brain / left brain battle, or should I say, co-operation. You have to keep your creative thinking challenged all the time, while constantly giving it a “cold shower” with technical data.
As a designer, you are constantly surrounded by a kaleidoscope of shapes, colors and textures, perceived with almost all of your senses (I certainly won’t be tasting any samples any time soon!). At the same time, you find yourself deeply immersed into your concept and your space plan, keeping track of all the numbers for necessary clearances, slip resistance factors, yardages and more. It is a demanding job, always keeping me on my toes. The best ideas often come unexpected: while driving, in the shower, or perusing the latest European fashion magazines. Yes, it is tough to be a designer…
Would I trade it for a different profession?