This light-hearted but deeply felt plea is to all those involved in home design.
It is not a comprehensive list of the shortcomings but a focus on some of the small and not necessarily expensive details that can make home life, easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable.
1. Every home needs a utility kitchen. Kirstie Allsopp endorses this. It keeps washing machines and tumble driers out of the kitchen with no need to toddle out into a garage or out-house. It’s a place to hang washing and store cleaning tools and products.
2.Provide better rubbish storage. Most local authorities require greater sorting of rubbish (paper, plastics, garden waste, tins etc.) so the number of dustbins, recycling boxes and bags has expanded and more space is needed to store them. They need to be accessible but also out of sight and preferably covered.
3. More storage space indoors. We own more clothes, shoes, books, gadgets and “stuff” than ever before so we need more shelves and cupboards. In new-build homes it is relatively inexpensive to install some under stair storage, shelve out awkward niches and create space in low eaves at the time of construction.
4. Bigger bathrooms - even at the expense of losing a few inches from the bedrooms. Nobody wants to squeeze between a loo and a washbasin or have the door banging into the bath and we need somewhere to keep toiletries, toothbrushes and all the other paraphernalia of today’s ablutions.
5. Fly screens. We are so used to seeing them in American films but they are hard to find here. If the recent hot spell hasn’t convinced you that they help ventilate a home without an infestation of insects, then nothing will.
6. A front (and for that matter, a back) porch not only creates an air lock for preservation of warmth in cold weather when entering or leaving a house, it also provides a sensible place to shove coats, boots, prams, umbrellas, bikes and even pets.
7. Avoid satin finished light switches and plug sockets. They’re a devil to clean. Greasy finger prints linger and look ghastly. If you want to avoid wipeable plastic, go for polished chrome or stainless steel.
8. Insulation. Not just for thermal or economic reasons but also for sound. If you want peace and quiet and a decent night’s sleep in any building where you have adjoining neighbours, you need strong acoustic insulation. There are Building Regulations for new-build properties and extensions and ‘best practice” requirements but please go that bit further and make homes sound proof. Just ask anyone who has suffered from noisy neighbours how life can be made so miserable.
9. The airing cupboard. This may sound rather old fashioned but an airing cupboard is not just a good place for your freshly-washed and ironed laundry but the best place to store bedding, towels and table linen. These can be fitted in the same space as a boiler or water tank and can be fitted with slatted shelves quickly and cheaply.
10. More plug sockets. They’re never in the right place so you end up with multiple adapters, four or six gang extension cables that are not only unsightly but also a serious trip hazard. Because it’s so difficult to predict where our ever growing number of appliances and electrical gadgets are going to be used (or charged), we really need sockets on all walls of every room, however small it might be.
Please take these points on board (but not to heart) and listen to any other suggestions that may be kindly offered.
Robin and Patricia Silver
The Home, Salts Mill, Saltaire