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Sweating the Details

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, March 01, 2015

I had several of those “what were they thinking?” moments last weekend during an open house tour.  One came while I was standing in a hallway leading to a master bedroom just off the entrance foyer.  As if on cue a woman behind me exclaimed, “why on earth did they put those there?” I turned and said “you took the words right out of my mouth,” while we shook our heads a grimaced. She continued, “and this is a million dollar house!”

We were staring at the double electrical panel for the home that were inexplicably visible in this vestibule area separating the master bedroom suite from the laundry room - all within view of the foyer. I suppose you could attempt to camouflage them with a piece of art. Unfortunately the panels’ awkward position in this recess would dictate that anything large enough to cover them would appear to be shoehorned into the space without any “breathing room.” Not an ideal look - but perhaps the lesser of two evils. Evils!? Always remember, the devil is in the details!

The placement seemed completely avoidable to me; careful planning during the design process should have presented different solutions. For example, why not located them in the adjacent laundry room, also off this vestibule? A better spot for the panels could have easily been located across from the washer and dryer above the built-in bench and storage cubbies. Here a large piece of art could have easily screened the panels from view and added a little finishing touch to what was already a rather nice space.

These electrical panels were not the only offenders during my tour. In another home, the transom windows of the commodious master bath shower offered unobstructed views directly to the second floor of the house next door. Howdy, neighbor! While I assume the home I was touring had been built first, didn’t anyone think, gee, somebody may someday build a house on that lot next door?

In another home the “great room” was anything but. Here the placement of the chandelier dictated a table would leave little room for any seating near the fireplace. Furthermore the adjacent “media room” was so small that a single lounge chair and ottoman would fill it up. I wondered why there was a wall, for without it there was an opportunity for this room to be great.

Another “miss” presented during the tour were examples of poorly placed light fixtures in several bathrooms. This is a pet peeve that can make my head spin. If you are going to have two light fixtures over two sinks on a double vanity, they need to be centered. Period.  If you are going to use decorative framed mirrors, center the lights. Please. Not even the most expensive wallpapers can diminish this mistake.

I don’t want to sound harshly critical.  Interior designers are trained to look beyond the pretty paint colors, polished granites and hand-scraped walnut floors.  In addition to the aesthetics, I focus my attention on form and function – working to ensure the devilish details are not missed. An additional set of professional eyes are crucial when planning a new house or remodeling an existing home. These are reasons to consult an interior designer during the planning phase. A successful designer will take a good, long, look at floor plans to make sure furniture groupings will work, electrical switches are where they should be, floor outlets are well positioned, lighting is placed correctly and electrical panels are inconspicuous. You need to pay attention to these details so your home can look like a million bucks.


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