Letting cycles of life guide your remodel

< 1 min read Laundry is a great way to illustrate how daily cycles impact your design choices and how to consider future cycles of life as you plan.

There's a secret to planning a truly successful remodel - one that tailors the house you have to the life you want to lead in it. You need to take account of the cycles in your life as you tailor your home to match your lifestyle.

To help you do that ... let’s talk about how the way you do your laundry can define how you remodel your home.

This isn't just a question of what laundry - or fill-in-the-blank household tasks you take on, but also how those tasks get done. Who does them? When might those responsibilities change? What happens when life gets off track a little or a lot? 

Plan for your laundry cycle to plan for your cycles of life

We are often tempted to design our homes - new or remodeled for a state of perfection that we rarely achieve. When all the rooms are tidy, all the dishes are done and the laundry is all clean, folded and put away.

In other words we design homes with the precarious moment RIGHT before guests arrive ... not for the monday morning when you're trying to get out the door or the friday evening when you just want to discharge from the week or the middle of the hosting event that you cleaned up the house for.

Life is rarely all tidy at the same time

To plan a functional remodel that actually fits your life, you need room for a little mess. A little bit of unfolded laundry shouldn't ruin a room if it's designed right (for you). A few undone dishes shouldn't make or break a well remodeled kitchen. And if there are kids' toys on your floor right now that should be ok after you remodel too.

Every one of those things - food, laundry, tidying up detritus - exists in a natural cycle. You're always somewhere in the cycle of buying, putting away, preparing, eating and cleaning up after food. You're always somewhere in the laundry cycle.

So plan for the reality of (your) life

I encourage you to look beyond the immediate tasks and consider the cyclical nature of your daily routines. From the chaos of holiday season to everyday tasks like laundry. How do these cycles influence your experiences within your home and how might they look in the future?

Take laundry as an example and ...

So, to be clear, it's not really about the laundry here. The laundry is a metaphor.

But it is also a useful actual planning tool.

Design for your current daily cycles of life

Rather than designing your home for specific perfect moments - like that one second that all the laundry is done, folded and put away (HAHAHAHAHA) - embrace the idea that the cycles of your life are constantly in motion. By acknowledging the ebb and flow of your daily routines, you can make more informed design choices that cater to the messiness, chaos and challenges inherent in different phases of life.

And design for the way your life can change

Thinking about laundry room placement might be one of the best examples of designing for cycles.

Laundry often serves as a creat microcosm of the shifting needs of a household. Families without kids may have kids, parents start out doing the laundry and then children growing older and gain more and more independence.

Considering the future and planning for a time when teenagers can handle their own laundry or when aging in place changes how you get around can inform strategic decisions about the location of your laundry spaces.

Design for YOUR life

And specifically I mean design for the life you actually live right now and for the life you imagine yourself living as your routine and family grow and change.

Master planning means personalizing your remodel beyond aesthetics and maintenance. It includes thoughtful consideration of the daily and long-term cycles unique to your household, so you can enhance your quality of life in every cycle.

In Today's Episode You'll Hear:

  • Why laundry may be the best allegory for cycles of life. 
  • How to plan for now and also make great choices for future you. 
  • And why catering to the messy, chaos-ridden parts of your life might make your remodel better than you could have imagined.

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Resources to help plan based on your cycle

And you can always…

Read the Full Episode Transcript

How can the daily routines of your life help you identify the best design for your home? And how can the design of your home make each cyclical routine flow better in your day? Last week we talked about how to use big special occasions the holidays, to identify pinch points in your home right now.

But today, let's tackle how the mundane cycles in every day, week year and more can help you tailor a perfect update for you in your house. Hey there, welcome back to mid mod remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I'm your host Della Hansmann architect and mid-century ranch enthusiast, you're listening to Episode 1413.

I want to jump in with a reminder from a couple of weeks ago this episode, staying grounded is better than staying on task. put that another way, in a planning way. Staying connected to what really matters to you in your remodel is more important than getting the process underway as quickly as possible. Really, whatever happens. Do not let the pressure of time prevent you from thinking about what's most important to you or hurry you through the process of prioritizing and considering possibilities before you decide what you'll do.

Once you've finished your remodel, it's forever, hypothetically at least. But at least until it's finished you control to a certain extent the pace the level of chaos by having a clearly fleshed out plan. And you control the ultimate outcome by having chosen to put your attention devote your resources to the parts of change in your home that matter the most to you and to your household.

The question of what really matters to you is crucial to a truly successful remodel for your house. And when you remodel your home, you should aim not only to make it look prettier, and to fix or replace the things that are broken or worn, but to make the house better suited to you to help you live the life you want. Look, this isn't new information. I constantly talk about the threefold aspect of a home improvement project that you want to make your house better in aesthetics, in sturdiness and also in function.

We're going to talk about how to make your house better, but also how to make your life better. And the lens we're going to use to think about this is the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and large scale life cycles that you personally experience and that your family experiences and how your house right now is helping you with those cycles or not. So that's today's topic. Let's get into it.

Last week, we replayed one of my favorite big picture planning episodes, how you can use the chaos that is our holiday season to help you fit to help you brainstorm a better solution for your house. And also identify where the house is rolling a little snug for you. That's an incredibly helpful mental tool to use as you think about a remodel. And if you happen to be planning a remodel right now still during the holiday season, hats off to you, you've lucked out.

But it's also important to think not just about the special occasions, but to think about the absolutely standard, repetitive come up all the time, things that you could adjust in your house to make your life work better, so much better. I'm talking about how your house deals with the regular cyclical nature of life. Life in our homes is filled with cycles. And we often hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, trying to get to and then stay at a certain moment in each cycle that feels done. Keep that moment as long as possible. But that feeling is always going to fall apart.

Because things that exist in cycles, do not stay in stasis. Again, I have to hat tip this concept originally to Kendra Adachi, of the lazy genius podcast. Earlier this season, she was talking about how to create a more relaxing routine in your home by acknowledging that everything in our homes happens in cycles, getting an eating food and then cleaning it up a cycle, wearing clothes, putting them in laundry, washing, sorting and restoring them a cycle, tidying up the detritus in your home and then living in it and making a mess again, a cycle the list goes on.

By the way, if you want to listen to that episode, it's the one that aired on October 2, and I'll put a link to it in my show notes today. Find them and a transcript of this episode at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1413.

Okay, but what does it mean practically? The idea that we live in cycles means that things are never going to be all perfect all at the same time. Or if they happen to be it's a transitory phase, a moment when you have let or forced all the cycles to hit the same point. Perhaps hustled really hard to get all the cycles to align.

This might be what you are doing at certain moments during the holidays to make sure that the House appears to be perfect when your in laws arrive or when you host a party or just so you can have a sense of candlelit quiet around a Christmas tree. But here's the thing. During the same episode, Kendra casually says let this premise be your permission. And when I heard that I had to hit pause and sit for a minute.

Let this premise be your permission. She's talking about letting the idea of cycles always being out of sync. Be alright letting yourself live of in the cyclical nature of your house. So of course, I also take this from a designer's perspective, how can we use this idea of cycles as a planning tool during a remodel, because we tend to design towards the perfect moment that alignment of all the cycles, which is pretty unrealistic.

You could think of what your house needs when you're throwing a party. Sure, that's great. You can think about what your house needs when you're hosting family for Christmas. But sometimes focusing only on those exceptional moments can lead us to design bigger or more elaborate houses than we need on a daily basis and through the year. The same way, it's so easy to design, our storage and our living spaces around the idea of everything being perfectly put away, which is great when it happens.

But depending on your life cycle and your life stage, presence of small kids in your house, for example, or just how busy you are, that might not be the place in the cycle where your home spends most of its time. And that's important to sit with. So how should we design a home update in order to incorporate and accommodate a mess, chaos, many moments in the natural cycle of being this is a problem that can be solved in theory from both ends, perhaps you don't put things away in your home because you don't have enough storage places to put them away.

Or perhaps places to put things away in your home just require too much effort at any given moment. And this gets to the question of how much storage space is appropriate, but also to the question of reality of, realism of how much messiness you want to plan to accommodate. Reminding yourself that the kitchen is always in a cycle might lead you away from the idea of a fully open plan space. Which will be perfectly beautiful when it's perfectly frozen in one moment of the cycle, everything put away no new food being prepared.

Or it might simply suggest that you need to plan for a messier part of the kitchen to be blocked from view from where you like to sit in the living room or from the front door by a divider or a shelving unit or storage element. I'm probably going to spend the rest of this episode talking about laundry. Now, because laundry is such a perfect indicator of how your life is going where you are in your greater life phases. This comes up in our master plans all the time. Eventually, I'm going to run into someone who's fine with their laundry system, or just who doesn't care a lot.

But many of our clients are families with smaller or medium sized children. And a lot of those clients, there is one parent, I don't want to stereotype. But I've got to tell you, it's usually a mom, who is managing laundry for an entire household. And when this comes up, it always comes up as a big pain point. It's actually popped up as a key issue on a handful of recent projects. And when I asked people about the top priorities from a remodel, we always bring up not just where the laundry should be, but how we can think about the laundry in the cycle.

But I recently had a revelation about the way we think about laundry in a cycle that is too small in most of our clients’ brains, because we tend to think about how laundry is cycling in our lives. Right now. When kids are small, it's a burden primarily on the parents or a parent. And in those cases, I'm usually asked by the client to think about how to change the structure of the house so the laundry can be more convenient to a parent's bedroom. Since there's going to be space for a mess to build up without making the whole house messy.

And yet, we don't need to banish the laundry to a different part of the house. If we want to be in a community, we want it to be both convenient and concealed. Now those are two amazing excellent accommodations to make to match, a remodel to the actual cyclical nature of laundry that's never done. So let's plan for laundry to be never done. I've often found myself adjusting owner suites where the laundry is not just being cleaned, but also sorted creating a space within the clothing storage area for everything to be perhaps a little chaotic, not perfectly put away, perhaps some piles of laundry, but also for there to be no line of sight from that place where that's happening to the bed. A key brilliant, very self-aware accommodation to make the laundry cycle more realistic.

Now, we just finished a master plan for a project that includes a small addition to shift the existing owner suite out of its space to make room for home office on the main floor rather than in the basement. And in this house, we had laundry tucked into a dark and messy but strangely public to the front door utility room next to the kitchen that was making the kitchen too small.

So in our layout changes, we looked at several different places we could shift the laundry to another part of the house. And here's where we hit on that revelation. The fresh spot in the conversation with that client that made me instantly want to go talk to you about this and will affect the way I speak to every future client about their master plan when it comes to the laundry, particularly for parents of smaller children.

Because I happen to visit this house and briefly interact with a family. I could see that right now, there are two small boys and a mom who's managing a lot of these things, a lot of the laundry related things, but these kids are actually preteens. And so when in this case again, the mom of the household was asking for more convenient betters place to get the laundry out of the stream of traffic. To create it in a more mess allowing spot, I asked her if she would like the laundry to be in her owner suite area or not. And she was on the fence.

She wondered about noise pollution, what if laundry was done at bedtime, and she wanted to sleep through it. And suddenly it occurred to me, there will come a day when her children are teenagers. Soon, actually. And may be able to do a load of laundry for themselves. That's not a time when you want to have household laundry in your bedroom closet.

So here's the revelation. It suddenly occurred to me in that moment, that this is the thing we need to think about not just the cycle of laundry in your life right now - perhaps being a parent of a small child, having laundry in your personal space feels like the most convenient thing. But the cycle, having small children growing up into teenagers who will become capable of doing their own chores, and who you might want to prepare to be independent adults in the world by insisting they do some of those chores for themselves, and why shouldn't everyone carry their own weight?

By that time, if the laundry is in your bedroom, then sharing that burden becomes infinitely more challenging to organize. So where should the laundry be so that it's convenient to parents to handle it right now, they have small children, but also open to other members of the household to take on their own laundry tasks as they grow into the ability to have that role.

So this is now a question I will absolutely ask every future masterplan client. Where do you want your laundry placed, ideally, from a use case right now, a lifecycle perspective? And where might it need to be in the future? This is a topic. How will your life change as you become an empty nester as you age in place? That comes up often in a laundry question when we think about aging in place, bringing the laundry up out of the basement where it typically is in a mid-century ranch in the Midwest, and bringing it up to main floor.

We all know that at some point we may be older and certainly even as able bodied, energetic working adults, it's not the most fun thing to be constantly hauling laundry up and down basement stairs. But this question of where does the laundry go for maximum family chore sharing is a really interesting one.

It came up for me one more time recently in a larger and more elaborate remodel. And an actual two story home we do so few two story homes because you know, mid-century houses generally aren't. But in this two story home in California, we had decided to place laundry in two different places when the house one a small, stacked unit in the upstairs owner suite and one a larger one in the downstairs mudroom area. In that larger downstream mudroom area. We were putting a laundry where friends could come over, there was a backyard pool so people could cycle their wet things. Everyone in the family could use the laundry equally.

But then we also threw in that stacked washer dryer into the owner's bedroom for the convenience of running quick loads. Or in this case, yes, the mom of three small kids handling the laundry in the way that's most convenient to her right now. So this also counts as a handy future proofing endeavor for a time when kids will grow up so much that they are not in the house. It might be a very convenient thing for empty nesters to throw laundry into the machine as they're getting up or getting out for the day or and then find them clean when they come back to bed.

So there is not still a right or wrong answer for where does the laundry go. But this question of cycles daily, weekly, multi annually does come up. And that is the interesting thing about this topic to me. Cycles exist in the short term. There's so much room to improve the daily experience of your life, your lived experience by suddenly and dramatically tweaking the way the house fits you right now tailoring it to your needs. Knowing some basic things about yourself can give you so much ability to make good choices.

When you acknowledge that while you're doing a big home improvement project. For many other reasons like maintenance or finishes, you have the time to make a shift in layout. This is true when you're replacing windows for energy performance issues. This is the time to switch out one window for a door that it can encourage you to step outside of your house infinitely more. When you replace your roof because of a hail damage. This might be the time to think about bringing in skylights oops, I'm talking about large cycles again. I want to get to that in the future of this episode.

But right now I'm talking about how you feel when you wake up in the morning. What part of the house do you like to gravitate to? Where do you spend time during certain parts of the day certain parts of the year? Right now in particular, as the days are getting shorter, we experienced dark in our homes more. And so this is another cycle to think about the cycle of daylight and where you might move around your home in order to take advantage of daylight when we have it.

So as we tie a big cycle to a small cycle, the cycle of our government changing Daylight Savings Time to conclude at a different moment, we see dramatic transitions from one day's daily cycle on a Saturday to the next Monday, as we pick up an hour of daylight in the mornings and lose it in the evenings or vice versa in the spring.

If you notice how that makes you feel a whole kind of way in your life that I want you to, I want to suggest to you that there are ways to mitigate how dark your house can feel. Obviously, when there's literally no light in the sky, we need to just turn the lights on inside. But depending on the orientation of your house, the placement of your room, social versus private, the size of your windows, the tree canopy, the orientation of your house, you may find that certain parts of the house are really nice in the morning, and just do not draw you in the afternoon when you're living on limited daylight.

And yet, you're not drawn to turning on artificial lights in your house when the sun is up. So I would say that that reroofing question when it's time to remove your house, this is also the most logical time to add skylights, one or multiple or just a few solar tubes. If you're not familiar, that's like a mini skylight on steroids, steroids.

At your roof, it looks like a bubble just very modest and no potential leakage whatsoever. And then when it comes down into your ceiling level, it feels like recessed ceiling light, but it has a metal reflective surface tube on the inside of it that spans from the roof down to the ceiling and magnifies really bounces the light around to create a lot. This gives you no direct line of sight to the sky. But it does allow you to shift where the hole in the roof penetration is and place it in the particular spot you want it in the ceiling can be a great idea for an interior bedroom, a dark hallway, a dark bathroom, or just to the side of your house that's dimmer in the afternoon, and therefore you don't like to hang out in your living room after lunch.

So think about your heliotropic-ness how you move towards the light in your day.

I'll give you a concrete example from my own life. I am a workaholic. So that's a problem I need to solve in my psychology. But I also do work later. In particular in spring and fall afternoons beyond when I would otherwise be inclined to because the light is so much better on the west of my house, which happens to be where my office is located than it is on the east side where I sit in my living room or my dining room where I do projects or my bedroom warm at lay down and take a quick rest after work.

I love to get the morning light on the recreational side of the house, but I miss it in the afternoons. When we come back to things like your cycle of daylight your cycle of laundry, your cycle of bringing food into the house, I want to encourage you to examine how these things come up again and again. It may without dwelling on the negative it may be easiest to think about where you get frustrated in your day. And then try to identify what cycle in your life that frustration is tied to.

Maybe it feels frustrating when you're trying to put away groceries because there isn't enough room to set things down. Or maybe it feels like there's a time in your day when you're working on tasks all alone and no one in the household comes to help you but that could be tied to the fact that there's not enough room for multiple people to occupy the space you're in. Or just that the house is to cut off. And it's too easy for people to lose track of what they're all doing at the same time.

Again, making a few adjustments to your house can help you meet yourself and your life where you are. And taking a broader view will help you look towards the future. What I want you to take away from this episode is the general things we all experience. We all procure and consume food. We all live in clothing and other paper goods that we get dirty and need to be cleaned. But there's a lot of specificity in each of those experiences.

And this is where you're going to make the choices that are right for your life, where it is right now. Using the daily cycles, and then using the larger cycle concept to identify your life stage and look ahead and think about how your daily weekly monthly cycles may shift as you transition from working to retirement or from having no kids to having kids or from having little kids to having larger kids.

Thinking about the future of your own cycles. Where you are in them is a really powerful way to future proof your remodel right now and to make the most of the changes for yourself. Remember, I always want you to personalize your home in the remodel. It's not just about making your house prettier in a magazine quality. And it's not just about the necessary maintenance things that come up replacing the furnace or the roof or reciting or dealing with pests. Those are all important aspects of a remodel, but a great remodel. One that satisfies you and feels like your time Your Money Your effort were well spent is one that also improves the way you live in your home.

I'll leave you with this question. What are the cycles that are working best for you right now? And what are the cycles in your life that need work? How can we help you improve on those in a remodel? As always, I would love to be here to help you in that journey.

And there are a number of ways that I can help you plan a perfect mid mod remodel for your life. We're right now booking spots for 2024 master plans. So reach out today if you want to get your master plan project on our calendar for design early in next year.

If you'd rather DIY the plan for your own home improvement, I would love to give you a helpful framework and little support in that process. That support is available inside our ready to me model program, where I walk you through every step of the masterplan method and offer bonus materials like office hours calls monthly live with me. Membership in our amazing mid-century remodeling community access to regular recurring workshops, lessons design, inspiration and deep dives into specific areas of the house.

Or if what you really need is just the lightest touch a sweet simple system to keep you thinking about the right things at the right time as you speed run through the steps of a master plan, then you definitely want to check out our new mini program master plan in a month. It offers the same framework I use in everything we do, but in a bite sized format so you can take it on and plan it in less than 30 days.

Check out that and all the other resources in the link in the show notes page at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1413. Stay tuned for next week, we are going to do a really fun series for the rest of December. I will be taking you through the four cornerstones of a great mid mod design. The four key design elements to keep in mind to keep your home improvement mid-century modern.

So each week in the next month, I'm going to share a deep dive into one of these four cornerstones. And I'll talk you through how you can make sure to use these aspects in your design thinking as you plan for a remodel. You don't want to miss this. For now, enjoy your holidays.