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Homes should function well and reflect lifestyle, values

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Write a list of words to describe what you want to experience in your home. Examples include inviting, peaceful, rejuvenating, relaxing and eclectic.

In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy clicks the heels of her ruby red slippers together and says, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could say, “There’s no place like home?”

Unfortunately, too often the opposite is true – homes can be overwhelming to take care of, inefficient from a navigation perspective, in need of repair or simply be places their inhabitants just don’t want to be.

Many people don’t enjoy living in their homes because the buildings don’t make sense for how they live.

When you’re building a home or renovating an existing one, it’s important to have a full understanding of how you want to live in your space. Without that awareness, costly mistakes could be made and the opportunity to truly enjoy the experience of being home could be significantly reduced.

In business, the most successful outcomes typically involve planning – often a lot of planning. Goals are laid out and a strategy is formulated to move from Point A to Point B.

In the process, it’s important to consider all possible options – and there are many – to end up with a product that best works for you and your budget.

The same is true of your home – a process that includes goals, qualifying words, wish lists and an overall plan.



The goal sheet is exactly that. You decide your ideal situation and goals for the home you’re building or reimagining. Some examples:

A home that grows with your family.

Dedicated space for collections (anything from pinball machines to glassware).

A place that you can be comfortable as you age, being aware of future health and mobility issues.

Room for expansion.

A complete home office.

Energy efficiency, with an awareness of environmental issues.


These words describe what you want to experience in your home.

To get to the desired result, you need to know what the finish line looks like.

It will be different for everyone, of course, but examples are inviting, peaceful, rejuvenating, colorful, eclectic, relaxing, fun, calm and serene.



This is where you dream big by creating room-by-room lists that include everything you’ve imagined would be amazing to have in your ideal home.

At this point, you’re not analyzing numbers or searching for particular products. You’re building the “ultimate house” list from which you’ll eventually glean what’s most important to you.

This may seem counterintuitive, but by imagining all possibilities and then drilling down to what is practical – from a space and financial perspective – you don’t end up saying, “I wish I had thought of …”

This is especially critical if more than one person’s opinion is involved.

In a master bathroom, for example, your list might have two separate vanities, fog-proof mirrors with integral lighting, steam shower, soaking tub with a television on an adjacent wall and heated towel bars.

Or, it may be as simple as a tub/shower combination, toilet and pedestal sink.

There’s no right or wrong answer. You’re simply brainstorming.



Now it’s time to craft a comprehensive plan – the key to having a home that reflects your lifestyle and values and fits your budget by fully understanding your priorities and planning around them.

A $40,000 kitchen, for example, may not be a good investment if you rarely dine in or entertain, but a $40,000 soundproof music room make sense if you have a baby grand piano, four violins and a house full of musicians.

Likewise, a formal living room right off the front door, that’s never used at all, is just one more space that has to be cleaned, but a first-floor bedroom would be ideal if you have mobility issues.

It’s critical to think long-term. Housing continues to evolve, with movement toward intelligent choices such as energy efficiency.

But trends – such as toilet seat covers – are simply that. Beware of the difference.

Note also that if you are designing from scratch the new home of your dreams, make sure there’s a purpose for every space. Too many homes have rooms that are either entirely empty or filled with all the things that don’t fit anywhere else or are never used.



The expression “the devil is in the details” means that it’s often the small things that people find most challenging.

Sometimes, the details are what someone decorating a home finds the most bewildering, but they’re your final stamp on the project, your identity, those little moments when you know you’re “home.”

As for Dorothy’s famous shoes, in the original “The Wizard of Oz” script they were written as silver, but by the time the film was made in 1939, movies were being produced in color, so screenwriter Noel Langley changed them to red.

It goes to show that the little things – the details – really do matter.



The place you conduct business must be well-functioning. Accordingly, your home needs to support your lifestyle endeavors.

It should be your refuge from the outside world and a place to reconnect with who and what are important to you.

You may never get to the place where you forego vacations to stay in your house, but it would be great to be able to say, “There’s no place like home.” n


Kay McLane, owner of the Emmaus-based firm Kay McLane Design LLC (, specializes in home staging, organization and interior design. She writes the blog Peace Full Home (, leads workshops on design, staging and life-enhancement, and can be reached at 610-966-9794.

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