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Architect's Viewpoint

A Wish List of Amenities That Matter

June 16, 2002|ARROL GELLNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Forget the 400-square-foot master suite and the remote-controlled hot tub: Domestic comfort doesn't reside in the sort of useless gimmicks so common in new houses today.

Rather, it's a host of tiny and very ordinary conveniences that help tip the balance toward a comfortable house.

Here are a few worth insisting on:

* Entry: A floor finish that'll take some punishment and look better for it, a convenient place to put not just your coat but your shoes and a dripping umbrella, a comfortable place to sit and a place to put things while you fumble for your keys.

* Kitchen: Base cabinets with shelves that pull out, a really quiet dishwasher and waste disposal unit, a smooth-surfaced range that won't catch crumbs and grease, a range hood that actually does something besides drone and a place to put the garbage and recyclables without having to poke around under the sink.

* Bathroom: A lavatory counter matched to your height, so you don't have to stoop to use it; a sink that water can't puddle behind; faucets you can grip even with soapy hands; a mirror with lighting fixtures on either side instead of overhead; a toilet-paper dispenser within a non-contortionist's reach; a powerful exhaust fan that doesn't drone or whine; towel bars you can reach from the shower; and a bathroom heater that warms your whole body and not just the top of your head.

* Shower: A permanent place to keep soap and shampoo, a place to sit down and enough room to wave your arms a little without banging into the walls.

* Bedroom: A good, glare-free bedside reading lamp and a handy place to keep a couple of books, a closet with room for the winter blankets and closet doors that let you get to the whole closet, not just one side or the other.

* Living room: Who cares? Nobody goes in there.

* Back door: A roof for shelter from the rain, and room for gardening shoes, pet food bowls and all the rest of the messy flotsam that gathers on the back porch.

* General: Rooms that are sunny at the times you use them, floors that are warm in winter and cool in summer, windows that look out on something other than the neighbor's house.

And no roof leaks. Architects have had 2,000 years and more to come up with watertight roofs, but you still have to put them on wish lists like this one.

*

Distributed by Inman News Features.

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