Cinda K. Lester is an architectural storyteller, and comes to storytelling through both sides of her family tree. Though she considers herself a Chicagoan, Cinda has traveled and lived all over the US. She and her husband Henri LamBeau met in architecture school at the University of Idaho, where they both received a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch). Cinda returned home from the great American West, bringing Henri along with her, and received her Master of Urban Planning and Policy (M.UPP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Designing your dream home should be exciting, but for many families, it is more of a necessity due to lifestyle changes. You may have an aging parent that you plan to bring home and care for. Or maybe you are like our clients, the Tanners, with children that need special accommodations. Perhaps you are just planning ahead for your retirement. No matter what your motivation, when renovating or designing your home you want to consider your lifestyle now and in the future.
Here’s how The Tanners have created a home for their ailing children, and The Sussons are renovating for an in-law suite with our guidance.
A labor of love for the children
Janet and Chris Tanner wanted to renovate their downstairs bathroom in order to accommodate two of their children. Born with a very rare disease the diagnosis was devastating — they were told the children might only live to around the age of twelve. As the children grew, it was almost impossible to carry them up and down the stairs for bathtime. The Tanners decided to remodel to make their lives easier.
The Tanners considered their current situation. They didn’t want the new bathroom to look or feel like a hospital bathroom. But it had to be wheelchair accessible and allow for a shower chair. There also had to be an easy way to clean any water that splashed on the floor.
As professional architects, we worked closely with the contractors to make sure that everything would enable easy access including a wall-mounted toilet. We chose materials that would meet the requirements so the shower could drain properly. Knowing that their children were the same age as ours, the project took on an added layer of love and care.
It was important to consider the elephant in the room: How would the space function after the children had passed away? Redesigning the space improved how the Tanners currently lived in the house and by planning for the future, fixtures were selected that would be appropriate for the family even after the children were gone.
The focus for the renovation was on the quality of life in the present and for years to come. In fact, the bathroom was designed so you wouldn’t realize that it was for children with special needs.
Designing your home to include your parents
As parents get older, they may require more care. Some still want to enjoy their independence, but that isn’t always possible. They may be able to tend for themselves, while others may be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or have a physical limitation like a broken hip. Clients often realize the need for a parent suite or an apartment for grandma.
As architects, we guide our clients to not only think about the present living conditions but consider the longer term. What will happen once your parents have passed? Our clients, Michele and Barry Sussons wanted an in-law suite for their parents. Michele’s mother wanted a full working kitchen, somewhere she could make a turkey. Michele didn’t think it made any sense to have two kitchens. Michele’s mother wouldn’t be cooking meals for two once her husband was gone.
We gently prompted questions to allow the Sussons to make a decision that was right for them. A small kitchenette would be sufficient while still letting Michele’s mother feel independent. What her mother really wanted was a place where she could bake chocolate chip cookies for her grandchildren.
Planning and designing for the long term when both Michele’s parents have passed away, the walls to the in-law’s suite could be removed and the Sussons would have a big family room. It’s important when renovating or designing your home to consider more than just what you need now.
Designing for the present and the future
You are probably aware of your current lifestyle needs, but you might not be considering what you’ll want in the future. With professional architects to guide you, you can envision what your home will be like. The spaces that you design for your current needs for a caregiver or a hospital bed can be converted to a laundry space, pantry or exercise room. Having someone assist you to plan in advance, will allow you to make the right decisions for your family.
Find out how to have your custom designed dream home in the Chicago area…
December is the time of year when most of us gather together to celebrate for one reason or another. Loved ones come from far and near to add another page to the Story of your family. No matter what the traditions, there’s excitement in the air. Young and old, the home is decorated to mark the occasion and commemorate the completion of another year. Is your home living up to your dreams for the holidays?
The reality of your celebration is rarely the same as your ultimate vision. Perhaps by Christmas, you hoped for a larger living room with ample space for your oversized tree and abundant presents. Or when overwhelmed by the stress of your in-laws staying for a week, maybe your guest bath hasn’t been renovated. And no one wants to hear from Uncle Bob about the draft in the guest bedroom!
While it’s too late to construct a wish list for your dream home for this holiday season, it is the perfect time to begin your project planning for next year, 2022. The design of your dream home would be the perfect gift from Santa.
Create the story of your home, your family
Imagine the scene: Snow is falling, the room is aglow from the crackling fire, stockings are hung from the mantel, the scent of Frazier fir fills the air, twinkling lights and family heirloom ornaments adorn the tree, brightly wrapped gifts are carefully placed underneath. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you glimpse the frozen lake with a new layer of freshly fallen snow glistening in the sunlight. In mere moments, children will race down the new stairs eager to see what Santa delivered. Plenty of space for the family, in the spacious yet cozy family room of your dreams. Your knowing smile is a subtle reminder you made all the right design decisions. This is what Christmas should be.
Memories made in the kitchen
Cookies shaped with vintage cutters, decorated in red and white, sit on Grammie’s crystal platter for everyone to enjoy. The warm aroma of cinnamon and gingerbread wafts in the air while powdered sugar drapes the countertop after finishing the pizzelles. Remnants of this morning’s homemade cinnamon rolls from Aunt Diana’s recipe fill the under-the-counter drawer dishwasher. Ingredients for tonight’s turkey feast are spread across the ample island as The Nutcracker Suite drifts softly through the whole-house audio system.
A well-designed kitchen that allows you and your family to bake and cook together is one where vivid memories are made. Favorite foods and special treats complete the holiday experience. But it’s more than the food itself, it’s the process of creation, the act of working together, the singing with the aunts while cleaning the kitchen afterward―where stories are told of past and present. The wreath is hung on the beautifully trimmed stove hood, the candles decorate the gleaming marble counter. Your home is designed to create experiences your children will cherish for their lifetime and will share with their grandchildren. These are memories to last a lifetime.
Exterior design is as important as inside
Your dream home is more than the interior spaces. Your luxurious wrap-around porch to enjoy on steamy summer nights easily transforms into a winter wonderland with warm yellow lights, rails wrapped with garland and big red bows, a balsam wreath on the front door and single candles in each of your new windows. A driveway and sidewalk lined with luminaria completes the spirit of the season. If your family is anything like mine, you’ll hop in the mini-van with hot cocoa and drive around the neighborhood “oohing” and “aahing” at the beautifully decorated homes.
But your home is your favorite, without a doubt. When it is finished, your experienced, licensed architect will have guided you through the lengthy design and construction process, customizing every decision for you and your family’s Legacy Home. Turning on the lights, you stand back with your family and admire your home, content and relaxed. Yes, you think, Santa brought me everything I wanted.
Celebrate the holidays in your dream home
Each family has its own history, customs and traditions. Honoring your unique family history sets the stage for the creation of new memories – your Story. When surrounded by loved ones in a home you love, holidays are even more special. It’s a time of magic and for wishes to come true. Every design begins with a story. Let us tell your story.
If you are ready to create memories for your family and add another page to your family history by designing your dream home, contact us at 630.346.1620.
All photos, including feature image above, by Ron Warren. Design by 1212 Architects.