The noise and chaos of politics, work, technology and the world in general are encouraging more and more homeowners to try to escape at home. Craft rooms, yoga rooms, meditation rooms, reading nooks and a dozen other places for self-reflection and calm are becoming a must-have in new home construction and home renovations.
This drumbeat for peace and quiet is getting louder and louder as the -30+-year-old millennials are becoming homeowners rather than renters. As design writer Megan McDonough noted in this article, “as millennials join the ranks of home buyers, with their obsessive interest in self-care, mindfulness and the internet, the idea of design as escapism is expanding.”
McDonough added that this trend is being seasoned by the minimalism and decluttering movement made famous by designer Marie Kondo, resulting in home and wellness becoming more integrally intertwined. “People are shying away from clutter and excess by placing more weight on the long-term benefits of the objects they choose to keep and display in their homes.”
Unfortunately, serenity is not cheap. Although, some would argue that it’s priceless. Before embarking on building a home sanctuary, there are at least 10 questions to ask.
10 Questions to Ask Before Building a Place to Decompress at Home
#1 What makes the homeowner truly happy?
“In home construction parlance, this is the foundational question,” said architect Marc Frame, AIA – Owner of TexMod Architecture in Dallas. “Is it peace and quiet that is desired? Is it a feeling of permanence? Is it the look and feel - the timeless beauty - of the room? All of these criteria can be met with brick construction. Whether it is a reading nook or mediation space, the solidity and patina of natural materials, such as brick, stone and wood, exude a feeling of permanence, safety and beauty.”
#2 Is the purpose for this room based on a fad or will it be used for generations?
Yoga and meditation have been used for relaxation and reducing stress for thousands of years. It’s safe to say that they are not a passing fad. However, building a special a room for a “Beanie Baby” collection or some other short-term fad will (most likely) not stand the test of time. Before investing in a special sanctuary, it’s good idea to think long term.
#3 Will this space be enjoyed by other members of the family or just one person?
Not everyone unwinds the same way. When planning a place for rest and reflection, multifunctionality is important to consider. “Having natural light, space for exercise, comfortable furniture and the elimination of noise from either outside traffic or in-house activities allows for multiple uses of this relaxing space,” said Frame. “Brick construction can certainly reduce this sound pollution and make the area relaxing for everyone.”
#4 In a pinch, can this room be used for an extra guest space or home office?
When large family gatherings occur, sleeping and entertainment space can evaporate quickly. If this sanctuary space can double as a backup for guests, it is much more valuable to the homeowner. This requires multi-use furniture, such as couches that can be converted to beds, and close access to a guest bathroom. This room might be put to good use as a home office.
#5 What does the space cost to build?
High-tech media rooms are very popular for at-home R&R. However, special lighting, electronic media equipment and many other factors can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Before building a special room, it is always important to weigh the benefits against the bucks it will cost.
#6 What are the maintenance costs for this space?
Most homeowners scrupulously calculate recurring monthly expenses, such as mortgage payments. However, maintenance expenses, such as painting or replacing worn walls, can quickly add up. “These maintenance expenses can put a serious dent in a family’s monthly budget,” Frame said. “This is another advantage of brick construction. It is virtually maintenance free.”
#7 What will the home and the sanctuary space cost to heat and cool?
One great way to have “peace of mind” is to have a home that reduces the carbon footprint and saves money on utilities. “Building materials such as ‘radiant barrier’ roofing, brick wall construction and attic insulation with an R value of at least R38 can make a huge difference in the cost of maintaining optimal creature comfort in a home. Plus, more and more homeowners are deciding to use alternative energy sources, such as geothermal and solar.”
#8 What other elements should be included in this restful space”?
According to Nate Berkus, “As a culture, I think we have too many things.” He highlights several ways to avoid this pitfall, including selecting furnishings that have an "age and patina that evoke a sense of history, permanence and use.” He also recommends incorporating natural touches, "timeworn finishes" and "architectural elements salvaged from old buildings" to add layers of depth and character.
#9 Where can a homeowner get great ideas for building a stay-at-home oasis?
“Talking with architects and builders is the best place to start the process for constructing a special space for rest and relaxation,” said Britt Stokes of Acme Brick. “Social media, such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz also have a wealth of information and design ideas.”
#10 What effect does this relaxing space have on the resale value of a home?
Americans are more mobile than any time in history. Because they move so often, the resale value of a home is a very important consideration. This begs the question: Does a special room for reflection and relaxation add or detract from this value?
Stokes concluded, “By incorporating these suggestions - from having a timeless look and feel, to allowing flexibility in the use of the space, to being mindful of the maintenance and utilities costs - the addition of this home sanctuary will likely enhance the resale value of the home. I feel that a home built with brick, which increases valuation quicker than those built with wood or synthetic materials, not only meets the aesthetic criteria for a ‘home oasis,’ but also offers a much better return on investment.”
Are you thinking of building a special space for rest and reflection in your new home? Contact us for more ideas on how brick construction can help.