The form versus function debate in home remodeling comes down to how much you value style over convenience. Form-first design enhances the aesthetics of the room while function-first design takes a more logical approach to the space. The redesign is informed by how the space will be used. The designer’s goal is to make that process—be it cleaning, washing, or working—as efficient and comfortable as possible. Here are three things to consider for a function-first remodel of any room in the house.

The flow
A functional design is approach in a utilitarian fashion. You must first understand how you currently use the space and consider how you could improve that experience. Here are a couple of examples.

For kitchens, the age-old “golden triangle” theory is still a functional design. The theory states that the placement of the refrigerator, stove, and sink should form a triangle to maximize flow as you prepare ingredients, cook, and clean. If you really want to get into the weeds, you should try to make each corner of the triangle to be between four and nine feet apart.

Now bathrooms are often the smallest spaces of the house apart from closets. You’ll need to accommodate enough space for the door to swing open and closed. A pocket or sliding door may be most efficient for powder rooms and half baths. A floating vanity and wall-mounted shelves will free up floor space but still provide storage for toiletries. If you’re planning to age in place, you might also consider replacing a tub with a curbless shower so you won’t lose your balance stepping over a tall ledge.

The furniture
Small rooms still exist even in the largest homes, so all of us can benefit from learning how to maximize small spaces when we’re in a pinch—literally. The secret to designing small spaces is to not over-do it. A small room with too many functions, furniture, and decor can make it cluttered and less useful.

Built-in, sliding, and multipurpose furniture (sofas, cabinets, doors, etc.) comes in handy when redesigning these small spaces. It enables designers to fulfill client needs by leaving enough space for movement while making the room look as “roomy” as possible.

Pull-outs storage in kitchen cabinets, sleeper sofas, murphy and platform beds, and modular storage systems are all great examples of hardworking pieces of furniture. Utilizing the corners of a room are helpful too. Think: corner cabinets, entertainment centers, and eat-in kitchen banquettes.

The future
Preparation is key to any remodel, but especially one that prioritizes function over form. It’s best to have a complete idea of your remodeling project before you start the process. This means answering questions like how will you improve the flow of the room and maximize small spaces. You’ll want to take your measurements and choose your furniture to avoid impulse shopping and tacking on seemingly small items that will eventually add up. With the plan-as-you-go approach, you’re almost guaranteed to go over budget.

Also, give some thought to how you’ll make this functional design last. Will the contemporary furniture you chose look dated after two to three years? Are your brand new appliances water- and energy-efficient? Are they protected under a manufacturer’s warranty? Note: the best home warranties protect the majority of components you’ll likely repair or replace in your remodel, including plumbing, electrical, and appliances. You’ll want to keep routine maintenance on your monthly to-do list as well to keep everything looking (and working) like new.

It’s important to take these factors into consideration as you calculate the return on investment you’ll get from the enhanced functionality and durability of your home.

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