By Jackson Strom, Principle Architect at Strom Architecture
Like it or not, we are all spending more time at home these days. Whether it be for exercise, entertainment or relaxation, our homes are now being used for activities that we used to go out for. With that comes utilizing more space than we did pre-pandemic. Our client’s basements are no longer an afterthought. For some clients, basements include some of their most unique features and used spaces of their home.
In this edition of Form & Function, we share the top five basement requests our clients are asking for, and what to consider when planning for each.
1. Work-Out Room
Your preference of exercise is a personal choice, and everyone’s ideal workout takes a specific size and layout. Different activities require different amounts of space. If you’re hopping on a bike for cardio, your workout room may be much smaller than if you’re after full-body weight-training.
Consider your equipment, and document the dimensions. Ensure your layout allows for proper clearances and circulation for the exercise you’re planning. Envision the whole space. Is there a spot for a TV? Are there mirrors on the walls? Do you have a rubber floor? Are there ceiling fans for circulation? Do you want this space visible to the rest of the basement or hidden behind a door? The more you can plan upfront, the more likely your work-out room will end up exactly as you envisioned, and will get utilized even after our New Year resolutions fall to the wayside.
2. Theater Room
With the reduced use of movie theaters at this time, our clients are opting to bring the experience to their homes. Some clients request a specific screen size, movie theater recliners with elevated seating arrangement, while others simply want the largest flat-screen TV available with a sectional sofa.
Flat-screen or projector? Sectional sofa or recliners? Will you want tiered seating or all seating on one level? Built-in audio or wireless? Review the optimal viewing distance to your screen and consider sound-proofing the
room. What will you be watching and who you will be watching with? Is your theater a room for sporting events with friends, who will be coming and going for snacks and drinks, or will you be sitting through a movie for a longer period of time? These discussions will assist your decision making for the layout and equipment specifications, resulting in the perfect theater room for your home.
Between the proven health benefits and the frigid Midwest winters we experience, it is not surprising that many of our clients are incorporating saunas into their homes. Whether a kit or custom-built on-site, there are many ways to incorporate a sauna into your home.
As with the theater room, you will want to consider how the sauna will be used. How many people will be in there at a time? Will it be a solo retreat or a party? Is it located within the work-out room, off a bathroom or on its own? Is it the traditional wet-dry sauna, using electric or wood-burning heat sources with stones to raise the temperature, or is it an infrared unit that uses radiant heat elements conveying heat directly to the body, working up a sweat from within? Out of all the items on this list, the sauna requires the least square footage and, fitting during the pandemic, it reduces stress.
4. Golf Simulator
The current pandemic doesn’t hamper our ability to hit the golf course, but our winters can! For this reason, our clients are often interested in incorporating a golf simulator in their home’s design. We tend to plan these spaces around the main rec room, allowing the participants to grab a drink or snack while still maintaining watch over the action.
When planning for a golf simulator, find your desired unit and go directly to the specifications. Many units require additional ceiling height, often 10 feet, and proper clearances for swinging. As mentioned above, layout the space and think about how the adjacent spaces can interact. Is there a bar top that overlooks the golf simulator? Can you view a TV from the area? The more you can connect the space to the rest of the action, the more it will be utilized.
5. Basketball Court
Although it takes up the most square footage, there is no other room that your kids and their friends will rank above the basketball court. Often only half-court, but as long as they can shoot a three, there should be no complaints! Whether it’s to simply wear off steam or fine-tune basketball skills, these courts are becoming more and more popular.
We advise capturing the free-throw line, and full three-point line in your design, anything after that is icing on the cake. Layout your space with the basketball hoop – keep in mind you will want some clearance between your hoop and the wall, otherwise lay-ups and other below the hoop activities may become dangerous. Will you want a bench for spectators? A view from an adjacent room or from a room above?
Although there are many ways to incorporate a basketball court into the design of your home, we often position it adjacent to the garage, so it does not affect the scale of the home or impede on any views of the outdoors. The goal is to be able to drive by your home and not know where the basketball court could be or if there is one.
Even though the pandemic’s end is in sight (we hope), the desire for the spaces above are here to stay. Families are enjoying the comfort of their own homes more, and have more time to do so. Whether it’s an item from the list above or something from your own wish list, think of how you can create a unique space to better serve you and your family.
With over a decade of experience, Strom’s passion for the architectural profession led him to found Strom Architecture in 2019. Within his new firm, Strom Architecture strives to elevate the ordinary elements that exist in all projects.