Welcome home, dear. We turned your room into a pool hall!
Though often said in jest, Aurora Custom Remodeling, in Jacksonville, Fla., is helping baby boomer clients make many such dreams come true. In the last two years the company has seen a trend toward turning spare bedrooms into usable spaces.
“Our clients are ready to transform their underutilized rooms into spaces that will accommodate their new hobbies and interests,” says vice president Jeff Brecko. Art studios, home theaters, gyms, and game rooms are the most popular requests.
Input on Unique Spaces
Creative challenges are usually welcome, but unique space requests may be foreign to some remodelers. As such, communication is key.
“It’s important for the client to ask themselves how the room can best meet their functional needs,” Brecko says. Asking questions about what activities the clients enjoy, how many people the space will accommodate, and what types of tasks will be performed there are essential.” A room in a magazine or someone else’s house may seem ideal to the client, he says, “but you have to look at the specifics of their situation to ensure they get the layout and the look that works best for them.”
Outside resources can also be helpful. In designing a challenging music room last year, Brecko says that he and his client did extensive online research to learn about ideal acoustics for such a space and which products on the market would work best to meet the client’s needs.
Consulting with professionals in other industries is also important. “In many cases we’re adapting what are traditionally commercial spaces into residential spaces,” Brecko says. “I have insight into what an art studio would require, but a studio for painting is very different from one used for sculpture or photography. If I were designing a darkroom, I’d call a photographer and ask to see their space. If you want to take on these projects, you have to be willing to do the research.”
Embrace the Footprint
Brecko is pleased with his clients’ openness to working within their homes’ existing spaces and not letting the idea of losing a bedroom curtail a project. “So far, none of our clients have had any qualms about sacrificing a bedroom,” he says. “They tell me, ‘I don’t use these rooms, and I want to be able to use them,’ or ‘I use the rooms but not as bedrooms.’”
Homeowners also realize that building additions doesn’t yield the return on investment it used to. “A few years ago the value per square foot was so high that no one could resist building additions,” Brecko says. “Now it makes more sense to use all the space in your home the way you want to use it. It would be lucrative for our business to build additions all the time, but it really doesn’t make sense. Some of the most satisfying projects we do are the ones that let us work in the existing envelope.”
—Lauren Hunter, associate editor, REMODELING.