Design K-41 is a ranch home with a bad case of skylight-itus. Houses with this design condition have numerous skylights, but not in areas where they could be most useful.
Take a close look at the mudroom, hall bath and kitchen of Design K-41. All three rooms will be heavily used, yet they have no source of natural light. All were overlooked as suitable locations for a window (in the case of the mudroom), skylight or solar tube.
I'm not certain that a skylight in the breakfast room will brighten the kitchen either. Although this particular skylight lies flat on a cathedral ceiling and will broadcast more diffuse light than a skylight embedded in a long tunnel, the location is probably too distant from the kitchen to really illuminate it. If you want light to penetrate the kitchen, consider locating a skylight or solar tube closer to (or in) the kitchen area.
Solar tubes "wash" a room with light, while conventional tunnel skylights cast a more defined pattern of light. Skylights are especially useful for creating drama and to highlight architectural features. Solar tubes provide more subtle, natural effects.
Design K-41 has a simple foundation with few offsets (bump-outs). This can save you money on masonry costs (corners cost extra), but it also results in several rooms that have windows on just one wall. Yet, people and furnishings usually look better if they are lit from two sides. Perhaps the designer added skylights to provide a second source of natural light in several rooms and eliminate unflattering shadows.
The layout of Design K-41 -- with a jutting, too small, front-facing garage; cathedral ceilings; and a horizontal layout -- looks like an early '90s ranch to me. No attention is given to outdoor living space, except for an unprotected patio. There is little of the privacy we've come to expect in bathrooms in a home this size: a secondary bath is right around the corner from the living room, and a master toilet is not compartmented.
There isn't much privacy between the master bedroom and bedroom No. 2, either. They share a common wall. And, one cramped linen closet serves the entire household in Design K-41. I think today's consumers are looking for more up-to-date features in a new home, especially one that's nearly 2,000 square feet in size.
(Got a question about home design? Contact Emily at email@example.com or at House Plan Review Services, P.O. Box 1143, Reidsville NC 27323.)
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