Re: Common House: Woulda Coulda Shoulda
From: pattymara (
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 07:54:01 -0600 (MDT)
At Tierra Nueva, central CA coast, where we have been here now for three
years next month.  A little backround info:  27 homes, 3000 sq. foot
common house.   

> Questions:
> If you had to do your commonhouse over, what would be any areas that 
> stand out as ones you would like to change?

Our kids' room is small.  It used to bug us alot.  But we've grown
accustomed to it, don't grumble so much about it, now that our kids are
mostly 5 to 12 in age.  We still have 2 toddlers, and the room is geared
more for them.  It is about 8 x 10, adjacent to the dinning room with a
deck access, and sandbox (favored by the community's cats if it is not
covered up).  Recently at a business meeting a member brought up the
notion of trading the kid room for the sitting room/library (much more
sumptuous, 15 x 20 with fireplace and built in shelves) and it went over
like a fart in church.  The reality is:  we use the library often for
community and private committee meetings, casual gatherings, game nights,
storytimes, small ceremonies.  It is a truly multi-use room.  I'm glad it
is sumptuous.  And the parents are glad now that the kid room is smaller,
and easier to keep clean.  It has a big window and a glass door that
offers great visual access during meals, when it is well occupied.  It
also has a window pass-through from the kitchen.  All of these features
are very good.

> What are the least used areas of your commonhouse? 

This may sound surprising, but the dining room, the largest room (20 x
30), gets used 2 or 3 times a week for eating.  But spring, summer and
fall we are often outside on the decks to eat.  It often feels cavernous
(those high ceilings that architects love so much, which create a huge
acoustic problem) and empty.  Mealtimes, it's used.  Othertimes not.  We
do have large gatherings, plays, memorial services, and all business
meetings there, so I guess it does get its share of use...but somehow it
retains a sense of emptiness.  Go figure.  The other smaller rooms
(kitchen, game room, media room, laundry,  office, pantry, guest rooms)
all get their share of use, and more importantly, FEEL better, homier.  

> What is the ratio of guest rooms to units?  Does your community have 
> enough  or too many guest rooms.

(27 homes) Two guest rooms, one fully wheelchair accessable.  These rooms
are heavily used.  Especially summers and holidays.  Two rooms, just

I agree with Liz (as usual) about the mistake of making the common house
too large.  Our cathedral ceiling design, with a mezzanine loft
overlooking the dining room is striking, but institutional in scale.  I
woulda coulda shoulda lowered those ceilings, and put the space to use
with a larger second story deck to take advantage of our gorgeous view of
the dunes.

Another woulda coulda...the access to the common house is screwy.  Most
of our homes are either north or south of the common house, with a couple
of homes on each side.  The southern access is up a couple of flights of
stairs to the west.  Our original plans had a double entry to the south,
on the east and the west, and somehow it got changed without our
noticing, before it was too late.    Access and whatever the
architectural word is for Flow.  These are very important.  Pay
attention.  Circulation! that's the word.  

Another ditto to Liz:  the kitchen is open to the dining room, separated
by a tiled counter/bar with stools.  And we love our relatively quiet,
fast Hobart dishwasher which is located under that counter.  The cleaners
at the sink are facing the dining room, and the kitchen is fully
integrated into the dining room scene at meals.  Noise from it has never
been a problem.   Keep it connected.  

Tierra Nueva, cen. CA coast
where it is high time to get outside and take my neighbor's big brown dog
out for our walk along the creek.   


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