Re: Question on Design of your Common House
From: Kristin Wells (
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2011 15:26:49 -0800 (PST)
On Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 8:41 AM, Douglas G. Larson <ddhle [at]>wrote:

> > 1. How many homes are in your community and how many people live there?
> (To
> > give us a baseline on size.)
> > 2. How many guest rooms are in your Common House? Do they get used
> > frequently or do they stay empty?
> > 3. What is the best part of your Common House?
> > 4. What do you wish you had done differently in your Common House? (Space
> > that is under-utilized, features that were not needed or that you wish
> you
> > had, etc.)

1. We are/will be 30 households, but aren't quite half full yet, so our use,
needs, etc. may change in the future as we fill up. Right now there are 18
people including one teenager and one small child.

I LOVE our common house and think it gets quite a bit of use.

2. We have 2 guest rooms and they are used frequently already. We have even
had a few occasions where we've used our model unit for overflow. That won't
be possible in the future when we are full, but it's been helpful to have
for now.

3. I think the guest rooms are AWESOME to have and wouldn't want to be
without them. It's a piece that was always missing from other places we've
lived and makes living here much better. I also LOVE our kitchen, great room
and the cafe. The cafe is sort of unusual and stemmed out of folks' desires
to have a smaller space to work at during the day. It serves as overflow for
our great room (aka dining room), and has our beverage station, which is
decentralized away from the kitchen. While it is a little more work to put
away glasses/mugs, it's a fabulous feature to have that keeps people away
from the kitchen area before meals ... folks will often gather over near
this area while waiting for dinner to be ready. Our kitchen is all
commercial appliances with rich wood cabinetry and plam counters. So it has
the amazing functionality of a commercial kitchen, with a more comfortable
and homey feel to it. The dish area is all stainless steel for ease of use
and longevity. I also love our laundry room... we have lots of lines inside
so even during winter I can hang our clothes and save the energy it takes to
dry. I also love our rooftop terrace and the hot tub we have up there! I
know, not interior, but still common. Last, our bike room works really well.
We have access from the exterior via a ramp and it is very easy to use, but
pretty secure. We have a fob system for it and all our common doors, so no
keys are needed. We have a little bike shop in the same room as the bike
storage. Once you park you're bike, you're already in the common house and
can walk past the laundry and up the stairs to the main areas and often run
into folks on your journey. The connections, sight-lines, and pathways
inside our common house as well as throughout our community are great.

4. There's not much I would change. We currently have three rooms that are
very underutilized. We'll see if that changes as we grow. 2 rooms were
designed as 'flex' rooms and were unprogrammed with a laundry list of
possibilities (all those things we thought of and thought would be nice to
have, but there wasn't enough of a groundswell to determine what they'd be
used for). Also, we have a spiritual space/yoga room. Originally supporting
each other's sprirituality was important in our community, but with the
turnover we had between programming and now, there is not much interest or
pull there for physical space needs anymore. This may change though as we
fill up. A few minor things: I would suggest installing all your laundry
lines initially. Our interior ones are less than great as they never really
were 'finished' and our exterior ones have yet to be constructed. I would
have a built-in buffet area or at least a designated clear space for it.
And, we got roll carts for our plates and dishes, but they aren't very good
and are hard to push. Therefore, they rarely get rolled and are just awkward
storage most of the time. I think investing in one good one would have been
better and just using cupboards to store dishes.

I think that's about it.

Good luck with your planning!

> --
Kristin Wells
Daybreak Cohousing, LLC
Kristin [at]

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