Re: Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Kay Wilson Fisk (kwilsonfiskcomcast.net)
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2015 00:18:37 -0800 (PST)
> We (http://villagehillcohousing.org) are in the process of
refining our common house design, trying to find the right
balance between usability and affordability. 

How many households do you have in your community?
= 25

Does your common house have a dedicated "kids room" for
younger children? If so, how large is it?
= About 10 x 20?

Do you wish it was larger? Feel it could have been smaller?
Is it just about right?
= It seems to be a good size.

What works well (or not) to make this room attractive to
kids?
= Colorful vinyl floor; lots of shelves for toys; and,
especially, a deciduous tree painted on the end wall with
hand prints of our kids for leaves. It's charming!

Other comments?
= At first it was a mess because no one put the toys away,
and you could hardly walk through it. What finally worked
was having a mom of small kids in charge of helping the kids
put toys away (perhaps once or twice a week?), with her time
counting as part of her community work contribution.

Does your common house have a "noisy activities" room (for
ping pong or similar activities)?
= We have a media room with built-in TV and shelves on one
wall, a window seat, and a fold-up ping pong table that can
be set up as needed.

If so, how large is it?
= About 15 x 20?

Do you wish it was larger? Feel it could have been smaller?
Is it just about right?
= It's a pretty good size, but somewhat larger would have
been fine.

What is it used for?
= Mostly videos or video games with 2 or 3 boys playing.
There have been a few adult video events, but the biggest
disincentive is that our folding dining room chairs aren't
as comfortable as you'd like to watch a lengthy video. We
used it one Thanksgiving for a 16-member family group, and
that worked well. We've done 2-3 person Tai Chi there.

How much is it used?
= Quite often for kids' videos/video games - probably almost
daily. Not too often for other uses.

Other comments?
= We made the mistake of not having a door that can be
closed to contain noise and allow for meetings in the "great
room"/hall. We want to add a door with a window in it so
that it can be easily monitored from the hallway.

Does your common house have a dedicated "teens room", or a
room where teens tend to congregate?
= Yes, they like to get together in the library or in the
media room described above.

Is this the "noisy activities" room? (If so, you can skip
the next four questions.)
= The media room described above is sometimes noisy,
especially if they are playing ping pong.

What works well (or not) to make this room attractive to
teens?
= The media room is separated from the great room by the
kitchen, the small kids' room, and a hallway. The library is
just off the great room, is cozy (has a gas fireplace that
faces both the library and the great room), and can be
closed off with two sliding glass doors.

Does your common house have one or more guest rooms?
= No. We had limited space for the common house, we wanted a
large play area outside, and we had to cut costs. We also
decided we didn't want to have to be in the hotel business;
we have 2-3 families that are willing to let guests stay in
their guest rooms.

Does your common house have a "living room", i.e. a quiet
room with couches etc. suitable for small groups?
= No. One end of the dining area serves as a sitting area
with two couches, a chair, and cocktail table.

Does your common house have an exercise room (with a
treadmill etc.)?
= No. Not enough space/money. We do have an unheated "barn"
where someone set up a treadmill for a time to see if people
would use it. Evidently they didn't, as it is gone now.

Other comments?
= We are about 1/4 mile from a non-profit tennis & athletic
club, which is affordable and quite handy.

Finally, do you have any thoughts that you'd like to offer
regarding what changes you might make to your common house
if you were able to go back and redesign it?
= It turned out that our furnace had to be larger than the
space allotted, so we lost a generous space where our mail
boxes, cubbies, and bulletin boards are, and that space is
quite cramped.
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