We've spent the past couple of weekends inflicting ourselves on various unfortunate relatives (the Nest family is comprised of two grown-ups, one toddler, one baby, two Jack Russells, all of whom are either very noisy and/or eat an awful lot, so we're high-maintenance house guests) and haven't had therefore any spare time to make any actual renovation progress. But all those motorway miles with children and dogs peacefully sleeping (hollow laughter) allow for some pretty good thinking time. Specifically about our forthcoming extension, which I await in great anticipation as the day when we will finally get rid of the bile-inducing airport-chic carpets on the ground floor.
Previously, I've shared our thoughts on how the extension might look from the exterior (glass! white render! timber cladding!) and how we'd like the kitchen to look (French grey hand-painted units! reclaimed wood worktops! sleek stainless steel appliances! antique crystal chandeliers! mismatched dining chairs! etc). But really the most important thing is what we do with the space. Here are some of our (middle-class) problems that we'll need the extension to solve.
The dogs! Oh man, those dogs. They charge out into the garden and then charge back into the house, leaving muddy pawprints absolutely everywhere. We need to have a special dog/muddy door that leads to a fenced off part of the garden (with fake lawn, perhaps?) and doesn't open straight back into the middle of the kitchen. Possibly with an attached sheep dip.
We need to be able to keep an eye on the children and chat with guests while getting on with coffee making, meal preparation, dishwasher loading etc. But we also want all the hideously garish toddler toys to be tucked away out of immediate sight. I'm envisaging an open-plan space with a playroom (that in later years will become the kids' TV/homework room) located off the main space.
Can we please have somewhere practical to store the prams, buggies, car seats, dog harnesses, coats, wellies and other associated outdoor paraphernalia? Right now the line of shoes in the hall look like Snow White moved in with all seven dwarves plus several kids and pets oddly not referenced in the traditional story.
Manchester council recycles pretty much everything. At the moment we're tossing recyclables into various boxes and bags in one of the kitchen cupboards, and then lugging the whole lot all the way round the house to the wheelie bins. It's a right old faff.
We end up with tons of dirty laundry downstairs (towels, tea-towels, bibs, dishcloths etc - see previous references to dogs and children) and have nowhere to store it until it can be taken downstairs to the washing machine in the cellar.
I'd really like to be able to waft outside, casually snip some rosemary sprigs for my organic roast lamb (or mint for my Pimms, I'm not fussy), and then waft back inside without having to find my wellies, plunge outside in the darkness, fall down the steps (yet again), encounter the rosemary, hack a couple of branches off by the light of my phone, stumble back into the house, take my wellies off and chuck them into a corner because we don't have anywhere to store them... Admittedly the easy collection of herbs is a ridiculously frivolous item for the wish-list, but I'm wish-listing it nonetheless.
The post. It comes through the door, Enrique alerts us to its presence with increasing agitation and enthusiasm, the post is collected, deposited on the dining room table, and approximately seven weeks later makes its way upstairs to the filing cabinet and/or the shredder. I suspect there is a more efficient method for dealing with our paperwork.
It's freeeeezing on the ground floor. Unsurprising, really, when you see what lies beneath. We need super-insulation, plus maybe a woodburner? The special kind allowed by the local council, of course.
The kitchen. We love having people over for meals. I also love baking with the kids. I need somewhere (a kitchen island?) where all the children can gather round and take turns energetically chucking eggs and flour into the general vicinity of a bowl, and then be able to leave all the mess and use another part of the kitchen (a long run of units? which would also be great for plating up) to prepare a meal for everyone that doesn't include a generous amount of eggshell. Actually there's a ton of things we need the kitchen to do, but I'll save that for another day.
So those are the key things I can think of from the top of my head. Do you have a great family-friendly space that works for you? What would you advise?