Ever wish you had a room in your house where you could escape the noise and distractions of your family for a while? I have two words for you: sanity room.
A sanity room can either be a quiet place where you can go to enjoy your favorite hobbies and pastimes — and escape the constant chatter of TV, teenagers and telephones—or an area that you designate for those noisy activities to keep them separate from the shared parts of the house.
The latter could be a play room for younger kids, where they can scatter their toys and run around and sing karaoke with their friends without cluttering your formal living room or getting underfoot while you’re cooking. It could be a purple-and-gold “man cave” for the Tigers fanatic in your family who can’t get enough of televised sports. It could be a game room that you furnish with a ping-pong table, a dart board, some comfy beanbag chairs and a big-screen TV where your teenagers can hang out with their friends somewhere other than in their bedrooms.
Or it might be a room that’s off limits to anyone but you—a place where you can sew or scrapbook or read with the door closed for a few minutes while the rest of your family is engaged in noisier pursuits elsewhere in the house.
Either way, everybody’s happy and you keep your sanity.
Can’t wait to get started? Here’s how:
1. First, find a place for a play room. Decide what will happen in there: quiet time spent quilting; constant TV-watching and yelling at referees; hours blasting the stereo and playing games on Nintendo or Wii. The level of noise the room will generate or quiet you hope to enjoy will determine how far away from the living room and kitchen you want to locate your sanity room.
2. Convert a little-used room. If an adult child has moved out but you have never reclaimed his or her bedroom, empty it out and put it to good use. If you haven’t set the table in your formal dining room since Christmas 2002, adding a door will allow you to close it off from the kitchen and convert it to a hobby room. If your spare bedroom is more of a junk room than a place for company to bunk, weed through the boxes and piles and make room for a sewing machine or flat-screen.
3. Resist the temptation to banish noisy loved ones to the garage. Fixing up a garage or the attic space over top of it isn’t inexpensive. Most likely, it’s going to involve adding stairs, lighting, heat and air conditioning, a vapor barrier and carpet. If you plan to furnish it with a computer or an oversized TV, you might have to upgrade the electricity. If, on the other hand, the expense is worth it because you want a private space that’s separate from the main house, a garage attic can be a good solution because it isolates the activity—whether it’s noisy or requires quiet—and offers the occupant extra privacy.
4. Add a room. Often, a homeowner who feels overwhelmed by the noise and activity of the family lives in a house that was fine when the kids were younger but isn’t roomy enough for teenagers, their extra-loud toys and their pals. Adding a room onto the house can solve your space problem and increase the value of your property, too. An idea: Convert your two-car garage to a recreational room for the kids, and then add another garage. That way, you’ll have a separate area outside of the house where your family can turn up the volume full blast, but you won’t sacrifice storage or parking space.
5. Enclose an outdoor patio. We remodeled the patio behind one client’s house into a sunroom, which created a light-flooded extra room right next to the den. The husband spends most fall weekends in the sunroom watching sports on TV, while his wife happily reads and sews in the already-existing den right next to the addition.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.Jeb.net.