When home and office meet

Current research says that 45% of Canadians will be self-employed by 2020. Tracey & Wes’s home has been and continues to be one of a growing number that doubles as office – and with style! A chief driver of the design for the addition was to relocate and increase the area to accommodate Tracey’s growing business. The advantages of working from home are enormous. There is virtually no time or costs related to commuting and there is much flexibility to manage time for personal matters. A portion of house expenses can be allocated to the business, however I recommend to seek the advice of your accountant regarding this.

Many municipal zoning bylaws include a “Home Occupation” as a permitted use in residential areas. Researching this is important in order to operate a business legally in your area. Restrictions imposed by zoning can include limiting the number of non-family employees, and regulating the ratio of floor space allocated for personal and business use. The key to working from home is engaging space planning techniques to provide visual, spatial and acoustic separation between home and office.

Tracey says that her whole well-being has improved with the addition and renovations. Before, the office was right next to the master bedroom on the main floor. She would often have difficulty mentally ‘shutting down’ work at night and her sleep was suffering. Now, she says at the end of a day, she closes the door, heads down the stairs and doesn’t think about work until she’s back in her loft office the next morning.


Acoustic separation in homes

We’ve all experienced it…. the extra loud booming from TV audio or the continuous traffic noise from a busy road. Unwelcome noise from many sources can cause stress and fatigue. Planning for acoustic separation is the key to resolve these problems and it can be achieved in a variety of ways.
The simple concept of zoning noisier activities together is the first step. It just makes common sense to locate a basement TV area below a common area like a living or kitchen area, and not below the bedrooms. Open stairwells are conduits for noise; in my designs I always try to provide the opportunity for a double doorway (and it could be glassed) to provide a noise barrier. Tracey’s home office was intentionally placed above the garage for acoustic privacy and the staircase has a door at the bottom.

Noise creates a vibration which is transmitted through wall studs, floor joists, windows & doors. Installing Rockwool Safe ‘n Sound insulation batts, resilient channels (that absorb vibration), staggering studs within a wall, and doubling the layers of drywall with the application of ‘Green Glue’ between, are all good ways to reduce the transmission of noise. Incorporating solid core doors and windows with high STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings will help achieve a quieter home. The standard hinged door (that has a door stop at the jamb) is quieter than the all-popular sliding track or pocketed door.

Here are some resources for more acoustic research:

It’s Spring! Every change of season has its appeal, but for me, spring announces its arrival in so many ways. I adore the subtle violet and iridescent green of new buds on the trees, and the brilliant sunshine that penetrates the forest before the leaves come out. We all know that fresh “spring is in the air” smell. The birds awaken us with their early morning choruses.

LIFE ~ Work & Home in Harmony

Come with me to visit Tracey and Wes at their home, set in a picturesque treed location. When they contacted me in 2015, at our first meeting I learned that they needed more space. Tracey’s office was small and had no meeting space for clients. As their family grew to include grandchildren, the existing kitchen and dining areas were inadequate for large gatherings. The master bedroom was tiny, and they wanted an attached garage with mudroom and laundry.

The first step was to prepare as-built drawings and do a structural assessment of the existing home (it had been added to a few of times before) and to check on zoning setbacks for the side property lines. We then worked through the design for the garage addition with office loft and renovations to create the extra space they needed while leaving their vaulted living room untouched.

1. Architectural Design: Jane Cameron, Life Home Design
2. Structural Engineering: Quaile Engineering
3. Interior Carpentry & Cabinetry: Mike Van Hemert, MVH Carpentry, 905-715-1585
4. Windows & Doors: Simon & Sons Windows and Doors
5. Garage Door: Aurora Overhead Door Inc.
6. Roofing & Aluminum: First Choice Roofing
7. HVAC Installation: Brays Fuels
8. Electrical: Al Rhebergen, Allan Electric 905-775-0473
9. Stonework: Farr masonry, Kingsridge Building Group

Scottish Oat Scones

TIn 1982 a small paperback cookbook was published called ‘The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook’. Click here for a pdf of the whole edition:

Yes – I’ve been making these scones for 35 years! They are fabulous served hot out of the oven with sweet (unsalted) butter and jam or marmalade. They’re great for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. Why not make some for an Easter Brunch?

2/3 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. milk
1 egg
1 3/4 c. oats, uncooked (I use large flake)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. raisins or currants (optional)

In a small bowl combine butter, milk and egg. In a larger bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; pour in the butter, milk & egg; mix well (it will be stiff). Stir in the raisins. Pat mixture out on a lightly floured surface to form a 9x12-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 4x3 inch rectangles; cut each rectangle in half to form triangles. Place on a greased cookie sheet, bake in a hot oven (425 degrees) about 11 -12 minutes. Makes 24 scones

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