Special/Signature Issues » Home Style

Home Front: Taking a Page From the Office

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Go with the flow: Floor plans are essential to ensuring that your new home or renovation will fit your life. Spend time with your designer discussing your family's daily activities. Look at traffic flow and furniture placement. The floor plan should illustrate how the new space will enhance everyday living.

Bow to nature: If you're building or renovating the house you hope to retire in, incorporate accommodations for your golden years now. Having 36-inch-wide doors on at least one bedroom, one bathroom and a sheltered entryway will provide the basic wheelchair access you hope you never need. Making these structural accommodations later can be more costly and ruin an otherwise beautiful design.

Take a hard look: Consider the beauty and versatility of stone. In the kitchen, bathroom, foyer and elsewhere, stone adds distinctive, timeless, low-maintenance design elements to your home. Choose from slate, marble, onyx or granite in countertops, floor and wall tiles, and mosaics.

See it in the best light: Lighting is key to designing a beautiful room because it affects everyone's mood. Lighting should match the use of your space — brightly lighted work areas, a softly lighted bedroom, a spotlight on the masterpiece over the fireplace, and cozy pools of lamplight in the library.

Details, details, details: Repeat a decorative motif from the floor or lower half of the room, such as a tile mosaic, in a border at the top of the walls to give the room a sense of visual unity and

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