The multitask house (MTH) is an innovative, high-tech small house whose features serve multiple purposes. The goal of the MTH isn’t about being as tiny as possible but rather being as efficient as possible without giving up comfort and even luxury. Here’s the thought process behind the MTH design.
The most significant change in house design in the past 30 years (1983-2013) is in how floor plans have become more and more open by eliminating walls and increasing the height of ceilings. Not only have new home builders designed them this way, but remodeling contractors have been making a nice living redoing older homes in this style.
This design trend has led to the elimination of more and more interior walls in the kitchen, dining area, and living/family room (now known as a great room). At the same time, the height of the ceilings was raised higher and higher to create the illusion of abundant living space. Although high ceilings do provide a feeling of having more space, I have found that they are not energy efficient. And energy efficiency has become a top priority with national governments, consumers, and consequently home builders.
If passive cooling and heating systems are built into the high ceilings, then they can be a useful contributor to energy efficiency. I saw a very efficient vaulted ceiling design called a thermal envelope in Mother Earth News many years ago. The ceiling or roof was constructed to a peak with windows that allowed warm air to escape during hot weather and be captured and rerouted during cold weather. This creates a passive cooling and heating system. So smart designs like this that contribute to energy efficiency at the lowest possible cost is an important feature of the MTH.
I very surprised to find the Mother Earth News thermal envelope house article that I was referring to above on the Internet. Check it out. Since it’s an old article, the pictures are fuzzy but the concept still holds up. In fact, because of our relatively new interest in passive energy systems, it’s a design whose time has come.
Please let me know if this link goes dead here.
Here’s what I propose. Take the concept of open floor plans one step further to the bedroom. In other words, remove the walls surrounding the bedroom and open up the house completely. You’re probably thinking of a studio design. Yes, that would be partly correct, but the traditional studio design tends to be tiny and uncomfortable.
Instead of a studio, I’m envisioning what I call a “Multitask House (MTH).” The MTH is a small house without bedrooms whose spaces, furniture, and electronics serve multiple purposes. For example, a desktop would also serve as a dining table. The television would also serve as a computer monitor, and it could be rotated for viewing from the bed, office, dining, kitchen, and lounging spaces. The combination of all these spaces would be what is known as the great room. In the lounge area of the great room, there would also be perhaps two easy chairs and/or a small sofa.
Choosing to live in an MTH would not mean that you’d have to make huge sacrifices in comfort, luxury, and even prestige. You’d probably have to downsize the amount and size of your home furnishings. But by doing so you’ll have the money and time to create a nicer home and fuller life.
The MTH will have everything you need and want including spacious walk-in closets, laundry rooms, toilet rooms, well-appointed kitchens and bathrooms, and a menu of optional exterior garden rooms. Green, healthy materials and energy efficiency or independence (where possible) are also top priorities.
Is the multitask house for you?