Wednesday, March 12, 2008


On pages 18 to 26 of Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure, Maxwell discusses the concept of flow. It takes the "traffic pattern" and "Conversation Area" discussions of room arrangement to a slightly higher level. Maxwell writes that energy is to meander like a curving, steadily flowing river. It isn't to rush straight through (no lining the furniture up against the walls), it isn't to find dead corners and just swirl around.

The best way to figure out if your space has good flow is to do one of two things: draw a floor plan and then "trace" the imaginary flow. Or, two, walk around your space. Do you walk straight through (bad)? Come to any spots where you just have to turn around and come back (bad)?

Take a look at your piles--are they on a surface near an eddy? Mine are.

There's one other notion I've come across which I just love. It's Sarah Susanka's "pod of space." If you have one or two of these, you're virtually guaranteed to have "flow."

Is flow important in the basement?

I think so.

If not because the basement represents one's subconscious (and one does not want that blocked up), nor because the basement represents, well, the bowels of the house (and one most certainly does not want that blocked up) but because one wants access. And dimly lit corners are hard to get into and get stuff out of. Look at the basement as a river. (It has, on occasion, been like a river, or rather, a lake. And the water actually behaves a whole lot differently than the diagram indicates. But that's another matter altogether.)

I almost have two complete circles: one over by the wall of shelves and one by the folding table. Circles are good. They indicate my beloved "pods of space." But look at the area in the "laundry room." There's bloody clothesline right in the way. It didn't used to be there. We moved it there last fall and I can't stand it. I just don't know where else to put it (nor if the husband would even agree to move it).

And why are there eddies by the exercise bench (and not nice little access arrows)?

In all honesty, there really isn't enough room to "access" the exercise bench. I had the husband put up those shelves beside it, and I told him to make them deep enough to hang clothes. Well, it is so dark and awful in there that only clothes that really should be tossed are kept down there. So, theoretically, we could take the shelves down and move the bench sideways and the area would be a whole lot more comfortable. I might even have a spot for the exercise bike. A home for the punching bag, though, might be too much to hope for.

However, my husband is the type of guy who, once he has done something, considers it done for all time. So, I'm going to have to think long and hard about these changes, draw some scale diagrams to test my theories, and marshall my arguments. And, it may be that though flow in the basement is important, something else may be more so.


zooza said...

Wow - you've got a lot going on down there. But what a wonderful space to have. I'm quite jealous (and thinking tunnelling thoughts again - see what you've done to me?!).

I don't have many helpful thoughts, though. Extending the area for the exercise bench by removing the shelves sounds like a good idea if their only purpose is to hold clutter.

For the clothes line problem, would installing a retractable line or a pulley system from the ceiling help keep the flow going, or is it in use most of the time?

Alana in Canada said...

Unfortunately, the clothesline in its present position isn't a problem when I'm not using it--only when I am, which is fairly often, even though I do use a dryer.

I have been toying with the idea of moving the dresser underneath the windo and constructing it in that spot. It will still be in the way of the shelves and part of the table beside the washing machine, but I will be able to get round the folding table which would help me remember to take the meat out for dinner long before I's actually need it. (And that would save energy. The microwave is cheifly a defroster at our house.)

drwende said...

This is utterly fascinating analysis. I don't really have anything to add, since you're into a scale of storage that I just don't connect with, but I wanted to tell you how compelling it is to read about it.

Alana in Canada said...

I don't actually see the appeal myself. But I'm glad you are enjoying it!

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