The Gruen Eco Design blog about how to convert your dream from an energy efficient home into a reality.



Again, it’s all about you. Think about you and your family. How do you use the house? Which rooms do you really use? Do you really need a dedicated guest bedroom? A room that does nothing else than host a bed, that is used maybe 10 days a year? Is there a way to combine certain rooms?

Do you need a separate office/study? Or would a study nook be sufficient? Either integrated into an another room, or tucked away into a cabinet, that you can close it off?

 As a general thing. We personally don’t want a huge house and will try everything to keep the house as compact as we can. Obviously the bigger the house the more materials you need and the more labour is needed to actually build the house. Which translates to a higher build cost. But it also means that the house itself will need more energy to heat or cool. The bigger the volume, the more energy is needed to regulate the temperature.

 We do want a compact house with multi-functional spaces that performs well and that feel spacious and bright.

We are a family of 4. Although our little girls share a bedroom for now and will so for another 10ish years we do want a total of 3 bedrooms. One for us and one for each of our kids. And then we do want one multifunctional room close to the living area. That can be used as a home office, study room, also functions as a guest bedroom and can be opened up to the living room, if we have a party for instance and need more space. This means it could also be used as a rumpus room.

 We have decided as a family that we don’t need a garage. Cars are made to stay outdoors. However, we do want a covered area over at least one of the cars, so that we can get into the house when it’s raining without getting wet. Therefore, we will build a single or a double carport. With some extra external storage. Building a garage is also much dearer than building a carport and some external storage. This will help us to keep the cost down.

 When thinking about your laundry it is important to consider how you use it as a family. A lot of people do want a huge laundry, which heaps of walking space in the middle, so that you could do your ironing in there. I personally would never iron in the laundry, rather in the living room with the tv on and the family around me. So I don’t need a big space. Will you use your laundry only for washing? Or will it act as a secondary entry/mudroom for the family? If so, what does that mean? Do you need extra hanging space for coats or a bench area to take off dirty shoes? Or if you don’t need this, can your laundry maybe fit into a European laundry? Just a big cabinet with space for a washing machine and maybe a dryer, and some extra space to store baskets and or other things? This would be the most economical solution.

We don’t need a mudroom for our family. But we do want to combine the pantry and the laundry in one room, accessible from the kitchen. The idea is a galley style layout, with the pantry and food storage on the one side and washing machine, trough, linen cabinet, and broom cabinet on the other side. This way we only need one ‘walk-way’ to access both areas. And we will also need just one sink/trough. That can be used to wash clothes as well as vegetable for instance. Sure, this is not for everyone, but for our family this will work well.

 When putting together a floor plan for a house it is often the circulation space, the corridors and hallways that add a lot of square metres onto the house.

Here a simple sample: Imagine you have a 7.5m long corridor, that connects the living area with your beroom. If hallway is 1.1m wide it means a bit over 8m2 added floor area. If the hallway would be 1.5m wide we would already be looking at 11m2, or over 13m2 if the corridor would be 1.8m wide. And these seemingly small areas add up quickly.

 Okay, so now that we know what we want and need I can maybe finally manage to find some time to start with the actual design 🙂

Again, as I have mentioned at the start. It is all about you. Think about what it is that you really need and if there is a potential to create multi-functional spaces. Rather than adding more rooms and more build area.

Quality over quantity! Less is more!