Why 13 is lucky in home design

by rheselbarth@solagroup.com

I love numbers. Not math necessarily, although that does intrigue me. I find an unusual pleasure in hosting parties on dates such as August 8 in 2008, and this past week on 10/11/12. My car features the plate 6022AV0. For those with a chemistry background, I challenge you to point out its origin. One of my favorite books is The Nothingness That Is: The Natural History of Zero. Fascinating!

I even go so far as to use a prime number whenever I can. Why not? I like the larger numbers like 113, 311 or 3001. Call me strange but I have a web site bookmarked on my phone for those opportunities in which I might use one (http://www.calculus.info/tables/prime/prime.html). No one really knows…or probably cares, but it humors me nonetheless.

I often will set appointments at 4:56 or something to the minute – a not-so-typical minute. People tend to be punctual when you have a lunch appointment at 12:12. No one wants to be a minute late for fear of missing something important. Well, lunch is important and being consistently punctual can set you apart from your competition. While this is not about punctuality or a competitive edge, it is about numbers. A specific number, rather: 13.

Over the years, I have discovered that the number 13 works very well for me during the conceptual home design process. It can be added and divided quickly to arrive at a home size. This can be useful during a meeting with a potential client. In less than a minute, either a list of rooms or a spur-of-the-moment sketch you produce in their presence can be converted into real square feet. While it’s not a refined process, it is a useful tool.

An average home fits this model fairly well. Consider this scenario using the 13’-0” x 13’-0” space as a basis for all the rooms in a house. This number can, for general purposes, also include the width of the walls (see attached diagrams):

Bedrooms                               13’x13’

Kitchen                                   13’x13’

And by multiplying by 2…

Living                                     13’x26’

Recreation/Great Room             13’x26’

And by multiplying by 4…

2-car Garage                         26’x26’

And dividing 13 by 2…

Laundry                                6.5’x6.5’

Walk-in Closet                        6.5’x6.5’

Entry                                   6.5’x6.5’

Master Bathroom                   6.5’x6.5’

And by subdividing that in half…

Closets                                 3’x6.5’

Mechanical Closet                  3’x6.5’

Powder Room                        3’x6.5’

To note, my 6.5’x6.5’ bathroom calculation is the equivalent space of a typical 5’-0”x7’-0” bathroom (with wall thicknesses) at around 42 square feet.

Here is the additional important information to make this tool even more useful. If you happen to be working with a family on a tighter budget, you can simply change this dimension to 12’-0”x12’-0”. Conversely, by bumping it up to 14’-0”, 15’-0” or more, you can accommodate a client’s wishes for a more spacious-than-average home. Finally, don’t forget the circulation space. The standard equation for adding hallways and other circulation areas is to simply add 10% to the total room area.

Take five minutes and review this design tool. Sketch out some squares and bust out a calculator. See what you discover on your own.

What other quick design tools and tricks do you use?

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