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Away Room Design—A Room of One's Own

The 20 Vital Pattern Language Patterns

away room

Sarah Susanka popularized the concept of an Away Room in The Not So Big House.

In A Pattern Language the authors state that people living close together also need to have opportunities to be alone. Susanka suggests that home designers create a room to escape to that is near the common areas of the home but that offers some privacy from the noise and socializing of the other spaces.

A Pattern Language suggests that each household member needs a space of one's own. At least an alcove and some shelves with some kind of a sense of enclosure and privacy.

Designing an Away Room

For a larger home it could be possible to create a room for each household member but the common Western ideal of each child having their own bedroom and each adult having a separate space as well is not necessarily the solution.

For adults, if a separate den is not a possibility in the home design, sometimes a tucked away corner, a window seat or a multipurpose hobby room can be the answer.

Children love small nooks and spaces. A child cave or nook can easily be created within a shared bedroom, under a set of stairs or in many odd spaces in the home. For the most part, children will want privacy but at the same time want to be in proximity of other family members.

When designing a space to retreat to, the first thing to ask is how will the space be used. As always in home design, form should follow function. If the purpose of the space is reading then you'll want room enough for a comfortable seating spot, proper lighting, a small table and perhaps a set of shelves. For yoga or meditation, the space will look decidedly different than the away room of a knitter, musician or woodworker.

When designing the space, think carefully about:

  • The type of lighting design you'll want, whether it be natural or artificial
  • Any power requirements you may have (make sure you have adequate power outlets in the area)
  • How much or how little isolation you require from other spaces of the home.


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