Safe Rooms – Preparing a Home Safe Room

Safe rooms (or also known as panic rooms) may be installed in your home to keep you free off intruders. All you need to do is to choose which room in the house you want converted and then go about consulting with builders to figure out how much a home safe room will cost you.

Safe rooms, as professionals call them, have been in existence throughout history. It was only when the movie Panic Room came out that the concept of safe rooms became very popular. In the United States, safe rooms have been built ever since the first colonials arrived in the New World.

Before, safe rooms were built by those who could afford it. In old Europe, the mansions and palaces of the gentry often had rooms with built in features that made it impervious to common thieves and intruders. Only recently did the cost of safe rooms decline which makes it affordable to people living in suburbia. Still, a safe room isn’t cheap. Installing a safe room will cost slightly higher than ordinary room renovations.

The safe room has fortified ceilings and walls that are difficult to bypass. It is ideal to use steel to reinforce the walls of the safe room. The cost of steel can be quite prohibitive though, so bricks and cement are often used as replacement materials. Installing wall reinforcements will add to the weight that the floor or foundation has to bear. The builders must do a thorough inspection of the floors and foundation around the walls of the room to make sure that the house doesn’t collapse. If any adjustments need to be made, they will find them during the inspection. The ceiling itself has to use other materials like tin or very strong wood. Using brick or cement for a ceiling is highly possible but it would require massive reinforcements for the walls and posts just to hold the ceiling up.

The safe room door should be able to withstand almost any effort to break it down short of using a tank. The doors are usually made of double-core metal with a heavy deadbolt installed. The door, together with the reinforced walls, makes the panic room safe from almost anything. All that is needed now are the amenities, as these rooms must be livable. If the time comes that its needed, it should be ready for occupancy for a number of days. Water, a sink, a toilet, some food and furniture will serve this purpose well.

A fortified room must have a communication device installed. This will make it easier to call emergency services if you are forced to stay in it. A video feed to a monitor or two inside the room will also allow you to see outside the room. This will be of great help to you if you are under siege because you can monitor the movements of the perpetrators and inform the police.

In tornado prone areas, these panic rooms would be the ideal place to hide in because of their reinforced nature. Fire will not spread or get through the reinforced walls and ceilings which makes these rooms an ideal place to go to when a fire breaks out.

Although you may not want to think about it, people you know and invite into your house may be the ones to commit criminal acts. Having a home safe room to run to which will keep the offenders out is a very huge gift for your peace of mind. If this should happen to you, the cost of having one of these safe rooms in place might be cheaper than any cost you are willing to pay.

Space Planning: Dining Room Case Study

Recently I did some space planning for “empty nester” clients. Their kids had all moved out, but still return for family dinners and special occasions. That’s all fine, but the “family” has gotten larger with the addition of spouses and grandchildren. It has become increasingly difficult to accommodate everyone at the same table for dinner. Sound familiar?

The Problem: Small Dining Room

For these clients, the enjoyment of having everyone at the same table was a “must”. Ideally they wanted to be able to seat 16 people comfortably. The problem was that their current dining room was an enclosed room of about 10.5 x 12.5 feet with no potential for expansion. At the most, they were able to fit 12 people very snugly into this room with the addition of two table extension leaves and extra chairs. There was very little space left to walk around the table. The “kids” (not so little anymore) were relegated to the kitchen table.

The Solution: Re-purposed Family Room

On the opposite side of the house was the family room measuring 10.5 x 16.5 feet. Adjacent to the family room was the living room which was used only for entertaining. Can you see where I’m going with this? Here is the case I made to my clients for moving the dining room function into the family room.

1. The family room is no longer needed for its original function as a family gathering space since the clients had become empty nesters.

2. The family room is located off the kitchen, so the proximity for ease of serving food is the same as the dining room.

3. The family room is the perfect size for a new dining space with the potential to seat 16 people.

4. The family room has the potential to become an even larger open concept space by removing the dividing wall between family room and living room.

5. Why not move the television into the living room so the empty nesters can enjoy their living room on a daily basis?

They were on-board with the idea, so I proceeded to prepare furniture layout plan options, two with the dividing wall between family room and living room left in place, and two with the wall removed. One of the options was to create a multi-purpose dining room by including a small sitting area in front of the patio doors for enjoying the backyard. The dining table would be kept in its smaller footprint with leaves stored away. Then, in advance of guests arriving, the sitting area chairs would be moved to the living room and the table leaves popped into place. My clients liked this multi-purpose option and in the end they opted to leave the dividing wall in place, in order to preserve wall space for their recently acquired entertainment unit. They also decided that their old dining room could be re-purposed as a main floor office/library space.

Converting the Family Room Décor

Simply moving the family room furniture out and the dining room furniture in, is really not enough to re-purpose the space. In order to create ambiance for elegant dining some décor changes are required. Here are some of the steps I recommend.

1. Lighting: Contract an electrician to install a junction box for your chandelier. Make sure it is installed where it will hang over the centre of the dining table and not simply in the centre of the room. Also consider adding a recessed ceiling light in each corner of the room (about 18″ away from walls). These should all be on dimmer switches.

2. Fireplace: Update an existing fireplace by removing the hearth and refacing the surround with an elegant material such as marble or granite. (One option is to repeat the kitchen countertop stone.) If your fireplace is wood-burning consider installing a gas insert. Or consider removing the fireplace altogether so your buffet can take pride of place on the focal wall.

3. Walls: Paint or wallpaper to add interest, warmth and drama.

4. Ceiling: Paint the ceiling a shade of the wall colour to increase the coziness factor.

5. Moldings: Add crown molding and beef up the baseboards to make this room an elegant principle room. Add wainscoting or chair rail to visually reduce the wall height and help protect the walls from chairs moving backward.

6. Flooring: Wall to wall carpeting doesn’t work in a dining room! Install hardwood flooring to match what you already have elsewhere in the house. It will be easier to clean up spills and move dining chairs back and forth. Although I am not a fan of area carpets in dining rooms, they do add a lot of warmth. Ensure your area carpet is large enough so chairs don’t get caught half on and half off.

7. Furniture: Investigate getting another extension leaf made for your existing table or upgrade to a new one of the appropriate size. If purchasing new furniture, consider slightly narrower chairs. Remember, extra dining chairs can be scattered around the house to replace desk or bedroom chairs.

8. Draperies: Install new floor to ceiling draperies for windows or sliding glass doors.

9. Mirror: Add a stylish mirror over the fireplace to add sparkle and reflect the chandelier. If you have a china cabinet, install mirror behind the shelves.

10. Art & Accessories: Add a large piece of art opposite the fireplace or a large grouping of smaller frames. Add a table runner, a floral centrepiece, candles and voila – a fabulous new dining room!

It’s never easy to make the decision to shake things up in your home. But it can be very rewarding and even exciting. However, it does take some planning and budgeting. And of course, when considering any renovation, the age-old question inevitably comes up as to how it could affect the resale value of your home. So you may want to contact a real estate agent in your area. On the other hand, if you are not planning to sell your home, why not make it work for you?

These suggestions are intended as a general guideline to specifically convert a family room into a dining room, thus making better use of available space.

Bed and Breakfast Rooms

Although Bed and Breakfast refers to a specific type of accommodation, that naturally must include a morning breakfast meal as part of the accommodation package, there are however a number of different types of rooms that are often available at Bed and Breakfast accommodation establishments, each designed to cater for varying needs of individual customers, and each usually affecting the price of the room.

Single bed rooms are the standard, basic room type. These are in most cases the cheapest room option a Bed and Breakfast will offer and usually with the most basic facilities. Including a single bed and intended for one person to stay in, they are ideal for single travellers who often are only looking for a one-night stay. As a result, facilities are often limited and may only include basic storage for clothes and washing facilities, although upgraded facility options are often available at additional costs. The idea of keeping these types of rooms as basic as possible is to keep the cost of the rooms low for the budget user.

Double rooms are in most cases very similar to single rooms but with a larger bed. Though designed primarily for a couple to stay in, they are commonly taken up by single guests who prefer to pay the bit extra for the extra space. Indeed, many Bed and Breakfast establishments offer double beds as standard in their basic, single room options. As double rooms are usually larger then singles, facilities are also usually greater, with extra storage and greater washing facilities. Although the price of a double room will be greater than a single, the price per-person is in most cases less than a single room and therefore a cheaper option for joint travellers.

Twin rooms will be very similar to double room options in most B & Bs, and often the rooms will be identical and cater for two people to stay in the room. However, there will be two single beds in the room instead of one double, designed to suit two people who are not a couple and who wish to sleep in separate beds. In most cases, the price of a twin room will be the same as a double, although they can vary, often the twin room being more expensive due to the extra bedding required and resultant additional washing.

A standard family room will in most cases cater to sleep four people, consisting of one large, double bed and two single beds, although in some cases the room may have two double beds. These are ideally suited for a couple with two children, although other groups of three or more people will often share family rooms between them to keep the cost down per person, rather than each having separate single rooms. Another advantage of family rooms is that they will usually have en-suite bathroom facilities.

En-suite rooms are rooms that have a bathroom attached to the room that his not shared by any other rooms or guests at the Bed and Breakfast. This is more desirable to most guests as it offers more privacy and relaxation than sharing washing facilities, and in many B&Bs all the rooms will have en-suite facilities in all their rooms as standard. However, many travellers prefer to take rooms with shared washing facilities, as these types of rooms will be cheaper, often significantly so. En-suite rooms will usually include

a bath and showering facilities along with a toilet and wash basin, although some may not have a bath, and in rare cases toilet facilities will be shared and not included.

View rooms are also another common room variation at Bed and Breakfasts that will affect the price of the room. Not all rooms in some establishments will be situated within a building with an external wall, and therefore will not have any windows. In these cases, rooms that have an external wall and a view from a window will be highlighted and often come with a higher price tag. A view room may also refer to rooms that have a view of a particular scene that is attractive to guests, and separate them from other rooms that have a view but not of anything interesting. Again, these rooms will usually be more expensive. Similarly, rooms with a balcony will usually be specified on a room list, and will be the higher rate rooms.

Chatting Rooms

Chatting Rooms, more commonly known as chat rooms, are virtual places where people meet online to talk to each other with text, audio and video. Chat rooms have been very popular since the early days of the internet and their popularity has not faded over time.

People of all walks of life enjoy using chatting rooms to talk, joke, share their experiences, exchange ideas, thoughts or simply get to know each other. Chat rooms are like interactive message boards where you post a message and get responses right away. Additionally, chatting rooms typically come with private messaging features which allow chatters to take a public conversation with one individual into a private area.

The invention of webcams certainly had a great impact on chatting habits. While in the early days chat meant exchanging text messages, now chatting is a multimedia experience where chatters exchange not only text but also audio and video. You can use a microphone to have a voice conversation with other chatters and you can use a webcam to have a video chat as well. In fact some people don’t even bother typing they simply talk and broadcast themselves with their webcams; they have video conferences instead of simple text-chatting sessions.

Some of the most popular chatting rooms are offered by major Internet companies such as Yahoo and America Online. Yahoo Chat used to be the most popular chatting place of a large number of internet chatters. Unfortunately because of its success it was also a preferred target of spammers and bot creators.- Bots are computer programs that are used to spam chat rooms, they usually use female screen names to entice male users to click on links to adult sites. -Yahoo chat rooms were also used by pedophiles, like many free chat rooms available on the web. Nowadays, many restrictions have been added to Yahoo chat to prevent abuses by spammers and sex predators. AIM chat rooms are also available and are still quite a bit popular especially among people living in America. Google also offers chat rooms, in a 3D environment, with Lively. The Google Lively rooms can be added to other sites and people visiting those sites can enter the rooms and chat. Social networking sites also allow their users to join chat rooms. Myspace has chat rooms available to users who are logged in where they can chat with other Myspace users online and present in the rooms. Some ‘older’ sites such as ICQ also have chat rooms though they are not as popular as they used to be when there were fewer other chatting rooms to compete with.

Of course major internet companies are not the only ones to offer free chat rooms, in fact you’ll find chatting rooms available on many less known sites. The difference with major chat rooms and non-major chat rooms is of course the number of users you’ll find. Typically Yahoo chat rooms and AIM chat rooms will always have many users present and chatting. Google Lively is a more recent site therefore it has yet to gain the momentum chat giants such as Yahoo has.

Some chat rooms like the Yahoo chat rooms require that the user not only join Yahoo but also install a piece of software on his/her computer. Other chat rooms such as AIM chat rooms do require user registration but are completely web-based and don’t require any software download. There are also chat rooms that don’t require any form of registration at all, the user simply chooses a nickname and enters the chat room.

While many chat rooms are available for free and accessible to anybody who meet the required criteria to enter the rooms- like age restriction or site membership – others are only accessible when the user pays a fee. Indeed there are paid chat rooms as well. Usually paid chat rooms are moderated chat rooms which are dedicated to a restricted group of individuals. Very often you will find paid chat rooms on dating sites. Some paid chat rooms are offered as part of a membership package for a paid site. Sometimes those paid chat rooms will also allow limited access to non-paying members.

Nowadays anybody can create his/her own free chat rooms simply by adding a few lines of codes on his webpage. Many people add chat rooms on their profiles on social networking sites or on their blogs. Those chat rooms allow anybody who visits a web page to chat with the owner of the page if he/she’s online or with anybody else visiting the page at that time.

Internet chatting rooms still have many glorious years ahead of them while they will certainly evolve with technology and web surfing habits they will still remain popular as internet users are continuously looking for quality chat rooms to join.

Meeting Rooms

Meeting rooms invariably presage the tone that meetings will adopt and the tack that they will take. Meeting rooms play a key part during negotiations. They give a fair idea about the meeting hosts. In other words, meeting and conference rooms reflect the mental attitudes of the hosts just as body language displays the mental condition of a person.

What Meeting Rooms Mean

Senior HR managers and psychologists say that spacious and bright meeting rooms that are carpeted from wall-to-wall and adorned brilliantly with polished and period furniture, chandeliers and flowers, signify lots of things. For example, they symbolize the cooperative and genial spirit in the meeting hosts. They also accentuate the positive mindset of the meeting hosts and display the hosts’ eagerness to collaborate with the meeting invitees. Experts say that such meeting hosts are willing to reach an agreement, are flexible and are open to change and even open to dissent. Some VPs are in the habit of speaking to venue managers about the decor of meeting venues, personally. It doesn’t matter whether such VPs possess or don’t possess a good aesthetic sense and great interior decoration skills – it is enough that they want to lend their personal touch to the decoration of meeting rooms. Everything, from the gilt-edged portraits and mirrors on the walls, the roses and gerberas in the porcelain flower vases, and the rich satin upholstery on the sofa settees to the softness of the velvety carpets, and the positioning of the grand piano, is inspected by them personally. Frequently CEOs decide the multi-cuisine menus for the luncheons and dinners that are to be served at the meetings, themselves.

Involvement of Senior Managers in Designing Meeting Rooms

Many senior managers prefer to look into the technical aspects of conference rooms themselves. Such managers are experienced in conducting meetings and as they have an eye for detail, they can immediately spot omissions and defects in meeting rooms, which may be in the form of:

• the absence of LCD projectors
• the absence of screens
• the absence of TVs
• the absence of computers and laptops with Internet connections
• the absence of whiteboards with markers
• the absence of flip-charts
• the absence of lecterns with microphones
• the absence of banners
• the absence of other meeting equipment
• paint peeling from the walls
• the improper positioning of the conference table
• improper seating arrangements
• improper meeting-room acoustics

Active Involvement of Meeting Hosts in Setting Seating Arrangements in and Designing Meeting Rooms

Seating arrangements in meeting rooms are almost always specified by the CEOs and VPs who summon the meeting and never by the event managers as seating arrangements in seminar rooms signify official hierarchy and pecking orders. Meeting hosts, who determine the ambiance of conference rooms themselves, before they specify the same to the venue managers, are people who are generally keen to create a good impression on the meeting participants. If the meeting rooms are designed and set up through the active involvement of meeting hosts:

• it means that the hosts have a positive attitude towards the meeting
• it means that concerted, sincere and sustained effort has been made by the meeting hosts towards welcoming the guests and making them feel at home
• it means that the meeting hosts have made a genuine attempt in setting the stage for an amicable meeting with the meeting attendees
• it indicates that the meeting hosts intend to cooperate and be democratic

Hence, there is more chance that meetings will be successful for all the parties concerned if they are held in meeting venues that have been designed meticulously, and through the involvement of the meeting hosts, keeping in mind, the needs and the comfort levels of the meeting invitees.

Banqueting Facilities in Meeting Rooms

The way food is served during and after a meeting is also an indicator of the tone of the meeting. Sometimes, for a meeting, several meeting rooms are hired so that one serves as the conference room, one as the presentation area and the third, as the banquet hall. A suite of convention rooms that have elaborate banqueting facilities is generally large and posh. Meeting rooms with banqueting amenities obviously have the well-being of the invitees in mind and are invariably hailed as ‘grand’ meeting venues by the invitees. There are higher chances of success for all the parties involved in a conference in meeting rooms with lavish banqueting amenities.

Cold and Scary Meeting Rooms

On the other hand, meeting rooms sometimes look ‘bare’. They exude coldness instead of warmth. Now you may think, ‘who on earth would want to design a meeting room in this manner?’ When they are venues for hostile meetings that focus on hostile and forced mergers, hostile deals, employee retrenchment, and other negative corporate issues, meeting rooms take on the appearance of a ‘haunted house’ or a scuttled and abandoned apartment. It is not that companies go out of their way to select ugly meeting rooms for their meetings. It is just that no one focuses on the decor of meeting rooms when they are focusing on ‘unpleasant’ corporate issues. And so the decor goes neglected. The side which emerges as the undisputed winner in a competitive meeting hardly converses with the losing side after the meeting is over. There is no scope for small talk and chit chats in such meetings. And naturally, the meeting rooms begin to mirror the ‘cool’ and ‘icy’ feelings between the competing sides. The steely furniture and the steel wall panels that are present in place of luxurious wainscoting become more prominent in meeting rooms where animosity is on the meeting agenda. Such meeting rooms smack of professionalism. Business, of course, is the main objective in all meeting rooms, but conference rooms where both parties want a consensus or a win-win agreement, are effective platforms in which business and pleasure can blend seamlessly. But when you are handing the pink slip to many employees, you would hardly organize a gala feast for them. And if you are investigating a major fraud that has drained the exchequer of your company, you would not bother to look at flower arrangements and the sparkle of the chandeliers. Automatically, the glass-and-steel of the meeting rooms would become conspicuous. And if you want to leave a losing side high and dry, you will deliberately take the boardroom battle into the worst looking meeting room.

Meeting Rooms for Pressing Meetings

Meetings urgently summoned are also hosted in meeting rooms that are not properly equipped or decorated. There is no time for aesthetics and niceties when meetings are called at short notice and participants and presenters have to make do with whatever equipment that is readily available. Emergency meetings may not necessarily be hostile or frightening meetings. They are just meetings that are summoned suddenly to address problems that have cropped up unexpectedly.

Choosing the Right Meeting Rooms

As there are different meeting venues for different purposes, you must ensure that you are picking the right meeting room for the right purpose. It is just as ridiculous to organize a funeral ceremony in a plush and sprawling hotel as it is creepy to celebrate a rise in profits at a spot next to the graveyard. Consult a reliable online diary planner before a meeting. A reliable online diary planner will give you an insight into what you should do to host a meeting properly, through its many hi-tech features and functionalities. The Venue section of any authentic online diary planner allows you to upload venue details and the photographs of conference rooms and venues so that you can refer to them and select an appropriate venue for your meeting, easily. The Venue section of any authentic online diary planner helps to underpin and facilitate the meeting-rooms selection procedure. A trustworthy online diary planner is designed to offer customized solutions to you regarding the meeting-management process. To host meetings that will create an impact on everyone, choose your meeting rooms carefully and take the help of a trustworthy online diary planner.