Who: Beth DeBaker and Jeff Eichhorn of DeBaker Design Group
Where: Skokie, Illinois
In her own words: “Clients come to us with an overwhelming amount of demands on their time. It affects their day-to-day lives.”
Our lives seem to be getting busier by the day. That’s why our homes should serve as retreats, allowing us to relax and maximize our precious free time. Beth DeBaker and Jeff Eichhorn, architects at DeBaker Design Group in Skokie, work with their clients to create efficient, organized homes. “We want to create spaces that make those never-ending to-do lists more manageable,” DeBaker says.
Client-driven inspiration. DeBaker and Eichhorn greatly value their connection to their clients. “Clients are our inspiration,” DeBaker says. “They’re both ordinary and amazing. They are businesspeople, parents, grandparents and entrepreneurs. They need real solutions that work for them each and every day.”
Creative problem-solving. “We really enjoy the challenge of combining so many moving pieces — jobs, activities, everyday functions — into a cohesive design,” Eichhorn says. “Each project and client are unique, so their solution must be too. It inspires us to rethink the function of a room. Just because it has been a dining room for 50 years doesn’t mean it can’t become the kitchen.”
If you’re ready to organize and maximize your home, keep reading for some tips from Eichhorn and DeBaker.
1. Identify Your Drop Zone Even in smaller homes, it’s important to have a designated space for jackets, backpacks and shoes to be stored as soon as you enter. “It should be simple to shed what you have immediately, with little to no extra organization needed,” DeBaker says. “If you have a detached garage, your mudroom functions as a drop zone. It’s also a place where guests come in and out, so you’ll want it to be pretty.”
In a whole-house renovation for a young family in Winnetka, “space was at a premium, and they needed a landing space at the back door,” DeBaker says. “This mudroom has an open locker for each family member with outlets for charging electronics, as well as a closet for guests. It provides plenty of storage and organization from the moment the family walks through the door.”
2. Create Multitasking Storage SpacesWhether for toys, hobbies or sports equipment, having specific places for your things will make it easier to keep them organized and easy to find. “Install built-ins or baskets, which are quick for pickup and easy to discreetly hide items if they’re in a multipurpose room,” Eichhorn says.
“The spaces should be age-appropriate but also designed with evolution in mind; for example, a playroom can later become a homework zone, or an office space or library when the kids are grown,” he says. The same home in Winnetka includes baskets in open cubbies for the kids to store toys and games, plus built-ins for entertainment and electronics.
3. Get Collaborative Assembling a team of specialized professionals will make building or renovating your home easier, DeBaker says. “When you’re doing a major project, the right team will function more efficiently. Do your homework to find the professionals who will work together to create the best home for you.”This home in the historic district of Evanston was built in the 1890s. DeBaker and Eichhorn, along with a contractor sensitive to historic structures, completed a full historic preservation of the house. “We worked hand in hand with the client and contractor to restore historic details and update the interior to a modern lifestyle,” DeBaker says.
More: For more information on Beth DeBaker and Jeff Eichhorn and examples of their work, visit DeBaker Design Group’s Houzz profile.