PROVO — The same-size home can take twice as long to clean as a similar home if it's filled with knickknacks, intricate handles and dust-catchers.

Don Aslett and Sandra Phillips say there's a better way.

Homes can be designed to be easy to clean and more pleasant to live in by following simple principles.

"Use the house to live in, not to live for," said Aslett at a Campus Education Week presentation Monday. "Make changes, even small changes, because whatever you change will bless you every day."

Phillips showed a pie chart that illustrated the facts: Less stuff, more help (from family members) and better design helped ease the overall burden of housecleaning more than better tools, better chemicals and better technology.

Both suggested homeowners opt for wall-mounted toilets, suspended chairs (as under-counter seating), smooth baseboards, built in vacuum systems, fewer doors, faucets that turn on via laser lights, chutes for dirty clothes and garbage and built-in furnishings.

"I was noticing we were cleaning 2,500-square-foot homes and one would take a lot longer than the other. Someone said 'That home was designed by a man and they don't know what needs to be done,"' said Aslett. "I was offended for about 10 years and then I started listening."

Aslett has since designed office buildings — such as the American Express building in New York — that required less than half the cleaning crew and a maintenance-free home in Hawaii of concrete and glass.

Phillips makes a focused effort to make her family home something the family can share with others.

For instance, she has turned her 30-foot fireplace chimney into a climbing wall.

Aslett has put sealant on his garage floor so it can easily be wiped clean and used as an extra guest area, if needed.

Both recommend decorating in medium tones and camouflage designs so a home always appears to be clean.

Aslett's advice for tile and tile joints? "Don't have them," he said. "If you do, choose the smallest joints and a medium color."

"Choose a carpet with at least three colors," said Phillips. "A variety of colors and a nice Berber helps hide things."

Other tips included:

Hang everything you can to get it up off the floor.

Don't use the toilet as a place to get cutesy.

Put tissue holders right into the wall.

Put in an automatic drinking fountain to cut down on cups and encourage drinking lots of water.

Put up a family bulletin board as a place for notes, pictures and drawings from grandchildren.

Use handles rather than round doorknobs.


E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com