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HVAC for the Barbie Dreamhouse: Thoughts on Aesthetic HVAC Design Choices

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

HVAC For the Barbie Dreamhouse

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to design the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems for the Barbie Dreamhouse? Probably not, but every day people building their own dream homes must take HVAC systems into account. HVAC systems might not be the prettiest part of a building design, but they can be better integrated into a project with a little forethought. It’s essential to have a functional HVAC system, but it’s also important to consider aesthetic choices. I mean, who would want an HVAC unit sitting next to their front door or a zig zagged soffit running straight through their living room? Through collaboration and teamwork, the architectural and MEP teams can balance function and aesthetics.

My inspiration for this blog stems from long before I fulfilled my dream of receiving a mechanical engineering degree. As a young girl who loved her dollhouses, I was always fascinated with buildings and how they worked. Little did I know that I would grow up to play a role in designing building systems! I thought it would be fun to highlight some of these more aesthetic HVAC design choices using the Barbie Dreamhouse as a fun example! One iteration of the Barbie Dreamhouse, for reference.

Without further ado, let’s start with the kitchen and living room! On the lowest level, a more luxurious add could be radiant flooring for those chilly mornings! Heated flooring often comes from a hot water loop. In lieu of a full boiler system, an eco-friendlier option is a solar-powered radiant system containing a heat exchanger and water storage tank.[1] If this isn’t preferred, electric radiant flooring is an option as well. In the kitchen, a hood would be recommended over the stove. Don’t worry though, we can spec a custom pink hood to match the décor. Kitchen hood facades can come in all sorts of styles, but the functionality of capturing grease and steam from the stove below stays the same.

HVAC for the Barbie Dreamhouse

For the house’s heating and cooling, a multi-zone ductless Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system would allow for independent temperature control of each space with only one outdoor unit. For example, Daikin VRF systems can have up to eight indoor units to a single outdoor unit; plenty for the living room, kitchen, bedroom, and closet to have their own heating/cooling zones. Inside each space, you can select an indoor unit that suits the functional and aesthetic needs of the space. This also falls in line with industry trends of electrification!

HVAC for the Barbie Dreamhouse

Infratech Heaters

At the third-floor patio, we can integrate sleek electric infrared heaters to maintain a comfortable outdoor temperature for some chilly nights. These can be mounted under the roof overhang or be standalone for better coverage of the deck! To coordinate with other design elements in the space, this product comes in a variety of colors and styles.

Decorative Vent Covers

As far as ventilation goes, there are a few possible routes to take! One option is to install a small Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) in a closet or cabinet. This allows the ERV to be tucked away, with minimal ductwork routed to floors above or below. The benefit to adding this type of system is to provide better ventilation throughout the space. Supply and return registers come in a variety of face plate colors and patterns to become a decorative element in the space.

The moral of the story is, the better you integrate your HVAC systems into the building design, the better the aesthetic outcome! While there is still likely to be some compromise, it’s better to plan in advance than live with installation choices that happen when HVAC design is an afterthought.

HVAC Installed

Written By:

Erica Norquist

Erica Norquist

Mechanical Designer



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