Design has been a large part of my life, although expressed in many different ways, from fashion design, decorating, landscape design, and even cartography. My interest in architecture began many years ago during the restoration of our 5-bedroom, Queen Anne style home. After countless hours of stripping wallpaper, repairing plaster walls, and refinishing hardwood floors, my husband and I decided a smaller home in a private setting was more appropriate to our lifestyle. Thus began the wonderful journey of research and learning, enrolling in construction, design and engineering courses.
There are many factors to consider when designing a home; however, here are some elements I feel are essential for creating a well-designed home.
Know the Homeowner’s LIFE and STYLE. Understanding how the owner lives and their aesthetic preferences are the most important input into designing a home that is comfortable, efficient and aesthetically pleasing to the homeowners.
Look at the “Big Picture”. A home is more than a building; its design should consider the neighbourhood, the landscape around the home, the home’s exterior features, its construction (all the important details that you don’t see), the layout, interior details and finally it’s furnishings. Omitting any of these design components will result in a home that has not reached its aesthetic potential.
Respect the Site. Never work against nature, take advantage of the site’s views, orient the home for solar gain and be creative when addressing it’s less desirable features.
Lots of Light. Allow as much natural light into the home as possible, providing windows on 2 sides of each room where possible. Equally important is a good electrical lighting plan to make the home efficient to work in and to create ambiance.
Connection to the Outdoors. Plan the exterior spaces while designing the home to ensure efficient access and enjoyable outdoor spaces.
Plan for Existing or New Furniture. Ensure the layout includes space for your current and future furnishings. Open concept homes mean fewer walls for placing furniture and artwork.
It’s in the Details. It is the details that can make a home special, such as items you can relate to or elicits a fond memory. Also, consider building a smaller home to have money left in the budget for higher quality construction and finishes. There are many ways to make a living space feel larger, such as long sightlines and higher ceilings. Reducing square footage also means a smaller footprint on the environment with lower heating and cooling costs, as well as reduced construction materials. Quality finishes also have a longer lifespan.
Energy Efficiency. Investing in energy efficiency is good for the environment, will pay for itself, and will make the home a very comfortable and affordable living space.
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