Creating Home | An Overview of Our Residential Design Process
Updated: Aug 8, 2023
Most people, at some point in their lives, think about and consider building a home. There is something romantic, something mysterious, something fulfilling about the opportunity, the possibility to bring an idea from one’s mind, from paper, into the world, into reality. From lines, to space. From idea, to existence. Then, as quickly as the thought flitters across one’s mind, life closes in once again and the challenges, the daunting tasks, the rumors of the pain and frustration, and heaven forbid, the nightmare of the building process, causes one to snap out of the potential utopian state and reprimand oneself for the time wasted in even considering the notion.
So, assuming you have at least allowed your mind to wander a little longer, I’m glad you have stopped by this post.
So where in all of this does one begin? For starters, there are several items that should be considered before venturing out onto Pinterest. Yes, I know that is the fun part, but should not be the foundational step. The first and arguably the most important step is having an idea about how much money you are willing to spend. Don’t be misled that more money means a better house design. Good architects can do a lot with a little. And often times, less money allows opportunity for more creative solutions to achieve your goals. Less money is a great reason to get outside “the box”. More on this in an upcoming blog post. The second would be selecting your lot. Having literal boundaries (lot size, setbacks, soil conditions, applicable building codes) help shape and form the parameter in which the home is designed. If the lot is in a subdivision with HOA restrictions, the outcome of the design is going to be a lot different than a home on expansive wooded acreage. Regardless of the lot’s location or size, having a boundary and topographic survey prepared is a tool that is an absolute necessity.
As architects, we are not a big fans of plan books or plan magazines, as the homes they include are not designed for the way you live, have no consideration for the topography of your lot and do not account for energy saving strategies using the sun and wind found in your local climate zone to name a few.
So that being said, we do understand that it can be helpful for people to collect images and floor plans with which they find a kindred spirit. And while understanding that these can be helpful to get an initial idea or thought across, we do offer caution that these images could become a hindrance to what your home could and should be for you. We often find that words and descriptions of activities, relationship of spaces and desired feeling are of equal or greater value to create a home that is unique, powerful and meaningful to the way you live.
Our studio takes many approaches when designing homes. Once we have listened to what our clients are looking for, we actually customize the design process in which the specific home will be designed. Doing this helps both the client to receive the information in a format that they can best understand and also helps us overcome preconceptions we may have regarding a certain feel or look. We have found that an architect’s preconception can be one of the greatest hindrances to achieving what the client is truly asking for and is one of an architect’s greatest enemies. So, knowing and understanding that allows us to move beyond current treads and fads, and allows the home to become something uniquely special that would not have otherwise happened outside of the team we have created. For in this design journey, we often refer to ourselves as a tour guide, taking our clients on an amazing journey they will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.
During our journey with individual clients, here are listed elements which have had an influence in the designs of their custom homes: imagery from a favorite novel, religious influences, unique historic references, mathematical references to natural site-specific occurrences, regional vernacular concepts and detailing, and theoretical symbolism based on regional influences. These non-tangible elements only made their way to the surface during the design process because of our approach toward each residence being as unique as the client(s) who inhabit them.