This article is not your basic primer on selecting your “dream home”. Nor does it contain the list of “items to ask your designer” – these things can be found on any designer’s website or Google search. As important as those items are, what we are going to do here is drill-down into the design a little, bypass the fan-fare and talk about some specific concepts that will really make a difference in your life.
Matching your house to your lifestyle begins with an exploration of your needs and wants. Most home designers will have some type of “discovery process” that will help identify the basics for your home design. It will start with the configuration of your lot and proceed through items such as privacy requirements, work areas, outdoor spaces, etc. Although this process is critical to your project, it rarely drills down enough to transform your design into a home that will serve your needs for a lifetime.
Here are two keys of good home design that must be addressed up-front: a) assessing the homeowner’s current needs; and, b) anticipating the future needs of people living in the home. Before you say “Yeah, yeah…I’ve heard this all before!” let’s take a closer look at what “current needs” entail.
Almost all “discovery processes” used by home designers focus on the use and space requirements of the rooms in the house. This is good, but too little attention is given to the personal needs of the people actually living in the home. Without performing a comprehensive assessment of the client’s functional abilities, identifying areas of the home where modifications are necessary is often overlooked.
For example, the needs of a child and his / her ability to live comfortably in the home are rarely addressed at the design stage. It’s necessary to evaluate the child’s current abilities and design an environment that works and grows with the child. Some easy adaptive design elements would include adjustable shelves and rods in the closet. As the child grows, the shelves and rods can be moved to better accommodate their reach. Appliances present a similar situation as it is necessary for the controls to be accessible. Front mounted controls on washing machines and dryers enable their use. Safety also comes into play. A child trying to use a microwave placed overhead is a recipe for disaster!