Whether you’re building a new home from the ground up or undertaking a major renovation to an existing house, hiring an architect is money well invested in creating a more livable home that suits your personal lifestyle while simultaneously improving the value of one of your most important assets. Before hastily purchasing a set of stock plans (seriously, why would you?) or making your wish list of home renovation improvements, consider the following three concepts first.
Important things first.
What’s important? Differentiate the decisions that need to be made as either difficult-to-change-later or easy-to-change-later. Important decisions are the ones you need to make early in the process. Less important decisions are those made later and can be changed in the future without major disruption to the more important ones.
Selecting the right context (e. g., urban, suburban, rural) is the first step followed by the neighborhood and then the specific building lot. Having your architect conduct a site analysis to determine the best location for your home is critical and ensures that the end result takes advantage of the site’s assets while mitigating any disadvantages the lot may have.
The next step is organizing the spaces, and the relationships between them, that you need and want. You and your architect will want to discuss things like a typical day for everyone in your family. What works well now, and what doesn’t? What activities require dedicated spaces? What interior spaces should have direct access to the outside, and which do not? How should the flow of space move people through the home?
From here, other aspects of the design are incorporated, including the construction method, building systems (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), exterior materials and colors, and interior materials and finishes. Working out decisions with your architect from most important to lesser important decisions will lead to the development of a comprehensive design solution.
Smaller can be smarter.
Meis van der Rohe adopted the motto “less is more,” a phrase originally attributed to Ad Reinhardt, an abstract expressionist artist. Think of designing and building a more livable home as distilling the best features and options into a smaller but more impactful home. Consider what activities can occur together in the same space. What spaces should be adjacent to each other, possibly eliminating hallways?
In the case of renovation projects or additions, aim to maximize and improve what you already have first. Identify those areas that are rarely used or no longer contributing to your lifestyle. These spaces are resources that could be repurposed to serve your family’s current needs. Additionally, you may want to address the furniture layout of an existing room to improve your homes livability and reduce the need for additional construction.
A home should be a dynamic assembly of spaces and functions if it’s going to serve a family with a myriad of different interests and priorities. An architect’s service is invaluable in making the most of all the decisions that go into building a new home, renovating, or adding to an existing home.
Take it outside.
Along the South Carolina coast, and particularly more so in Florida, outdoor living spaces are used year-round. Here in the Lowcountry, the addition of an outdoor fireplace can increase the usable living space during those colder winter evenings.
Porches are ubiquitous throughout the South, and they work best when connecting interior living spaces with outdoor dining areas, kitchens, terraces, and pools. Balconies that provide enough space for a couple of chairs and small table are a great feature for less public rooms in the home such as bedrooms or a study.
A new residential design or improvement project should improve your family’s connectivity as well as satisfy each family members individual needs. Selecting an architect specialized in residential design will help you increase your odds of getting it right by coordinating all the important decisions necessary for a successful project.