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So you want to build a house (Pt. 3)

April 28, 2011

I realized today that this post should have gone right after the first “So you want to build a house,” so we’re going to Tarantino things and do this post now.

If you are like me, you have been looking at houses since your eyes could focus. Every house and room you have ever been in is ranked for comfort, style, color combinations, fabrics, and lighting. You look at Design*Sponge’s Sneak Peeks religiously. You have a folder on your desktop and Dropbox devoted to house and garden inspiration. When it comes time to design your house though, all that information turns into a giant gooey ball of confusion. I doubt I’m the first person to come up with this method of sorting things out, but if you also love spreadsheets and flowcharts and dissecting ideas then this might help you out too.

Step 1: Think of the word you most want to describe your house. I went with the prosaic HOME, but maybe you are more Fortress of Solitude or Animal House. Whatever ties your shoes. This is your root word.

Step 2: Think of the best descriptors of your root word. These are branch words. I came up with three, but use as many as you need. I chose Gracious, Welcoming,  and Relaxing.

Step 3: Take each of these branch words and think of three (or however many you need) final words that really explain what that word means to you. It might also be helpful to think of an image that best defines the word. For example, when I hear “gracious” I think of a turquoise room with a dark wood table, a bowl of white peonies, and Grace Kelly lounging on a chaise.

As much as I love peonies and Grace Kelly though, a house they do not make, so think up some words.

Gracious: clean, calm, inviting

Welcoming: warm colors, well-lit, enough of everything for everyone

Relaxing: want to sit and stay, right temperatures and textures, everything at hand

You might find that while you don’t want one word to dominate your house together they create a great symmetry.

Step 4: Figure out how each of your final words could be applied to the rooms in your house. They might not all apply, or maybe there is a general way they apply to the entire house. Here is an example from our to-be kitchen:

Clean: the surfaces in the kitchen should be easy to clean (right now our walls are textured and our refrigerator isn’t smooth. It drives me crazy). There should be enough storage and it should be the right size/shape for what it stores.

Calm: It should be comfortable to sit in and it should be easy to organize the stuff that always ends up in kitchens, like mail and keys.

Inviting: There should be chairs and easily seen mugs, tea, booze, etc.

Warm colors: Enough said.

Well-lit: Generally and also with task lighting. There should also be lots of windows.

Enough of everything for everyone: Lots of counter space and room for cooking with people without someone getting crammed in an awkward space. Enough room in the refrigerator for all that food you process.

Sit and Stay: comfortable seats and a good view.

Temperatures and Textures: Great tile on the backsplash.

Everything at hand: Kitchen organized into task areas, easy access to wanted items.

Step 5: Get down to specifics. How much counter is enough? What kind of zones? How will you organize the randomness? Can this room handle a massive influx of kale or that whole pig you want to butcher?  This is sort of a self-made “Pattern Language” using your experience to define the problems and the solutions. This is also a great way to use the goo ball of ideas.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rita permalink
    April 28, 2011 6:46 am

    I thought I was the only crazy one with file drawers of “ideas”.

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