NextHome explains why some house designs simply work and others just don’t.
What makes good house design? I often ask that question to prospective homeowners and others interested in design, and the answer I always get is ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ – in others words, ‘it is up to me’. This is most common in my locality, the South-West, where practicality usually take precedent over philosophy. Till now, I’m still curious to why people feel that way and I’m sure of two things. First, beauty can never lie in the eyes of the beholder on matters that require training and expertise, and second, our homes and architecture have become so ugly over the year.
Every well-designed houses and architecture should have firmness, commodity and delight. By commodity, I mean the house should fit your lifestyle. By delight, I mean the house should bring in visual pleasure to everyone looking at it – not just you.
As you can probably tell by now, I don’t believe beauty lies only in the eyes of the beholder. It is not that I don’t respect individual opinion, but it won’t really count on matters that require training and expertise. After all, you won’t contradict your surgeon in the middle of an operation? If you would – then you don’t need one.
Ultimately, I believe the real guarantee of a well-designed house lies in the subtle balance of these four principles: the location, the floorplan, the exterior elements and the details. They are not my principles nor are they new, but if you follow them, the chances for a well-designed house are much greater than if you don’t.
A HOUSE SITED WELL WILL BE AT ONE WITH ITS SURROUNDINGS
Siting a house properly is like marrying your house to the land. If you get it right, the house will feel like it belongs to its surrounding – the first step towards a well-designed house. I’ve been involved in a lot remodelling projects – trying to make the house look more pleasing in midst of ugly neighbours.
Some of my favourite houses are those that occupy their surrounding as if they had been there for a long time.
MAKE SURE THE FLOORPLAN FITS THE WAY YOU LIVE
You will be surprised at how many houses don’t fit the way people really live. Any well-designed house must be functional. A lot of my clients will attest to this, I always ask them to define their space needs as ‘informal or formal’ and ‘public or private’ rather than thinking of their plan as a series of rooms. This approach will help you discover what you need and what you hadn’t thought of.
The Exterior Elements
USE QUALITY DETAILS THAT ARE CONSISTENT
Strict attention to detail is what gives a home its air of beauty and quality. I’d like to suggest to every reader to use details on both the interior and exterior that speak quality and are consistent with the rest of the house, since it is the details and not the brickwork that we live with most intimately. Think of the must-have and nice-to-have features of the house.
Some critical details that mean a lot to us include columns, arches, stairs, balustrades etc.
THE SITE AND FLOORPLAN WILL SET THE STAGE FOR YOUR HOME’S EXTERIOR, RESULTING IN A COMPLEMENTARY BALANCE.
The arrangement of all the exterior parts of a house – its wall, windows, doors, porches, terrace, railings, etc – make up what architects call the elevation. One look at the elevation of your house should tell what is going on inside. This is often not the case with many houses built today filled with out-of-place window designs, unpleasing shapes, oversized entry door, and badly finished exterior/interior walls.
As I always say to prospective homeowners: don’t start with a style – end with one. This approach will guarantee a pleasing and balanced exterior/interior because the house will have visual integrity.