By Richard Taylor | Zillow
Any design process (cars, homes, T-shirts, coffee makers) is usually guided by recognized values of some sort. How those values are interpreted by the designer is what makes the difference between good and bad design.
Good home design is …
1. Shaped by the individuals who live in it
This is No. 1 on my list for a reason — the primary purpose of a home is to serve the specific, individual needs of the home’s occupants, rather than the needs of a generalized house market.
2. Shaped by its environment
At first glance this would seem to be the opposite of the previous definition, but it’s not. In addition to serving its occupants, a home should recognize the influence that climate, topography, solar access, vegetation, culture, etc., can and should have on its design.
3. Recognizes and works with its context
Context and environment are similar, but in this definition, “context” means the other homes in the area. When a home fits in well with its neighbors it helps build the fabric of the community. But that doesn’t mean it has to look like the other houses in the area.
4. Uses building materials efficiently
A carefully planned home doesn’t use any more material than necessary for function and aesthetics, and uses construction systems that are appropriate for the home’s site.
5. Has visual harmony
We’ve all seen houses that just didn’t look quite right — most often that’s a result of not using principles of massing, rhythm, texture and scale to create harmony. Great-looking homes result when these principles are used with skill and imagination.
6. Is honest
Here’s what “dishonest” design means: vinyl siding that’s embossed to look like wood; asphalt shingles that have printed shadow lines to fool you into thinking they’re thick wood shakes; window shutters that don’t actually work (and wouldn’t cover the window if they did); fake columns; stucco shaped to look like stone, etc.
7. Is innovative
We started building family homes on the New England coast in the 17th century. Four hundred years later, and those original Colonial homes remain the basis for much of what’s built today. We’ve had plenty of innovation in home design since then, but too many people define innovation in terms of features and gadgets. Real home design innovation means finding new ways of meeting a homeowner’s needs through design, not just technology.
8. Is intuitive
Architects sometimes go overboard in making houses that are more “art” than “home.” Appreciated by critics, but confusing to Joe Homeowner. A good home design shouldn’t require a Ph..D to understand.
9. Is adaptable
Nothing dooms a house to obsolescence quicker than designing it for just one stage of life. A home should be able to easily adapt to a family’s changing needs, keeping families in their homes and neighborhoods longer.
10. Values quality at every level
In home design, quality always wins over quantity. Quality in materials, details, finishes, workmanship and design. Quality enriches the lives of the occupants, makes the house last longer without needing repair and contributes to the quality image of the whole community.
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