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 homeowners current needs; and, b) anticipating the future needs of people living in the home. Before you say Yeah, yeah...Ive heard this all before! lets take a closer look at what current needs entail.
What is slow home design? Basically, it is the principle of slowing down to design homes and spaces that are sustainable, practical and functional. The slow home movement began in 2006 when John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm wanted to create a critical response to the poor design practices that pervade the mass housing industry. Our intent is to advocate for a more thoughtful approach to residential design that improves the quality of our daily lives and reduces our impact on the environment. Slow home design strives for a more considered, calm and intuitive approach to residential design. The concept is to use well-considered design principles to create smaller homes that will be both environmentally sustainable and literally so, in the sense of being built to endure. The practice also includes remodels of existing, appropriately sized older homes that need updating.
Adaptable design is different in concept from universal design. Where universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities, adaptable design allows the home to be modified for a specific need. An example of adaptable design would be designing a two-story home with stacked closets a closet on the first floor directly below and aligned with a closet on the second floor so that a residential elevator or lift could easily be installed in the future. In contrast, a universal design item might be the installation of lever door handles that are easier to use for people who have lost the ability to grip a standard round door knob. These lever handles also benefit anyone who may have their hands full with groceries and want to release the door latch by using their forearm or elbow, for example. Children also have an easier time using lever door handles.
There are two reasons for using a home design service: either to select the best furniture design and fabrics to suit a rooms existing decor, or to furnish a room from scratch using new furniture and furnishings, including carpets, drapes and wall coverings. The latter is the less common, due largely to the costs involved, although there are still many people that furnish a room, if not an entire home, from top to bottom.
Does this level of service cost more? Yes, probably. But a couple hundred dollars up front to hire a qualified designer who will accurately assess your lifestyle and evaluate your future needs, pales in comparison to leaving your design to chance. The number one secret to good home design is to avoid cutting costs at this stage of your project and find a home designer who is an expert in assessing your needs and applying the design criteria that will make your house a home for a lifetime.