Right size Your Home: Design to the Human Scale

“Define Your Own Sense of Home” has been our design mantra through the years but I’ve discovered that people, if not properly guided in the design process, aren’t always happy when they do. In particular, prospective clients might start off with such a large “dream home” that by the time they get to selecting plumbing fixtures, lighting, even landscaping, they’ve blown their budget on a too-big house and now can’t afford the finishes and selections that would make it special. The space may not even be designed to a human scale that makes it comfortable on a day-to-day basis, but there are other options.

Now, I’m not saying that a lot of space is necessarily the wrong move. What I am saying is it’s better to ask, “What are the top few things we want this house to do for us?” Then think long-term and prioritize the answers. It could be that a chef’s kitchen is important to you, but a seldom used living room in is not. Think about how you will live in the house at least as much as the perceived resale value or the “should haves.”

In her book, “The Not So Big House,” Sarah Susanka talks about developing “a blueprint for the way we really live.” Don’t build unused space, she says. Instead, right-size the home and still have a budget left for the details.

I see a lot of homes that are mundane; they’re big, with high square footage, but not a lot of character. I also see more people coming around to this idea – to get the higher quality, reduce the size.

For a couple building their dream home after having raised a family, this means talking about whether 7,000 square feet is truly what they want. I’ve seen it happen that, after the glow, the initial excitement of moving in, they find it’s too big, too cumbersome. Living there on a daily basis might mean too much upkeep or more maintenance than they ever imagined.

We look at what is important to you and then design, even build, that into the house. If the kitchen is important, then let’s make it really special. Fine details in the living space can give the “awe” value that a cavernous room with windows punched in a drywall surface can’t.

The details of a home are key. A wall of windows might create glare, heat and lighting control a problem, while a nice window grouping can provide so much more interest. Even ceilings, typically ignored, can create visual interest, in the form of a 9 or 10-foot coffered ceiling, as one option. The right lighting can totally transform artwork and a modest-sized house will allow for the purchase of finer details like 2-inch LED adjustable recessed lights, for example, which are typically more expensive than 5-inch recessed lighting cans.

Taking a page from Susanka’s playbook, we’ve even coined our own phrase, “design to the human scale.” We want to provide spaces that both look good and function well because they are thoughtfully developed – and to the right scale.

See Design. Discovery. Review for more information on our process.

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