“Two story brick traditional with 4 bedrooms,Eight Ways to Add Value to Your Home Articles 2.5 baths, island kitchen, and large deck!” Sound familiar? We often talk about houses in terms of room count, along with a list of finishes, such as tile floors, granite counters, or faux paint. While this vocabulary conveys certain facts, it does not provide the tools to think about how to re-design a house in a fabulous architects in Maine.
It is valuable to be able to make the decisions that transform a poor design into a house that is memorable, enduring, and widely appealing. To do this we need to go deeper than simply updating finishes or increasing square footage. We must think about how the structure shapes the feelings and experience of its inhabitants. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” When a house has design flaws, we know intuitively that it does not feel right. On the other hand, a well designed house can make us feel inspired, enriched, and touched by a sense of order.
We often see houses that have some elements in the structure and site that appeal to us, but cannot be lived in without remodeling. Often our clients say that they want to find a house with good bones (meaning good basic design), that they can update. The truth is that most houses have some good design and some bad design. Painting walls and updating fixtures will not cover bad design. You will need to think about the house in a deeper way. Use these design processes to help you make the difficult decisions that will result in a house that many people would love to live in.
- Relate the house to the site.
Think about how the house integrates and interacts with the land around it. This awareness is a basic, but often ignored, beginning. The connection and interplay between interior and exterior spaces enhances both in a powerful way.
Manage the views from each window. Is there an undesirable view into a neighbor’s home or yard? Is there a nice view that is blocked by a wall or fireplace?
Notice how the walkway leads to the street, where privacy is needed, where noise buffering is needed, how drainage will work.
A side area could be a private garden, accessible from the main bedroom. A front porch overlooking the street could bring the house into a relationship with the neighborhood.
- Bring in natural light.
Houses can be transformed by adding windows and other light sources. Generous light feels safe and uplifting, and attracts people toward it.
Natural light raises the level of importance and the beauty of rooms. Light all main rooms from two sides, if possible, to reduce glare and balance the light. Use glass doors, windows, skylights, transoms, or light tunnels.
Keep passive solar techniquesin mind as you add windows and shading devices. The control of solar energy for light and heat is fundamental for an efficient and comfortable home.
- Break down hard barriers between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Glass doors, screens, and walls that slide open can create semi-transparent walls, forming indoor/outdoor spaces that have enormous appeal.
Breezeways, garden rooms, bay windows, and screened porches are spaces that people love. These bring people into contact with the outdoors, yet may be furnished in a comfortable way.
- Think of outdoor spaces as large rooms.
When all areas of the site are thought of as living spaces, new ideas open up. These outdoor spaces expand the house by creating a sense of semi-enclosure in various ways.
Their edges can be defined by trees, fences, wings of the house or other buildings. For example, an outdoor room may be a shady natural space on the site enclosed by a line of trees and shrubs.
Outdoor living spaces can be courtyards, walled gardens, trellis covered breezeways, stone patios, or outdoor showers. Think about their use and connectedness to the house.
Often, we see an exterior space that is built as an isolated destination place – a second floor deck, for example. If you have to make an effort to go there, the space will not be used. Outdoor spaces are most used when they are on paths used by people coming and going. This is why a front porch is a very appealing design element. People naturally meet here, and the porch connects with neighbors walking by.
A popular outdoor living area is the backyard deck. This is often seems to be an afterthought, tacked onto the house. Can it be covered and screened?