Designing a home is something that takes years of practice. Sure, most of us can come up with plenty of design ideas with thumbnail sketches or back of the napkin drawings. But there is a difference between abstract concepts and actual measured designs. Taking those abstract ideas and arranging them into a workable floor plan with appropriate scale and consistency should not be underestimated. It takes a merging of a sound design philosophy, raw ideas, and skill to develop qualities that go into a good house design.

Function Then Form (Design Philosophy)

For anyone designing a home, the first thing you should know is that form follows function. This is design 101 for professional building designers and architects providing design services. Just so happens, it is my personal design philosophy and weight heavily on decisions made when I undertake home planning projects. A very well conceived home design starts with how the home will function from day to day. The function is determined by the family that will reside in the home. The flow of the floor plan should present easy traffic navigation and comfortably sized rooms.

The form does follow the function; however, it is at the forefront of the design program. The end result is without doubt the form of the home, yet it helps to shape the floor plan. Whether it be a Greek revival home or a California bungalow, the architectural style set the stage for how the home will function in relation to its form. Without a structured philosophy to get you from point A to point Z, you may find yourself lacking one or both aspects of this philosophy in the design process. There is nothing worse than a home with a horrible form and flawed function.

The Nerve To Be Innovative (Raw Ideas)

Stretch the normal design acceptance while staying within the confines of acceptable design. Sounds redundant, but the crux of the statement is that you should dare to push the envelope and be different. Nothing is more boring than a typical and predictable design solution for a particularly concept. Sure, it is safe and you know how it will turn out because you’ve seen it countless times in other designs and built homes. But where is the innovation? The house design industry is a fluid market. Home products, building materials, building codes, and human lifestyles change often. While that can be difficult to deal with, it also open up the possibility to design in new ways to get past the hurdle of changing parameters.

The Ability To Bring It All Together (Skill)

The aforementioned qualities will mean nothing if you are unable to bring the two together when developing a house plan. Starting with a concept and incorporating unconventional ideas requires a degree of know how. Having a knack for doing this with residential design can not be overstated. It takes a special skill to be able to develop a three-dimensional structure (what you envision) in a two-dimensional medium. It is easy to take for granted or lack appreciation for the effort put into the final outcome of a design. Reverse designing can falsely give you the impression that something so simple was a natural result, when in fact, it may have taken several evolutions to achieve.

Having the skill set to infuse new methods or ideas with a defined method is paramount in home design. It is the difference between having a run-of-the-mill house or residing in a home with character. This is why I open up this article by stating that it takes years of practice to design a home.

Notwithstanding everything that you have just read, the essence of a good home design begins with you, the future homeowner. I encourage my clients to provide floor plan sketches to the best of their ability, if they so desire. It makes for a better experience between the designer and homeowner while laying the ground work for a quality home design.

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