Rants and Wisdom
For years I have seen an abundance of crazy things going on in the residential design and construction world.
The homes were getting bigger and bigger, all “super sized.” As Frank Bruni wrote in a New York Times essay critiquing over the top sizes: “[There’s] an American obsession with size, with quantity, that manifests itself as surely in supermarkets and restaurants as it does on our highways…[There is] the big gulp, the economy pack, the party size, two for one pizza deals, the Whopper, the Double Whopper, the Triple Whopper, Costco in all its bloated grandeur. They taught us that volume equals value….” Doesn’t this seem to ring true for homes as well?
I hear clients asking for homes with more living and gathering spaces with more names than I could come up with for one floor plan — Living room, Family Room, Sitting Room, Library, Play Room, Music Room, Entertaining/Media room. The list is endless. I usually counter with a simple question: Where do you plan on folding laundry while you watch TV? It may seem an odd question, but this gives me a clue where the real family gathering room will be. Call me crazy, but it works.
As an architect, I don’t just design spaces; I create designs for how people live. Often, that means I help clients understand how they use their homes and set priorities, usually about how much space one really needs. For example, when I have a prospective client asking for a new large “Family Room” addition with a fireplace, I look over at their lovely and lonely Living Room, which might already have said fireplace. My advice? Why not just change the furniture! Give yourself permission to put the TV here and put your feet up. I mean really, how many homes still need the “formal” living room? We no longer live the lives of Downton Abbey. The kitchen is no longer sealed off for just the servants and cooks. Yes, we cook there, but our children do their homework there, we chat, relax and entertain there. If our perspective on the kitchen has changed, can’t we just call the room that the family lives in the living room?
I do. And I fold laundry there, in front of the fireplace.