What Your Contemporary Architect Needs To Know

What my clients want or need are not necessarily the same thing. Review our 6 step process for designing the home of your dreams.

Dreams start to become a reality when they are put on paper. The visions in your head all look great. Only when you put them on paper can you compare options and make choices. Only then can you see what works and what falls short of what you expect. So if you can start this 6 step design process before the first meeting with your architect the design of your dream home will be yours faster.

One of the first things people discover through this process is what they think they want may not be the same thing as what they need. As a Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Palm Beach architect, our job is to transform your must-haves into a home of lasting beauty and pleasure.

Our 6 step process begins with a clear overview of the project. This project overview will include a wish list, but it should cover all aspects of your home design project including; size, style, location, site orientation, finishes, cost, construction methods and much more. Let’s take a look at how to write a home design project overview in detail.

Because your project overview will become the foundation of your entire home design, it requires careful consideration. For instance, the description of your home design objectives will be referred to regularly. After working through these 6 steps, you will have a comprehensive and detailed project overview as well as a greater understanding of what it is you need rather than merely what you want.

Step1 — Create a list of “likes” and then analyze them.

This first step in designing your perfect home is to visualize the type of home you want to create and why. You probably have already started collecting “likes” using the websites Houzz and Pinterest to make collections of home designs and details. Well now, you just need to catalog these in a way you can share with your architect. Put your selections in an album (digital or old fashioned paper album) so you can see these all in one place to compare them and prioritize your choices.

Questions to ask yourself.

This is where it gets interesting. Look at each image closely. Then, ask yourself what it is that attracted you to the image, and write it down. The attraction could be visible, such as a particular material or shape, or it could be something less tangible, such as a feeling of comfort the image gave you.

Can you picture yourself living in the house in the photo? If so, how does it feel to be there? Ask yourself what elements you want to emulate in your own home. The point of this exercise is to identify the qualities you want in your home. It’s not just about how you want your home to look, it’s about how you want to feel living there.

Step 2. Look closely at your lifestyle.

Now describe how you live in your current home. Yes, this is about your living situation or lifestyle. We all inhabit space, and we all do it in slightly different ways no matter if you rent an apartment or own a home.

Answer the following questions about your current home or living situation. Spend time on each question, be as thorough as you can and write your answer down.

  • What do you like about your current home and what don’t you like?
  • Which rooms do you spend the most time in and which spaces do you rarely use?
  • What is it specifically that you like and dislike about these spaces?
  • Which elements of your lifestyle do you feel well-addressed and which ones are not?
  • If you could improve just one thing about your living situation, what would it be, regardless of cost and practicality?
  • What items will you put in your new home?
  • Next, make a list of all the items you own that will require storage in your new home. What is the amount of space each piece will need and what is the best location for it? Underestimating storage can ruin even the best-designed homes.
  • What is the flow of traffic?
  • Finally, sit and watch how people move around in your current living spaces. Can you identify any conflicts you would avoid in your new home? This is most noticeable in bathrooms and kitchens, where lots of activity takes place.

Step 3. Create your list of spaces.

Compile a list of the rooms you want in your new home. This may seem easy, but you might have “what if” questions or uncertainty. Doubts are a normal part of the design process. This exercise should evolve into identifying the right questions that we can address in the design progress.

Don’t worry about the budget yet. This list is merely a draft of what you think you want. Your list of spaces will be subject to plenty of adjustment before it is finalized. Be sure to include outdoor living and entertaining areas.

Step 4. Analyze your list of spaces.

Answer the following questions for each room on your list.

  • Describe the specific activities that generally happen in this space? For instance, some people use their kitchen just for cooking, while others use it for both cooking and family dining.
  • What furniture will you put in each space? Include storage requirements for each room. Do you want built-in storage?
  • Is the space public or a private? Is it open or closed? Will the space be primary or secondary?
  • Can you combine two or more of the rooms on your list? Combining rooms is a great way to create efficient use of space. Multifunctional spaces can serve different purposes at different times.
  • Think about rooms in your current home that you rarely use and make sure you aren’t merely replicating them in your new home.

Now that you have defined your spaces revisit you answers in step 2. Add to your lists the qualities you want in each of the rooms. Quality might be access to natural light at certain times of the day or feelings of spaciousness, serenity, comfort, or warmth for example.

Step 5. Define priorities and big-picture goals for the project.

These exercises should have given you a good handle on the specifics of each room. Now it’s time to think about the whole project. This is the opportunity to establish a clear list of goals that will help guide the decision-making process as you move forward.

A goal could be environmental, such as minimizing energy use or water consumption. Another goal might be economic, such as maximizing affordability and minimizing ongoing maintenance costs. Your goals should include personal ones, such as allowing for flexibility for future lifestyle changes or creating the perfect place for entertaining. Think of your goals as the values you want your final design to embody.

Finally, consider what relationship each room might have to another one. For example, you might want a kitchen to be close to a dining area or to open onto your garden. Another example is locating bedrooms a distance from areas of activity to ensure privacy.

When you bring it all together, you should have an overview of the rooms you think you need and their relationship to one another, as well as a relatively detailed description of what each room should contain and how it should feel.

Be as expansive and as specific as you like, but prioritize each item into “nonnegotiable,” “important” and “nice to have.” Thinking these things out before you start the design process will bring clarity to your vision allowing the architect to understand your vision.

Step 6. Avoid common mistakes.

Here are the mistakes we’ve seen that can be avoided.

  • Thinking only room by room. Always have the big picture in mind.
  • Not considering all family members’ thoughts. The more your family has invested in the process, the richer the design will become.
  • Trying too hard to “keep up with the Joneses.” Stick to the needs of your project and your family. Just because your neighbors have a hot tub on the roof doesn’t mean you have to have one.
  • Not considering the future. Your new home should have flexibility for growth and changing lifestyles. No one knows what the future holds, so consider a design that can easily adapt should family circumstance change.
  • Remember, this is a working document. The purpose of this exercise is to write things down, look at them, discuss them with family, think about them and make decisions to keep the project moving forward.

By now you might have figured out these are the same questions your architect will be asking you. So if you have these answers in our first meetings, your perfect home will be what you want and need while saving time, frustration, and money.

Call Bruce at 954.917.5781 and start designing your dream home in Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Boca Raton, or Fort Lauderdale.