What Do I Really Want

Your set of answers to the question What do I really want from the house I build? will provide a foundation for the thinking and planning you do. Make sure your answers to questions one and two are compatible. If not,your wishes and desires will outstrip your intentions. Plan to spend quite a while answering this question.

Don't assume that any point is too small or too obvious to include on your list. In fact, you can divide the list into large and small concerns. On the large side,take note of your preferred locations, surroundings, and exterior appearance you want your home to have. On the small side, keep a list of specific design details that are important to you. It will be a long time before some of the smaller details become a real concern, but get to know them early.

Ask yourself what rooms you envision for your house. Write down the names of those rooms and list the attributes you associate with each one. Do not limit yourself to what you already know and have experienced. This is a time to consider your ideals. Does your kitchen serve a central role, functioning as a place for food preparation, art work, and long, intimate teatimes? Is your bedroom only a place where you sleep, or do you enjoy certain activities — reading, writing, or watching television — in that room? Do you want a dining room? Is your bathroom merely functional, or is it your personal getaway? Which rooms can be multipurpose? All these considerations are important. Include contradictions if they arise; they will be solved later.

If you find that a traditional room does not appear on your list, don't force it to be there. Perhaps the typical living room function will be served by your kitchen, or by a den or library. Invent new room names if necessary.

Room uses, furniture items, ambiance, noise levels, views, storage capacity, and counter space — whatever presents itself as important to you should be included. Be exhaustive, and allow yourself time to change and modify the lists.

Mapping Your Movements

Take the time to study and think about traffic circulation in your home — if you have kids, it may be more along the lines of air traffic control!

What works in your current home? What needs improvement? You can begin this process by studying different kinds of movement. Movement in and out of the house is important; movement within key public rooms — especially kitchens — is also important. Examine traffic patterns between rooms, noting which patterns are most common. Make lists and notes about circulation. Do you often entertain crowds? If so, what happens to human movement under these conditions? Does movement change with the seasons?

Be sure to note all your current gripes! If you know what's wrong, keep track of the negatives. Solutions will be forthcoming.

Keep Your Eyes Wide Open

Don't limit your examination to your current home, but think about other residences you've lived in or places you've visited. Every time you are in a building, be conscious of its layout, the features of its rooms, and its traffic patterns. Take notes wherever you go, either mental or written. Building a home gives you the opportunity to blend the best and avoid the worst of everything you've ever known or experienced, so keep your eyes wide open.

This Is Not a Chore!

Don't look at this stage of your design process as a chore.We call it the Design Game because it can be a lot of fun.You have access to a rich architectural and cultural history. Enjoy it! Revel in it! When you finally stop seeing new things and being excited by possibilities, you're probably at the end of the process.

Don't Forget Your Family

Your family will be sharing the house with you, so involve them in the process. You'll be amazed

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• -5-kow/er tKüir at how attentive to detail kids can be if they are told what to look for! Think back to when you were young.Whose house did you like to visit? Why? What did you like and dislike about your own childhood homes? Think about your future needs.Will children be arriving? Will parents, siblings, or friends be moving in? Will your home be accessible to people with physical challenges? If you have children, you'll have to think about their future needs, too. Inevitably, conflicts between various needs will arise. Let them come to the fore, and soon enough you'll be able to start making compromises. Planning for everybody who

Julie Bowen

6.1: You can use hand-drawn "bubble" lists for initial room arrangements. You might want to assign each room some proportion, based on the size of your list of characteristics.

will share the house is vital if it's going to work well for all concerned.

Once you know what rooms you want and how they will be used, start arranging them in ways that accommodate your movement patterns. One way to achieve this is to write the names of your rooms on individual pieces of paper, including key features and arrows that indicate the kind of traffic flow you expect that room to handle.

Start arranging these pieces of paper in different ways until they start to make sense to you. When you find an arrangement that seems suitable, make a drawing of it. Then start over again. There are many possible arrangements that might work, so don't stop at one. At each stage in the Design Game, give yourself lots of time. You can even make your design puzzle the center of an evening with friends and family. Invite everybody to create their own house out of your individual elements — their designs will bring fresh perspectives to your own puzzling.

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