Just like buying or selling a house, when you decide to design and build a home you will receive a lot of advice and not all of it will be good. Understandably, creating a home is a massive investment – financially, mentally and emotionally - and you’ll be wondering if you’re making the right design decisions. Designing a space to complement and shape the way you live is a nuanced process and you want to get it right – after all you’re going to be living there! Working with your designer will be a collaborative process and at various stages other stakeholders like builders, engineers, council and also your nearest and dearest will be offering advice. The tricky part is deciding how to use that advice to the best design advantage, or whether to use it at all.
Your design, whether it’s your first family home, a renovation or even an investment is created by the designer, for you, the client. To make sure that you’re getting the home you want all projects begin with a detailed brief, discussion about priorities, budget, style inspiration and your expectations. You’ve chosen your designer because they’re the right fit for your project and so the consideration you give their advice should be weighted accordingly. Their passion for design and sensitivity to the particulars of your brief will guide the works to create a home that is carefully crafted to your needs.
Example: You’ve stated that the kitchen is the hub of your home and you want it to be a warm, inviting and social space that’s not lost in open plan living. To create that feel your designer has nominated a graceful curved opening from dining to kitchen which delicately defines the kitchen space and also opens it up to the internal living.
A good designer will draw from experience and may involve a builder early in the process or liaise with you and your builder beyond the design stage through tendering and construction. Consider carefully your builder’s priorities when it comes to taking their advice and whether a short term benefit will pay off in the long term. It’s easier for your builder and their trades when the work is uncomplicated and in some cases simplifying construction detail is beneficial for you too. Be careful with construction versus design compromise though, because sometimes it’s that ‘simple change’ that will take your home design from special to ordinary.
Example; the engineer and builder are suggesting changing the shape of the lintel between your kitchen and dining areas from an arch to a straight angle. Due to the custom size and shape, fabrication costs might be higher, delivery and install more complicated, trade time on site increased and overall more attention will be required for a detail that varies from the standard.
Inevitably, your family and friends will see your home design – what’s important to you is important to them and we all find ourselves sensitive to feedback from our loved ones. Validation and support is important but the advice from your family and friends starts with suggestions for changes, improvements and modifications. That might be because the design wouldn’t work for the way they live in their homes (or would like to live), and while that may seem like criticism it isn’t actually relevant – this home has been designed for you and your lifestyle.
Example: you and your partner have been poring over the plans each night after dinner at the very cramped kitchen bench in your current home, dreaming about the new spacious kitchen and how you’ll be able to have the whole family in there on special occasions. When you show her, your mum says she doesn’t like the arch but then she doesn’t really like anything about the big traditional American kitchens that have inspired you. That’s okay though – you don’t like the minimalist, modern kitchen at her house.
Good design is subjective - good home design is especially so but it’s also very personal. Working with your designer, builder and well-intentioned comments from friends and family can be a tricky process but if you are able to take on all the advice, listen to it, look at it and decide how best it will benefit your home design in the long term, you’ll end up with a home you love.