What the Heck Is 'Good' Design Anyway?

recently did a poll of some 30,000 homeowners and discovered that nearly all of the respondents who were considering a remodeling job or an addition were doing to improve the design quality of their home. These results dovetail with the following poll by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

It seems that “aesthetics are more important than benefit” when we renovate our houses and that “layout is above price and competitions place” when we’re searching for a new residence. It’s no surprise for me, an architect, that good design is valuable. What is surprising is if there are verifiable metrics that prove this.

And I don’t think this is really a fluke. My spouse and I have been looking into buying a villa in a small community on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We found two villas in precisely the same community with nearly identical floor plans, and also both have wonderful views of the golf course. One is priced about 60 percent greater than the other. It was not hard to see why. One is not very nice looking, with its faux mansard roof and total lack of detail on the exterior. Another is nicely ventilated and finely detailed with a pergola, a hip roof and also an entry courtyard that provide curb appeal. The latter price a few dollars more to construct. But those few dollars translated into important price and a wonderful return on investment — not to mention a much more beautiful spot to call home.

But what is “good design”? Is it “artsy fartsy” material? Or is it something more concrete and measurable? While the poll results started to define what respondents think “style” is, we will drill down a little deeper to come up with a few prescriptions for achieving good design.

Rauser Design

First, fantastic layout doesn’t always have to price more. Using scale, proportion, shape, detail along with the other tools from the architect’s tool box creates wonderful and lasting design.

Sarah Susanka

Begin with a well-structured plan that includes the rooms and spaces you’ll want and can use. Then organize these chambers at a hierarchical fashion that gives clarity and facilitates how you proceed through and occupy your house.

TEA2 Architects

More and we all want our houses to possess an open floor plan with bunch spaces that facilitate our coming together.

Archipelago Hawaii Luxury Home Designs

Our houses should incorporate personal and secure outdoor living spaces. Rather than having acres of land separating us from our neighbors we could achieve privacy and security through landscaping, landscape walls and fences. By getting the most out of the smallest sum of property, we keep our costs lower while attaining sustainability.

As we’ve moved into smaller houses we’ve used our lawns to make these houses live big. Therefore a strong outdoor connection is a vital ingredient for a well-designed house. These connections are greatest when achieved with big openings, something that modern materials and manufacturing technologies make simpler than ever.

Gary Hutton Design

There has been a move of late to a more modern aesthetic, especially with insides — not surprising, because these insides are more about the grade of the space than about all the objects within that area. A reaction to our overcollecting and overdoing of the past couple of decades, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.

Ainslie-Davis Construction

The houses that really talk to us are the houses that boost a casual and barefoot lifestyle. Although there are a few among us who insist on formality, most people, especially those with children, want a house that won’t seem trashed if the childrens’ toys are left outside or if there is a little scribbling on the walls.

Rudolfsson Alliker Associates Architects

While there’s been a rise in the prevalence of urban living, the single-family residence still embodies the ideal of the American Dream. What we’ve noticed, and probably will continue to see, is that the reduction in size of this home. This makes sense as property costs, commuting costs, and long-term and initial costs continue to rise.

Tell us How do you define decent design?

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