Friday, January 13, 2006
Do homework before renovating
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
Would you ever walk up to a Nordstrom sales associate, and say, "I want a new wardrobe. Please create one for me, and I'll pick it up next week"? Or would you sit down with your hair stylist and say, "I need a new hair style. Please cut my hair however you think it should be cut"?
There are certainly people happy to let the experts take over. But others want to be more involved in the process. They may walk around Nordstrom with a sales associate to get ideas, but they already know that they look terrible in pink and that they need jeans not a dress. Or they may want a new hair style, but they have collected pictures of styles they like.
In the architectural design industry we meet both kinds of clients. We would like to help you become the second type: the kind that do their homework. Renovating a house involves a team of design professionals, contractors, and the homeowner. To be a good team member and to have a successful project, you, as the homeowner, should educate yourself, form opinions, and learn to communicate your ideas to others.
There are several ways you can learn about design, architecture, building products and technology. The fact that you are reading our column is a great start. Also, visit a bookstore or a home improvement store to find magazines and books with glossy photos and informative articles. Watch television shows about home design and remodeling. Visit the public library's architecture section. Attend the Parade of Homes. Search the Internet. Attend public lectures at the University of Utah, or attend one of our free community seminars. And finally, drive through neighborhoods and be an observer of homes.
As you gather information, you'll begin to form opinions of what appeals to you. When you know what you like, you are not easily swayed by opposing opinions. If you have decided you love a clean modern style, you won't be easily talked into a frilly French country design (or vice versa). And while there are some absolute "wrongs" when it comes to design, there is seldom an absolute "right." That means personal style and opinions can be expressed in most designs.
Finally, by exposing yourself to architectural books, articles, or seminars, you will learn vocabulary to help you communicate your opinions to the professionals on your team. Also, a picture is truly worth a thousand words! Keep a file and fill it with pictures and articles that appeal to you. This file will be invaluable in communicating what you like and what you hope for your home. It then becomes the architect's job to take all of your ideas into consideration along with their own to come up with a cohesive, well-designed solution.
And remember, no matter if you hope to remodel this year or in five years, it is never too early to start your homework. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.