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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Practical, aesthetic details make home shine

By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer

Architect Mies van der Rohe said, "God is in the details." Others have said, "The devil is in the details."

We suppose it's all in the perspective.

Certainly when it comes to a home renovation, you can feel very inspired or very tormented by all the details to which you must attend.

A basic room can turn from utilitarian with a bay window, wood door and wood trim. You can go even further by adding a higher ceiling, transom windows and picture rail to make a room warm and inviting.

A room with basic windows and a door is just that — basic and utilitarian.

The process of home design ranges from the macro to the micro. The larger decisions include what rooms are needed, how the rooms are laid out and the overall shape of the building.

Smaller details might include flooring, light fixtures and doorknobs.

Often, this is as micro as many people get with design decisions. But you can go much deeper. It is surprising how even the tiniest of details can have the biggest of impacts.

There are two categories these tiny details fall into (and some details fall into both): practical and aesthetic.

Practical details help your home (and therefore your life!) function more smoothly.

As you may imagine, kitchens and bathrooms have the widest array of practical details to be considered.

For instance, you could include a divider in a kitchen drawer to help organize your kitchen tools. Instead of pawing through a tangled mess of garlic presses and whisks, you can easily retrieve the exact thing you need.

Another practical detail may be the use of hooks rather than a towel rack in your bathroom. Hooks are simple to use, even by a young child, and you will never again need to fold a towel before hanging it up. If you use fun colorful towels, the whole look can add some punch to your decor.

The knobs and pulls you select for your cabinets will affect you many times every day, adding up to thousands of times over the years.

Choosing hardware that is comfortable to use, durable and easy to maintain is time well spent in your design process.

Aesthetic details may not make your everyday life easier, but they certainly make it more beautiful.

An example of an aesthetic detail would be wrapping the inside of a window with wood framing instead of leaving it as plain painted sheet rock. It will take more time and money, but it will add interest and beauty to your home.

Another example would be adding a picture rail in a room. A picture rail is a piece of trim attached to the walls that continues around the room at the height of the top of the windows. It replaces crown molding and gives a room a different look and feeling.

Some details will need to be included in the original construction of your project, and some can be added or changed later.

A border in your bathroom tile would be difficult to add at a future date, but changing the railing on your stairs at a later date is more easily done.

We often remind people that bigger is not necessarily better. By controlling the size of your project you will have some room in your budget left for great details.

Albert Einstein said, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

It may be hard to determine the worth of each individual detail, but it is certain that a well-designed and well-detailed project will pay off by adding both function and beauty to your home. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2009 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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