Editor’s note: Portions of this column have previously run on the writers’ website at renovationdesigngroup.com and in a previous Renovation Design column at deseretnews.com.
Many people think of architecture as the look of a structure from the outside, and this is indeed a part of architecture. One of the definitions from the Free Dictionary for architecture is the “orderly arrangement of parts.” The exterior style, shape and lines of a building do constitute architecture.
However, interior architecture is equally as important as what goes on the exterior of a building or residence. A house that looks spectacular but does not function well for the residents on a daily basis becomes more of a sculpture than a home. Architecture is a challenging blend of science and art. Taking a general look at home remodeling, we have three basic tips to create a great design.
Exterior and interior connections
The exterior architecture of a home is very important. Your home should have a dominant style with updated, complementary finishes. For example, adding a front porch to a house can make a world of difference — both in the look of the home and how it functions.
However, architecture not only concerns the arrangement of the interior and exterior parts of a residence but also the way the home relates to its context or surroundings. Our living spaces should extend outside the literal walls of our homes both physically and visually. In our climate, we have the opportunity to play, celebrate, entertain and relax outside for a good portion of the year. Even when the weather keeps us inside, we need light and a visual connection to nature and to the world beyond our walls. Therefore, as our living spaces and activities extend outside, they should reflect the same level of design and style as the interior of our homes.
The connection between our inside and outside spaces is critical and should be seamless and natural. Even outside, we should find properly designed living areas. The overall architectural design of a home should facilitate a clean transition between inside and outside, making it completely natural to move easily between the two types of spaces.
Respect and define public and private spaces
The spaces in a home range from public to private uses. The porch and entry hall are public spaces. Even strangers (such as the delivery man and mail carrier) are welcome to approach and enter these areas.
On the other hand, bathrooms, bedrooms and master suites are private spaces, generally reserved only for family members. Depending on your family’s style, other rooms such as the family room and kitchen fall into a semi-private range. Here, people who are not immediate family may be included by invitation.
A home’s design should acknowledge and consciously organize these different kinds of spaces. One should never have to pass through a private space to access a public space. That also goes for the line of sight. For instance, you should never be able to see into a bathroom from the front door.
Designing your home with this element in mind impacts the relationships within the family as well as the social relationship outside the home. The popularity of the open great room/kitchen concept makes this design element an even more important tool.
When creating more public common areas, make sure you keep private spaces accessible for the family members to escape the commotion of large gathering spaces.
Consciously create interior views
When designing or remodeling a home, don’t forget interior views. Consider the sight lines in your home. As you stand in one place/room, what do you see both in the room and beyond it?
Consider each corner and wall, and then look at the other rooms you can see from where you are standing. Rooms that you see together should relate to each other in color and design. This does not mean all the rooms have to be the same, but they should coordinate.
If you have ever been in a home that has different color carpet in every room, you know the disjointed feeling it creates. Uniform, or at least coordinating, floor coverings are critical in composing pleasant sight lines.
Placing windows and doors so the eye is drawn through a room and out to the world beyond is a useful design tool. This gives an impression of more space than the house actually contains.
In an existing home, installing a window or door may not always be possible, but you can create pleasant views with works of art, dramatic lighting or displays of interesting furniture or collectibles placed in strategic locations. It is important to try to keep interior sight lines open to make your home appear as spacious as possible.
Keeping these tips in mind as you design your home or remodeling project will help you provide a strong connection between the interior and exterior of your home, respect private and public spaces and create beautiful interior views throughout your house.
Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com