I’m often asked how we selected the house design for our home construction project. The key is to finding your architectural design based on the story you want to live.
First, it depends on the type of house construction project. If it is a spec home, you may be required to assume the house design provided by the builder. If it is a custom home from scratch, however, you’ll have more opportunity to decide what you want in terms of exterior and interior design.
Shop Around – Architectural Firms
Look at the portfolio of architects near you. Look on their websites to see what aesthetic they have. While, in theory, architects can design ‘any house you want’ – I found that many have an MO they seem to follow. Asking them to go outside their bandwidth may cause more hassle than it is worth, more time…and more money…to get to where you want them to be design wise. So look around and see who has a portfolio with the general vision you are looking for at the get-go. We went with Patrick Ahearn Architect LLC because of the New England vibe he has in his architectural design.
The Vision – Architectural Portfolio
What vision should you have? The first vision you need to have is for the outside of the house. What do you want to look at when you come home? A colonial, a craftsman, a ranch? Wood, stucco, brick, stone? Side garage, front facing garage?
The second vision should be the features you want in your house – open concept, au-pair/in-law suite, detailed millwork, dedicated dog room, wood beams, or shiplap! If you see the vision on the architect’s website or portfolio, you will know they understand the vision you have for your home, because they will have done it before for other another client(s).
The Story – Architecture Design
I find that it is essential that you create a story for your home. Having that story will carry through every phase of the home construction, home design and the interior design selections you will make along the way. By having a story, you will stay true to the path you are on and it will help you with all the big and little decisions.
For example, the story of our house construction process is that it is indicative of a 1930s New England home. The garage was actually a barn that eventually became attached to the home. The sun room used to be part of the farmers porch. The rooms are defined (not open concept). As a result, everything from the roof, the siding, (even the garage doors) are all part of that story.
The Chapters – Interior Architecture
Any time we were faced with a design decision, we just went back to the story. For example, as we were making selections for tile, we laid the stone in herringbone patterns, or picked penny tile for the bathroom floor. We selected crystal door knobs (faux in our case, of course). These were all common in that time period.
We may have marble looking porcelain (for a modern sensibility), or larger tile (for a modern interpretation of a classic), but we referred to the story to stay on track. It made sure our house was consistent from top to bottom in that design. That way, we felt that we were not going ‘off course’ with the overall vision. It truly helped when faced with so many choices. (Honestly, I never knew how many toilets there could be to chose from.)
As you start your home construction project, find your story and then start writing your happy (home) ever after!