Design: It’s How You Look and How You Feel

Several years ago, a Southern California builder spoke with me about the prevalence of Asian home buyers there. Their impact on the market, at all price levels, was growing. And, well-educated and well-heeled Chinese immigrants, in particular, were a demographic that this builder could no longer afford to ignore. So he began to look at ways to attract these buyers.

Because there is a greater tendency for Chinese to live with many generations under one roof, the builder added floor plans that would accommodate options for two master suites and additional bedrooms. The builder also took the step of having each new floor plan reviewed and cleared by an expert in the ancient Chinese discipline of Feng Shui. These principles help build spaces that relate better to the natural world.

For example, straight lines through spaces should be avoided and should never point where people sit, stand or sleep. Stairways should never face the front door of the home. And so on. To many Chinese, places with good Feng Shui are more peaceful and can therefore lead to more prosperous lives for people who inhabit them.

And though I never circled back with that home builder to ask if the Feng Shui- approved floor plans were better sellers, the point is very clear.

Good design has palpable benefits beyond just aesthetics. All of us have entered certain rooms and unexpectedly felt better. Maybe there was more sunlight because the architect or designer thought to orient the space toward south to capture more natural light. Perhaps the room was simply proportioned correctly. The space worked well for its function. My contention is that good home design hits you at the gut level, and in most instances the casual observer typically cannot put his or her finger on what they like about a given space. They just do.

Bad design does the opposite. Rooms out of proportion or with windows in the wrong spots can feel oppressive no matter how large they might be. That is why this magazine spends so many of its pages each month bringing you great remodeling design. Bad remodels often start with cookie-cutter solutions. How many times have you been to homes where the back end was bumped out to accommodate what is essentially two stacked boxes? The upper floor contains the new master suite and the lower floor contains a kitchen/great room combination.

The client wants space and they get space with little thought as to how it relates to the existing structure and its other surroundings.

In March, our design columnist Michael Menn, AIA, CGR, CAPS, will introduce a Design Lab every other month. In it, he’ll explore the tips, fixes and ideas that help make spaces not only look better, but feel better. At Qualified Remodeler we know that successful remodeling projects start with great design. It offers a true pathway to happy customers and lots of repeat and referral business.