While this doesn’t hold true for every interior designer or architect out there, it is quite typical for a designer to look at the house from a very different standpoint than the architect. In a nutshell I have found that the architect views it from the outside in and the designer views it from the inside out. In other words, we are trained to visually walk ourselves through the house, thinking about furniture, lighting, window access and materials. This is the beginning of what we call the Programming Phase of design.
That is what I had in mind when I reviewed the client’s drawings for the first time. Questions I asked myself were:
- What type of furniture do they have now or plan to have at completion?
Do they want a large TV and if so where will it be placed?
- Will windows cast too much reflection on the television screen?
- How many people will come to dinner on a regular basis and do they sit at the table or in front of the TV?
- What size beds does the client have or want and where in the room are they best placed? Do window heights interfere with that placement? Do doors?
- Are there any obstacles in the main living area for family members with mobility, hearing or vision challenges?
These are just some of the questions I ask myself while reviewing a set of plans for general layout. The next task is to look at the kitchen and bathroom layouts and cabinet designs. Many times these are “blocked out” but not detailed. It is left up to the client to decide if they want drawers or doors on kitchen cabinets. Do you want the bathroom sink to the left, center or right of the 36” wide cabinet? It can make a difference for certain uses. Lastly I think about furniture layouts and if the room sizes can handle the client’s needs. Are there too many windows and not enough wall space? Is the room too small for a full sofa even though the client already owns one?
Rarely do major changes happen at this time, especially to the overall footprint of the house. We adjust window sizes, move an interior wall or two, and make a closet bigger, that sort of thing. It sounds minor now, but you will not regret taking the time to think through and make these changes. Depending on the size of the house and the needs of the owner, some construction can begin while these decisions are being made. In this case, we were still waiting on the permit so we did not begin construction yet. But when we did, as you can see, there was a lot of land sculpting to be done!