What is Good Design – Part 1

Ask any group of people what they think “good design” means, and you’re likely to receive a range of responses. For most of us the easier question may be, “What is bad design?” We seem to immediately recognize what we consider unattractive. When the question of design relates to our homes, the wide variety of houses built all across the country proves that, as a society, we have some extremely diverse opinions about what we consider to be good design.

This is a complex topic, so I’ll offer my comments in several parts over the next few weeks.

Part 1

In the creation of both the exterior and the interior design of a home, four essential elements come into play: scale, proportion, mass, and functionality. Adjusting one of these elements often changes the others. Thus, the impact of modifying virtually any aspect of a design must be carefully considered.

Design Sense

Although most people don’t analyze why they are attracted to certain homes but not others, they often find themselves drawn to houses that have been designed and built with particular attention to details. Most of us have an innate sense of scale and proportion, and we respond to houses in which these elements combine to yield a feeling of permanence.

People frequently find homes built in the early part of the twentieth century attractive. Many of these residences were constructed during a period when architects and builders paid strict attention to craftsmanship and details.

For example, the next time you look at a porch, consider the posts that support the roof above. For most porches 4” × 4” columns will suffice structurally, but somehow they seem too small. A porch with 8” × 8” columns just feels better. Thicker posts give us the sense that the porch is a safe and secure place.

Take a look at the porch columns on these two plans (PBH-5244, PBH-3164) and see if you don’t agree.



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