Why Home Design Matters

If you look at a lot of bachelor apartments, you probably already know that home design isn’t a big deal to everyone. After all, some people think, it’s just my house. As long as it’s comfortable and reasonably clean, what difference does it make how I decorate it?

Well, if you follow feng shui you know the answer: it makes a huge difference! But even if you’re not a feng shui adherent, there are many reasons that home design should be important to you.

Work With Your Subconscious

Science has shown how powerful an affect your subconscious mind has on your thoughts, attitudes, mood, and even health — just do a web search for “reactions to stress” and you’ll be astounded at what turns up. Given that, your subconscious awareness of your surroundings is extremely important.

When you surround yourself with images, colors, and styles that aren’t appealing to you — or even ones that you find merely indifferent — you’re having an affect on your subconscious. It’s the difference between your subconscious saying, “Ahh, I’m home!” when you walk in the front door and another little bit of stress piling onto the day’s load.

In other words, creating a comfortable surrounding for yourself is always worthwhile.

What That Means for Home Design

When you think home design, you might imagine a certain famous Martha and her ilk carefully dabbing stencils and paint along the ceiling. Don’t worry: you don’t have to get carried away. But following a few simple tips can transform even the drabbest apartment into a warm, welcoming place:

  • Use colors that appeal to you — if not on the walls, then on the furniture, or even in artwork, blankets/throws, and accessories.
  • Surround yourself with comfort. Your home design should be about making a comfortable refuge from the busy world, not about getting into a design magazine.
  • Display things of sentimental significance (usually, but not always, photos of friends, families, and fond memories).
  • Always have something besides you alive in the house — whether it’s a goldfish, a plant, a cat, or a dog.
  • Set five to ten minutes aside each day for getting organized: that tiny bit of tidying will transform your home design and you feel about the place.

These simple steps are the basics of home design. So don’t worry: you don’t have to go crazy with minute decorating details. Just make sure that your home design encourages a sense of peace and refuge, not business and worry!

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Home Design – What’s Hot For 2011

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that a year ago I wrote an article “What’s Hot And What’s Not For 2010”. I had such a huge response to this piece that I thought it was only fitting to share a similar version of the home building, renovation and design trends that are topping the charts for this year.

Whether you’re customizing a recently purchased home, making the changes needed to update your existing space or are simply interested in increasing the overall value of your home, keep these ideas in mind when tackling your 2011 home improvement projects.

WHAT’S HOT:

Smaller Homes

For those families purchasing new homes, many are looking for more modestly sized properties than the McMansions of the past. Being more attracted to the space they need rather than the space their ego wants – is on today’s agenda. It’s all about being more value conscious and living authentically. Although some newly built homes may be shrinking in size – by only about 10-15% (reducing overall room sizes), the high-end materials and finishes are in no way compromised.

Rooms are becoming more multi-functional than in years past and therefore it’s more important than ever to maximize every inch of space – within the existing footprint – and provide creative and integrated storage throughout your entire home. Less clutter and greater organization will contain your “stuff” and still allow your home to feel more spacious and uncluttered.

There is a return to a more simple, warm, natural and clean-lined design reminiscent of mid-century modern architecture. A blending contemporary and traditional styles – resulting in a chic transitional design style.

Greener, Healthier and Smarter Homes

The current scene is definitely green. Energy efficiency is fast becoming the hottest and most desirable trend or “shift” in the home design and building industry.

You can go all the way and completely reduce your carbon footprint or simply begin by introducing energy-efficient windows, lighting, appliances, tank-less water heaters, low-VOC paints, stains and sealants into your next home renovation or building projects.

With a one-year extension of energy efficiency tax credits, it only makes sense to take advantage of this offer and incorporate these products along with more durable and sustainable materials when you’re updating your home.

Easy maintenance, high quality materials and integral smart systems make for an easy transition for the changing family. Integrating state of the art or “Smart” technology into our homes is a very hot trend that continues to blaze. It’s about making our lives easier. Controlling kitchen appliances, lighting and your entertainment systems from a centralized panel will soon be foreshadowed by the apps from our smart phones where we’ll be able turn on our lights, have our fireplace crackling and our dinner cooked to perfection the moment we walk through the door. Sign me up!

Universal Design

Renovating your existing home and removing interior walls creates an open, spacious and more flexible floor plan. This immediately improves the layout and flow of the home and makes it more comfortable and versatile for families who love to entertain – particularly when today’s kitchens serve as multi-functional spaces incorporating cooking, dining, gathering and entertaining just to name a few.

Re-designing your home’s overall layout and introducing some Universal Design principles into your renovation could include wider doorways, main floor master suites, and user-friendly kitchens and baths. These subtle tweaks make even the smallest homes feel more spacious and appeals to an enormous segment of the population -Baby Boomers and Gen Xers alike.

Work Spaces

The homeprenuer trend is not just growing – it’s intensifying. With an unstable economy comes the opportunity for more people to work from home either part time or launch home-based businesses. Today’s technology makes it easy to be as productive at home as in an office-based location.

Since most home-based businesses must co-exist with the family, separating your living and working environments can be a challenge. If you’re lucky enough to have a separate guesthouse, a detached carriage house, or space above your garage then designate that space for your home office Otherwise, like the vast majority of home-based businesses you’ll need to allocate an area within the home itself – either an unused bedroom, space beneath the stairs, or a corner of the kitchen or family room. Either way – find a spot where noise and traffic are at a minimum and privacy is optimum!

Porches and Decks

With the trend of downsizing our homes comes the idea of expanding our interior living spaces to the outdoors. Homes with charming porches and decks naturally transition the interior to the exterior instantly expanding your living space. It extends the summer season almost forcing us to live outdoors before the really cold weather sets in. Porches can define a neighborhood, and recapture a sense of community

Decks can be as simple or elaborate as the home they’re attached to. Multi-leveled or single, built in seating or casual seating areas, hot tubs, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits – all of which create added living space and provide a vacation-like atmosphere.

Design your porch or deck to compliment the character of your home’s exterior architecture. Give it some thought in planning. It should be proportionate to the size of your home and property and make sure to include energy efficient solar or LED lighting.

Keeping abreast of these home design trends will help guide you when it comes time for you complete your “to do” list. Families grow, people mature and our needs change. It’s all about re-inventing your home making it feel as though it was built just for you.

Residential Designers – The Home Design Specialist

The term “residential designer” is not a widely known or understood professional title among the general public. If one were to define their occupation as such, an explanation would need to follow in nearly every case. However confusing the title may be, you know it has something to do with a house. A simple way of putting it is that Residential Designers do the same thing as an Architect. However, the work of an Architect include residential as well as commercial projects. Residential Designers focus exclusive on single family homes. Within the scope of residential work, their skills include building design, interior design, and home remodeling.

Building Design
This is the main area of focus for nearly all residential specialist. Building design, in the residential field, is the process of creating a concept and completing the blueprints of a home plan. This is what many people would consider to be the work of an architect. In fact, the meaning of the word “architect” is one who designs and supervises the construction of buildings. However, there are few architects in comparison to residential planners who actually focus on home designs as their main expertise. This is why residential designers are considered the specialist when it come to home plans because it is nearly one hundred percent of their business. Because of this, these professionals are also referred to as home designers, house designers, and building designers.

Interior Design
Most people quickly associate this as the primary duties of a house plan expert. Somehow, it is widely assumed that an interior is synonymous with residential. Interior design from a home designers perspective is more about connectivity with the elevation. When they do interior design, it involves the continuation of the exterior theme which is to be carried throughout the homes interior for harmony and balance throughout the entire building. This includes things like crown molding design, chair railing, wainscot, ceiling details, etc. This is quite different from say an interior planner working from a benchmark footprint and house theme.

Home Remodeling
This is related to the aforementioned skills. In this type of work, an addition is common which involves the use of the building planning while the interior design is used to carry the existing theme into the newly designed and remodeled portion of the home.

There are quite a few architects who primarily focus on residential projects, but the percentage within the architect community is small. On the other hand, residential planners concentrate on house plans. Whether it is keeping up with the latest home design trends or creating the latest trend, it is all they do. You can refer to these design professionals as Home Designers, House Designers, or Residential Designers. No matter which term you use, you are still referring to a home plan design specialist.

Home Designer Software For Mac

Most of the home design software products in the market run on the PC platform with just a few on the MAC OS X computing environment. Here are a few stand-out home design solutions running either exclusively on the Mac or on both Mac and PC workstations.

Punch! Home Design Studio

Retailing for just less than a hundred dollars, the Punch! Home design Studio made popular on the PC has been ported on the Mac with the same features that let you realize on the screen your dream house, inside and out. It can now take advantage of the excellent 3D graphics capabilities of the Mac to render fast 3D drawing of your designs with the usual multi-angle views and textured realism that Punch! Home Design Studio can deliver.

3D Home Architect Home and Landscape Deluxe Suite10

Coming down a bit with lesser features and sophistication is the Architect Home and Landscape Deluxe Suite 10 from 3D Home. Costing just a third of the Punch! Home Design Studio at $36 from Amazon, the suite gets the job done for most homeowners who are not really as interested in designing their dream houses but would like a simple tool that can save them the cost of hiring a professional architect. You get the same 2D and 3D rendering and modeling features with its expensive drag and drop library of design elements that make designing your house and landscaping around it a breeze.

MacDraft

Coming in two flavors, the Pro and the Personal Edition versions, this is basically a 2D drawing tool that does a good job at drafting and creating floor plans as 2D views of your house design project. IA bit pricey at $320 for the Pro and half that on the Personal Edition, either product is as sophisticated as any home-bound CAD-based vector drawing software which can also read AutoCAD files as imports.

Interiors Professional

A $250 value, this is arguably one of the best interior designing tool for the Mac platform. It also has one of the most user-friendly controls for creating some of the best looking interiors with excellent textures and lighting effects in 3D-rendered models. Targeted for both the novice and professional interior designer, the software is easy to learn and use with a library of 3D design objects like furniture, planters and appliances to mention some while allowing you to create your own.

Mac Freeware

There is a couple of free downloadable application for home design worth mentioning. These are Sweet Home 3D and Live interior 3D. For the homeowner or novice wanting to get a feel of what it is like to work with a home design software on the Mac, these two are fine options that take some of the design features available in the market without costing anything, just your internet bandwidth. The graphics are not their best points as some object can look blocky and less refined, certainly not as realistic with software that you pay for, but you get an idea. For many, providing the means to let you play around, simulate and visualize your dream house inside and out on the Mac — without spending a dime is a treat itself. If only for that, despite its limitations, freebies offer stand-out value for the novice.

Small Home Design – Don’t Let Your Small House Plan Grow Big

Do you really and truly want a small home? Over the years of helping people with their small home designs I’ve noticed one thing. Small house plans grow.

“Oh, but I want this, too!” Yep, I’ve heard it over and over. It can takes real discipline to keep that evolving house plan small. And working with an architect is not necessarily a solution! Architects are often eager to design in that pantry, laundry, extra room or whatever else you suddenly feel you just have to have!

What Do You Really Want in a Home?

You love the advantages of a small home design, right? The idea of saving money while building, saving energy year after year, and the convenience of keeping that small home neat and tidy are appealing benefits.

But, what are you willing to give up? You simply can’t have the same number of rooms or the same size rooms, or all the same features you’re accustomed to in that larger home. Something has to give. What do you really want in your home and what are your priorities? It comes down to, what’s a must, and what can go?

That Small House Plan Can Still Work

Once you figure your priorities and settle on what’s important and what isn’t, a good designer can work wonders. But, you have to guard against getting “big eyes” and stick to your guns. And, don’t give the architect free reign.

If you know what you want, with clever design and a combination of functions in the home, you don’t have to do without. But, it may not be easy.

The Home Building Coach to the Rescue

I recommend getting yourself a home building coach. Industry professionals often hire themselves out as a go between … between you and your other building professionals like contractors, architects, lenders, engineers, etc. This person can be especially valuable in helping you devise your strategy concerning the design of your home.

No, the coach won’t likely design your home, unless he or she happens to be your architect, but they’ll definitely be able to help you refine your goals and translate them into practical approaches to help design your perfect small house design.

Get Those Benefits You’re After

With the home building coach by your side, you’ll have the support to stick to your guns and create something that stays small, offers all the advantages of the home you want, and provides style and beauty at the same time.

You deserve to get the home you want. Now you can.