Wednesday, May 6, 2015


If it seems like home improvement shows are as prevalent as nudity on the red carpet, don't worry you are not alone, because DIY is bigger and more popular than ever. It seems like the Do-It-Yourself boom exploded when the economy imploded, forcing many of us to find alternatives to home projects by DOing IT OURSELVES. While most shows make me absolutely insane (If I hear one more person comment on the look of a door handle or wall color when shopping for a home, so help me God, I'm going to explode) many of them offer thoughtful, informative, realistic ideas. Although, let's be honest, are any of us really going to rent a backhoe this weekend to dig a foundation for a deck? Uhm, chances are NO WE ARE NOT.  The point of today's entry, however, is not to peel back the veneer of home shows in an attempt to make sense of them, rather to discuss a theme I see over and over and offer my two (design) cents.  Whether I'm watching a couple house hunt or someone getting a well-deserved renovation, I hear more and more people say they want "open concepts." In fact, three of the four clients I'm currently designing kitchens for all requested open concept designs in homes that traditionally wouldn't ever have them. Quite honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the open plan, if for no other reason than a very practical one...if you have an open plan home, have you ever loaded the dishwasher, turned it on then settled in to watch a movie?  Yeah, not gonna happen! Some times buzz words like "open concept" flutter around like butterflies in spring, adopted as our own merely because we've heard it repeatedly.  Kitchens, as everyone with a pulse knows, can be incredibly expensive to renovate, so if you're facing a makeover then think long and hard about how you use the space before tearing down the walls. I've been in large homes and small ones where walls have been knocked down to create one cohesive space, and the same can be said of this design no matter what the square footage; remove walls, and you remove sound barriers and privacy. The photos above are as different as the clients who live in them, but both show different variations on the same theme of "open." The top photo is semi-open concept, where the wall was opened up and french doors added so the noise and flow of the kitchen can be muffled somewhat, whereas the bottom photo is as open as Beyonce's dress at the Met Gala. Don't get me wrong, an open concept design can transform a small space, I'm merely saying to have an open mind when designing your new space!
Just a few questions I ask clients before attacking a big project, like removing walls and rooms to create one, giant space:
1.) How do you use the room now, and how will you use it in five years?
2.) If you go to sell your home, will a potential buyer appreciate your vision and buy into it?  In other words, if you're in a hundred year old farmhouse and want to remove the walls to create a more modern feel, will the next person think you ruined the home?
3.) Do you have friends with a similar design? If so, ask them what they like and hate about it. Better yet, invite yourself over and check it they love when the sofa smells like garlic for a month after cooking? Are the heating bills higher because some of the insulating parts of the house have been removed?