Ancient Romans believed that every place had a protective spirit. They called it genius loci. Whether or not you give credence to such things as guardian spirits today, the chances are you agree that houses often have a distinctive atmosphere, a certain vibe, which can change the way we feel when we walk in. At Clark Construction we hear homeowners talk about this all the time. We can’t quite put our finger on what creates the feel of a home but we’re pretty sure it has a lot to do with good design.
Design is the product of its era
We don’t just mean how it looks – good use of space, light, proportions, dimensions, shapes, materials, colors, textures and so on – we mean how it feels, how it works for the people that live there.
Look at some of the pre-twentieth century domestic buildings in our country. Not just the grandest (though these are often the ones that survive best) but the humbler dwellings too. They are all about personality, character and distinction. We can visualize them; we can conjure up in our minds a whole era, a whole community, a whole neighborhood vibe.
Design homes not houses
But for a long time now Americans have been building housing that has little relationship to the people it’s meant to shelter; houses that bring inhabitants into conflict rather than harmony. Designs that separate communities rather than connect them. At some point we started building houses and forgot to build homes. We began to think of our homes as investments and status symbols; we forgot to think of them as homes for our families. Why else would an architect devote a tenth of a property’s floor space to an cavernous entry foyer? Why else would you waste acres of space to a huge useless front lawn? What and whom are these kind of ceremonial design features for? How do they improve daily life for residents inside?
Home design as a legacy
No one cares if your outfit is badly put together with clashing elements. Enjoy the awfulness of it today and in the morning you get dressed again. No one cares if your evening dinner plate is full of junk and nutritionally imbalanced. Try exquisite dining tomorrow.
But a house is much more than a passing trend or a glorious mistake. A house is a permanent physical fixture in our daily lives. And more than that even: a house is a legacy to our family, our children, our neighbors, our community and our environment.
Design matters again
But when poorly designed, badly thought-out homes were selling well – as they did for a few decades before the financial crash – it’s hard for those of us clinging to good design to champion the cause. So in a way, the collapse of the housing market has brought good design back home to roost. The long, slow recovery is presenting the argument once again to embrace lifestyle-led layouts and community-friendly architecture. We at Clark Construction – and our fellow professionals in the industry – are delighted. If you’re remodeling now, you’ve chosen a great time.
See the potential in your four walls
The problem is that we’re often so used to living with poor design we don’t even recognize it any more. Humans are such adaptable creatures: we’ve developed workarounds and compensations for awkward environments and we accept them. As a society we’re pretty close to developing design blindness.
This is why bringing in an expert third party, like our designers at Clark Construction, can really open your eyes to the potential of your home. You may not see how much better it can be, but we will.
Every home remodel is an opportunity for us to show our clients what a difference good design can make to their lives. A message we hope will spread for decades to come.