Thinking about design


What is design? If you look at any number of sources it boils down to a plan or drawing that shows the look and function of the workings of a building. But, how does one begin thinking about design? And what ought one consider in the process? Without further ado, here are questions that I think one ought to ask oneself if one is about to design a home. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and you can pick it up from here. My goal is to get you pondering and maybe provide that window that lets the light in for you.

Where do you want to live? In what kind of climate? If you want to live in a warm climate there would be no point in designing an igloo, but there might be in designing a palapa, as they call them in Mexico. This one doesn’t require must explanation. So think about how much clothing you like to wear at any given time. Do you like hauling firewood rather than making ice tea, or do you like water sports or snow sports. Well, you get the idea.

How do you want to live? Some folks care about such things as a formal dining room or a music room or entertainment center. Others would likely have no idea what the heck you are talking about. Some want grand. Others want simple and easy.

How do you want to move about from where you live? How important is it to not jump in your car to get every place? In town allows one to actually walk – something not everyone does enough of. And, then, if we are discussing Taos as the place, how important is it to you to have views?

Most in-town homes don’t have them. Those that are willing to live without them find the trade-offs of access to desired destinations worth the visual loss. (I parenthetically note that we lived in the foothills and had fabulous views. But we needed to get in our car for everything. We now live in town and can walk to the plaza and shops and we love that as much even without the huge views.)

How much money are you willing to put out each month to devote to where YOU live? We all know of folks who are house poor, whose monthly nut does not allow for much discretionary spending. It isn’t a good thing to resent your house which is something that does happen. I lived in that culture for a while. A good thing to consider.

How much time are you willing to devote to cleaning and maintaining your home? This consideration has caused many folks to consider small homes, some less than 200 square feet. Those folks are not slaves to their residences.

How important is going green to you?  Does your home have to meet its own energy needs? Do you care if your utility bills are greater than your food bill plus your car payment? In my experience green is cool for folks till it costs them money. Then their enthusiasm wanes. No judgment here, but do think about that. I am an analytical thinker.

To me if one goes through this process, the design will be obvious at the end. But to me there is no point in starting by making pretty drawings without really understanding what you want to achieve. Designing and building a home can be stressful but also so very rewarding. Not everyone gets the freedom to design and construct what he or she wants. And those that do ought to enjoy the process rather than dreading it. One gets out of life what one puts in, so have a go at design and create the world you want. It is possible that you end up with a very different home than you first thought or planned if you do go thru this process.


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