Are you one of those couples who can’t agree on what colour to paint the lounge, let alone whether to extend your home?
You’re not alone. Let me tell you a story.
Last week I went to see a lovely couple. They contacted me as they wanted to extend their house to create a larger kitchen/living space along with a downstairs toilet and laundry room. I rang the bell of their Victorian semi-detached house. After being sniffed to death by the dog (a regular occurrence) they showed me around, explaining the issues they had with the house.
What followed was hard to watch. They tied themselves in knots trying to tell me exactly what they wanted. Disagreeing on some things, agreeing on others, before changing their mind. I tried to tease out some more details by asking questions, but every question generated more debate, deeper thoughts and more confusion.
The problem was that they felt like they needed to be sure about what they wanted. They were trying to make decisions right then and there, so that I could go away and draw up exactly what they were trying to describe. You don’t have to decide exactly what you want before you find an architect.
Let me tell you the secret – you don’t have to decide exactly what you want before you find an architect. If I could get this across to enough people at the early stages, it would reduce a lot of stress and anguish! You can relax, just have some ideas and let the architect do the heavy lifting.
Focus on what does and doesn’t work about the house. What you do you like and what irritates you? What type of rooms or spaces do you need and for what? What are your must-haves? Where can you compromise?
Anyway, back to the lovely couple.
I spent over an hour with them. I got some paper and a pen out, I listened, asked questions and we logged some key points:
- We both hate the kitchen and dining room. They are such small dark rooms. We want more space and more natural light.
- We’d like a downstairs toilet and utility/laundry room, but we don’t want guests to go through the utility to get to the loo.
- We both love our garden and want to be able to see it from the kitchen and living space and have direct access through glazed doors.
- We want to be able to stand at a kitchen island be able to talk to our family look at the garden and see the TV.
- We love wooden floors, and we’d love underfloor heating if we could afford it.
- We have a big dining table that we want to keep as it’s a family heirloom.
- We’d like the floor to be all one level inside and no steps down when we go outside.
- We can’t agree on whether to close off the front living room.
- We need a space, or a corner to work from home.
There you have it. A simple list. I can work wonders with that.
That simple list is my design brief. Next I’ll arrange a measured survey, then I’ll produce three or four design options for them to consider. They’ll be able to make informed decisions, ask me questions, and maybe even walk around the design in virtual reality.
They’ll be certain by the end of the process that the final design captures all they want in their dream home transformation.
They are going to love coming home.