As designers and architects we spend a great deal of time in the conceptual design process working to create memorable, personal experiences within residential spaces for future homeowners and occupants. While these experiences are going to be different for every individual, it is ultimately the combination of massing, volumes of space, textures, colors, etc. that create emotion and personal connections within residential spaces. The exterior design, landscaping, floor plans, and interior design all become interplaying elements that contribute to the overall homeowner experience.
A good design philosophy will lead the team down a path towards creating great spaces that “feel good,” but to truly create memorable personal experiences one must engage the interior designer early on in the design process. It is important to invite all design disciplines to the table to discuss the vision and the path forward. Failure to do so at the earliest stages is a lost opportunity for great ideas to be shared, discussed, and implemented into the design. The landscaping and interior design “bring to life” the architectural context and narrative, so it becomes critical to have them participate in the visioning process and understand the story that the architecture will eventually tell.
MAKING SMALLER OUTDOOR SPACES MEANINGFUL THROUGH COLLABORATION
At a fundamental level, one of the most important design rules is to reflect the exterior architectural styling with the interior details and design. No one would expect to walk into a contemporary home and see traditional décor and vice versa, but beyond the obvious there are many aspects that both the architecture and interior design team can enhance by working in tandem. This becomes even more critical as indoor / outdoor relationships reign supreme and the separation of living spaces becomes somewhat blurred. Open floor plans and smaller lot sizes create opportunities for the architecture team, landscape architect, and interior design team to enhance the spatial experience on a personal level and truly create emotional connections to one’s surroundings.
As traditional rear yards are becoming smaller to maximize sellable square footage and accommodate high land costs, we have had to rethink the orientation of main living areas by shifting to enhanced side yard outdoor living areas made possible by zero lot lines and reciprocal use easements. Glass sliding doors that disappear into pockets and niches that lead to landscaped, private outdoor spaces are extensions of the interior when cohesively designed. They work in tandem to make the interior spaces feel unique and the exterior spaces much larger than their actual square footages would indicate. The interior design and architectural theming cohesively carried throughout these spaces enhance the personal experience and provides a living narrative of the architecture.
INTERIOR DESIGN IMPACTS THE SPATIAL EXPERIENCE OF THE HOME
Interior design can be interpreted as is an expression of the overall architecture experience. For example, cues from curved walls or architectural detailing of an eave can be carried out in stair railing patterns, material textures, or casement openings. Stairs are an important transitional space that can provide many design opportunities for maximum impact, beyond just utilizing the spaces underneath them. It can set the tone for a particular aesthetic or can be another opportunity to reconcile the exterior form with the interior.
Floor materials and patterning also contribute to the perception of continued space, particularly in adjacent outdoor and indoor rooms redefined as one with the help of sliding doors that disappear into pockets or niches. With versatile, easy to move furniture, and outdoor elements as focal points, the transformation can be dramatic. This flexibility has become the norm in residential design and we continue to seek solutions like these for our clients and their buyers. We also seek to optimize the 3-dimensional aspects of the exterior massing to translate them into interior volumes as a strategy to manipulating perception of limited space. The main living area’s ceiling height is critical in creating that feeling of spaciousness. Such volume space can be celebrated with elements such as beams and coffers that emulate the stylistic theming you might find in larger homes.
COHESIVE DESIGN CONCEPTS IN MULTIFAMILY HOUSING
The collaboration concept continues to multi-family projects as well. In more dense developments, the smaller unit translates to a more urban loft vibe that emphasizes flexible space utilization. In more upscale complexes, the units offer single family home features such as social kitchens and roof deck entertainment areas. Amenities more commonly seen in resort hotels are big draws for potential residents. As a respite from the dense living environment, several activity nodes are created among unit blocks. Some are integrated with outdoor areas and interior design features that help offset any lost rentable square footage. Our team is constantly being challenged to deliver more value within our design.
COLLABORATION IS KEY
Architecture and interior design is foremost a collaborative challenge with the ultimate goal of creating environments that look and feel good inside, outside, and all spaces in between.
Louis Bretana is an Associate and Senior Designer at Danielian Associates Architecture + Planning. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org