“Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” William Morris.

Almost 400 years ago a faction of disgruntled pilgrims disembarked the Mayflower at the end of their cruise and commenced to building shelter somewhere in the Plymouth Rock neighborhood of Massachusetts.  One and two room shacks made from rough-hewn logs, moss and mud were the order of the day and those that that kept the weather out were the neighborhood envy.  Home Builders were busy guys, developers were well… everybody, Architects were all unlicensed and bureaucracy was but a glimmer in the eye of a budding country.  Glass windows and metal hinges were fashionable luxury items and paint of any color was just showing off.  Floor covering occurred when a blanket or the drunk guy fell to on the floor and the R value was measured by the amount of r’s in the BRRRRR his teeth chattered per minute during January. Obviously, the pilgrims did not invent housing.  The Romans, Greeks and most everyone in Europe were building some pretty nice shacks before the new world was discovered. But, the Plymouth neighborhood was the first in America.

The American home has evolved greatly over the years. Comfort along with convenience have driven much of the technology especially in the past 100 years.  Ideas like running water, sewage, waterproofing, heat, air conditioning, electricity, central vacuum, cable TV and WiFi were brought to the market and, well…we took advantage and became more comfortable and connected. Now these things have become the norm in most homes. The technology of Homebuilding today and what people want in their home keeps changing. Developers deal with real estate, Architects and Designers get licensed and fight about who owns the ‘D’ word, (Design), Inspectors are required for everything and Builders scrape through the bureaucracy created by the monster we call Government. Fees and costs mount up and are paid by the proud homeowner at closing (plus the Realtors fees). Every home has its comfort items and every new or remodeled home goes through building and red tape issues that dictate much of what goes into the home.  So, the nicest house in your neighborhood was not likely built much differently than others, and it has the same electricity, cable and running water as all the others. After all the construction is finished, what’s really the difference? What’s the WOW factor? I would submit that the nicest home in any neighborhood has the combination of solid design principles combined with the owner’s personal taste and what we notice is how the finished items that have been selected are put together to complete the home.

Design and building ideas borrowed from the old world continue to influence the architecture of today’s home and have become essentials of enduring design. The form of today’s home followed function, followed form, followed geniuses like Louis Sullivan, Walter Gropius, Henry and Charles Greene, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Buckmister Fuller, Daniel Burnham and many other innovators, thinkers and Designers.  Don’t be offended; the list is huge! These Architects and Designers taught us that it’s the folding and blending of site, form, function, cost, line, color, texture, lighting, passion and so much else that defines residential design. Great home design is not for the untrained or uninspired.  It requires imagination, listening, patience and an absolute passion for where and how people live.  It requires the ability to blend the natural laws of design with personal style and lifestyle.

The Design of a home, a great home, is wrapped in many layers of complexity and consideration and then kept very simple. But, what’s most important to the homeowner of today is how our home makes us feel and how it fits our lifestyle. Where we live is very wrapped up in how we live, who we love and what we love to do. All of which is expressed in the form and function of our dwelling. There is no denying…The Home makes our greatest fashion statement!  It possesses style nearly as important to one’s self esteem as the fashion one wears.  It is a place of pride, a statement of one’s taste and a testament to our personal style. Home design, especially it’s interior design, is an incredibly important, personal issue in a homeowner’s buying decisions and personal life.

A person’s home is the most important place on the planet.  Period.  Home is a place more important than any store, office, museum or place of worship. The home is where people live, relax, dream, work, play, laugh, cry, create their memories…and keep their stuff.  It’s where they raise their babies, where first steps are taken, where homework gets done and where they catch up on the day over a family meal.  The home is where one keeps their favorite books, furniture, hobbies and prized possessions.  For any homeowner, home is where the most important people in the world live and where we invite friends to share our lives.  No other building means more to ones peace of mind, self-image or soul than their home. Home is where the heart is.

No matter where people live or what their style, most people want to live in a house that is ‘finished’. ‘Finished’ describes a project that is designed to create a completed, well thought out look that reflects the owners lifestyle and personal taste.  In my years as a Home Designer, my theory in dealing with couples building or remodeling a home was, and still is, ‘Design for Mom’!  Don’t get excited, I mean the generic ‘Mom’, the person most affected by design. ‘Mom’, who is the fashion driver in the home, the person who pretty much steers the ship when it comes to design decisions. Most women take the look of their home very personally. No one is saying that men aren’t affected by good design, but when was the last time ‘Dad’ won an argument concerning the style, shape or color of a sofa. Homeowners (especially ‘Moms’) want rooms that are designed, finished and completed to enhance the way they live. They are clamoring for design direction and, even in harsh economic times, are willing to pay a little more for a product when they can get the added value from a retailer or manufacturer who can help them ’finish their home’.

The design of a home, especially the interior design of a home has become very big business.  ‘Big boxes’ as well as ‘specialty stores’ have emerged, designs and designers have never been in more demand, and there are more home décor magazines and websites than ever. Add to that, there is more than one TV network dedicated to the home, not to mention the gardens. The fashion of home has never been more important. Yes, the home is a fashion statement and has great affect on purchases. While purchasing is still somewhat about function and performance, function and performance don’t matter a bit if the product doesn’t look good and somehow fit in the desired design…’the finished home’!

Disgruntled pilgrims did not buy a cruise ticket solely because the boat was sturdy and the weather looked good. They bought the idea of a better life and the possibility of what could be.  They had no ability to get to the new world themselves, so the Captain and crew gave them the added value of direction and safety.  In the same way, (ok it’s a little corny), homeowners do not buy furniture, paint, flooring, siding or trim. They buy the idea, the possibility and the dream of their finished space, room or home.  If retailers and manufacturers want to add value to their products, create repeat business and generate referral business, they might want to add some value in the form of design direction and better decision making safety.  We can create loyal, evangelical customers by helping them through the design decisions.  Invest in the importance of the finished room or space, design for ‘Mom’ and remember that the home is a personal and important fashion statement.

By Mike Moore, Making Customers and Tim Hanno, Karndean International


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