By Lance McCarthy
Designing spaces is a lot like cooking a gourmet meal. It seems pretty easy and intuitive, especially when you see it on TV. All the ingredients are familiar, how hard can it be? But the harder you work, sometimes the further you get from what you wanted, and often your finished product looks nothing like what you had imagined. Happened to me just this morning with my “autumn pumpkin oatmeal”. Thanks a lot Rachael Ray!
In my line of work, I get to go into a lot of houses (by my count, almost 200 so far this year), and one of the things that I notice is how often the space in houses just isn’t working very well. These are normal, everyday houses, probably a lot like yours, but something about them is not functioning as well as it should. We end up spending a lot of time helping people that are having to work around their houses to live their lives.
I think one of the reasons for this is that often, homeowners, contractors and designers/architects are ignoring the Secret Rules of Design. Now what, you may ask, are the Secret Rules Of Design? and why do I keep capitalizing the words “Secret”, “Rules”, “Of”, and “Design”? I’m glad you asked. I’m capitalizing mostly because it is Fun. And I have asked my good friend Joel (with a capital J) the Architect to share some of the Secret Rules Of Design.
Rules of Design are a lot like our culture’s rules about who it’s ok to kiss. You can obey the rules or break the rules, but just don’t act like there aren’t rules or you might end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Exhibit A. That’s me treating you to a super awkward video. You’re welcome.
So, yeah. Rules of Design. They’re there, break them or not, both can work out great, but just know they exist. Word.
Here is a quick teaser of Three Of The Secret Rules (a more stodgy boring term might be “design concepts”) that we are going to dig into in the next few weeks:
Secret Rule #1 Circulation
I like to call this one the Goldilocks Rule. Don’t end up with too much circulation in a space or too little, but make it just right. This has to do with the floor space in a house that is dedicated to moving people from one room to another. We will describe how circulation is like the Silent Ninja of a house, and how Frank LLoyd Wright used it to make a house act like a Christmas Gift.
Secret Rule #2 Proportion
I call this the Alice in Wonderland Rule. Ever walked into a two story foyer in a new house and feel like you ate the wrong piece of cake? (For those of you who aren’t down with the whole Alice in Wonderland reference, that means you feel really small in a too tall place) We will connect that weird feeling to an amazing ratio discovered by the Greeks that exists throughout nature, and help explain why it matters in your dining room.
Secret Rule #3 Axis and Terminus
I call this the Arnold Schwarzzenegger Rule, but that’s really just because the words Axis and Terminus sound like movies he could have been in. This refers to the fact that humans are always orienting themselves in their space. Axis refers to the direction the space moves in, and Terminus refers to what lies at the end of that movement. It’s all very Zen. Curious? I’ll be back. Did you see what I did there? With the Arnold phrase?
Next week, Master Joel will start illuminating these mysterious and Secret Rules of Design. I think you are gonna like it. If you just can’t wait to hear from him then come visit us on Friday night as we throw a party at the Shawnee BBQ competition. There will be free food, drinks, and us. Even my wife is coming with our kids and she doesn’t take them to public places out of sheer fear of humiliation… so bring your kids! Bring your dog! It’s a free, family, fun night and we’d love to see you. And we may even have a stranger-kissing video shoot! Ok, not really. If that made you really want to come, please don’t come. Everyone else, I’ll see you on Friday!