Don Jordan Design & Drafting

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P.O. Box 1655, Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805

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Design Your Castle

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A house is often a collection of different ideas that, ideally, come together as an attractive and functional unit. We all have favorite rooms or spaces we want to incorporate into our new home. "Aunt Martha’s bay window is the coziest breakfast nook I have ever seen!" Well, guess what, Aunt Martha’s window may not be cozy in another house in another setting! Her east side window where everyone gathered for breakfast and read the morning paper would be cold and dark on those same mornings if moved to the west side of the house, and in the afternoon might be too hot to sit in! Same window, completely different setting, therefore a completely different feel!

It is the overall relationship of spaces to the site and personal preferences that make a home "feel" right. Instead of focusing on the bay window, think about what kind of space you want to create. Try to deal with CONCEPTS rather than specifics at the start of the design process. For example, think in terms of a kitchen with lots of storage and counter space rather than tying yourself to an "L" shaped kitchen with a stove in an island with white countertops and oak cabinets. Perhaps you are stuck on having a bay window in the living room; when in reality it is the expansive feeling and sunlight you are actually drawn to.

By keeping your criteria generalized at the start, you keep many more options open and have a greater chance of achieving harmony with conflicting features!

On a piece of paper, list everything you want to include in your new home, in as conceptual a form as possible.

Room for 4 kids; Good natural light; Kitchen for 2 cooks; View from living room;

Private Master bedroom; 2 car garage; Outside play area; Could entertain 30;

Large indoor play area; Handicap accessible; View from Master Bedroom;

Formal dining room; Morning sun at breakfast; Kitchen gathering area.

Have the entire family add to the list over several days. You should start thinking about the RELATIONSHIP between these criteria, but try not to become involved with details at this time. You will want to visit your building site first!

We have all seen those homes that just FEEL right. A major reason for those successful designs is that they are in harmony with the site! Before you get involved with exact room layout and sizes, or style of kitchen cabinets, spend some time at your site. Camp out there, notice where the sun comes up, what the predominant winds are and what the night sounds are...


Take a sketch pad with you and do a simple drawing of the area including everything of significance or interest. It might look something like this:




Now is when you REALLY get to utilize that idea of dealing with concepts before the details! Tape a sheet of tracing paper over the site plan and draw CIRCLES to represent the various areas of the home - living area, kitchen, garage, bedrooms, etc. The first circles drawn would represent the areas that are the most important to you and those that have the LEAST AMOUNT OF SITE FLEXIBILITY; therefore, such mundane features as the garage need to be sited fairly quickly! In this way, you establish a RELATIONSHIP between spaces without getting bogged down with details. RESIST THAT TENDENCY TO SLIP INTO MAKING RECTANGLES INSTEAD OF CIRCLES! The RELATIONSHIP of spaces is the most important principle at this point. You can select the floor covering and stain the kitchen cabinets later! A representative layout might look something like this:

HMMM... maybe I would prefer a non-attached garage and more separation of the bedrooms...

Tape on another sheet of tracing paper!

You might end up with quite a stack of tracing paper with little circles - but in the process you formulate an excellent spatial relationship for your house! The circles allow you to "live" in the "house", walking from one room to another, thinking about the view, how your family is going to live in the spaces, what to do with the bags of groceries. NOW you can work on the details of the design! You have the start of a plan that will function well and evolve logically as the details are worked out! Your carpenters can also concentrate on doing the best job for you, without doing double duty in conflict resolution!

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