our house is home


House versus home. What is the difference? I’m not going to answer that – I’m not interested into delving into telling someone that answer. Let’s not work at separating these two things, but talk about how they are connected. Can one contribute to the other?

As architects, we design houses which occupants make their home. The question is – can our design contribute to how the homeowners make a house their home? I wish I had time to interview past clients and get their take on this; that would be a great interview. For this post, I interviewed myself and my wife to describe a few architectural decisions we made in the house we built for ourselves almost 10 years ago, that contribute to how we have made it our home as a family.

Frugality: I believe our decision to be prudent and careful in what expenses we incurred in the making of the house allowed us to create something that was affordable, so in our overall budget we still had the ability to do things together as a family and do things for and with other families. Building too much house would have pushed us to our financial limit, begin to invade other parts of our lives, and negatively influence important decisions. Some decisions were a no, some were a not now. This many years later, I’m trying to find time to plan some of those “not now” decisions. Our house is small.

First Floor Plan Inverted.jpg

Windows and Views: We designed the placement of windows to allow for certain views, but Amy recalls one specific, late addition window. One of the dining room windows overlooks the driveway and for years allowed us to watch our son play in the yard. I can’t recall why it wasn’t part of the original design, but it seems so obviously critical to the interior views and external composition. Funny, that decision was made on Valentine’s Day, 2007 – a useful gift.

look for the middle window above the garage door

Kitchen: Saying that one has an island, sounds like a pretentious move to one-up our friends or at best a residual effect of too much HGTV. However, in our case, we talked at great lengths about how our kitchen should work – especially with a blank slate. We discovered that an L-shaped kitchen with an island accomplished several things. Most importantly, it allows for one of us to be in the kitchen (Amy cooks better than I do), while our guests are buffeted by the island. Friends or family can communicate with us in the kitchen, but politely stay out of the way – yet be together.


Openness: I prefer to go beyond the term open-plan since it has been reduced to a pedestrian buzzword. There is not enough definition to it to permit people to use it correctly. Based on our own childhoods (mainly mine), we made a conscious decision to arrange the main living spaces to still see each other no matter where we are. This has a huge benefit to allow togetherness while still permitting individual activities that can evolve into group activities. We carefully molded these spaces to allow for multiple activities (and we didn’t build other activity rooms). Moreover, we had several conversations on the relationships of these rooms to one another. The dining room for instance bridges between the kitchen and the living room; activities there can relate to either or both spaces. I might be in the living room typing this blog, while our son may be at the dining room table doing homework. Amy could be in any of these rooms as she is generally working the hardest moving about all these spaces keeping us going. The key is being together

after all these years, I’m considering changing the wall color

I have heard that some architects could never build their own house due to decision paralysis. Perhaps it causes too many arguments. Budget will reduce the selection options quickly too – a good thing. None of our choices are arbitrary, but then we weren’t afraid to make decisions. We did find the house is just a building, but because of the design, it helped make a house our home.

photos: Ron Lutz II

Please read what my friends’ perspective are – it might change your mind…or mine. #Architalks

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
I don’t design homes

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: House or Home?

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
The Designation between House and Home

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
House or Home? The Answer to Everything

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Emotional Marketing for Architects: House or Home?

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
House or Home? It’s in the story.

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
House or Home? A Choice of Terms

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
house or home: #architalks

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“house” or “home”?

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
House or Home — Discover the Difference

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #24 : House or Home

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
House or Home? – Depends

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
House or Home? Train for One, Design for Another

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
A Rose by Any Other Name…

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
House or Home

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Designing a House into a Home

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
6 Ways to Make your Architecture Studio feel like Home

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Making a House a Home

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Dwelling on a Macro scale

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
House or Home: One’s a Place, the Other a Feeling.

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
Architalks – A House is not a home

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
#ArchiTalks #24 House or Home? #RefugeeCrisis @GrainneHassett mentioned

our house is home

5 thoughts on “our house is home

  1. sefikjen says:

    I realised that there are more of “architalks”. (This is the 24th, right?)
    Could you send a link to the other topics and articles of this series?
    I wasn’t able to find any of them.


    1. Thank you for reading and your interest. There are many who participate, so I’m not sure if you are looking for all of ours who participate or just mine. I have a #Architalks in mine for search reasons, but I don’t have it listed as a separate theme. Each month the topic varies, so there is no specific theme to our Architalks series. I’d say follow those blogs that you enjoy and you’ll find the series. Other bloggers may have #Architalks listed as a theme on their site.

  2. Really interesting read! The building’s design is such an important factor to the homeowner’s sense of comfort and ownership. Each family is different and the design needs to reflect that, while also staying gin line with things like budget, sustainability, energy efficiency, etc. Thanks for sharing your story!

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