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This is a longer article, but it addresses the main concern of interior design: people.
That’s what interior design is all about. While it seems that the goal in design is to create a beautiful space, in reality, if it isn’t functional, it doesn’t really matter how beautiful it is. Fortunately, with a little planning you can have both.
Interior design is above all a human endeavor and the basis for planning any space is comfort. And what works for one person or family may not work for another. Therefore, the needs of all those living in the household must be accounted for. That is the designer’s most important job and whether you are doing the design yourself or you hire a professional the same questions must be asked.
• Who will live in the home, in what manner, and for how long?
• What are their psychological responses to people, space and color?
• What are their aesthetic likes and dislikes?
• What resources are available?
While it may seem obvious that the number and relationships of the people who make up the household will be the primary factor in designing the home, there’s more to it than you might suspect. Let’s face it, families have certainly changed over the last century.
Anthropologist Paul Bohannan defines the household as “…a group of people who live together and form a functioning domestic unit.” Today’s families may include the following:
• a single person
• two or more unrelated people
• two or more blood relations
• a married couple
• a non-married couple
• a nuclear family (husband, wife, children)
• an extended family (a nuclear family plus, grandparents, uncles, aunts, children)
• two or more nuclear families living together
• a commune
This basic household structure may be further broadened by:
• live-in help
• short-term guests
• long-term guests
• family pets
While planning a home, some attempt must be made to answer the needs of all members of your family – no easy task at times when you consider just how far out your extended family may be.
How your family approaches life defines your individual life style. The most important ingredient of life style that will influence the design of your home is the personal concept of what a home should be. The following questions may help define your life style:
• Is your family outgoing and people oriented or quiet and private?
• Is your home just a place to sleep and eat or is most of your time spent there, filled with everyday activities?
• Does the family watch television a lot, listen to music, work there, participate in hobbies and games?
You will need to ask these questions and then find ways to accommodate all these activities.
Another consideration is how much time you want to spend on maintenance. Provisions for household tasks to be done with as little fuss as possible need to be made. If you are in the early planning stages, know just what tasks must be accommodated in the home and plan for them, such as a craft or sewing space.
Finally, character of the space is important. It can be formal or informal, geared to entertaining or to basic family activities, contemporary or traditional or eclectic – simple or complex, the character of a space will influence those who live there.
If you are in the process of designing a space, give thought to all these considerations, so that the needs of the people in your home will be met.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|