Any designer you collaborate with on your upcoming
project needs to get inside your mind…see what you
envision, relate to what you like, and understand what is
important to you. This mind-meld allows a designer to
channel your vision when they work on your project.
The exercises below help communicate your vision and
desires. I recommend spreading your effort out over
several days or weeks. And ideally everyone with a stake in
the project participates to some degree in these exercises.
Remember that there is no right or wrong here. The
exercises are not judged in any way…they are meant to be
enjoyable and connect you more deeply to your vision.
Step 1: Envision that your project is complete and
meets your wildest expectations! Close your eyes
and try to visualize your new space. What do you
see? Feel? Smell? Experience? What is the light
quality like? It may help to picture walking through
the completed spaces or visualize a particular
activity or ritual that is important to you.
Write Your Personal Image of Home
Step 2: Once you have a clear picture, write it down.
Write as free-flowing as you can, without getting too
self-conscious about your words…the goal is to have fun
picturing your finished project! There are no rules to
how you tackle this exercise or what you write.
Whatever feels like the right way to express your
vision is perfect.
Start by reading the Introduction (specifically
“Using this Book”). Then review the Summary of
the Language list. Take note of which patterns
catch your interest, then go to the section in the book
where that pattern is described in full. Each
description includes a photo, some sketches, and the
fundamentals of what benefits that pattern
provides. There will also be a list of related patterns
that you may also want to explore. In the end, you
will end up with a list of 8 to 12 (or more) core
patterns that together will create a language or
coherent picture for your total project. You may also
keep a list of secondary patterns that peaked your
interest but that have secondary importance.
This book condenses the complete “language” of the
previous book to ten key patterns. Review each of
them and indicate those that are most in line with
your project priorities. This book has the added
benefit of color photos, and you may want to tag any
that you find particularly inspiring.
Review one or both of the following books and
identify key patterns that describe how you want your home to feel.
These books are organized differently, but the purpose is the
same: to define fundamental elements of well-designed homes.
A Pattern Language
by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, & Murray Silverstein
Patterns of Home
by Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein, & Barbara Winslow
Step 1: Collect images from books and magazines
that inspire you about your upcoming project. The
images can include anything…spatial relationships,
materials or textures, the quality of light in a space,
a color, storage ideas…really any image that speaks
to you in some way, even if you can't describe why.
Try not to edit or judge your selections…if
something inspires you, add it to your collection.
Home by Design
by Sarah Susanka
by Suzi Moore McGregor & Nora Burba Trulsson
Strawbale Home Plans
by Wayne Bingham & Colleen Smith
Step 2: As you collect images, jot down what attracts
you. Feel free to go quickly, writing the first thoughts
that come to mind. (Leave blank if you are unsure what
draws you to the image.)
You can flag books, make copies, cut photos out of
magazines...or you can collect photos electronically or
even use pinterest.
Three of my favorite books to browse for visual inspiration.