Three Homework Exercises

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.
Exercise Two:

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.
Exercise Three:         
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.
Create a List of Themes

Review one or both of the following books

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.

Exercise One:

Home by Design
by Sarah Susanka
Living Homes
by Suzi Moore McGregor & Nora Burba Trulsson
Strawbale Home Plans
by Wayne Bingham & Colleen Smith

Collect Inspiring Images

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.

Interested in designing together? 

and I will send you my Vision Worksheet to fill out online.  The worksheet helps you articulate your project scope and helps me ensure that your goals are in alignment with my skills.
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