27 thoughts on design. the start of a written blueprint

this list is a snapshot of what I think about when I think about a home I would build for myself.

DISCLAIMER: for the love of pete, this does not mean it’s the only way I would work for a client. please don’t ever assume that an architect’s personal taste is all they are interested in working with. it’s always exhausting to hear ‘but that’s not your style! that actually looks good!’ when I work with a look that is not super-modern. considering i’ve never been tasked by a client to design anything even remotely modern, I obviously like working in all sorts of styles.


  1. when inside, you should see more of the outside than you do of the inside. I don’t want to see my walls when i’m trying to look outside. if it’s a window, the wall is ALL glass. if it’s a wall, its there to create privacy, hold up art(which includes building materials AS art), or support the framing.

  2. I cannot describe how much I hate window treatments. some are really beautiful, in other homes, but I don’t want any that are visible when they aren’t being used. also, i’m going to burst into tears if I have to deal with my wood blinds one more time in the middle of the night. they are gorgeous, but so loud - you can’t raise or lower the windows without making an infernal racket.

  3. nothing random, ever. take as much care in balancing the elevations and creating a symphonic floor plan as you would in preparing a proper chicago-style pizza. it takes patience, quality ingredients, practice, and never using a mass-marketed product.

  4. no white walls, EVER.

  5. have materials meet as if they are two people set up by their best friends on a blind date - give them space to express their own qualities but also form a combination that makes each part better as a set than it was on its own. also, watch for different moisture absorption and expansion rates.

  6. no fancy french stoves.

  7. build as much furniture by hand as possible. don’t worry if it’s not perfect. see #8.

  8. don’t even THINK about leaving the woodshop out of the plan. make room for a small welding area.

  9. make it physically impossible for a spouse to store garage items out of reach, even if they are seasonal and likely to never be used again. this one hasn't been quite figured out yet.

  10. water feature. not a statuary-based fountain thing, but something that rolls over rocks and gives the local frogs a place to hang out. rocks to be sourced in lake michigan.

  11. plenty of places for cats to naturally perch without the use of cat-specific accessories.

  12. light fixtures that can be easily changed out.


  14. NO DECKS. on this, I love decks. i’ve spent a lot of good time on some good decks, and I love how they smell when they are new. that’s still not enough to make me deal with all the horrible parts about them. the maintenance, the filth underneath, railings that are always blocking the view, etc Bluestone patios forever!

  15. wood ceilings and concrete floors. lets just see how that goes.

  16. when using wood, try to find reclaimed or recycled wood whenever possible.

  17. ceiling height minimum 10’.

  18. washable garage floor.

  19. I want driving up the driveway at night, at all times of the year, to feel like i’m driving up to a tropical resort. if all I can afford to do is cover the tree trunks in twinkle lights, so be it. if I can take a few years to craft the landscaping in layers that provide peek-a-boo vistas of the house as one approaches, even better.

  20. speaking of landscaping, it needs to have color and texture in every season. not just blooms in summer and then tundra all winter. flowering trees and daffodils in early spring, irises and creeping phlox in late spring, lillies and daisies in summer, etc etc etc.

  21. screen porches for everyone!! except only on the roof, so they don’t block the views of the rooms behind them.

  22. tons of reach-in pantry space in the kitchen, not a closet with shelving. just a thing i’ve tried in my own projects and I LOVE how they function.

  23. furniture should be bought to be kept forever, barring damage.

  24. electric car charging stations.

  25. in any spot where rooms transition from one to the next, there is a vista through to the other end of the approaching space. I should probably start sketching all this stuff, if i’m really to follow this through….

  26. no base trim or wall trim or crown molding - all joints are inverted reveals.

  27. no built-in spaces for any technology, like TV’s, modems, speakers, etc. they change too fast, and the house should not be made to