Big Island

Why Good Home Design Matters

Many of my clients are encouraged to learn that I worked as an architect and construction manager for many years. After designing, redesigning, and remodeling homes (as well as commercial properties), I felt that my experience as a designer would only help me become a better Realtor. I enjoy helping a person’s ideas come to reality.

The same is true when helping someone buy a home. To see a buyer find a home that genuinely fits his or her needs is why I entered real estate sales with my wife, Kristi. Because of my experience with architectural design, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips on why good home design is important.

Bring the Outside In

A home that is well-designed brings the outside in. A well-placed window or doorway makes the interior space feel less constricted and more connected to nature. Since the landscape in Hawaii is almost always beautiful, a large window (or paneled wall system) will do wonders for your interior space.

With sliding panels that disappear, this home in Kukio (MLS 280721) brings the outside in

With sliding panels that disappear, this home in Kukio on the Big Island (MLS# 280721) brings the outside in

Frank Lloyd Wright, an early 20th century American architect, was known for designing homes that made the owner feel like the home was in harmony with its natural surroundings. Look for homes that were designed in such a way that you can easily feel like you are closer to the beautiful Hawaiian outdoors.

Flow of Traffic

An often overlooked concept is how people will move throughout the house. As you walk through a home that has caught your eye, notice the pathways you will have to take to get from point A to point B. Will people need to cut through the kitchen work area to go from one room to another? What is the path for unloading groceries? Will the best place for your couch block your path from the kitchen to the lanai?

Why cut through the kitchen when you can walk around it?

Why cut through the kitchen when you can walk around it?

Do You Really Need a Formal Entry? Or a Formal Dining Room?

I know you want to make a good first impression on friends and guests in your home. However, many newer homes today were designed without the forethought of how rooms are used. I believe that we really need to rethink the spaces we use…and don’t use.

Who needs a large, formal entry when one with character will do?

Who needs a large, formal entry when a smaller one with character will do?

Here in Hawaii, the lanai often functions as a dining room or living space. Many people opt to have partition walls instead of patio doors leading out to the lanai for this very purpose. You may think you need a formal living room, but consider how a simple partition wall can give you much more useable space than you thought possible.

Where Do You Put All the Shoes and Bags?

Everyone wears shoes, and everyone uses grocery bags. (And in Hawaii, shoes are typically left outside). But not every home is designed in such a way that it makes sense where something as simple as bags are placed.

A simple yet large mud room makes coming and going much easier

A simple yet large mud room makes coming and going much easier

I’m often amazed to see homes with a huge formal entry paired with a tiny mudroom shoved almost haphazardly between the kitchen and the garage. Some designers and builders even think it’s a good idea to put the washer and dryer there, too! Why not create a large mudroom and minimize the front entry? In fact, all space in your home should serve a purpose. Which brings me to my last point…

Look For a Smart Home

No, I’m not talking about a house filled with Apple products. Sarah Susanka, the author of “The Not So Big House,” encourages people to build smaller and smarter. A well-designed home is not necessarily the biggest house on the block with the grandest entryway. Rather, it is the one that uses space in the smartest way possible. These homes incorporate built-in storage areas and eliminate spaces that no one uses. And by building fewer square feet, you can add character elements and detailing that enrich the quality of the home. I highly recommend you read this book and decide if you can build smarter, not bigger.

What Questions Do You Have About Home Design?

Feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. You can also receive my future blogs in your inbox.

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December 4, 2016

Hi Mike,

Great post. I love the sliding panel design it definitely makes the house look more open and connected to the outside environment!

Mike Despard

January 2, 2017

Thanks, Dave! I’m glad you liked the article. Good design can often be simple choices that don’t always cost a lot of money.

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