Since I was 14 years old I’ve been designing houses for fun. It all started when my dad was working for a log home building company and I fell in love with log houses. The first house I designed had a huge prow-front and massive kitchen with the fridge on one side and the sink at the other side, with an island in between. Lots of walking. It had two lofts. One was the master bedroom and one was a whatever room. With a bridge between them and a spiral staircase in the middle. They were both open to the floor below which meant you could see across from one to the other. Hmm. There was one other bedroom and no bathroom on the main floor. And did I mention this house was about 2300 square feet? LOTS of open floor space. LOTS of wasted space. Cathedral ceilings. Yeah, ridiculous.
I have since gotten a little better at designing houses for families instead of basketball teams, I hope. I’ve amassed a binder full of sketches on graph paper and spanish and chemistry notes, most of which are trash, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them since they’re a chronicle of my progress as a designer and I like to look back at how amazingly awful they were and what terrible rooms I visualized in my head while I was daydreaming in math class.
Sometimes in my dreams (at night) there’s a house that’s really cool and I try to look around at all the rooms while I’m there so I can remember it when I wake up. I usually have to go through the house at least twice, but I start to wake up near the end of the second tour and then I have to make up the rest as I draw it out the next day. They usually end up being mansions.
It is so much fun designing houses for people that if anybody asks me to draw one for them, I start asking them a zillion questions about what they like and what they visualize in their heads and put all the pieces together in my head, then fill in all the blanks as I draw it out, and I feel complete again.
Sometimes people ask me if I’ve drawn up my dream house. I have to say no because there’s no way to design a house without seeing where it’s going first, unless you just want want to plunk a box down on the ground and call it home with no thought for views or sunlight or privacy or prevailing winds or landscaping. I will design my dream house once I see where it’s going to be built. Until then, I practice.
I’m not in too much of a hurry because I still can’t decide if I want round or square logs, and I have to resolve the chinking problem (to chink or not to chink…Darryl says no, I say maybe yes). Then I see how cool straw bale houses look and I want to build one with round walls in some places and little surprise stairways and gardens. And then I don’t know what to do. So I practice designing strawbale houses too. My MIL wants to build one in Saskatchewan so now I’m playing with designs for her. Here’s a couple I did yesterday.
They are not to scale or anything but they’re designed for passive solar heating and protection from the cold north winds in Saskatchewan. That nifty stone wall in the master bedroom (in both plans) would have hot water pipes from the stove or whatever other heating option is used so that the wall gives off heat. Perfect for cold winter nights. Both houses also have wraparound porches and roof overhangs to protect the walls from driving rain.
One thing I love about strawbale is its versatility. You can make a curved wall wherever you want, and put a little diamond-shaped window in it, or embed some colourful glass bottles into it. Walls can be fluid and irregular. There doesn’t have to be any harsh corners or angles and you can create something that’s fun to live in as well as being functional. I think having curved walls makes it feel like you’re living with nature instead of away from it since nature abhors a straight line and curves feel more soothing to the eye. There’s nothing new age about it. It just feels better to be in a house with curved walls.
There’s not many curves in these two houses because they’re designed to be easy to build, though I don’t know how easy the curved window walls would be, and I’m still practicing. I’ll get bolder with house shapes as I play with more plans.
So there ya go. If you’re wanting a beautiful home (or gymnasium) designed, write me with your wish list and I’ll see what I can do. Don’t be surprised if I e-mail you back with an exhaustive list of questions. It’s all part of the process.