Over the years I’ve found that there are five primary design elements or impulses that people tend to express and gravitate towards. Identifying the design elements that you are most drawn to helps to inform your design ideas and goals. Most people discover that they relate to some aspect of each element, but that one is usually stronger than the rest.
The five primary design elements are: Beauty, Order, Comfort, Expression and Connection. Below I’ve written a description of each. What type are you?
Beauty is a very subjective category, because what people think is beautiful varies widely. Some people may be drawn to the ornate and very produced look of a Victorian style home, while someone else might be inspired by the beauty of nature and want to incorporate more naturally occurring patterns, elements and colors into their home. While the end design differs for each person, it’s helpful to know when a client’s primary design impulse is toward beauty.
Beauty seekers usually develop a design for their home that is distinctive. The materials they choose tend to stand out. They usually incorporate more decorative elements into their design plan than someone with a different primary design impulse. These people will be more likely to displays art or other personal items. They may be drawn to rich colors and textures and appreciate a full look.
People with order as their primary design impulse thrive on functionality and seek out well functioning organizational systems. Materials are chosen for their durability and easy maintenance. In designing a kitchen those drawn to order are more likely to incorporate elements of a commercial kitchen. With a client who seeks order I find myself discussing drawer organizers and recycling bins, where as with a beauty seeking client things like trim detail, hardware and color are at the forefront. Once the practical elements have been decided on, an order seeker will often rely heavily on the designer for style and color choices.
Comfort seekers care much more about the enjoyment of their home than what other people think of their home. These people have their routines, hobbies or common activities that their homes need to align with. Home theaters or other rooms that are dedicated to a particular hobby or activity are common for this group. Items that I would talk about with these clients could include: Light blocking shades, in-floor heating, steam showers, home saunas, hot tubs, pools, wet bars etc. Comfort seekers are often the work hard, play hard kind of people.
These people are often artists or they have an affinity to creativity. They want their home to be an expression of who they are as a person. These people will be much more likely to integrate non-traditional materials into their homes. They are often drawn to murals, wallpaper, stencils, painted designs, mosaics, wood floors with custom inlayed designs, found objects, custom built furniture and cabinetry. These people approach a remodel project as an art project. They appreciate outside of the box thinking, ingenuity and creativity
As with any of the design impulses, connection can lead to radically different aesthetic depending on the person. Within connection I’ve noticed three unique subcategories:
Tradition: someone seeking connection could want to restore a historical home because they feel a connection to the history and tradition of a particular time period. It could also be about valuing and honoring older generations. Design for this person will usually center around recreating a past style or integrating family heirlooms or traditions.
Spirituality: Some people want their home to reflect their spiritual or religious path or to act as a daily reminder of what’s important to them. For some this may be as simple as integrating a small alter space into their design plan. Color choices and decorative elements may be informed by a spiritual connection. Feng Shui may be integrated into the design. If you are this type you may want a dedicated room for meditation, yoga or prayer.
Community: Community oriented individuals will want to be able to host groups, it may be important for them to have space in the house for guests and family to stay in. They will most likely be drawn to open floor plans so that people can easily interact without being sectioned off by an overly divided space. An easy and natural flow between indoor and outdoor living spaces is ideal. Having a kitchen with enough space for many people to move around in is often key to hosting groups and family. Front porches will also be desirable for people who want to be able to easily interact with neighbors and see what’s going on in the neighborhood. Importance may be given to creating a retreat space for the homeowner, giving them the comfort in knowing that no matter how many people they have staying over, they will have a place to grab a few minutes of peace and quite.
These are all ideas that I’ve been working with for some time but I have just recently begun to organize them into a cohesive structure. I will probably add a dedicated page to my website with this info soon. So let me know what you think and if there’s anything major that I’ve left out.
Thanks for reading