A trend I've seen with many clients is a greater focus upon family time and family rooms. Perhaps its because of the down economy and the fact that homeowners are travelling less these days and eating in more, but no matter the reason, clients are looking for fantastic family rooms that provide plenty of comfortable seating and gathering and which allow a variety of activities such as TV viewing, reading, enjoying the fireplace, playing games, entertaining, and the like. An area for desktop computing is often a requirement as well.
If room permits, I'll typically work with clients to define different seating groups or activity areas within the family room space.
Depending on the stage that a family is at, we'll prioritize needs such as toy and game storage, homework and computer areas, video game areas, even areas for music rehearsal if needed.
A nice development over the past several years is the flat panel TV, for a couple of reasons. Even a large flat panel TV takes up less space than the huge, bulky big screen TVs of the past. Those sets could really dominate and dwarf a nice family room. If there isn't room for separate fireplace and TV areas, with some planning and hidden wiring it's possible to mount a flat panel TV immediately above the fireplace. Doing so makes it possible to use a sectional sofa with a focal point that includes both the fireplace and the TV. There is then often secondary space that can be used for a reading nook, a desk area, or a game table area.
When possible, I encourage the use of hardwood floors rather than wall-to-wall carpeting for family rooms. Hardwood offers a tailored and classic appearance, whether the decor is traditional or contemporary. It also allows the use of area rugs that can really enhance the personality of a family room. From oriental to contemporary to modular tiles, area rugs play a lead role in a room's finished appearance, and can define the different areas within the room.
One of the first book assignments for many aspiring young architecture and design students is The Master Builders
, which was first published in 1960 yet is still very relevant today. The book focuses on three pioneering masters of modern architecture: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and provides a great introduction to architecture of the 20th century.
The author, Peter Blake, was himself an architect, and lists among his many accomplishments throughout his storied life his appointment as curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in 1948 and 1949.
In 1950, Mr. Blake started as an associate editor of the now defunct but once widely popular Architectural Forum magazine. He ultimately served as editor in chief of the magazine from 1965 to 1972. Mr. Blake wrote extensively and taught and lectured both here in the United States and abroad.
Designers - Ever find yourself running around, spending huge amounts of time looking at tile, stone, plumbing fixtures, lighting, fabrics, and the like? The internet is a highly useful tool, but there's often no substitute for seeing and touching "the real thing" when it comes to material selection. Ever then wonder if you can justify all of that time when billing your client, if you're working on a hourly or consulting basis?
The answer is a big YES, given that you are researching and selecting items with the clients' best interests in mind, and providing information and specifications as they have hired you to do. Generally, designers and clients have established a budget framework to follow, and hours can be incurred in many different ways.
If working on a fixed-fee basis, designers need to be careful that they are fairly compensated for the all of the time they spend on a project, and that their compensation doesn't flatten out. Experienced designers are usually fairly well accomplished at estimating fixed fees, but it can sometimes take quite a bit of homework and thought about every possible detail of a project to arrive at a realistic and fair fixed fee.
Even minor details can consume a significant amount of a designer's time. Grout colors, cabinet hardware, switchplate and outlet cover colors, paint finish specs (eggshell vs. pearl?), and many other details must be kept track of and taken into account when estimating fair compensation.
At the same time, clients need to understand that the designer is typically highly invested in making sure that everything turns out great for the client, and that he or she will typically need to spend a significant amount of time pay attention to details, making potentially numerous trips to the design center, as well as phone calls and emails to ensure that all aspects of a project are covered, no matter how large or small. The intangibles that contribute to a project's success are sometimes difficult to measure. Whether you're working on an hourly basis, a fixed fee, or a mark-up basis, designers typically strive to produce wonderful results at realistic and fair rates.