Sunday, May 1, 2011

Building a House, Making a Home

After my recent trip to Washington, DC, I've stayed close to home the past few weeks, only checking out a few local Byway Scenes close to Salt Lake. It is nice to stay close to home. I like being home just as much as I love being out traveling the Byway.

My husband and I have just finished looking at about 25 house books - some of them so large and heavy it was a challenge to lift them with one hand. He got these books from the library. Books with titles such as architectural inspiration, off the grid, the smart house, stone houses, palm springs living, earth sheltered housing design, cool homes in hot places, designing the good home, and so on.

We are doing this because we are finding ideas for the house we want to build in the desert near Joshua Tree starting this year. This year. Wow. It is exciting and kind of scary - to me. Scary because undertaking something like this is new to me. I've never been involved in building a house before. And off-grid. And in the California high desert.

We've been looking through these books for about 2+ weeks now and this weekend my husband finished photographing all of the images we like and turning them into digital files so we could sort them all - 500+ images of fireplaces, doors, windows, ceilings, floors, built-ins, great rooms, lofts, roof decks, bathrooms, rock work, patios and porches, landscaping, interior design, etc.

And now we are short-listing the best, most relevant images, so we can start sharing them with someone who will help manage our design efforts. We need to figure out how what we want can match what is realistic in terms of cost, environment and building codes. And these 25 books and 500 images are just a start. There will be many, many more books to review and images to sort and decisions to make.

It is exciting and fun, but also a challenge for me to sit down and get serious about being clear and detailed about what I would want in a house and a home. This is not just about building a house, it is also about building a home. House and home can be two very different things. You can admire and find attractive a lot of different types of architecture and interior design, but do you want to live in them? Are they practical for you and your lifestyle? Do you feel comfortable in the environment? Do you want to spend time there? What kind of home do you want to live in?

My  husband has been dreaming of building a house/home on this land in the desert for a very long time - so he has given it a lot of thought and has a lot of ideas. But this is new to me. I've never thought much about this before. It is one thing to talk about how much you like this bathroom or that fireplace when you are casually looking at magazine images just for fun or checking out someone else's house, but it is a whole other ball game when you are choosing ideas that you will have to pay for, ensure they get built the right way, and then live with and in them.

And it is a partnership too - two people will do this and live in it, so there is the additional fun, exciting and challenging experience of exploring and understanding your partner's dreams, ideas, interests and priorities. Then seeing how you can combine, share and meld both people's visions. If relationships are about compromise, well then, building a house for two to share is going to be the same, isn't it?

If you know of, or have experience with, any good home design books or websites or companies, please share your recommendations. If you have any good home building stories or lessons learned to share, I would love to hear those too. The more information and ideas to consider, the better.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a big fan of building your house passive solar, especially if you had the luxury of building it yourselves. Also, see if a geothermal heat pump is feasible. I really want one of those for our Port Angeles house.