Deciding which is most important: utility or luxury

    When coming up with a one-of-a-kind home design to meet your unique combination of needs and budget, there are two major considerations that will help narrow your focus. Figuring out which is your priority will get you moving toward the design of your dreams.


    If you put utility in automotive terms, think of a van or pickup. In many cases, the usefulness of the vehicle for a specific purpose takes precedence over the looks or the emotional grab of the car’s design.

    A pickup truck is designed for a specific purpose—to haul bulky or heavy stuff—and the way the truck looks, feels, rides, or drives can be secondary considerations. If it won’t haul, then none of the other stuff matters.

    The same can be true for your home. If you have a large family or if you homeschool, you need space. Your new home might be beautiful, elegant, and inviting, but if it doesn’t have enough space for your family to live comfortably, then it just won’t work.

    Aesthetics and luxury

    Back to the automotive example above, this time think of an exotic sports car or a luxury SUV. Neither one has utility as its number one purpose. Each design puts style or luxury above utility—you won’t be hauling a piano, but that’s not why you buy a car like this.

    Put in terms of a new home, it’s a design that has angles, lots of architectural features, high-end lighting and appliances, and maybe even some exotic finishes. Maybe you don’t have a lot of kids at home, and the high-end features are what you’re after. Your home could have lots of space and an efficient layout, but if it doesn’t make a statement to you when you drive up or walk in, then it won’t work for you.

    Take the time to really understand whether utility or luxury is the most important for you and your family in your new home design. Even though the finished product will have elements of both (you might want lots of space, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be beautiful), one factor or the other will drive the overall design. Knowing which one will save you lots of time and frustration when communicating your desires to the home designer or builder.
    We worked with one homeschool family that started out trying to balance both needs perfectly. They wanted a specific look, but what they really needed most was the square footage, and they couldn’t fit both in their budget.

    Once they realized space was most important, we focused on a large, efficient floor plan and then added some very specific elements in key places—cedar shutters, a high-end stair railing, and a few other aesthetic elements that achieved the look they wanted without having to sacrifice space.
    Before you begin the design process, take the time to discuss these ideas with the other decision maker(s)—your husband, wife, or whomever else is involved in the decision—and make sure you’re on the same page.

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