“The built environment around us is so much more than four walls, a floor, a ceiling and some furnishings. It plays a much deeper role in how we function, how we feel and ultimately how we live each day. Most people’s time is spent in the home environment, work spaces or intermediary places like grocery stores or shopping malls. Each of these is unique to their specific purpose; each has its own. When designed appropriately, they bring value to the building and the occupants.”
– Elaine Keiser, Architect
This story begins on the sleeping porch. A particularly favorite client, Penny P. was excited to build a home on Lake Charlevoix that would become a gathering place for the couple’s children and grandchildren.
This house, she told me, was meant to be one central place for everyone to come together. To meet that end, we worked through design schematics that ensured the flow would work well – all the typical design components from the dining room to the kitchen, lounging on the deck to collapsing in comfortable bedrooms that would leave lasting memories of being tucked in at grandma’s house.
Then she mentioned the sleeping porch, and from that moment on we weren’t building just a gathering place, but a home that would create memories for the many generations to come.
Penny’s grandmother’s home had a sleeping porch, she told me, and it lived on in her memory through her adult years. She wanted to create a place that would elicit the same feelings in her own grandchildren.
If there’s one thing I love about designing homes as an architect, it’s the ability to bring these kinds of connections to life. And it starts, often times, on the front porch. The value that these types of constructs bring to the life and lifestyle of homeowners can’t be calculated; they can only be lived and enjoyed – and remembered.
When someone asks me about the value of an architect in home or professional building design, the examples are innumerable, and yet incalculable. One client wanted to be sure their new back deck would accommodate the 60 or so guests they routinely hosted during frequent entertaining gatherings; the 70-foot expanse we designed included space for tables and food service in mind. Our designs take into account safety concerns for unpredictable weather conditions – or an oversized graduation party that spills out onto the porch and into the lawn.
Creating a connection between the structure of a home and how it works for the family that lives there, or conceiving of the right layout to ensure business success for owner and client, are the hallmarks of a valuable architect.
An architect does more than draw pretty pictures (but we do that, too.) We are more than home designers. We make sure the roof over their children’s heads is stable and sound; that the wind storm will not blow out their windows; and that their basement will not leak. I make sure the deck won’t collapse when 60 people are enjoying good friends and good food on a perfect Northern Michigan summer evening; and that a garage will be large enough to house a full-sized Suburban and everyone’s bikes and toys.
An architect creates function and harmony in the built space, and leaves just enough room for the memories, too. The value of a licensed architect is, in fact, invaluable — for now and for the generations to come, who may one day include a sleeping porch of their own at their beach-side home.