One of the best parts about my job is the privilege of seeing other people’s homes. And seeing some spectacular homes at that. From the time I started architecture school (and even before then), I knew I wouldn’t be designing high rises or hospitals. Work for me was always going to be about homes, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience some truly amazing architecture.
However, I am often surprised at what homeowners will and will not spend money on when it comes to designing their own homes. And where they are willing to be cheap, and not always in the most appropriate place.
I recently toured a home with a realtor and his client, who was going to be spending a significant amount of money to not only purchase the home but to also renovate the spaces that didn’t work for them. And whoever built the home originally no doubt spent serious cash. But as we were walking through, I kept coming across areas where the end result didn’t reflect the value of the house.
Someone thought they were being frugal.
Don’t get me wrong. As an architect, I work with my clients to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck. Everyone has a limit to how much they are willing to spend. Part of my job is to help guide them to the best places to spend a little extra and to places where they can be more frugal yet still achieve a nice finish.
Master bathrooms are typically an area where we want to see a client spend a little more of their budget. Whether that’s on a marble floor, exotic wood veneer on the cabinets, or even the bidet seat for the toilet. And we probably spend a little more of our design time making sure the layout is optimal and has a bit of a wow factor.
Kitchens fall into the same category. More and more we live in our kitchens, particularly during the current pandemic. And with the advent of the open plan, kitchens are no longer hidden from visitors. Consequently, off-the-rack cabinets, low-end appliances, and generic countertops may not cut the mustard.
I realize not every owner is spending millions to build or renovate their home. However, when you do, the final product as a whole should have the same fit and finish where it counts.
At the home I toured, I found myself taken aback when we walked out to the guest house. Clearly a lot of thought and expense had gone into the design and execution of the building. I wouldn’t have any trouble spending a significant amount of time there. Except the elevated walkway taking you there and the surrounding deck had been made of unfinished 2X6 pressure-treated wood. What should have been elegant (and there are any number of decking materials) instead stood out like a sore thumb. What could have been show-stopping instead looked cheap.
And it is okay to be cost conscious. There is no such thing as an unlimited budget. Just remember, your architect is there to help you achieve the look you want. We are there to make the frugal look fabulous. So, when the next architect walks through, he won’t look down his nose the way I did and think:
That’s not frugal. That’s just being cheap.