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A Reveal Does Not An Architect Make

by - Sunday, May 06, 2007

HandyMan and I know this person Tomcat who fancies himself quite the architect. In his own home, he's done a total reno top to bottom. This involved ripping out walls, floors, and ceilings. Now normally I would applaud anyone who voluntarily takes on such an undertaking... living in a constant state of dust and construction is tough on the pocketbook and relationships with your co-habitants. But when the end result is just "wrong, wrong, wrong", all I can think is "what a colossal waste of money."

I've found that you can spot a 'good' architect's house by its presence on a street, by the way it stands out from all the others. Unfortunately, you can just as easily spot a 'bad' architect's house. Architect's tend to bring their work home with them, and try and incorporate all the fancy-schmancy things they learn at work into their own homes. Sometimes it works, other times - not so much. Tomcat's house is an example of poor space planning, unnecessary details, and just overall bad design. I think its a result of Tomcat's inexperience. He's probably worked on a few retail or residential spaces in his day job. But while things like a corner reveal or dropped ceiling work well in the latest hip nightclub, in your own home, they just seem out of place.

The space, too, shows the difference between an 'architect' and a 'designer'. An architect (especially an inexperienced one), would spend the money to install cool pocket doors. A designer would realize that behind those pocket doors is a crappy old bathroom with dated looking tiles and old hardware. An architect would use 'in' materials like brazilian cherrywood, grey-tone slate and clean white subway tiles... a designer would realize that its probably not wise to use them all in the same room. Funny, even with HandyMan, he is fantastic at drawing plans, making efficient use of space, but ask him to pick tiles that go together on a fireplace and he's at a loss.

In the end, when you go too far on either spectrum, too architect-y or too designery-y, you're left with an end product that very few 'normal' people can appreciate. HandyMan's and my house will be somewhere in the middle... simple bones with great finishing details. That's really all you need.

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