Our Approach: Pairing Sketching and 3D Modeling When Designing Your Home.
Throughout our project releases on social media and our portfolio, you may notice that our firm consistently echoes the importance of starting our home design process with sketching. Jesse’s ability to sketch both the exterior of the homes he commits to designing, as well as the interior perspective views of his interior design plans, has proven to be a discerning difference in Jesse’s ability to create timeless home designs. While much, much more goes into these projects than a few sketches, including a long and iterative process where every detail is questioned several times over, we wanted to provide some insight into the reasons we believe sketching is an integral part of the home design process for any timeless custom home. The definition of timeless design at Sensus Design Studio is that you can’t tell when the home was built when you drive by it. When you approach a home’s design from this perspective your thoughts about each detail, and their weight in the scheme of the total design, shifts significantly. Hand sketching each design allows you to quickly and organically define the proportion of a design, test different exterior materials and textures, and balance decorative features leading to the creation of a timeless design.
Of course, it also results in an enjoyable experience for both the client and the home designer as a result of collaboration and keen focus on the intention and logic behind the design of each feature. We also believe that because sketching allows designers to explore their ideas and concepts in a flexible and iterative manner, the “right” design will inevitably be achieved along with unique and effective solutions to challenges found through the working process. Sketches also allow us to quickly experiment with different shapes, forms, and details, without being constrained by the technical limitations of a specific software. This freedom of design expression encourages Jesse to explore a range of home design styles while pushing boundaries of the proportions he understands. Some of his favorite styles include renditions of French Chateau and French Manor design, Modern design, Farmhouse design along with its many contemporary renditions, and of course the Georgian, Contemporary, Tudor, English Cottage, and Nordic home design categories.
Furthermore, sketches often capture the intention and thought process behind a home’s design in a way that is not possible with more polished presentations. This raw and honest expression can be very powerful, as it communicates the designer’s vision in a way that is both personal and authentic. Hand-drawn quality also adds a human touch and personality to the design, which can also contribute to the timelessness of the design.
Benefits of Sketching:
Sketching is an important tool when it comes to designing a home, and offers a variety of benefits to help make the process easier, more effective, and more enjoyable. Some of the key benefits of sketching in our experience includes the following:
1. Proportions: Sketching benefits home design as a result of the designer having a heightened sense for the right proportions. Being in-tune with the design you are trying to achieve when sketching offers the designer a level of control that is near impossible to achieve with computer generated design. Everything from window sizes, window heights, roof heights, and even the most minor exterior details all have the “right location” on a page and sketching is what significantly aids in the formulation of the ideal design.
2. Visualization: Sketching allows you to quickly bring your custom home design ideas to life, helping you to see exactly how your ideas will look and function in the real world without having to mentally commit to it for too long. This makes it much easier to identify any issues or make any necessary changes to your custom home design before a more formal step in the design process begins. And, most importantly, if the sketch doesn’t look ideal, then it probably won’t look much better when you computer model it.
3. Creative Process Improvement: Sketching provides a low-stakes environment for you to experiment with different design ideas as you build upon your initial concept. This approach to custom home design can aid you in developing innovative solutions to design challenges. It also aids in the creative process by allowing you to delve into a range of stylistic details, massings, and new proportions for different features of the home without consequence. This creative process is important when trying to create a unique exterior elevation that stands the test of time.
4. Communication and Collaboration: Sketching makes it easier to communicate your custom home design ideas to others, such as clients, contractors, or even family members. By having a visual representation of your design, it becomes much easier to explain your ideas and to receive feedback. Utilizing sketching in design meetings with clients as a way to explain your ideas as the discussion progresses creates a uniquely collaborative environment for everyone involved. Not only does this make everyone feel like a hands-on contributor, but it also creates efficiencies in the process because everyone is so heavily and attentively involved.
5. Problem-solving: Sketching can also be a helpful tool for identifying and solving potential design problems before they become solidified in computer generated plans required for more complicated phases of the design process. By working through your design ideas on paper, you can quickly identify any potential challenges and find ways to overcome them.
6. Cost savings: Sketching can help you to identify any design elements that may increase the cost of your custom home project, such as features that require significant structural steel to achieve, or unnecessarily large spaces. By making the necessary changes before construction begins, you can save time and money and ensure that your project stays within budget. We also believe that sketching adds efficiency to the home design process because of how smoothly things go when everyone is collaboratively involved. We believe this efficiency in the design process occurs because sketching offers clearer insight into the artist’s design intent, and watching this process develop helps everyone involved gain a deep understanding of the logic behind the home’s design as opposed to being an outside viewer critiquing it.
How Computer Generated Design Amplifies the Design Process
While we believe that the process of sketching is what separates the ranks between different custom home design firms, this doesn’t mean we stick our noses up at computer generated home design. In fact, it’s a huge part of our process! Computer modeling offers efficiency through the process as a result of being able to utilize sophisticated modeling to visualize specific features, quickly outline specific construction sequence notes, and create a comprehensive design package that sketching and hand drawn drawings can’t offer.
In our eyes, 3D modeling and other forms of computer generated home design compliment the old world practice of sketching to a high degree for several reasons. Our approach is one that blends the practices of sketching and computer generated 3D visualizations to harness the best of both the old world architectural principles that have proven to be so effective throughout history, and the new world practices of 3D modeling to improve the accuracy of design, flow of information, and the construction process itself. By utilizing both of these methods you are able to harness the free-spirited whimsical exploration that sketching offers while creating an accurate, and detailed home that can be easily visualized before swinging a hammer.
3. Integration of Landscaping Design: The ability to integrate landscape design into our design process has been the single most important impetus behind our ability to treat the exterior entertainment space as an extension of the interior entertainment space. The same creature comforts should apply to both spaces, and that means that the same level of detail and approach of creating a luxurious environment has to apply as well. Being able to assess the locations of exterior tree and shrubbery selections, as well as garden lighting locations. 3D modeling supports this process as the same modeling used for the exterior design can accommodate these features. This leads to better placement of pool equipment, soaker pits or french drains, general storm water management on the site, and of course an improved quality of exterior design that closely meets the end users functional and aesthetic desires.
5. Integration of Interior Design Plans: The same exterior 3D design software that we utilize to bring the exterior design sketches to life is the same software that we use to bring interior design sketches to life. By creating interior 3D models, our team is able to offer our clients a full picture of what the interior is slated to look like. In addition to this, these models allow us to determine the amount of natural light that comes into each space accurately as well. Behind the scenes, detailed 2D construction drawings with corresponding elevations are produced including reflected ceiling plans to disperse the right amount of light into each room, elevation drawings of cabinetry in order to full customize each unit with unique features such as non-conventional storage solutions, and tile wall and floor finish layouts. This level of detail ensures a smooth construction process in our experience.
The Pillars of Timeless Design
Here are a few of our “pillars” of timeless design that we incorporate into every project we commit to:
1. Functionality: Timeless architecture prioritizes function over form, meaning that the home’s design is guided by the needs of the building’s users rather than solely by aesthetic considerations. This means that the building should be designed to efficiently and effectively serve its intended purpose, whether it’s a home, office, school, or other type of building. A timeless building will have spaces that are well-proportioned, easily accessible, and designed to meet the specific needs of the people who will be using them.
2. Simplicity: Timeless architecture is characterized by clean, simple lines and a lack of unnecessary ornamentation. This does not mean that the building has to be plain or boring, but rather that it should avoid trendy or overly ornate elements that can quickly become dated unless required to create an accurate historic rendition of a style characterized by these qualities. A timeless building will use classic, enduring materials such as stone, brick, and wood, and will feature a design that emphasizes function over decoration.
3. Durability: Timeless architecture prioritizes durability and longevity of the materials you choose to clad the structure with. A timeless home is not only built to last using high-quality materials and construction techniques that can withstand the test of time, but these principles also apply to the design of the home as well. This means that the building should be able to weather the trends, characterizing the surrounding neighbourhood for years to come without succumbing to any shifts in the winds of the design world. Typically, the result of utilizing a timeless material (such as limestone) results in the selection of a material that also weathers the elements and resists wear and tear over the years, maintaining its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. More specifically, we like to use the example of stucco versus a limestone block material. One will undoubtedly stand the test of time far better than the other in both the quality and longevity categories, as well as the exterior appearance of the structure.
4. Context: Timeless architecture takes into consideration the surrounding environment and context of the structures surroundings. This means that the design of the home should be influenced by factors such as the local climate, topography, and cultural or historical significance of the site. A timeless home will be designed to complement and enhance its surroundings, rather than standing out as an incongruous or out-of-place structure. One of our favorite examples of this is utilizing the surrounding topography to benefit the proportions and surroundings of the structure’s key features, similar to the work of Frank Llyod Wright when he designed Falling Water. Large hills, heavily forested lots, or lakefront properties are all great examples of natural features that can be used to compliment the design process to create a unique finished product.
5. Sustainability: Timeless architecture considers the environmental impact of the building’s surroundings on its long term heating and cooling performance. This means that the design should be attuned to handle these conditions, while incorporating sustainable elements and materials wherever possible, such as energy-efficient windows, renewable energy systems, and eco-friendly building materials. A timeless home should be designed to minimize its carbon footprint and reduce its impact on the environment.
6. Flexibility and Future Proofing: Timeless architecture allows for flexibility and adaptability over time. This means that the building should be designed to accommodate changing needs or uses without requiring major renovations or alterations. For example, a timeless home may have spaces that can easily transition from one use to another as the family’s needs change over time. An example of this is the inclusion of a built-in dog training cage under a mudroom sink in anticipation of a new family pet. Another great example of what we call “Future-Proofing” is the inclusion of built in desks in kids’ bedrooms in anticipation of their growth into self-sufficient teens that will require their own working space.
We hope our explanation of our process and approach of merging the old world practices of sketching and the new world practices of computer generated 3D modeling offers insight into some of the smaller details behind our creations. While the first has a free-flowing and whimsically creative charm, the later grounds the design in the client’s mind by aiding significantly in the visualization process. While these two phases of the process benefit the clients understanding of design, this approach also aids to organize the construction process by providing everyone involved with a vision for the final product. More importantly, we believe that these principles are instrumental in creating a timeless home design.