Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Timber House: Factors Impacting the Home Design

There are two basic factors in timber home design: fundamental and elemental. Fundamental considerations are tangible. For example, how many people will be living in your home? How much do you wish to invest, both financially and emotionally? Is it a timber house you’ll use after retirement, which might dictate single-level living? Only you can determine the emotional investment you’ll have in the house. This varies from person to person and typically affects how much day-to-day input you’ll have in the home’s development.

Elemental considerations are less tangible. The three I find most important are light, views and permanence. Light makes visible the spaces we inhabit. Light also has its own characteristics such as intensity, color, texture and depth, so light and its absence must be considered when designing. For example, if you have two identical rooms—one on the east side of a house and one on the west—each space will be perceived differently, even if they have the same colors, furnishings, textures, volume and design. Yes, it all comes down to sunlight. For example, if you’re not a morning person, it might not be a wise move to place your bedroom on the east side of the house.

Views come next. One of the advantages of a timber home is the ability of timbers to frame views of different spaces. A pair of posts might define the entrance from the dining to the living room; and a floor girder might delineate the dining from the living room in the same manner, acting as a soffit between different ceiling heights. Our experiences in a space often are based upon what we see or feel from it even before we enter a room.

The last is permanence. Obviously, a home is more than shelter. It can be a place of retreat and serenity, and when we can see and understand the structure that protects us—the posts, beams and braces—we gain a primal understanding of security. Again, many timber homes built long ago are still around today. We might not understand the comfort and security these structures provide, but we all perceive and feel those qualities the minute we set foot in one of these homes.

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