Scot Zimmerman, Renovation Design Group
Architect Mies van der Rohe said, "God is in the details." Others have said, "The devil is in the details." We suppose it's all in the perspective. Certainly when it comes to a home renovation, you can feel very inspired or very tormented by all the details to which you must attend.
The process of home design ranges from the macro to the micro. The larger decisions include what rooms are needed, how the rooms are laid out and the overall shape of the building. Smaller details might include flooring, light fixtures and doorknobs. Often, this is as micro as many people get with design decisions. But you can go much deeper. It is surprising how even the tiniest of details can have major impacts.
These tiny details fall into two categories (and some details fall into both): practical and aesthetic.
Practical details help your home (and therefore your life) function more smoothly. As you may imagine, kitchens and bathrooms have the widest array of practical details to be considered. For instance, you could include a divider in a kitchen drawer to help organize your kitchen tools. Instead of pawing through a tangled mess of garlic presses and whisks, you can easily retrieve the exact thing you need.
Another practical detail may be the use of hooks rather than a towel rack in your bathroom. Hooks are simple to use even by a young child, and you will never again need to fold a towel before hanging it up. If you use fun colorful towels, the whole look can add a punch in your decor.
The knobs and pulls you select for your cabinets will affect you many times every day, adding up to thousands of interactions over the years. Choosing hardware that is comfortable to use, durable and easy to maintain is time well spent in your design process.
Aesthetic details may not make your everyday life easier, but they certainly make it more beautiful. Consider adding a picture rail in a room. A picture rail is a piece of trim attached to the walls that continues around the room at the height of the top of the windows and doors. It replaces crown molding and gives a room a very different look and feeling. (It has a practical side, too: No nail holes in your walls!)
Another example of an aesthetic detail would be wrapping the inside of a window with wood trim instead of leaving it as plain painted wallboard. It will take more time and money, but it will add an interest and beauty to your home.
The same goes for outside trim. Depending on the exterior finish material, trim may be desirable at all windows and doors or at least at some of them. A trim board at the top of the wall where it intersects the roof is also a nice touch. It is critical to get the proportions right. Trim pieces that are too small look cheap and can do more visual damage than good. The style of the trim should also coordinate with the style of the home. Simple square shapes work well with a Craftsman home, while Victorian homes require more elaborate profiles.
Shutters can add interest to the home’s exterior facade. Although shutters today are rarely functional, the rule of thumb is that the shutters should be large enough that if they were functional they could truly cover the window — whether or not they actually will ever be used. If the shutters are too small in proportion to the window, they look "tacked on" and get lost on that elevation of the house. Again, trim that isn't proportional to the opening it accents does you no visual favors.
In the end, it's about visual appeal as much as it is about function when it comes to the final details. Curb appeal doesn't just make your house look good; it actually adds to its value. So take the time and allow the budget to address the details inside and out of your home.
Albert Einstein said, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." It may be hard to determine the worth of each individual detail, but it is certain that a well-designed and well-detailed project will pay off by adding value, function and beauty to your home.
Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com