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Designer Words >> Programming


What is programming and why do designers talk about it?

There are many words designers and custom home building professionals use that are confusing or misunderstood. Designer Words provides a perspective on these terms and what they mean in the context of the home design, renovation and decor industry.

We argue that the most important part of design is invisible. A successful design is won or lost before any selections are made or the power tools arrive on site.

A space must have a clearly articulated and defined program to be successful and the process of working this out is called programming.

Design is problem solving done beautifully

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where—" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"—so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

This classic exchange from Alice in Wonderland outlines designing without an end goal in mind. It's a classic reason home renovations can be so drawn out.

When a client says: we need this space for everything, I know we’ve got some challenging conversations ahead.

Deciding how you want to structure and create your environment is profoundly important to the quality of life you lead. It's always the first step.

This is not a new idea. Feng Shui has been practiced for centuries. Marie Kondo has built an empire on the idea that what we surround ourselves with matters.

Entire professions centre on getting the details of our built environment right.

Every second of time you spend discussing what you want an area to provide in terms of functions and activities that need to happen there is valuable. The clearer it is to you, the easier the design process will be. 

Break larger spaces into zones of activity

If you have a larger open concept living dining area you still need to define the zones of activity.

There might be an area set up for eating, one for relaxing and reading, perhaps another for playing, if you have children. The age of the children and style of play will also affect how it gets set up and every family will be different. There will likely be another area for storing toys, or books or vinyl.

With this in mind, now you can settle on whether you need to remove a wall, expand the windows, create built-ins, purchase a different style of furniture or simply shift the colour and mood.

Chaos means a system is missing or unused

Generally, anywhere chaos prevails, it means there is a system that is missing, or not being used.

There is nothing more luxurious than having the exact item you need, where you need it, ready to use when you want it.

If you have a corner where junk piles up until you can no longer stand it, you have a space in need of a system.

When your environment is organized to work for your lifestyle it makes an immediate and direct difference to the quality of your life.

If everyone is tripping over each other in the kitchen in the morning, perhaps it's not a larger kitchen that you need, but to re-think how the items are stored and set up in that room. Re-modelling might not be necessary, perhaps re-ordering the current space will get you most of the way.

For example, setting up a breakfast bar on one side of the room that keeps high priority items grouped together, could alleviate some of that congestion by re-directing the traffic flow.

What is most important is taking the time to consider what you want to use each space for and then deciding what you need to make the space comfortable for that activity.

Have you ever done an audit of the various spaces in your home and assessed how well they meet your needs? Do you get overwhelmed at making decisions about what you need in each area and give up? What are you willing to change?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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