“As an architect, you’re always designing for someone else. It was probably about 10 years ago that I started dreaming about how I would design my own house. My family had moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin in 2006, and we purchased and renovated a midcentury modern home, which turned out to be the investment that made this possible.
I spent years drawing and thinking about what features in a house make people’s lives better. One flaw of typical developer homes is the way the garage door has become the main entry door based on convenience. We crafted a linear traffic flow to provide one point of access. We wanted to create an intentional entry experience that is integrated into the design and is enjoyed every time we walk into our home.
In looking at precedents, I was drawn to Usonian design inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The long, linear shape and focus on function guided us to our goal to only build the square footage we need. I drew a lot on my professional experience (and my colleagues’ expertise) during the design process by incorporating practical sustainable design strategies such as building orientation, daylighting, indoor-outdoor connections, and building system design. The result is that we get a lot of balanced, natural light and our power bill is much lower than anything we’ve seen in years. It is rewarding to personally experience the results those design strategies deliver for our clients.
There were some challenges along the way. For example, modern design uses a lot of commercial detailing and residential contractors typically aren’t used to that. It required more management than I expected to get the result we wanted. The other interesting experience was designing for myself and my family versus a client. When you’re designing for a client, they are the one making the tough decisions, while the designer is there to guide and help them achieve their vision. When you’re designing for yourself, your own logic and emotion is part of each decision. There are a lot of roles thrown into one hat – you’re the designer, the owner, the project manager, the bank… It was a lot to balance, but today we get to come home and just enjoy our house. It was worth it.”
Bill DeYoung is a senior architect in our Charlotte office. His project experience includes the Douthit Hills Student Community at Clemson University, Cross Housing at the University of Oklahoma, and the new P3 Student Housing Village at UNC Wilmington.