Listening: Easy to say, not always easy to do - particularly when there are multiple people working on a project. Collaboration, however, has turned out to be the most effective way of reaching an optimal result. Whenever I am asked for something, I like to find out the objective of request. It’s not so much “What they want” as it is “Why they want it”. Their response usually ends up revealing a better way forward.
When designing the exterior for the NEXTadventure Home with Taylor Morrison last year, one of our challenges was determining how “adventurous” we wanted to be with the exterior style. We knew for sure that we didn’t want it to look like our grandmother’s house. But what style would entice the 58% of boomers who say they don’t intend to move? How do we design a home that conveys a lifestyle worth celebrating? Without intending to do so, our process turned into the classic Goldilocks and the Three Homes.
Initially, we considered a Tuscan design. Case studies have shown that these buyers are drawn to stone, so this was a natural go-to style. We thought we might push the envelope with an asymmetrical design. The result was quite charming, but perhaps too timid for the specific project. With a name like NEXTadventure – we decided to try something bold.
Our next design was a daring interpretation of a mid-century modern house. Like the Tuscan, this solution is asymmetrical. We began to experiment with a variety of new materials like modern stone and wood-look metal siding. It was certainly adventurous – perhaps too much so for the community. Some on the team loved it while others thought it was too scary and strayed a bit too far from the traditional homes surrounding it. We affectionately named the design “Sharkfin” for its dramatic profile. While still one of my personal favorites, a different approach was worth exploring.
The final design took a Moderated Modern approach. This is not a blend of styles, but simply taking a classic style and giving it a refresh. It starts with a tall entry tower inspired by Italianate architecture. But instead of cladding the exterior in classic limestone, we opted for a modern take on the look, a beautiful smooth stone in a limestone color. Since this was a 40’ wide home with half of the front being a garage, we selected the asymmetrical door from Sharkfin to draw the eye up towards the entry. On the other half of the home, the tall two over two windows provided an elegant look that allowed the front entry to stand out. We found our winner! The Modern Italian proved to be just what the community needed.
All three styles have a place in various markets and communities, but had I blindly followed along or dismissed my client’s input, we might have never come to our spectacular Modern Italian! Working with our client from the beginning allowed us to move at a rapid pace and bring out the best in the team. “It can’t be done” is a phrase that you will never hear from me. This is why it is crucial for me to get to the root of their wants and needs in order to give them something that surpasses the original concept!