I recently stopped by one of our residential remodel projects in Seal Beach that was wrapping up. I spoke with the client for a bit, and he seemed really happy with how his house had turned out. But he also expressed to me that the remodel had brought about another important outcome: it has changed the way his family lives in their house.
Specifically, the new layout encourages his teenage girls to stay out in the home’s common areas, rather than retreating to their rooms. Even when his girls have friends over, they tend to hang out in the living areas. This change in behavior was one that the client had hoped would result from the new layout of the home, but I could tell by the way he was talking that he was pleasantly surprised that it had actually happened.
One of the first questions I typically ask a residential remodel client is, “Who will be living in this home, and how do you see the house getting used?” Often, clients will tell me they like to “entertain.” But since that word means different things to different people, I try to drill down even more to determine the type of entertaining they like to do (or what they envision themselves doing in their remodeled home).
For this Seal Beach family, entertaining means they are the “hang-out house” for the friends of their teenage daughters. They liked the idea of getting to know their daughters’ friends, as well as being able to keep an eye on what their daughters are doing.
I kept this in mind as I designed the new layout for their Seal Beach home. In our design, we took down walls to enhance the connection between the kitchen and the family living area, and we also used the depth of the living and family room to create a smaller space within a larger space. This allows the family to all be in the same space, without necessarily having to engage in the same activity. In addition, we reinforced the connection between the backyard and the living room by adding a wall of glass doors and windows and creating an outdoor living space.
In this residential remodel, the homeowners also wanted us to take their future into consideration. As they age, they want to stay in their home as long as possible, so we added a bathroom with barrier-free access features such as a zero level threshold for the shower and extra space to move around within the bathroom.
The finished home gave the family everything they wanted. Most importantly, it gave them a space in which they could better interact with their daughters while they are still living at home.
I often get asked why I don’t “flip” houses. I think most people assume house flipping would be a natural type of work for an architect. My experience with these Seal Beach homeowners perfectly illustrates why I don’t do it. I prefer to work with the people who will actually be living in the home I am designing. I get to know them and how they interact with one another. I also learn about their habits, their pets, their aspirations, and future plans, and then design a house based on that information. Someone who flips houses has to come up with a design that he or she thinks will appeal to a large pool of homebuyers. I prefer to design with a specific family or person in mind—giving them exactly the space that they want and that will work for their lifestyle.
There’s nothing wrong with flipping homes. I’ve seen some beautifully remodeled homes in the Long Beach area that were done by flippers. I just prefer to know whom I’m designing for and collaborate with them to give them the home of their dreams. That’s what keeps my job as an architect exciting and makes it a joy to come to work!
If you’re looking for a residential architect in Long Beach for your home remodel, we’d love to talk with you! Contact us to set up a consultation or to have your questions answered about our Long Beach architecture firm.