Allow me to introduce myself, my mission, and the magazine
I’m an architect, but mainly I’m a house enthusiast. Ever since growing up in the cozy comforts of an antique New England farmhouse amidst rock walls and wildflowers, I have been fascinated with notions of home, how homes are shaped and how those within are shaped by them.
Early on as a suburban pre-teen, I was intrigued to visit friends’ homes of different eras than my own. To me, a contemporary house was some sort of exotic. Open plans with low slung roofs, glass sliders, interior stone courtyards, and decks piqued my curiosity. The smell was different, often the artwork more abstract. What did it mean? What influence did these homes, that were so unlike mine, have on these families and vice versa? How, as a result, were we dissimilar yet also similar?
Soon my interest in the qualities that define home began to seep into my creative writing. My stories would center on my characters’ attachment to their childhood homes; in fact, often the homes would become central characters. A recurring theme focused on the challenge of grown children returning to their childhood home to decide the structure’s fate and that of their family and themselves. Their home defined them, yet they defined it. I needed to understand how, so I took that interest in home to art and architecture school.
ask more of your house
Today, as a residential architect I spend my time poking around other New Englander’s houses, listening to dream-house wish lists, and proposing physical dwellings in response. I’d like to do more. I’d like to influence the contents of the wish list itself. As homeowners, we are all too often asking too little of our homes. We are missing opportunities to create authentic dwellings that are efficient while beautiful, sheltering while embedded in the natural world, connected to our community while mindful of our need for privacy and quiet.
In a culture of consumerism and impatience, it’s easy to be led astray. Let’s stop creating over-scaled, isolating trophy houses plopped in the center of endless grass yards. Let’s stop accepting slap dash, cookie-cutter developments as substitutes for soulful living. Instead we can chart a different course. We can focus on quality rather than quantity, while thoughtfully shaping a home and lifestyle sensitive to our unique role in the natural and communal world. We can create a home that informs and accommodates a personal, meaningful life.
Much as I traveled to my friends’ childhood homes to marvel at the differences and similarities to my own, and later to art and architecture school to explore the possibilities of design, I recommend that you consider the diversions highlighted in House Enthusiast. They include noteworthy New England House and Garden tours as well as tangentially related Continuing education opportunities in art and design to inspire you. They may speak to you about shaping: identity, purpose, and potential. Check out the Special events listings too. Further broaden your design lexicon, by reading the Primer on residential fundamentals. Each entry will define basic elements and/or concepts of home design and demystify when, why, and how to incorporate them into a meaningful solution. Look at upcoming Opinion columns for commentary on topical home design issues and recommended action.
Find more food for thought in the Reading and DVD review area where design-related articles, books, and films are discussed. If after reviewing this website, you have an unanswered residential design question that may be of interest to other readers as well, send it to Ask Katie here at House Enthusiast. I’ll collect questions and then answer those I feel might be the most helpful to readers in general. Over time you’ll find previous Ask Katie questions and answers to peruse.
Together we can create authentic dwellings that reflect and inform our true selves. I hope you’ll visit this site often to explore how.
by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast