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Confessions of an Architect Designing their Own Home

Design, People

by: Carina Harney-Rogerson, Managing Director

People sometimes ask me why I decided to design my own home. Which might seem silly, because I am an architect after all. However, it is a valid question, because the time it takes to design your own home is generally much longer than when designing your clients’. This is because we work after hours, giving priority to our clients’ projects. The design of our own home, or at least mine, you could say was more of an “after-school project.”

Nonetheless, I don’t think I’ve met any architect that wouldn’t seize the opportunity to design his own home. It’s the dream of every architect and I would have it no other way. It was my chance to put my dreams on paper.

As an architect, designing your own home is also more cost-effective. Besides the obvious of not having to hire an architect, I can fully visualize what I draw before it’s built. So, if I change my mind, all that is lost is my time. This is not a big deal, because designing is something I truly enjoy. In the end, it’s like a game, which can become endless if we’re not careful! What makes us end it, is that eventually we stop dreaming and actually want to be inside and living in the built house!

When I was designing my home, I had my family’s growing needs in mind. Since the family evolves, the house should be ready for it. Our children grow and so do our own needs and wants. Things change as they say. It’s a balancing act to discern and decide unbiasedly on what to feature. We may want something now but know that in the long run, we won’t. Feelings are immediate, so it’s hard to forecast how we will feel in some or many years. What’s great about being an architect, is that I can rework and redesign spaces as needed. When I was designing my home, I had everyone’s needs in mind: mine, all the members of my family, friends, and visitors. I thought about the different stages that my family would go through, as the kids grow from boys to men, who will eventually leave the nest. One day, it will just be my husband and me. It’s scary, it happens fast, but you have to have it in mind. It’s coming whether you like it or not.

Sometimes I think about how it would’ve been, to see another architect’s vision for my home. It would’ve been interesting seeing how another architect would’ve solved issues and designed options for my family and me.

In the end, I wish I could’ve dared more with my house, as I do with my clients. But our budgets are not the same (laugh). It was a great experience designing my own home, a dream come true that resulted in a functional home, with no wasted space, bringing the outdoors in, very open, with a lot of light, and a homey feel. Designing your own home is a blessing I wish for all architects!