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You may have seen this term a couple of times on this website. What is Priority Driven Design? Why should you be interested? “Priority Driven Design” is a term used to describe an approach to design that is effective for those of us in “the middle”. Those of us who want to invest in heirloom pieces that we will cherish for decades, but who can’t afford to renovate everything in our home at one time. Those of us who aren’t still in the stage of our lives where home decor is something we need to cobble together with upcycled pieces from thrift stores and hand me downs, but we don’t mind a little DIY to fill in the blanks.
The approach to priority based design is simple: start your process with what matters most to you. This involves making a plan of what you want to accomplish, ordered by what you and your family value most. For example, do you and your family love to cook together, host “foodie” tastings, and experiment with the latest gourmet delicacies? Think about updating your kitchen. Do you love to have a movie night or listen to classic records? A family room outfitted with the latest audio or video equipment might be a good place to start. Take into consideration the opinions of all family members. Your home is the backdrop to the story of all your lives. Whenever possible, try to emphasize areas where your family spends time together. Family time is precious, and the opportunity to spend time together should, in my opinion, always be a priority.
There are some things that should be a given for everyone in terms of priority.
- Safety – this would include things like fire and CO2 alarms, motion sensors (if you are concerned about home intruders), emergency supplies (first aid, light, heat, water, etc.), or a fenced in yard (if you have small children or pets that you wish to keep close).
- Protection – this would include protection from the elements… is your roof sturdy? Is your insulation adequate? Are your windows and doors secure and insulated? Are your electrical systems up to date?
- Good sleep – I believe a good mattress is critical. Without good sleep, every aspect of our lives will suffer. If your mattress doesn’t give you the support and quality of sleep you need, a new mattress should be one of your first purchases.
After you have these things covered, move onto your (and your family’s) priorities. For example, do you have young children? An easily observable play area might be in order. Older children? An area for them and their friends to hang out (but still be easy to oversee) might be a good choice. Do you work at home? A functional home office, preferably free from distractions is a necessity. Do you have an elderly parent with mobility issues living with you? What are the things about your home that constantly cause issues?
My approach is as follows:
Prioritize, Plan, Purchase, Purge, Constantly Evaluate
- Prioritize by making a list. Describe all the projects you want to do around your home, and rate them by how important the area is to your family, and how much not updating each area is causing problems.
- Next, figure out your budget and create a plan. Include items that you feel comfortable upcycling or making yourself….sometimes these can be a large part of your decor if you are creative and have a little time to work on projects.
- Then, the fun part! Purchase the items that will have the biggest impact on your current lifestyle.
- Also, Purge items that are no longer useful or desirable. There is someone else who may need these items, and they will just take up valuable space and collect dust in your home.
- Finally, constantly evaluate your situation and your plan. Things change, and while one thing may seem important when you start your journey, priorities can shift instantly with events like the arrival of a baby, a parent moving in, or a job change.
I strongly suggest that whenever possible, allow children and teens to help design their own rooms. Personal space is very important to children and young adults. There will be times that their room will feel like their only refuge against a cruel world (and cruel parents). This is part of growing up. If you are concerned about the choices they may make, try giving them a few options and let them choose one. Paint is fairly easy, and if a child is old enough, they can even help paint, so I would let them go crazy with a paint color if they want to. It will give them a sense of ownership and is easy enough to change if their tastes change in the future.
A word of caution…paint often looks different on the wall than it does in a paint store. Whatever paint you choose, always do a test first. A test area on each wall, observed during the daytime and at night will help you see how the paint will appear in your space. The finish you select will also affect the perceived color, not to mention ease of cleanup. A flat finish will be the most difficult to maintain. Most paint companies have easy to clean paint finishes with children specifically in mind.
A Final Word…
Many home experts will encourage you to make changes that will get you the biggest return on investment when you sell your house. If you bought your home to flip and sell for profit, that is absolutely the path you should take. However, if you plan to live in your home for years to come, I would encourage you to focus more on how the home can serve you and your family. Trends will change, and designing for ROI really works best when you are planning to sell your home in the near future. Think of your home as where your family’s memories will occur, and plan accordingly.
Until next time,