One critical aspect of the program process was to remember that the program had to work not only for the day we moved in, but also be flexible enough to accommodate our family for the long-term.
Doing more with less
The list of needs were categorized into ‘must haves,’ ‘nice to haves’ and ‘wish we could haves.’ Our family would definitely need a four-bedroom, 2.5 bath setup. Unlike our current setup we wouldn’t require separate dining, formal and informal rooms in our new home. There were compromises to be made and having come from the land of suburbia where ‘more’ was, well... more, it was refreshing to reexamine priorities and think differently about how we could maximize space and ultimately live better with approximately the same amount of square footage. This was a bit of a reality check for us. When we started this whole journey we were just looking for bigger and better. We’d learned a lot quickly.
After we sent off the email detailing our program I dove back into the press clippings, Tom’s book and Olson Kundig Architects’ website to start understanding how the details we wanted would be realized in our house. I printed out photos of projects from their website and started to patch together collages of details into our notebooks to start visualizing how things might look.
For my wife, this was a critical step in beginning to visualize the house. I revisited the notebooks often, adding notes. I figured the more I familiarized myself with Kundig’s work, the easier it would be for me to speak to the details when he revealed our plans.
A key component of the “program” was the inclusion of an office/studio space where I could do my work. I was looking for something small in terms of square footage but unique and bold in terms of what I had seen Kundig deliver with other clients. The idea was to closely collaborate with him on the office and take some risks creatively and structurally. We had spoken in depth during our initial meetings about wanting to do something different and having the office/studio be a separate structure from the main residence, but we hadn’t gotten into more granular details. This part of the project was of particular interest to me—one creative designing the space for another was guaranteed to be a fun project on its own. I was excited to see what he envisioned for my space.
By now it was late Spring, early Summer 2008. We’d moved out of our house in the suburbs and settled into a rental in the same neighborhood so our kids could stay in the school. Our next step was to wait while Tom Kundig developed the initial concepts based on the “program.” Then the call came: the concepts were ready. We were anxious and excited. We had just returned from a family trip to Yellowstone and en route were able to visit Kundig’s Chicken Point Cabin in Idaho. The firm had set us up with the owners to chat briefly and tour their home. Its one thing to see a space in books and magazines but to see it in the flesh takes the experience to a new level.
Next week: the concepts for Maxon House.
Lou Maxon is the future owner of Maxon House and the founder and principal creative director of M, a brand storytelling agency. He has worked as a creative director and designer for magazines, advertising agencies, marketing and design firms, and in-house creative teams in Seattle and New York. The Maxon House project is the subject of a documentary film series produced by Kontent Partners that chronicles the art and craft of a modern dwelling from beginning to end. Maxon, his wife Kim, their three sons and great dane reside in rural Carnation, Washington where their future house will be built. The family is sharing their entire experience of planning, designing and building the home with Dwell readers to inspire others to to think outside the norm when it comes to modern living.