Cutting Corners

As I've related elsewhere, my goals in designing the house have been:

  • functionally meeting my living requirements
  • maximizing my enjoyment of the setting
  • integrating it into the environment
  • satisfying a design sense

Frequently the last item is the first one on the list for architects and their clients. For me, it's a distant fourth because, even though I do have a strong aesthetic sense, bending a design to suit a particular style ultimately serves no purpose other than to impress others. I have no inclination to impress anyone, and I live alone in an isolated area, so my home is out of sight. Plus, "designer" structures are nearly always costlier to build.

But my home isn't entirely devoid of some design sense, and the most prevalent element I employ is the angled corner. The decision to use this motif emerged from my design for the living space: by angling the corners of the windowed wall, it makes the space feel larger—an optical illusion created by the sense of "pushing" the room out into the outside space—and provides a more immersive connection with the environment.

Angled corners also work well in other circumstances; in particular, I've always felt that outside corners within interior spaces seem severe and invasive. (I'd prefer rounded corners, but they're challenging and costly to build.) Once I started down this path, I saw opportunities to use them almost everywhere. Here are all of the places where I applied the design element:

1. The corners of the main living space—the genesis of the design element.

2. The corner of the closet/laundry where it meets the living space. This was the first place I applied the design after the windowed wall, with the intent to "soften" the corner. It also opens up the space more by increasing the angle of view from the end of the hallway into the living area.

3. The closet/laundry and bathroom doors. This arrangement is explored more thoroughly in Problems and Solutions.

4. The bathroom sink. This grew out of a need to enclose the waste drain vent stack on the left; the countertop was made symmetrical with the addition of the triangular shape on the right, which also encloses the bathroom HVAC vent, and places the light switches within easy reach of the door.

5. The bathtub. This part of the bathroom saw many revisions before I finally realized a corner soaking tub was absolutely perfect for the space in every way (one of those classic face-palm moments). The open edge of the tub forms an angled face in the room.

6. The shower. For a long time—indeed, nearly up to the very end—it had all rounded corners; switching to angled corners made it fit better, both structurally and aesthetically, and made it much more practical to build.

7. The headboard. Here, the angled corners are horizontal.

8. The oven in the kitchen. This is explored more thoroughly in Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.

9. The backsplash of the kitchen island.

10. The end of the floating breakfast bar.

11. The deck.

12. The angled corners of the coat closet and storage room, a.k.a. Kitty Central, in the foyer (above right) make more efficient use of space: both storage areas get to be larger without sacrificing smooth egress through the foyer to The Canyon.

As well as: Angled height transitions in the office and storage room ceilings.

Also see: Unusual Touches

I know that my home will never appear in House Beautiful or Architectural Digest (as if I really cared), but at least it won't show up at McMansion Hell—an awesome website that leaves me in stitches!

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