Deep Dive: 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 the clients they serve. 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 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 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).

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.

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 kitchen island.

10. The end of the floating breakfast bar.

11. The deck.

12. The coat closet and storage room in the foyer. These angled corners provide the added benefit of making more efficient use of space: both storage areas get to be larger without sacrificing smooth egress through the foyer.

My home won't appear in House Beautiful or Architectural Digest (as if I cared either way), but at least it won't show up at McMansion Hell—an awesome website that leaves me in stitches!

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