What is Good Design – Part 2

As previously mentioned, although “good” design proves challenging to define, one of the essential elements of an appealing home is proper proportion.

One example of incorrect proportion is a roof that appears either too tall or too low for the rest of the home. The mass of the roof must be proportional to the main body of the house in order for the two to relate comfortably to each other. The roof’s pitch, or angle, determines it’s overall height. If the pitch is too steep, the roof will appear to be too tall, with its mass being out of pro-portion with that of the rest of the house.

A home with a well-conceived roof design is appealing no matter what “style” it is!


By examining the exterior of any home, you’ll find numerous areas where proportion and scale influence the design. One morning a number of years ago, while I was driving with my family through a neighborhood of new, mass-produced homes, my youngest son commented, “Dad, those windows don’t look right.” When I asked him to explain, he answered, “Those pieces of wood [shutters] on each side of the window don’t look very good.”

There’s no need for a formal design education to notice that wide windows with narrow shutters simply don’t seem appropriately sized. For example, the shutters on this plan are properly sized and look like they could actually be functional.


The same elements of scale and proportion relate the interior of homes as well. I’ll discuss that next time.

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