Some people have it better than others. In the world of residential design this becomes especially evident. While the average person today struggles to afford a home that costs $500k to build, others spend $500k on their landscaping, home-theater, garage (or a single car in that garage). I have worked on homes with garages that can accommodate upwards of 20 cars. Imagine, just to hold insurance on those vehicles could cost more than a years salary to the average joe.
In the argument of what is excessive I understand where both parties are coming from. As a residential designer my job is to collect details about each client’s dreams and desires in order to create their ideal home. To most people the luxuries of the rich are simply excessive, but to the elite few, the cash they spend on their home is only a drop in the bucket compared to what they could spend (and for that matter this manner of spending can be viewed as modesty). Having been involved in residential design in Kelowna for more than a decade I see it time and again. People come here to build lakefront summer homes. Some might say “imagine the mortgage payment on that $5M cottage”, but I say “what mortgage?” The elite don’t over-extend themselves on their homes as many assume.
Some of the luxuries that clients are looking for include lavish entry portico’s such as in this traditional luxury estate home outside Toronto, Canada. Others are looking to maximize their home’s view by requesting long walls of glass that require special engineering considerations such as in this modern home design in the Hollywood hills of Los Angeles County. Others just don’t blink at spending $7k on a toilet! Ultimately, residential design wouldn’t be what it is without such requests. It’s the unique personally and tastes of people that make each home unique.
Commonly, whole communities are created without any consideration for personality, only having been built with utility and expense in mind. Compare these modern neighborhoods to the cookie-cutter homes of past centuries and you might realize just how faceless and uninspiring these neighborhoods are.
This certainly, is not to say that the luxuries of the super-rich are essential to good design or an enjoyable life. A good residential designer can make inspiring homes from a combination of popular building materials and conventional building methods. To this regard, good planning, a sense of flow and order, and working with the natural attributes of a building site can go a long way in creating a home that will stand the test of time and be enjoyable for years to come. Further, residential design can be viewed as a reasonable expenditure if you realize that the design component of a home can cost less than the cost of the basic framing package. A professional designer can even save money by working with the topography of the land, avoiding costly site-work.