Of Hard Work and Broken Hearts

"I was wondering if you had any house pictures from your session last fall that you could share? We are relocating for work and have to put the house on the market. I am sure your pictures will be nicer than anything a real estate agent can take."

So began an unexpected email conversation with a client of mine a few weeks back.

His mention of "relocating for work" was casual, but it had to be breaking their hearts. The time and energy this couple had put into renovating their modest ranch was enormous, and they'd just finished their last major project (see "before-and-after" photos here).

In 23 years of practicing Residential Architecture, I've had two clients that successfully took on the challenge of  building or managing their new home or remodeling projects - this couple is one of them; doing some of the finishing work themselves, staying deeply involved in the design process, and overseeing the daily details of the construction work.

A personal connection to the spaces you live in is what makes a home special; it's what makes it truly "yours"; and although it's a terribly worn-out cliche, it's what makes a "house" a "home".

"Also, has anyone expressed interest in the house since it has been on your website? We are looking for that one person who can enjoy that house as much as we have the past couple of years."

If you've read more than a few articles on "Sense of Place" then you've heard me preach about designing for yourself and your life, rather than designing "for the market".

You've read about unconventional ways to improve your home; you've read about the house that nobody else wanted; and you've learned the secret to creating a house that's easy to sell.

And my clients have heard me say - over and over again - that a well-designed home will always find an appreciative buyer.

Easy for me to say, but does any of this really work? My client emailed me again a few weeks later:


"Well the house was very well received by prospective buyers and by real estate agents. One said it was the finest home in the price range he had ever shown!"

"Not that our work needed validation, but it was nice to hear. Everyone was impressed with the design work and how you turned an old ranch layout into a modern and functional space--without the pretense of vaulted ceilings or wasted space."

"The house was such a hit that it went into contract in just 4 days. We had multiple offers and probably could have commanded a higher price if the neighborhood was nicer."

"All in all it was a unique property thanks to all of your thoughtful work and our many hours of sweat and blood. While we are sad to leave the house that we really built to be our last, we are excited for new opportunities..."

I'm thrilled for them, glad that their hard work has paid off, even though it's a little bittersweet.  I guess they've found "that one person".

But I'll always think of that homes as theirs.


Need expert Residential Architectural advice for your new home or remodeling project? Contact Richard Taylor, AIA at RTA Studio.