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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin Kelley

How the Perfect Site for Your Home Design Promotes Your Well-Being

Have you chosen the site for your dream home, or are you still deciding where you want to live and which property you should purchase? Do you see yourself nestled in the forest, surrounded by trees and wildlife? Would you rather live near the sea, watching the waves crash onto the rocky cliffs? If you enjoy an urban lifestyle, a home in a pedestrian-friendly community that provides effortless access to shopping, parks, and eateries may be more to your liking.

Light and airflow in urban residential design

Whatever location you choose, your home design should respond to the site's natural features. Finding the perfect spot for your custom home is a wonderful and exciting opportunity. As you select where you want to build, consider your home design and orientation to help promote your well-being. A skilled architect can ensure the location and positioning of your home to create a special place, unique for you and your family.

When planning your ideal home, it's important to regard five key factors while selecting the perfect spot on your property. By considering these factors, you can design a living space that aligns with your lifestyle and fosters your health and well-being.

Orient your home to the path of the sun

The sun can be a driving force in deciding the orientation to create a healthy home. The sunshine lifts your spirits, gives you energy, and influences your body's natural circadian rhythm, telling you when to wake up, eat and rest. Light in your home affects your digestion, mood, hormones, and sleep quality.

Position your home in tune with natural light to help you enjoy your favorite activities. If you desire an art studio, have clean and pure northern light flow into that space. Sit in your breakfast nook and enjoy the light of the sunrise as you start your day. Consider positioning your primary bedroom to face west for the afternoon light to promote melatonin production, which can help you relax and prepare for sleep.

An art studio is oriented toward the north light

In my practice, I use computer-aided design tools to analyze the sun's path as it enters your home throughout the year. With this technology, you'll see the exact amount of light entering your home at any given time and day of the year. This information helps design your dream home to shield the living areas in the hot summer, so you can enjoy sitting on your shaded porch and ensure you benefit from sunlight entering to warm the floors in the winter when the days are shorter.

Orienting your home to align with the sun's movement creates terrific opportunities to design spaces you and your family love to be in.

As your architect, I look to you for cues about your daily habits. For example, when deciding where to position the primary bedroom: Do you want to wake up with an energy boost from the sunrise or feel the calmness of the afternoon sunset before retiring for the night? Answers to questions like these help develop your plan. Let your custom home design provide for your lifestyle while encouraging natural sunlight.

Bring light into interior spaces

To create a healthy home for you and your family, capture sunlight throughout the day to follow a circadian rhythm and align your hormones. When I remodeled my house, I added a small cupola with windows on all sides to bring natural light into the interior throughout the day. The sunlight entered my home, dancing through the spaces, creating magical moments, and boosting my energy.

There are other creative ways to bring natural light into a space. My client Beth's site was in the city on a narrow piece of land facing the side of a church's monolithic stone wall. Though the church was lovely, the stone wall wasn't a great view, and it prevented light from entering the home. The solution was to use clerestory windows to bring in natural light and maintain privacy.

Clerestory windows bring in difused light

Clerestory windows and skylights increase the amount of natural lighting flowing into a space, improve ventilation, and add architectural interest with their unique shape and design.

Natural light in your home is essential to help improve your mood, lower stress levels, and reduce anxiety.

An expert architect seeks creative ways to bring natural light into a space to create an atmosphere that promotes balance and well-being for you and your family.

Natural ventilation

Knowing the sun's behavior throughout the day and year is essential, as is the orientation of your dream home for good ventilation. Many states focus on energy consumption, and California implements a net-zero policy for all new residential constructions. Passive House strategies promote energy efficiency and are comfortable, affordable, and ecological.

An energy-efficient home design supports your family's health and impacts the environment less. Choose heating and cooling systems and use natural airflow to balance energy usage. Low emissivity windows keep heat from entering your home, and stone and tile floors store heat in the winter and remain cool in the summer, lowering energy consumption and reducing energy costs.

With foot-thick adobe walls, the home I grew up in stayed cool in the summer. An open, south-facing courtyard with bedrooms oriented east to west captured the prevailing winds to keep our home comfortable even in the hot summer. The sun-heated stone flooring ensured the house stayed warm longer in the winter. My memories of my childhood home inspire home design for my clients, creating for them the same comfort I remember from my youth.

By considering the position of your home and the materials and systems you select, you can regulate your home's temperature, use less energy, and benefit from the site's natural elements. At the same time, you are relaxed and comfortable in each room of your dream home.

Consider the topography

Sun and wind are just some considerations for your home's location. If you are like my clients Karen and Jim, you have your heart set on building on the Oregon coast for the incredible scenery of the Pacific Ocean. You may purchase a site for the view, but it's essential to know its topography and soil conditions. Professional architects partner with geologists, geotechnical engineers, and other experts to analyze the site, discover the soil conditions, and determine the foundation requirements for your home and how that affects your budget.

constrained site topography

Excavating a hillside and constructing a retaining wall to realize your dream home idea can be expensive. Steep and rocky terrain impacts your custom home's positioning on your site. Your site's topography influences the orientation of your home. Additionally, your site may have unbuildable areas due to unstable soils or other geological factors.

Your architect can assist you in determining the ideal location for your dream home and enlisting the essential consultants for site evaluation, foundation, and structural design, ensuring magnificent views of the beautiful natural surroundings.

Identify jurisdictional requirements

Not only does the position of your home impact energy consumption and natural daylighting to make you comfortable, but you also need to adhere to jurisdictional requirements. You may want to live on the beach at the water's edge; however, the jurisdiction probably won't allow it. Zoning regulations can limit the freedom to position your home where you want to on your site. These regulations could be in place to protect wildlife, preserve historical buildings, or maintain community character.

With a professional architect, you can discover the site's limitations before purchasing to help you make informed decisions and prevent disappointment in finding out you can't build how you envisioned. If you have already purchased a property, an architect can find creative solutions working within the restrictions to turn your vision into a reality.

The earlier you have detailed information about your site, the better prepared you are to design the custom home you envision successfully.

Find the perfect site to design a healthy home

By considering the elements of a site, like the sun, wind, and topography, you can choose the best location for your home within your budget without giving up your vision for a home that fits your lifestyle. The orientation of your home design reduces energy costs, allows air to flow naturally, and increases natural daylighting, promoting your well-being and creating comfortable living for you and your family.

If you are interested in finding the perfect site for your dream home or have chosen the site and want to discover the optimal design for your custom home for your well-being, call me, and let's start the conversation:

Tel: 858-344-2404, or email:

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