Raising your home design IQ

Doorways, windows affect more than aesthetics

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Ten years ago when I began writing this column I did a total immersion in the world of production home building. In five days I visited more than 40 townhouse and single-family projects in both stand-alone subdivisions and planned communities spread out across the Northern Virginia suburbs. On my last day I stopped at a townhouse project in Reston, Va. After touring dozens of furnished models with similar plans, similar decorating schemes with similar colors, and minimal landscaping, this one was different. The moment I walked through the front door, I could sense the hand of a designer at work. Instead of the desultory backyard that I had come to expect, a large framed view of a wooded area behind the project beckoned me forward. As I took in the rest of the house, I noted that the eat-in kitchen, dining and living room areas were arranged so that no matter where you stood or sat, you could see the trees.  Not only had an architect designed this house, there was also a suppor...