When I first moved from Connecticut to California in late summer 2017, I had many preconceived and woefully inaccurate notions about life in my adoptive state. Among my greatest misconceptions was that "California Style" was interchangeable with "ultra-modern" and "futuristic" design. Update: it's not.
Although Modern/Post-Modern buildings are significantly more abundant here than in my native Northeast (and everywhere else I saw during my cross-country move), a brief survey of almost any neighborhood up and down the Golden Coast will dispel any illusions that California's residential architecture is exclusively or even mostly contemporary in its style -- or that California has any one, specific style at all.
In fact, I quickly learned what makes a home "Californian" has little to do with its style type, and everything to do with well... being in California and how a home's overall design adapts to some of the most important and unique aspects of our diverse environment. Continue reading below to discover three home design essentials for the optimal California living experience, and how my colleagues have used them in creating our clients' dream homes.
1. Green Systems
Over the past few decades, California has emerged as both one of the world's foremost leaders in environmental policy, and as one of our nation's most environmentally imperiled states. As a result, we were the first state to adopt "green" standards into our building code, and some Californians even go above and beyond those requisite measures to make their homes as cost-effective, energy and resource efficient, and healthy as possible.
Solar panels/tiles that convert sunlight into energy are particularly popular in our sunny state, as are other green technologies like laundry-to-landscape water recycling, air purification, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. By integrating these eco-friendly and increasingly affordable technologies into their homes, owners can live large while leaving a small footprint on the environment and in their wallets.
2. Natural Illumination
California is home to several of the nation's sunniest cities, and many Californians want to take advantage of their coveted climate, even when inside. The obvious way to achieve this is by designing spaces with large and/or multiple windows, although this method's success is largely dependent on the windows' locations. Strategically placed windows allow daylight to infiltrate large spaces, making even the deepest rooms feel light and open.
That airy aura isn't, however, just aesthetically appealing; it may also contribute to better psychological and physiological conditions. Sunlight's health benefits can include improved immune system performance; endorphin, serotonin, and energy levels; blood circulation; digestion; complexion; sleep cycles; productivity; and most notably, production of Vitamin D. With all these health perks, it's no wonder that consistently sunny Californian cities ranked multiple times in the 25 Happiest U.S. Cities and were among some of the highest scoring communities in The State of American Well-Being Index!
As if the design and health advantages of sunlight weren't enough, naturally lit spaces may also lessen the need for electric lighting, significantly reducing energy consumption and bills -- All the more reason to let the sunshine in!
3. Indoor-Outdoor Rooms
Indoor-outdoor rooms provide the best of both worlds and are synonymous with luxury living in California. With a year-round, [generally] temperate climate in many parts of the state, California homeowners are eager to bring the good weather inside and interior comforts outside, while also maximizing their living and entertaining spaces. How this is achieved is largely dependent on the owner's needs and the surrounding environment, although the transition between inside and out should always be both visually and physically seamless.
What do you think of this list? Do you want to learn more about one of the featured "essentials" or projects? Does your home have any of these essentials and if so, what do you like (and/or dislike!) most about them? What other California-specific home must-haves would you add? I'd love to discuss your thoughts in the comments below!