Recently I was wrapping up a day full of meetings with a friend at a local lakeside pub. The discussion covered many jovial topics. As the evening slid by the conversation included more truths. At one point towards the end of the evening, we discussed just how challenging it must be for stay at home moms (or dads) to deal with the relentless need kids have for attention and entertainment, especially during summer break.

I took a risk and proposed that as naturally adaptive humans, given a “transition period” a reversal of roles could be managed. The term “transition” stuck with me for several days. More appropriately stated, the process of transitioning. I began a mental inventory of where else in our lives transitions are the aspirin to our pain.

For example, wading into a lake, career changes, learning how to ride a bike, merge lanes, dimming lights. Driving to Aspen over Independence Pass or getting a glimpse of Chicago from the I-90 Skyway.

This is certainly true with architecture. A good book on the topic will dedicate a chapter to accommodating the need for easing through transitions. Making the shift from outdoors to indoors, from family room to bathroom. It’s a need that exists for both the person making the transition and for occupants of a space that might want to preview who is about to join them.

It is applicable not only to social dynamics, but personal as well…changing from clothing to bathrobes or vice-versa at either end of the day. We are not only transitioning physical objects but emotional states of mind as well.

Places in our homes that enable this process can include visual glimpses of adjoining spaces, hints about the families interests in a front vestibule, more intimate spacial volumes or variable levels of illumination, just to pick a few.

Thomas Jefferson created a front hall at his home “Monticello” in a way that spoke volumes about his knowledge of the world to visitors waiting there. In this way, he said his hall “worked for him”.*

What can we do to manage our transitions? How can we make the most of them?

*Gleaned from the book: House Thinking by Winifred Gallagher, HarperCollins Publishers

banner photo by JK: Meyer May House by Frank Lloyd Wright…a master at creating transitions between spaces.


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