Lean Design Blog: Presenting a Lean-designed, 3,300-square-foot home

May 2, 2012

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea.'"

We can thank Jessica Simpson for addressing that puzzling situation. A bit trickier, however, is the mystery centered around Lean design. Let me help clear it up.

Lean design is an optimization of materials and processes achieved by high-level trade/supplier collaboration. Lean design focuses on the elimination of waste and is viable at ANY price point. A $5 million home can be just as Lean as an $85,000 home.

Lean design is not about making a home cheaper. Quite the contrary, it is about maximizing the home’s value through careful planning. Lean design is not value engineering -- a term that has been painfully abused over the last twenty years. Ironically, many builders (in particular some very large public ones) used the term as a reasoning tool to strip their homes of any real value and, in effect, made them cheap.

Lean design will make your homes far less expensive (we are talking thousands here) to build, providing a better value for your customer. Lean design is about achieving optimum marketability.

This week we focus on a Lean-designed, 3,300-square-foot home. Let’s take a closer look:

A. Egress is granted directly from the Morning Kitchen serving two purposes – a direct path to the grill (my favorite) and an abundance of natural light rarely achieved in a prep space.

B. The large Costco pantry in the Kitchen combined with a generous cabinet layout provides plenty of storage. The Pantry also has a space for a built in coffee center.

C. The Family Entrance has a door leading directly outside – perfect for casual guests (those who are, or feel like family) and for letting out the pooch.

D. The Dining room is eliminated; instead, casual dining with a sitting bay ensures the home will be perfect for large family gatherings. The space is large enough to hold a loveseat, two chairs and a coffee table.

E. The Open Family room makes the home feel very large while supporting the concept of open entertaining.

F. A pocket office is a perfect place to store mail, bills, etc. This space can be closed off with - of all things - a “pocket” door. Clever huh?

G. Large Flex Room can serve a variety of purposes based upon the buyer’s needs.

H. Loft space can be just about anything - iPad station, printer area, kid’s zone, or a spot for whatever Apple releases next week.

I. Secret bonus room off Owner’s closet can be an exercise area, extended closet, safe room… the possibilities are endless.

The most successful builders accelerating out of this recession are using Lean Design. The homes cost less, live better and sell faster. Anything else would be like eating chicken from a can.


Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at thallett@tkhomedesign.com or 248.446.1960.


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