My childhood featured moving every year and a half to two years. I was starting in my eighth school when I started the eighth grade.
As we lived in each house, we would often talk about what we wanted in our next house. The houses felt like stepping stones, not like dwellings we could really call “HOME”. It never felt like we had arrived at our “destination home”, one we “belonged” in, one we would absolutely love to live the rest of our lives in.
We put OUR furniture in them, of course. But there was no expression, in the architecture itself, of our family’s personality, much less of our individual personalities. The houses were all in subdivisions of clone houses where no house had any individual identity.
By the time I was a teenager, I had developed a strong desire to make our house into a home. Several times, I would draw plans of ways I’d like to remodel our house, usually with additions. Each time, over the course of a couple weeks, I’d get very excited about the design.
Eventually, when my excitement had reached a fever pitch, my father would crush my dream by saying that, since we tended to move frequently, we needed to be very careful not to overbuild for the neighborhood. Even though it may be a great design, we’re not going to build it.
That ignited in me a burning desire, not only to one day create a home for myself that I would feel so connected to that I’d be comfortable living the rest of my life in, but also to help create, for other people, dwellings they would feel that completely “at home” in.
But, throughout my education and early professional life as an Architect, I felt pressure to adhere to vanilla, tried and true, one-size-fits-all designs. When working with clients, though, I found that they delighted in finding ways to have their homes reflect their own personalities. So, in 2007, I founded my own design firm to serve clients who want more than whatever the current design fad dictates.
Think of the Addams Family: The Victorian mansion that they live in is a perfect expression of who they are! It perfectly showcases their rare ghoulish artifacts and it fully supports the dangerously playful lifestyle they lead. I can’t imagine them living in a Midcentury modern ranch or a subdivision split-level! And, how would an Addams family member feel, watching a home identical to theirs being built right next door?
I imagine it would be like, when I wear, to a special occasion, a beautiful dress that perfectly expresses who I am, how I feel about myself that evening, and how I want to relate to the people I’ll see; and, later in the evening, another woman walks in wearing the exact same dress. Suddenly I’m no longer unique or special! I’ve been downgraded to a commodity.
If my beautiful home is an expression of who I am in the same way that my beautiful dress is an expression of who I am, then I would feel similarly degraded by an identical home being built nearby.
My belief is that a house becomes a home when it’s a true expression of who its occupants are. And, because no two people are identical, neither should any two homes be identical.
We, at Caroline Leyburn Design, believe that your home should express who you are and should support the lifestyle you want to lead. For some of our clients, that means a traditional home with subtle unique twists. For others, that means a bolder design, one that stands out as a one-of-a-kind dwelling through and through. Our goal is to create your “Destination Home”, the home you truly feel “AT HOME” in.
Caroline: • is currently a Registered Architect in Georgia and North Carolina. • became a LEED AP in 2009. • started her own Architecture firm in 2007. • was a partner in the firm HLP Architects for ten years. • worked at Harrison Design Associates for five years.
• earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia Tech. • spent years gaining experience in various residential construction trades.