I’m always astonished when I find a tool to help me with my design process that is both free and extremely powerful. The most recent of these is called GuideGuide. I recently stumbled upon this useful Photoshop extension and immediately calculated how many hours will be saved for the remainder of my design career. Guides are essential in graphic layout to maintain spacing, margins, alignment and provide a template for maintaining good visual balance. Unfortunately, Photoshop’s manual process is rudimentary at best and leaves much to be desired.
GuideGuide allows you to create and save grids, use any unit of measurement, create baseline grids (like ruled paper), add element padding (space around an element) and divide a selected space into a number of elements without any math at all. But the feature that I use most is the midpoint guide. Select an item, click the horizontal or vertical midpoint button and SHAZAM! There is a guide right through the center of it. The creator, Cameron McEfee, definitely deserves a round of applause if not a well-earned PayPal donation.
What does this tool have in common with interior design? Quite simply, our job as designers is to make other people’s lives easier and more productive using our own tools and methodology. With thoughtful consideration of spatial use, appropriate material selection and general problem solving, we work with clients to understand their routines, needs and desires. We then challenge ourselves to create solid designs hoping to improve their lives, make their routines more efficient and maximize enjoyment of their space. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a place to put their keys, shoes and coat after entering their home. Or you could reduce the height of a kitchen counter for shorter cooks. Adding thick insulation to bedroom drapes can soften busy road noise for light sleepers. Simple but thoughtful solutions like these make life and work much more productive and enjoyable.
Good designers understand this and challenge themselves at every juncture. However you don’t need to wait for a professional to make your life easier. Borrow from our tools every time you encounter a frustration at work or at home. Take a moment to analyze the situation and visualize what solution would be best for you. Many times frustrations in the home are based on the limitations of storage, lighting, temperature and layout. For example, we arrange our furniture once when we move into a home. We never really think about how productive or obstructive that arrangement is even after living with it for a while. So think about how you move through a space and rearrange your furniture to make your layout work for you.
Another solution is to add a motion sensor to a hard-to-reach light switch to make a closet or hallway safer and easier to navigate at night. And perhaps it’s time to reorganize your panty and kitchen to make cooking and service more streamlined. Keep often used items within reach and relegate rarely used items to the pantry or remote storage.
It is never too late to make your home a better place. And although enlisting a designer can cut to the chase and bring focus to home improvement, you can borrow our tools and pick the low hanging home improvement fruit.