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Home as a Platform 🏡

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


The Platform

I had anticipated this moment for over a year. For the first time, I stepped foot onto the newly laid subfloor of our house. I realize this might not sound like a revelation and in reality, I had stepped onto the subfloor in other parts of the house. But this was different. This floor was at the heart of the house, where we’ll cook, eat and entertain. With this first step, I got to experience the elevation, orientation, and view that was the reason we chose to build this house on this spot. It is the platform for so much of what we’ll do in the future, at 272 feet above sea level.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of platforms lately. We all have them. Where you live right now is a platform. It supports your daily life and provides a sense of place. It has a shape that you probably don’t think about often. The kitchen may be too small or a bedroom may be impractical, but we adjust and adapt over time. That’s the thing about platforms. We grow into them.

Part of the challenge of building a new house is trying to imagine, in terms of feet and inches, the platform you’ll need in the future. How big should a bathroom be? How will it feel to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen? These decisions are important because they are mostly permanent. Once it’s built, the platform becomes a constraint. It’s where you’ll live, like it or not. In the back of our minds, there is always a voice wondering if the platform we’re building is ready for the future.

The Platform
The Platform

It’s been over a year since the platform took shape on the property and it started with wooden stakes that marked the corners of the house. The survey crew came out multiple times because their work and ability to read the plans (or not) governed where the house would be built on the property and in which direction it faced. Getting the platform right was a necessary goal from the beginning.

The corners, staked

That’s one of the reasons stepping onto the subfloor of our main room was so exciting. We were stepping onto the results of hundreds of decisions, hours of deliberation and an investment stretching over a year. With the subfloor built, we could put those events behind us and stop wondering if the wooden stakes were placed at the right corners. For the first time, we could stand in our future kitchen and notice what trees will be visible through the future windows. We could imagine walking through the front door and taking in the view from the location of the future fireplace. It was all there, for the first time, to experience with our own eyes.

Time will tell if the platform we’ve designed is ready for the future. I have a strong feeling that we’re on the right track. In the end, all the decisions and designs will fade as we grow into it and never look back.

Below is a collection of photos I recently shared on Instagram that shows about five months of building:

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For ongoing house photos, follow me on Instagram.

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On most Tuesdays, I share a story from my life on Orcas Island and a recommendation for something I love. I'm interested in how to design work and home for lifestyle, livability, and fluffy dogs. Learn more.

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