“There’s No Place Like Home” – North Carolina Design Article

Will Johnson Building Company was recently interviewed by North Carolina Design on our design process and what makes a design stand out from the rest. The full article can be read below or by visiting North Carolina Design’s Blog.

There are some designs that, while beautiful, have a sameness to them. And then there are designs that are taken to a wonderful new level – they simply look and feel special and distinctive. We wondered – what is it that takes a design beyond the ordinary? To find out, North Carolina Design spoke with experts from Will Johnson Building Company. The Chapel Hill based custom home building, remodeling and residential design firm is known for its core values of excellence and integrity, faith and family – and for their exceptional and truly distinctive new builds and renovations.

Family is the heart and soul of this business. We chatted with Will Johnson, who serves as president and operations manager, his son, Ben Johnson, the company’s onboard residential designer, and his daughter-in-law Rebecca Johnson, who manages product selections for each home.

Ben notes that a large part of creating an exceptional design is managing the space well. “It all starts with the client’s needs,” he explains. “You have to have the right amount of space to accommodate the function they require. And you have to look for opportunities to create purposeful spaces, rather than just large quantities of square footage. A smaller space that is designed well is better than a large, cavernous space that isn’t.”

Rebecca asserts that function is the most essential component of each design. “You can make anything look pretty, but form has to follow function,” she says. Ben agrees, saying “We consider every aspect of how the homeowners live, and create a design that facilitates their day-to-day lives. We need to know – how does Sally come into the house? Where does she place her keys? What does she do next? The details really matter.”

Form may follow function, but it’s still very important. “As far as the aesthetic, I ask clients for pictures from magazines and online sources to try to get an idea of their style,” says Rebecca. “We balance the aesthetic with the functionality, then we individualize it to each homeowner. The design has to be something that integrates perfectly with the house, functions well and defines their style. And each room needs to tie into the next in some way so that there’s a continuous flow.”

“From my end, I do a series of meetings with clients, where I sketch out ideas for their project,” says Ben. “I like the face to face interaction and the real time feedback. It allows us to create a vision together. A picture really is worth 1000 words.”

The team agrees that it’s the details that truly make a design shine and give it a distinctive look. “One or two big elements aren’t going to elevate a design to a standout,” concedes Ben. “You have to take a holistic approach. There’s a thousand little things that go into creating something that just intuitively feels special.”

“There are so many details that people sense as a whole, but don’t necessarily see right away,” adds Will. “Like recessed floor vents made with the same wood as the floor. Special niches for artwork. Custom spice racks, drop zones, or pullouts for trash or dog food. One thing we really like to do is pay special attention to highlighting coffers and trim – it’s amazing how a shadow line can add a good, rich sense of dimension to any design.”

Will notes that there are a couple of main secrets to the team’s success. “We have extraordinary tradespeople who we work closely with as a team,” he shares. “Their talent allows us to offer a high level of detail to our clients. But I think the most important thing is listening. No two clients are alike. The more carefully you listen, the more exceptional and original your result will be.”

Christopher Johnson