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Sample Programming

Programming is where we start to understand the problem(s) and take an accurate account of the existing space with emphasis on these problem areas. I included a list of questions that you can use as a guide to navigate you through the type and depth of information you will need to accurately develop a thorough program. Please use this for all rooms you are considering – even if you aren’t sure you will be renovating all of the rooms, it is important to capture this now. Use your notebook to answer it per room and the graph paper to draw each room out. I will include more tips on the plan in a bit. It will be good to type this information out into one place after you are done taking notes, that way you can organize it in such a way that it is easy to refer back to.

Programming Document

Identifying the basics:

  • Room name

  • Floor finish – What is the type and condition? What do you like/don’t like about it? What (if anything) would you like to put in its place?

  • Wall finish – What are the texture, color and condition? What do you like/don’t like about it? What (if anything) would you like to put in its place?

  • Ceiling finish – what are the texture, color and condition? What do you like/don’t like about it. What/if would you like to put in its place?

  • Baseboard / casing / trim – What is the condition? What are their sizes? What do you like/don’t like about it? What (if anything) would you like to put in its place?

  • Type of doors and hardware – Paneled, finish, condition? Do you want to keep or change out?

  • Acoustics – How is the noise in this room, does this need to be addressed?

  • Day light access – Is there any and would you like more or less?

  • Lighting – What is existing and is it sufficient? What would you like to see?

  • Who is doing what in this room and how many people are doing each activity and when are they doing it?

  • What equipment / furniture /items are necessary for these activities and what is the size of these? List items you want to keep and measure them in a list format?

  • What do you like and dislike about this overall space?

  • Do you have any special needs or requirements?

  • What is the square footage of this space?

  • What is the ceiling height of this space?

Identifying your goals:

  • What is the aesthetic and psychological impact you are hoping to achieve?

  • How should this room relate to its surroundings, meaning are you looking for something cohesive to the rest of the house or is this an area that can stand alone? Also, is there any consideration to the area in which you live, bringing the outside in, historic preservations, etc.?

  • What major functions will take place in this space, ideally?

  • How many people will be using this space?

  • What is your budget for this room? If you are dealing with multiple rooms you can skip this and use your round number for all rooms and determine how much each room will be allocated.

  • What level of quality are you seeking?

  • Is sustainability a consideration for you?

  • When would you like to have this completed?

  • Is this your forever home?

  • What kind of expected changes do you for see in the next five, ten, fifteen years?

  • The “gratitude is the new latitude”  list that you generated from Chapter 6,  can also come forward into your programming. Having each person from the household complete their own will be good for them as well.

The other list from Chapter 4, “reasons for change” can also come forward here as well and encourage others to fill it out:


  • What is your ultimate goal, after walking through your front door? Can you say it in one word?

  • Can you define that word, how does it make you feel?

  • Does it conjure up images, places, memories that support the feeling? Explain all please

  • Why do you think that is your most important goal?

Once you answer these questions for all rooms, you can create a document that lists all of this information in one place. I like to list the rooms in bold and then do bullet points of Existing and Desired items underneath, including furniture that will be considered to keep with their dimensions. I do this in such a way that it is visually easy to find answers later.

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