This past Saturday was a perfect 74 degrees, sunny and full of beautiful homes.  It was again time to judge the Kansas City Home and Garden magazine’s 2010 Home of the Year awards.

It is such an honor to be selected to judge the work of some of Kansas City’s greatest architects, builders, designers.  I know from my gold in 2008 the work that goes into each submission. The homeowner’s get just as excited.  It is a day to see who was able to do the most with what they had to work with, and how far the bar will be raised, again. See 2009’s winners.

Each year, we are sent in teams to a variety of homes all over the city in different categories.  The entries are submitted by the homeowners, architects, builders and designers and must be brand-spanking new.

About to go out and judge: Brooke Pearl, Asst. Editor, myself and Andrea Darr, Editor-In-Chief.......

About to go out and judge: Brooke Pearl, Asst. Editor, myself and Andrea Darr, Editor-In-Chief.

I take the job very seriously and even dream at night about the homes when I am trying to decide. This year, the 7 properties I judged ranged from a smaller home to almost 4 times that home’s asking price…so you can see the difficulty!  It is like comparing apples to bananas to oranges.  How do I choose?  Very carefully and thoughtfully…

I am a stickler!  My criteria?

• I look for unusual and unexpected design solutions that work beautifully
• Note smooth layouts
• Search for special details (especially those that work for the land or homeowner specifically)
• Examine quality of materials and craftsmanship
• Reward green design
• Want thinking outside of the box (instead of a “me too” design) that ultimately adds value to the property and/or the lives of those that will live there
• Notice location
• Judge the overall feel and look of the space. Not only must the home’s design work, it must be outstanding.

I ask myself:

• Did the architect waste space or leave any small, funny areas the homeowners won’t know what to do with?
• Were the niches, built-ins and/or lighting intended to be centered but didn’t quite make it?
• Is the interior cabinet hardware going to last or did the builder cut a corner where no one would look?
• What about window placement?  Vent placement?
• Does the entry have a “WOW” feel?
• Does the exterior complement the land and interior?
• How would someone live in the space and make it their own?
• Were the designers innovative while respecting the style of the structure?
• Were their solutions unique, without going into Oddville?
• Is the selling price appropriate?

The categories are perfectly arranged (I don’t know how Andrea Darr and Brooke Pearl organize this every year) so the judges can make sharp choices as we drive to each structure, critiquing and taking detailed notes as we go.

What does the competition do for you?  It encourage the designers and builders in KC to constantly question their work, push themselves, explore and stay current with trends, materials and procedures.  It matters.

Watch for the KCH&G issue in the spring so you can judge for yourself.  By then, it may just be a perfect 74 degrees again…can’t wait!


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Got a comment?  Reaction?  Question?  Interior Design question…WWJD? (What Would Jill Do) Tell me what’s on your mind.  I love hearing from you!

Photos:  Jill Tran Interior Design and Co.

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