Transcript: Homes For Moms: Designing a Home For Eco-Conscious Families

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Homes For Moms: Designing a Home For Eco-Conscious Families and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Helen Thompson: Often, when I’m speaking with moms, the subject of their home comes up, with frustrations often vented about why certain aspects of their homespace simply don’t work for them. I recently spoke with Jane Leach, who is an eco-home chartered architect.

I learnt a lot during our chat about why moms so often experience these problems. Since most architects and builders are male, women often feel ignored during the home design process. This is even more of an issue for moms who need a home that will help ease the daily battles, getting everyone washed, dressed, breakfasted and out of the house. Jane has created a way to help families design a vision for their home, so they get a home that supports them in their living their version of their best lives. She knows all about helping her clients begin their days, without feeling frazzled, often, by making simple changes to their homes.

You’ll hear some great tips and ideas in this week’s episode. Welcome Jane and it’s a great pleasure to have you here on First Time Mum’s Chat.

Jane Leach: Thanks so much, Helen. Thank you, hi, it’s great to be here with you.

Helen Thompson: So tell me, how do you support mums? Most architects are male and it must be a real achievement for you to be able to support moms.

Jane Leach: Yeah, it’s definitely an issue. It’s something that many of my clients say to me, you actually listened to what I want. It’s a big deal, you know, to have somebody understand. Cause I’m a single mom, so I do really get it. So yeah, it’s a big deal for moms to have their needs met within the home. And whether you think this is right or wrong, the fact is that moms tend to take on the bulk of the responsibility for childcare and for home maintenance. So it is hugely important for us to have homes that actually work for us .

So, yeah, that’s the key thing really for me. I’m not anti-men at all. I want both partners, if there’s a couple, for both people to have needs and desires met in their home. And that’s one thing I find a lot of couples can struggle with at first.

And those initial, you know, we really want to improve the house, we want to extend it, we need more space, we need to change it. Those early thoughts, they can get really stuck when you’re sort of thinking, oh, but you want this and I want that. And it feels like, somebody has to make some kind of uncomfortable compromise, and I always think there’s no need to make an uncomfortable compromise. You can both have what you both need and want. And it’s a case of designing a solution that works for both. And I think that’s key.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think that is key because you know, a mum might want a larger laundry or a bigger kitchen and the husband might want to have what I’d like to call a manhole. Where he can go out and do what he wants to do, or, both parties might want to have time out and they might want that space to have that time out. And they might just want a space for the baby too. And I think that’s so valuable. You’re an eco-architect so does that mean it’s all natural and made of wood and all that kind of stuff, or what does it actually mean?

Jane Leach: Well, there’s lots of different aspects to eco. I mean, eco is complex. So my initial process it is based on the three sustainability Rs, reduce, reuse, recycle. Many of us focus on the recycle part of those three Rs, because really that’s the easiest one and also we all succumb to these marketing messages that we need more and we need better, we need the latest thing. But really what we need to focus on is the reduce part of that. And so by not consuming as much, we are going to protect the Earth’s resources better. That’s the more eco approach.

When it comes to home design, I find a lot of clients come to me and they say, we want a big extension. We want, all this extra space, but really when we look at what they actually need, To get from that space, it’s not necessarily the case that they actually need to build so much extra space. Often we can reconfigure the space that they already have and use that better and by reducing the amount of build, that is from the start, that’s much more eco and also it costs you less.

So it has a lot of benefits. And then what I then look at is to use, yes, more natural, less damaging materials. And also because I focus mostly on extending and remodeling existing homes rather than new builds so much. A lot of our existing homes are not very energy efficient so instead of spending the money on building more, we can spend some of that money on upgrading the existing house that you have and making that more energy efficient and the energy efficiency is what is going to long-term reduce the amount of energy, gas, electricity, and so on that you use to heat or cool. And that is then also, more eco approaches, that reduction of building more, but reduction of energy use.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, just thinking of the house next door to us, they’re doing an extension at the moment. And I look at it every day and I think, gosh, they’ve just got so much wood on that extension and cement and concrete.

I don’t know how practical it is, but I’d like the tradition of the thatched roofs. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the west coast of Scotland, but they have beautiful thatched roofs up there and I think trying to be eco-friendly that way and having it all natural.

Jane Leach: Yeah, I know New Zealand has really particular architecture. A really good friend of mine actually moved to New Zealand and worked in New Zealand as an architect for several years. He’s now moved to Australia with his wife. We had lots of conversations about New Zealand architecture. There’s some really interesting examples of architecture in New Zealand, but the quality of the build from an energy efficiency point of view is lacking in New Zealand, from what I understand. It’s not as good as it could be.

And he was certainly telling me that homes tend to be quite cold in the winter. It needed a lot of heating on to actually maintain them in comfort. And that shouldn’t be necessary really. And it does come down to materials. Metal roofs, and and timber frame, they’re not bad in and of themselves.

Metals, very recyclable and using a lot of timber is good. Concrete and cement, those things are really not great that best to avoid, but it’s difficult to avoid them sometimes because of the requirements, building regulations and things like that. So yeah, choice of materials is an important thing, but building more of exactly what you need, building more elegantly is how I like to put that, that’s more important than exactly the choice of the materials, because if you don’t build as much because you have a more elegant design that delivers more beautifully to your needs rather than building simply huge but then not having relatively clumsy space, it doesn’t really function very well. That’s much better to build smaller and upgrade and improve insulation and reduce ventilation rates and things like that. You need ventilation, but you don’t want air leakage. So reducing air leakage and improving insulation.

Helen Thompson: So if you were a mom and you had somebody like you coming round. You were talking about efficiency, electricity efficiency and keeping your house warm to be effective. How would you do that? How would you encourage them to be more self-sufficient with the materials.

Jane Leach: Well, so the very first thing that we talk about is not anything to do with materials. We don’t talk about to begin with. That is not really the most important thing at all. The most important thing is to build the right amount of building, not too much. And the way to build the right amount of building is to get very clear on what your needs are in order to live your lifestyle. So I believe your home should support you in living your version of your best life. So it’s very important to get clear on what is your version of your best life? Because what I don’t want to do is to make my own assumptions and design my version of your best life. And I think that’s what a lot of architects do. And I think that’s where a lot of moms and women don’t get what they really need because the male architect has imagined, has assumed what they think you need. But they don’t have that lived experience as a woman. They don’t necessarily know what you need cause they don’t understand your situation very well.

So that’s really the key thing to start with is to get very clear on what you want. And I have this process which I call design your home vision process. And I have an Eagle method, is a framework that I take you through. So it’s got five steps. The ‘E’ for Eagle is evaluate your existing home. So I largely work with with families, couples, who are remodeling and extending, an existing home. It can be used for a new build home as well. The same process can be used for that, but largely, that’s what I focus on. Especially working on older property, so historic property. So the ‘E’ is evaluate your existing, the ‘A’ is assess your lifestyle. So what are your routines and your habits? What do you do on a daily basis? Then the ‘G’ is gather information. So there will be lots of information that you have about your home, and it’s gathering that together, getting all the important information together that will help inform what you do to it and listen to your heart, listen to your heart.

What do you really desire? You’ve assessed how you live, what your current lifestyle is, how would you ideally love to live? What would be your dream life, your best life? And what do you need to support that? What sorts of spaces would really lift you up and make your heart sing? And then the final ‘E’ is to emphasize your priority. We all have different priorities and that when it comes to the builds project, the three most important priorities or aspects to consider are your budget, your time scale, and the quality that you want. So of the three, I think quality is the most interesting one because you get to define what quality means to you.

That’s very much dependent on you and your idea of quality. It’s easy to put a date on things and it’s easy to put a cost against it, in terms of how much you’re prepared to spend, but in terms of quality, it’s something that you get to define much more in much more detail and it very much varies. So your qualities might be very much eco. You want it to be made of renewable materials, you want the materials to have traveled not very far. So it’d be relatively locally sourced, things like that. You may want them to not off-gas.

A lot of new products, paints and new furniture, especially furniture made out of chipboards and melon lines and things like that. They’re off-gas and that’s basically releasing quite toxic gases into your indoor air and so this is something that I think is really actually crucial for first time mums to know about, because I know there’s a huge drive to redecorate a room for baby, create that beautiful first bedroom with the crib and all the toys and everything, and, you know, paint the mural on the wall and all of these things. And that’s lovely. The thing is it’s really important to be careful about what materials you’re putting in there and what paints you’re using, because actually what you could could do is create quite a lot of toxicity in the air.

Helen Thompson: Yeah I was thinking that because some paint is very toxic.

Jane Leach: Exactly, that’s what I mean. So visually your baby’s not going to really notice if it’s been recently decorated or not as a room, but, but from terms of their health, it’s better not to decorate a room for baby to keep the room. I mean, it does depend on the condition of the room, but if the room is in reasonably good condition and you’re thinking, oh, we’re going to repaint everywhere, new colors and everything, I would say don’t. Don’t necessarily do that.

And also in terms of the furnishings, it can be better to buy secondhand, pre-loved where the materials are already off-gassed. So all that toxicity has already been released. And so they can be much healthier. Obviously you need to clean them effectively and all of that but using natural materials.

So clay based paints, wools and cottons unbleached, and all of these things that it is worth being considerate of those things because babies can be more sensitive to these things. So it’s worth taking care of that, using more natural materials if you are going to redecorate or refurnish a room for baby or doing it in as a light toucher way as possible, doing as little really as possible. And to be honest, I think that’s good for moms to know anyway. We don’t have to do everything!

Helen Thompson: Yeah. You want it to be as simple and as loving as possible and nice and warm and cozy rather than looking absolutely stunning and amazing because for your baby and for your comfort as a mum, when you’re breastfeeding or whatever you’re doing, you just want somewhere nice and quiet where you can sit and just put your baby to sleep.

What do you think of Ikea stuff? A lot of people who I speak with about nurseries, they’re always saying, oh, we go to Ikea, you get some really good quality furniture there. As from an eco point of view, what you think of Ikea?

Jane Leach: It’s variable. I think some of the materials that they use, they use chipboards with cluster plastic final kind of melamine type finish and that is not really healthy and it’s not very long lasting either, but they do have lots of products that are solid woods as well, and even unfinished woods, so those products are good. So that’s the thing with eco stuff. It’s never clear cut. So you can go to Ikea and you can get stuff that’s good and that’s more sustainable, less damaging. There are good things about Ikea and the fact that they flat pack things and it takes up less bulk. And the transport is very efficient, the way that they transport things.

So there are some good things about the way that Ikea does develop their products. But some of the materials are definitely, it would be better to avoid some of them, going for solid woods, unfinished woods. Those are better and then you can finish them yourself with an oil or something like that, which is less toxic.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. So I think from what you’re saying, you just try and be as natural and as free as possible. And that’s where you come in and you say, right, well, what is it you both want and where do you want to go? Cause I think that’s the key, I think they’ve got to find out what they want in their life and how they want to have their life, because they don’t want to keep extending their house!

Jane Leach: No, exactly. I sometimes feel like when I had the baby, I realized that I’d had a huge lack of empathy because it was such a huge shock. It wasn’t what I expected in any way and everything was different and my life completely changed. And at that point, when your life has completely changed and then you’re looking at, okay, well now this is my new life. So in a way it’s a really good time to reevaluate, up till having a child. You’ve been pretty carefree and things that have been very different. And unless you’re sort of like a digital nomad traveling with your world schooling and traveling with your child, which sounds amazing. Some ways I’d love to try that, but if you’re actually sort of settled down and you want to put roots into one place and you want to create a life in one place and you want to create a forever home, It is important that your home does adapt, can be flexible because as you go through your life, changes happen.

You might have your first child, but then maybe you’re going to have another child, maybe another after that. Or maybe not. Maybe you’re gonna have your parents come and visit or even come and live with you. And maybe they might have, as they get older, may start to have mobility difficulties. And then for yourself, if you think, okay, this is our family home and we actually want to live here forever now, then, for yourself thinking, okay, in the future, anything could happen. You could be involved in a car crash and that could cause, mobility difficulties or more serious, but all these different things, having a home that can adapt, that has maybe doors that are a little bit wider than the typical domestic doors, that would allow for wheelchairs easily to pass through if you needed it. But also make it generally a lot easier for you to get furniture in and out and things like that.

Helen Thompson: A mom who’s trying to get their kids out to school quickly, or even just getting the baby out quickly. It doesn’t have to be school kids. They don’t want to feel frazzled and they don’t want to feel help, what am I going to do? How am I going to do this? So I think what you’re saying, having that space, but not necessarily having it huge, but so it’s an easy way to get the result that you want.

Jane Leach: It can be. The key thing when it comes to is knowing what you need. That’s where knowing, assessing your lifestyle and then imagining your future life. How you dream of living, that’s crucial in terms of looking at your habits. What do you do on a daily basis and where are your moments of frustration? Those moments. If you sit down or even as you go through one day, have a little note pad with you, just go through the day and just note down things that are really easy as well, or moments of pleasure.

Because those are key too. So note down your moments of pleasure and note down your moments of frustration, because those moments of frustration, it’s possible to design them out and those moments of pleasure, it’s possible to enhance them even more. So that’s a crucial thing to do, I think, in order to make your life easier and more pleasurable and that’s really what I want to achieve for my clients so they can live an easy and pleasurable life.

Helen Thompson: I think that’s a wonderful approach to have, because as you said at the very beginning, a lot of designs are not really thought through properly and having that house that is somewhere that you dream that you want to be, it sounds nice and relaxing and it’s got that place where if you want to extend, you can.

Jane Leach: Yeah. I think it’s really, really telling as well if you think about how do you feel as you reach your front door as you get home? How are you feeling? Is your heart sort of sinking or is your heart sort of lifting and feeling released and free and that’s very telling in terms of, is there something that you really need to address in your home to make it easier and more pleasurable if your hearts sinking as you get home and you’re thinking of it as a bit of a dread of walking through that door and getting back into it. Or are you coming home and you’re sort of relieved to be getting home into your sanctuary really and out of the world and a place to sort of recuperate and recover and springboard yourself back out into the next day from. So how are you feeling about your home as you get back home? Take a note of that and that will really, really help you to see, okay, is this something that we need to address or is it not that bad or is it just wonderful? Cause it could be. So that is, I think a really telling moment, that moment of arrival at home.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. I agree with that. I think you can get a real sense to how you feel when you get back home, because if you don’t feel that, to me, it’s not really a home. It’s more of a place where you sleep. I was brought up in the country in Scotland and I loved that. I loved our family home. I just loved it because it was such big open spaces. We had so much room to move around. Not only did we have the nature on our doorstep, but we also had huge open spaces in the house where we could just run around as kids and just be kids without having our parents hearing us.

We had that space and it was just beautiful. And we also had stunning views on top of that, which was lovely as well. So I think from what you’re saying that it’s making your heart sing.

Jane Leach: It could be the architecture that is the problem, or it could be that it’s something else about the house that’s not working. It could be that it’s just overwhelmed full of stuff because that can easily happen when you have a child. And you get gifted things and all these things that come with a child. But they can really take over your space and not all of them are really necessary, but when you’re a tired, first time mum, especially in those first few months and you get gifted so much stuff, but then actually dealing with all of that and deciding, if you really need it.

And you don’t necessarily know what you need and what you don’t need. And before baby comes, you’ve gone out preparing for it and preparing for every eventuality and getting all the things that you might possibly need, because you don’t know what you’re going to need and different babies need different things as well.

So it can be that there’s just so much stuff and you just need to have some time and maybe some help to have a look at what you’ve got and actually start to filter out some of that, curate your space a bit more, and that could be what you need. It’s not always the architecture that is the issue. And I would say the way to know if it’s the architecture, that is the issue rather than something else. It could be the decoration like you don’t enjoy the colors and the textures of everything and nothing feels nice to you.

Those sorts of things, the interior design isn’t working could be that the space is too full of stuff that you don’t need, and you just haven’t had the time or the energy to clear that stuff out. But if it’s the architecture, so the way to tell the difference is if when you’re thinking about your home and thinking about your life and think about the life that you want to live and you’re thinking, well, kitchens are a prime example of this.

So if your kitchen, for example is too small, maybe there’s only room for one of you or had a couple who I worked with and every time they did a food shop, they would end up with having a huge argument because their kitchen was tiny. And so they would both be working together as a team, they had gone out to the supermarket, they brought stuff back. They were bringing all the food in from the car and filling up the cupboards with the food but there wasn’t enough room really even to leave a couple of bags on the floor and certainly wasn’t enough room for more than two people to move around the room, opening the cupboards, putting things away.

And so it would just become such a high depression situation that they end up having a blazing argument because there just wasn’t the space for them to do what they needed to do. That’s when you know that you have an architectural problem that the space itself is not working for you. There’s just not enough space when you feel like you’re just too cramped.

So sometimes it is because there’s too much stuff in the space that can make the space feel too cramped. But if that’s not the case, if it’s not that there’s too much stuff and I’d always recommend starting with that, have a look at what you could clear out as a first step, especially furniture. Clearing out large pieces of furniture that you don’t like, and you don’t use, will open up a lot of space for you. But if you’ve done that and it’s not the stuff and it’s not the furniture, you just don’t have enough space to hold everybody or for you to live the life that you want.

Say, for example, You know, as your children get older and you want to encourage them to take part, involve them in the cooking, involve them in mixing up the cake mix or whatever you’re doing in the kitchen. Get them hands-on. But it’s too small, it’s not safe. You haven’t got enough space to be able to do that safely. Or they are playing in another room and you can’t overlook that room from the kitchen. And so you’re trying to cook dinner, but you’re also trying to supervise and you’re kind of torn between. So those situations, that’s when it’s the architecture that is the issue that needs to be addressed.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, that makes sense cause the kitchen is where the heart is. The kitchen is where their main area of the house is. Cause everybody’s sort of assembled in the kitchen for meals and for cooking and I think a lot of moms like to cook and if they don’t have the space in the kitchen, well then they probably won’t cook and they’ll go and get takeaways because they just can’t be bothered to cook because the kitchen is too small.

And as you say, the kids might be in another room and you can’t see what they’re doing.

Jane Leach: Yeah, this is why the open plan, kitchen, dining, sort of family room, that is probably the biggest requested alteration that most of my clients come to me for. Designing open plan space well is also not always that easy to do really well. The biggest thing to take into consideration when you’re looking at open plan space is, first of all, the numbers of people that are going to be in that space and what different things they’re going to be doing. The biggest contentious issue that I find is television. Are you going to have a television in that space? And if you are, what sorts of things you want to watch on it and whereabouts in the room do you want to be able to see it? And if you want to be able to see it from all parts of the room, say if you’ve got a seating area, but you want to be able to watch a movie, but also at any point during the movie, anyone maybe would want to get up and go to the kitchen, maybe go to the fridge and get a glass of white wine or whatever it is, make a cup of tea, whatever it is that you want to be doing at the same time. If you want to be able to do that and not miss any of the movie, you want to still be able to watch the screen from the kitchen, as well as the seating area. These sorts of things, that can really make or break the space to make it so that it functions well. And I do find sometimes that can be an area where it can be tricky for couples to agree because sometimes one partner would like there to be no television and another one thinks that’s really important. So I do find televisions, one of the trickiest things to incorporate into an open plan space.

These little things can be, not exactly bones of contention, but there can be really differences of opinion. And, and that’s where it’s really useful to go through the process that I’ve mentioned, my Eagle method, where you’re really evaluating, what you’ve got right now. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? How do you live your life? Where are your moments of frustration and pleasure, and then dream forwards of how you would really ideally love to live your life? And that’s how you start to consider and adjust and create the changes that are going to then transform your life and make your life so much better, more as you want it to be.

And you can do that by altering the space around you. It can help you to make those changes. You can make changes in your life without altering the space around you, but sometimes the space that you have is defining you and is restricting you from living the way you want to live. And so to make those changes that you want to make, sometimes you do need to change the space in order to help you do that, to make it possible.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and I think you must’ve been the go between between a lot of couples, if one person didn’t want the TV there and not necessarily the TV, just anything! Have you ever been the go between or do you just give them the choice and then just walk away and say, right just come back to me when you’re ready?

Jane Leach: So it is a sort of a standing joke between architects who work for private residential clients is that they don’t need an architect they need a marriage guidance counselor. That is a standing joke! But what I believe is that you both deserve to have all that you need and want in order to live your best life. You both deserve to have the opportunity to live your best life and to have a home that supports you in that. But as a couple, you are two different people and you may have different needs and wants that your best lives might not necessarily look identical.

So when I’m working with couples, I see them as three parts. Each as an individual, as well as them as a couple and then with children as a family. It actually is really interesting to get children involved in that process of analysis and evaluation as well, because you start to see things from their eyes too.

So my way of designing is to get that information, to get as deep an understanding as I can, of those three or four, two individuals, couple and family and then design a solution that does deliver for everybody. So I don’t want anybody to be in a position where they’re feeling like they’ve made an uncomfortable compromise and the other person has got everything they want, but they’ve missed out.

I don’t think that’s fair for anybody and the way that I design is about creating harmony. Harmony between you as a couple and your family and harmony between you and the natural world. That’s my sort of overriding thing is this idea of harmony. So yeah, I think it’s really important and so I can give you an example one of my clients her and her partner, she loves baths and he loves showers. He also had a very annoying, to her, daily habit of going out for a cross-country run with their two large dogs, and then coming back, all of them caked in mud, tracking that all the way through the house, get to the bathroom where he would wash down the dogs and then he would have his shower. So this obviously that to him, that was his, that was a start his. That was what he did every day. He went for cross-country run. And what he really wants to be able to do was to get home and straight away, be able to jump into a nice hot shower, wash himself down, wash the dogs down and then get on with his day.

What she didn’t want was for him to be going out for a muddy run, coming back with all the bugs and tracking that all through the house. And so we designed it out.

Helen Thompson: What was the result? What happened?

Jane Leach: So, what we needed to do was to make one of the bedrooms larger. So we made the bathroom smaller but we made it into a wet room so that it still had a shower. And we put a Japanese bath, a much deeper bath because she loved to soak And read while she was soaking in the bath. And so she really liked the idea of this Japanese bath, that she could sit, be soaking in a bath and be able to read.

She didn’t necessarily need to be able to lie out flat. So then we were able to then fit the smaller Japanese bath into the smaller bathroom, as a wet room to have both. But that bathroom was not for him to come back to after a muddy run with the dogs. What we did was we created, it’s a small, two up, two down terraced house and the design gave them a loft conversion, so they actually ended up with three large double bedrooms and a smaller bathroom, wet room on the first floor, and then on the ground floor we made open plan, larger kitchen, but with a utility sort of boot room as an entrance with a large wet room shower off that.

So he would come in straight away, strip off all the muddy stuff, put it straight into the washing machine, go straight through, wash the dogs down in the wet room. He can have a hotwash, hot shower, and then they don’t get into the rest of the house until they’re clean and dry.

So there’s no mud tracked through the entire house. It’s just contained to that easy to clean space. And so they both got what they needed and wanted from that design and her daily irritation with him was then also designed out. Because you know, we are, the half can be irritating at times, but if you can design out the irritations and so you’re not affected by the irritations, then, you can have a much, much more harmonious, happy life together.

Helen Thompson: I think it’s a shame, you live in the UK and I live in Australia because I think having you as my eco architect would be amazing, but you live across the other side of the world unfortunately,

Jane Leach: I do design remotely. So the first process that I do is called the foundation package and that is what includes the design your home vision stage. That is a series of workbooks and videos and then a clarity call. So we look at that and then there’s a design day and I design for you, sketch on the screen. So you need to provide me with plans and with photographs. But I can do this for anybody anywhere in the world. And I just need to understand you, and obviously there are some differences. So in the Southern hemisphere in terms of when you’re looking at passive solar gain and things like that, you will be getting passive solar gain from the south, so it’s sort of flipped around. So those are some differences that I would need to be aware of, the climatic differences in different parts of the world, in terms of the eco design.

Cause I, I take those into account when I’m designing from the beginning. But the main thing for me is to make the home work for you. And then I give you a checklist. I call it the checkout checklist. So you can then double-check, that the designs I’ve given you are actually going to be meeting your priority, going to meet all your requirements for your projects and things like that.

So it’s a whole package. It’s a sketch design package. But then you will have a sketch design that has all of these things incorporated into it. And you can then work with somebody locally to deliver it more on a technical level. But you can have my input regardless of where you are, whether you’re in New Zealand, Canada, Thailand anywhere. I can create a design for you that helps you go through that process of considering how you live right now and how you’d love to live. And then combining all these things and creating this more harmonious design.

Helen Thompson: So if somebody wants to get in touch with you, how would they go about doing that?

Jane Leach: The best first step I would say is to get hold of my free design your home vision checklist.

It’s slightly more than just a checklist. It’s sort of like a mini mini workbook with one little technique from each of my five stages for you to have a look at, consider and many people have downloaded that and have worked through it with their other half and they found it really helpful to get the conversation started and helping them to get aligned with each other.

And then they can just download that as a first step to see if this approach really does work for you, that you do like it. It involves a bit of self-reflection and deeper consideration and thought and time spent together and not everybody’s up for doing that. So it’s not for everybody. But if you enjoy journaling and you do have that kind of open, honest conversations with your other half, then it is a really good process and it could be something that you enjoy and find also helps you create a deeper connection and understanding as well as a couple.

So my website is and my Instagram is architect Jane. I’m also on Twitter as architect Jane, I’m on Facebook I architect UK is my business page. And Jane Leach is my name so you can search for me on my personal Facebook profile. I’m also on LinkedIn. I have a YouTube channel. There’s lots of videos that can give you lots of little tips so you can watch those videos as well. So lots of places to find me.

Helen Thompson: Thank you so much, Jane, I’ve actually really learnt a lot from talking to you today about, different ways of designing, cause I’d never thought of the things that you’ve mentioned about the Eagle approach. I’ve never really thought of that before. So thank you for sharing all your wisdom. So thank you for being here today. I’ve really, really enjoyed talking to you.

Jane Leach: Thank you, Helen. It’s always a pleasure.