My penchant for Christopher Alexander is on the rise again after spending the weekend at an inspiringly-comfortable bed and breakfast in Green County. Here’s an excerpt from A Pattern Language that cuts to the heart of what Getting Real is about.


Built-in seats are great. Everybody loves them. They make a building feel comfortable and luxurious. But most often they do not actually work. They are placed wrong, or too narrow, or the back does not slope, or the view is wrong, or the seat is too hard. This pattern tells you what to do to make a built-in seat that really works.

Before you build the seat, get hold of an old arm chair or a sofa, and put it into the position where you intend to build a seat. Move it until you really like it. Leave it there for a few days. See if you enjoy sitting in it. Move it if you don’t. When you have got it into a position which you like, and where you often find yourself sitting, you know it is a good position. Now build a seat that is just as wide, and just as well padded – and your built-in seat will work.