Originally Posted by ramuman
Read about. I'm primarily interested in the basics of design. I presume some of this dates back centuries or even further, but I want to know what factors (proportions etc.) come together to make a pleasing building and space. I'm a bit more interested about residential buildings over commercial buildings if that makes any difference. I know next to nothing about architecture.
I recommend this book. It's very simple. They've basically documented how humans have built their environments throughout history and deduced from that some very simplified concepts of design. They cover every scale of architecture, from entire town planning concepts all the way down to how to lay out a kitchen (like how the faucet, work space, stove, and other components should relate to each other). The book was designed for the purpose of introducing laymen to spatial principles that they could use on their own to adapt their own surroundings. The book is organized with bolded passes and non-bolded descriptions, so it's very easy to browse through and pick out topics of architecture that are interesting to you. It has a cult-like following. It's one of those books that explains things you already perceive and makes you go "Of course! Why didn't I notice that?"
A couple others: Steen Rasmussen's Experience Architecture
, which explains how people relate to architecture in a more linear and narrative way. It introduces many multi-disciplinary topics that relate to architecture such as health, literature, art, sciences, sociology, etc.
Francis Ching's Form Space Order
, which introduces a broad range of architectural methods related to form, geometry and space in the form of an animated "visual dictionary" of architecture styles, from classical to modern. It talks about things like symmetry, proportion, circulation, orientation, modularity, anthropomorphism, etc.
I've seen all of these books in Borders or Barnes & Nobles, so they are widely available.