Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

If I asked you to picture a fence, you’d likely envision a white painted picket fence or a silver chain link fence, the ones we see most often.  With just a little imagination we can truly make fences beautiful neighbors. Keep these in mind when you’re considering your new fence options.

corrugated galvanized steel fenceGalvanized corrugated steel panels are a sleek modern economical fence.  They are durable and virtually maintenance free.

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redwood fenceThe natural oils in redwood make it inherently resistant to insects, fire, warping, and twisting.  Redwood’s density makes it withstand weather conditions better than other woods, increasing its life span and reducing the maintenance required.  Purchase redwood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that it has been grown and harvested responsibly. This fence combines new and reclaimed redwood.

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Cor-Ten steel fenceAnd my all time favorite material….Cor-Ten steel. Also known generically as weathering steel, its specific alloys produce a stable rust layer that becomes a protective coating. It’s durability in appropriate applications is unmatched, and its patina improves with age. This stunning fence is crafted from individually laser cut steel blades.  Use full size Cor-Ten panels for an economical, show stopping, no fuss fence.

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cedar and fir fenceRed cedar, much like redwood, is naturally resistant to insects, fire, rot, and decay. It’s hard to compete with the allure of beauty, durability, and low maintenance. Show your personality by crafting a unique pattern with different board widths.

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perforated copper panelsCopper panels create one-of-a-kind modern yet timeless fences.  When they’re perforated as in this installation, air and light can pass through.  The patina that untreated copper develops with time and exposure makes it more elegant with age. Perforated panels are available in other metals to suit your taste and budget.

What’s your favorite of these? Mine is the perforated copper. Be sure to share the good fence info with your neighbors and friends!

Imagine the possibilities,


Stop Improving!

I have a long list of home improvement wishes and dreams, and I bet that you do too.  In fact, we’re told daily to never stop improving.  We want what our neighbors have, or better yet, what our neighbors don’t have yet!  Of course, as an architect I’m limiting potential work by saying this, but I truly feel like we should take some time to appreciate the amazing building that we call home.

My home was built in the early 1970s.  It’s a walk-out ranch with ochre colored aluminum siding.  Nestled in to a woodland in a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the best feature is the site, which seems to go on forever in the nature preserve it joins.  I’m not thrilled that all you see from the street is the garage. Yet that’s a small price to pay for daily immersion in to the world of deer and bunnies and foxes and ducks…you get the idea.

ImaginEco deer

Inside our home we, my husband of over 20 years and I, have made many cosmetic improvements and added our personality where our budget would allow.  And we’ve even made improvements when spurred by fun events like a sanitary sewer back up. When we purchased the home nine years ago we painted virtually every wall and ceiling after removing wall covering.  We quickly eliminated carpet from a bathroom and replaced it with a luxurious heated tile floor. Over the years we’ve replaced all of the flooring, and have three types of Marmoleum linoleum, including the planks in my lower level shown here.  My endorsement of Marmoleum is unsolicited and unpaid.  It’s one of my favorite gorgeous and sustainable flooring materials, made from linseed oil, pine rosin, and wood flour.

ImaginEco Marmoleum plank 1

And I recently painted my bathroom a delicious hot pink that makes me feel giddy every time I walk in to the room. It’s Sherwin Williams Eros Pink Emerald paint in their velvety matte finish that intensifies the stunning color. So though we’ve significantly modified our home over the last nine years, we still have aesthetic goals, on top of the maintenance.

ImaginEco pink bath

Your house, the building, is a complex system designed to keep you warm and dry and sheltered from the weather.  The structure, walls, roof, insulation, floor slab, doors, windows, plumbing, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and electrical have all been carefully researched, tested, designed, built, and approved to provide for your health, welfare, and safety. All of these systems need to be maintained regularly, upgraded, or replaced to keep this house, this system, functioning properly.  These items are not optional.

Your home is you, your family, your dog, your cat, your fish, your kids doing home work at the dinner table, your friends dropping by unexpectedly, your favorite food in the oven. Your home is a symbol of you through the lime green walls in your kitchen, your grandmother’s wing chair, your kids’ drawings on the frig, your sunflower yellow front door, and your dog’s enormous bed in the corner.

So please take a moment today to stop improving.  Instead appreciate the immense group of talented individuals that have crafted and maintained our homes and who have created their contents for us to enjoy. Then pat yourself on the back for every single decision that you’ve made and every joyful and painful step you’ve taken to nurture yourself and your family and friends in your very own home. Well done, well done!

Tell me what you love about your home!

Imagine the possibilities,


Simply Hot Fireplaces

Baby, it is cold outside!  If you’re feeling it too I bet your fireplace is working overtime. The function and style of fireplaces has advanced far beyond their humble origins. No longer destined to wear just brick (not that there’s any thing wrong with brick!), cozy up and see what the hottest modern fireplaces are wearing.

concrete faced full view fireplaceConcrete offers a variety of low maintenance finishes from raw to burnished to polished.  The surface lustre of highly polished concrete can reflect and amplify day light. Add recycled glass aggregate and hone the finish to create a sparkle that rivals the fire.

Mendota Hearth full viewLet the fire do the talking.  This full view fireplace by Mendota Hearth allows you to bask in the fire’s glow without any distraction. The fire base can be natural river rock or even glass. I’ll show you the glass below. The tantalizing burnt orange wall color leapt right from the flames.

Town and Country FireplaceTile lets you make a purely personal design statement…colorful, subdued, or even a monochromatic scheme as shown here.  Tile can also be very economical, and the large format tiles (5′ x 10′) available now can provide a seamless face in many spaces.

ImaginEco fireplace with mica wallIn this artist’s studio I used a concave brushed stainless steel fireplace with a glass pebble fire base.  The surrounding wall covering is mica, a shiny crystalline mineral, that glimmers like the fire.

Mendota Hearth steelCor-Ten steel seems perfectly suited to frame a fire, the force that enabled its creation. Also known as weathering steel, its durability and personality make it one of my favorite materials.

Stay cozy and share the warmth with your friends.

Imagine the possibilities,


Top 5 Timeless Exterior Design Picks

As you begin to plan projects for the new year, let me wish you nature outside your window and shelter that inspires you.  This year let’s say buh bye to ordinary and embrace exterior design elements that are timeless, top notch performers, always in style, and often overlooked.

James Hardie

Fiber cement siding panels are a durable modern blend of cement, cellulose fiber, and sand. You often see horizontal fiber cement siding that mimics traditional wood siding yet the full sheets are rarely used. These panels handle water, heat, cold, and ultra violet radiation with style and a brilliant array of colors.

Metal siding 2 the opendoorstudioblogspotdotcomGalvanized steel is a unique choice for building siding. The numerous benefits include durability, low maintenance, resistance to ants, termites, mold, and mildew.

Armadillo summer houseTile is available in the most delicious styles and sizes up to five feet by ten feet.  It is durable, color fast, fire and frost resistant. The possibilities to make your design statement are endless.

studio 804 shou sugi ban 1Shou sugi ban is an ancient method of charring Japanese cypress. The burning process makes the wood resistant to fire, pests, and rot. The stunning natural characteristics of the wood are exaggerated to create a durable material of exceptional beauty.

Corten steel sidingAnd my all time favorite material….Cor-Ten steel. Also known generically as weathering steel, its specific alloys produce a stable rust layer that becomes a protective coating. It’s durability in appropriate applications is unmatched, and its patina improves with age.

Share these low maintenance exterior siding beauties with your friends…pass it on!

Imagine the possibilities,