Living Spacious in Small Spaces – Step 1

Many of us, by choice or by fate, are living in smaller spaces.  My clients are scaling down or staying put and revamping to maximize their lives within a smaller foot print. As the owner of a very small first home and as an architect for many years, I’ve learned a few tricks that can work for you too!

Alaska summerI like to mimic nature’s exquisite balance in a room because she’s an expert at expanse.  Think of the strong foundation of the earth’s bedrock, soil, and mountains.  Above that the forests begin to open and lighten in to vast endless skies. You can create this graceful comforting balance in your rooms with a solid base of color, texture, and density. Furnishings and accessories above your solid groundwork are lighter, more open, less dense and heavy. Finalize your interior with a ceiling color or treatment that creates a complete volume.

John Lum ArchitectureThis San Francisco home, remodeled by John Lum Architecture, perfectly illustrates a strong foundation in texture, color, and scale.  Notice the grounding effect of the high base boards. The window lined alcove’s arch is outlined by delicate plaster moldings.

Robert Nebolon ArchitectsA floating home in San Francisco, designed by Robert Nebolon Architects, is grounded by wood floors with character. Crisp and clean silvery blue cabinets ease up toward generous walls of windows. Black cabinet pulls and window frames stabilize the space.

Park Ave. Residence by Rafael de CardenasIn this luxurious New York City apartment, Rafael de Cadenas uses color and texture as the grounding elements. Curves, reflections, transparency, and nature prints and wallcovering travel delicately upward in the room. The translucent soft green light mimics a feathery limb over head.

Remember, you can’t go wrong when you follow nature’s lead. Share with your friends and stay tuned for more tips to live spacious in your small spaces.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

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,

Denise

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,

Denise