Posts Tagged ‘custom home’


In the Interest of Moderation

October 10, 2012

1500 Square Foot House Plan, copyright © 2012 Gaddis Architect

Here, in the interest of moderation, boring though it may be, is a carefully thought out plan of a little house that meets some very big needs.  If you click on the plan, it will enlarge so you can follow the points below.

  • The main entry is into a foyer and circulation area, allowing for access to additional floors, if they are used, without the necessity of passing through the private part of the house, and allowing a home business or multifamily living arrangement.
  • The living and dining areas are exposed to the outdoors on threes sides giving ample opportunity for light, additional entries & a fireplace.
  • The galley style kitchen, including washer/dryer combination adjacent to the hallway, pantry and  counter with seating,  is open to the main living  and dining space.
  • There are two toilet rooms, one of them handicapped compliant, and a large handicapped accessible wet room with both tub and shower which is intended for use by all residents, pets included.
  • There is a single wet wall serving both kitchen and bathrooms which is a cost effective way to install plumbing.
  • The need for an office, additional sleeping space for company and part time residents, and extra storage is address by using the transition space off of the hallways on the way to the bedrooms.
  • There are two good sized bedrooms, on the same floor as the bathrooms, important for aging or handicapped residents.  Each bedroom has a good sized closet and is exposed to the outdoors on two sides for light and air circulation.

Rethinking what a house ought to be.

July 19, 2012

Heating, Cooling and Day Lighting in a House by Nakae Architects, Kanaishi, Japan

If we were really energy and environmentally conscious, newly built American suburbs would consist of house that looked more like this one, and I don’t mean stylistically.  Many architects wait patiently to be handed a project with energy efficient heating, cooling and day lighting as main programmatic drivers, often cringing when asked to design with the likes of expansive south facing glass in a Texas development or rows of houses with rooms over unheated garages in a New Jersey subdivision.  Instead our housing markets are too often driven by the likes of granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and revivals of the revival of some historic style, and that does not even begin to mention too rigid building codes.

Is it possible that the current drop in home values is the result of more than failures in government and banking.  Is is possible that we have hit the saturation point;  that we are tired of the poor performing money pits that take more from our quality of life that they give?  If so, there is an army of architects out there waiting to help home owners rethink what exactly a house ought to be.


Channeling Leoanardo

July 6, 2012

Ćlos Luce – Entrance

I thought I had exhausted discussion about how to finish this house (lower right), now under construction (upper right).  Then, as often happens to those of us who carry images around in our heads, I happened upon a reference to Clos-Lucé, final home in Amboise, France, of Leonardo da Vinci.  Suddenly the “French Chateau” I was envisioning jump out of the pages of history to express my idea about this design problem.  The brick volumes of the Chateau are framed by  smooth tufa stone rustication that has been installed in an elaborate crenelated pattern.  If there is any change in material, it is only to define and entire volume, as the rectangular box of the entryway.

Even considering the stylistically eclectic macrocosm comprising today’s building, this is a historically strong image that is likely to, on some level,  attach itself to the house under construction.   Any design, therefore, that involves horizontally breaking the volumes is bound to look contrived.  Likewise, matching horizontal elements, i.e. foundation and roof, might appear puerile in the context of a potentially sophisticated project.

To  follow the entire thread see:
 “The Last Resort”
“Taming the Tower”
Clos Lucé – Entrance | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Graphics Gone Wild

June 27, 2012

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Fielded panels are foundational architectural elements in American historical building.  They are one of a handful of architectural features that cross the line between purpose and decoration.  Like a Corinthian column installed to support a gallery above, or an arch and keystone between two rooms, they are intended to enclose a space, support a wall, hold up a ceiling.  All have in common an intrinsic sculptural quality that is accomplished by crafting a single material in a way that is decorative in its detail.  The strength of the material and the art of the decoration are expressed as a single element.  This sculptural tendency  carries over to the ornamentation as well.  Garland motifs maybe applied but appear to be cast into the plaster.

The fielded panels in this house are turned into flat high contrast graphic designs overwhelming the space and removing all hints of history.  The interior view along the stair, minus the graphic panels, suggests the possibility of a lovely Queen Ann ambiance.  Untrained designers, even those with natural ability, might try to correct a problem with more of the same problem.  An interior architect could have provided a sophisticated rendition of this historical style.

House photos courtesy of Weichert.


Escapee from the remodeler’s un-improvement.

June 14, 2012

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Is there such a thing as an “Endangered Species Act” for houses?  If so, this place should be put on it now.  How rare?  A 1950’s vintage retro house that has miraculously escaped the home remodeler’s un-improvement.  A family of 5 could move into this house “as is” and live comfortably by all of today’s standards.  Whoever buys the place might want to meet with an architect to see about returning some of the finishes to their original design.  Check out the ceiling light in the kitchen.  It has to be original.  Here are some ideas for furnishings.

House photos courtesy of Weichert.

Taming the Tower

June 13, 2012

Comment on “The Last Resort”

This post is a continuation of a discussion entitled “The Last Resort” started on another blog.  I am posting it here in order to show the sketch.  The discussion is about possible finishes for this house which is under construction.  The home owner was trying to  reduce the “rocket” affect of the turret.  I thought that the house design was all about an assembly of volumes, not the least being the turret, and that adding a fake chimney in the empty space on the end gable elevation would detract from the design intent.

The sketch was to help show what I was trying to point out.  When you take the gable end elevation by itself the empty space implies that something should be there.  I actually wrote a blog post on exactly this subject:  “Something is Missing“.  In this case, though, if the trim boards frame the elevation so that it appears to be an additional large volume, then not only do the angled window support the overall shape of the elevation, but also the size and prominence of the turret is reduced by dint of the fact that now there are two large volumes instead of one.  Even the little windows angled up the elevation above the porch now contribute to the overall composition.

Further, if the foundation is finished so that it matches the color of the ground and if the basement windows are trimmed to match, the house settles down.  Also, another visual trick is to use a light color trim where the house meets the foundation.  Since our eyes are always drawn to elements of high contrast, visually we tend to see the base of the house at the top rather than the bottom of the foundation.  Sorry for the bad sketch.  Also, if I was working with this home owner I would do a number of sketches in different configurations to help them see what they like.


Arn’t they expensive?

October 18, 2011

I was at a party talking with a woman who I had just met.  She was lamenting all the time and travel required to select finishes for her brand new custom home.  I asked her if she had hired an architect for the project.  “Oh no,” she answered.  When I followed up with the requisite, “why not?”  She gave me a blank look and continued, “arn’t they expensive?”  “How could an architect help with finishes?”

I didn’t bother to enlighten her.