Friday, January 24, 2014

The design process

If there is a single image that sums up the feeling we want in the end product it is this one.
We know we can't get all of this and not all of it is appropriate, but it ticks all the boxes.
The house, the landscaping, the gravel drive, the vintage Mercedes. All of it is gorgeous.
On a ten-point spectrum of clients, with a 'one' being those who don't have a clue what they want and a 'ten' being those who know every little thing they want and don't want, we are probably a 9.5. We certainly had very strong ideas of how we wanted the house to look and feel. We wanted to be true to the Colonial Revival style of the house. But truth be told, what we really wanted was for our house to be a stately Georgian or Federal style house. (We knew our penchant for Greek Revival was asking too much.) We wanted to minimize the cutesy, old lady qualities of the house and introduce Georgian elements without having them look out of place. Thankfully our architect knew exactly what we were going for and has the talent to pull it off.

We also had very strong ideas of what we needed in terms of the program. Those desires didn't change through the design process, but the architect knew how mash all of them together in a way that allowed us to stay within our aesthetic vision and to stay true the age and style of our house. More importantly, they knew how and when to tell us that certain things didn't make sense the way we envisioned it.

One of the first things the architect did was to prepare plans and elevations of our existing house. Then, after chatting about our goals, our program, and a stack of inspiration images we had collected over the years, they pulled out the tracing paper and started to sketch. This was definitely the most enjoyable part of the process. It is also the part of the process where you realize that no matter how much you think you know about design and architecture, you really do need to leave it up to the professionals.

In fairly short order we had an outline of the shape and size of what the addition would look like and how it would relate to the existing house. After that kick-off meeting the architects went back to their office and played around with floor plans and a million little details about how to fit all of our pieces together in a way that achieved our mutually agreed upon aesthetic goals.

As the project gets going in real time I intend to post more information about the actual design, but for now I will leave you with some of our inspiration images for the exterior of the house.

Unfortunately we don't have room for sidelights, but we will be getting a transom over the front door.

One of the things we learned is that a historical railing like this doesn't meet building code.

Who wouldn't want to live here?

Since our new detached garage is going to take up some of our spacious backyard, we wanted it to look as cute as possible.

We thought that both of these images were good inspiration for creating a garage that looks more like a carriage house that would make a nice backdrop for the future garden.

NEXT TIME: Choosing a contractor


  1. They are all absolutely delightful. How on earth does one choose a style. Or are you taking bits of inspiration from all. I love No. 5

  2. The existing house will dictate most choices, but these inspire some of the choices we make.