Friday, August 26, 2011

Bath Time Fun

Last week we took a look at a bathroom project that is currently on the drawing board at our office. It is a spacious master bathroom, ripe for a renovation.

Here is the current floor plan, as a reminder. (Photos can be seen on the previous blog posting.)

There is a lot of potential here. The client is interested in looking at the possibility of putting a washer/dryer into the renovated bathroom so they will have laundry facilities on the home's second floor. They also requested a vanity area, in addition to the double sinks.

Here are four floor plan options that the clients are currently reviewing.

Each of these options addresses the clients' wish list, and each has certain advantages.

From here, the clients will generally mull over the plans for a period of time. Their challenge is to visualize the space with the new layouts. What often happens is that the client will pick elements they like from more than one plan, and these elements will be combined into a final floor plan at which point elevations will be drawn to show the design of each wall in detail. Like ordering Chinese, a la carte! It is a fun challenge when we get to design in a great space like this!

Which design do you like best?

Friday, August 19, 2011

All About the Options

Most clients appreciate being given design options, and we love being able to offer just that! Space is often the driving force behind determining what options are available. We were recently asked to design a new master bath plan for a mid-20th century home, and luckily, ample space afforded us the opportunity to come up with several different design ideas.

As often seems to be the case, the master bath had been left as the last unchanged element in this client's beautifully furnished home. Outdated fixtures and lots of unused space all speak to an overdue change needed to bring the bathroom up to the standards of the rest of the home.

Here is what the bathroom looks like now.

Here is what the floor plan of the existing room looks like.

As you can see, there is a lot of space begging to be put to good use!

During the first program meeting, the clients indicated that they would like to explore the possibility of having a washer and dryer in the re-designed bathroom. Every other element was discussed in order to ascertain a clear picture of what elements should stay, what could go, and what others would be "negotiable". Next week we'll take a look at several floor plan options that are currently being considered. Yes, it's all about the options!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Less Is (probably) Enough

Whether wading into the design quicksand for the first time, or giving your living room its 29th makeover, there is one fashion "mantra" that we think will always serve you well. KISS...Keep It Simple, Silly. (My mom never allowed us to use the other "S-word". Thanks mom!)

A simple, classic color palette, few and tasteful accessories, appropriately subtle lighting...all are good starting places for a design. And often, the starting point is also the perfect finish! Start out small and understated, then step back and take a critical look. You may be surprised that what you've created is perfect, just the way it is. We may open a design magazine only to see an enormous room layered with silks, brocades, bull-fringes, velvets, gilt-this and polished that. At a glance, we think wow!....but many of us would not be comfortable living in these spaces for long.

The same ideas hold true for our lawns and gardens. When you love plants (I LOVE plants), and you're at a great nursery, it's very tempting to grab one or two of every plant you see that you like. Unless you're doing large, mixed perennial beds (for your cottage in England), resist that urge! As in interiors, start by simplifying with multiples of two or three varieties of plants, then group plants of the same variety to create the shape of your garden or plant beds.

Since I used to nursery shop a lot, and grab everything I found that I thought was unique, it wasn't long before our garden became a confused hodge-podge of plantings. (The same thing happened inside the house--couldn't pass an antique store without making a purchase--but that's a story for another day!)

It took a long time for me to realize that the garden was not the relaxing environment I was trying to create, and even longer to get it moving in the right direction. Here are some examples of the adaptations:

These two plant beds mirror each other at our pergola entrance. They now contain two plant varieties, and one climbing vine. (I used to have about six plant varieties here.)

This bed at the front of the house has three plant varieties, and one climbing vine. I'm thinking I could have dropped one of the plant types even still!

This simple, one-plant-variety hedge mirrors the opposite property boundary. Repetition is always important in design.

By not under-planting these Crape Myrtles, you're able to focus on the beautiful bark and trunk formations. (Previously, they were surrounded by a bed of jasmine which just complicated their form.)
As another plus, simpler design will often mean less maintenance, which is never a bad thing. Take control of your designs...follow the simple path!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why We Love Our Bungalows

South Tampa has several neighborhoods where the bungalow is a predominant architectural style. Bungalows are known for their charm and character, and though the original interiors were often smaller in scale, they can often be beautifully adapted by reconfiguring the original floor plan, or complemented with an addition.

Several months ago, I showed you drawings of a bungalow that we designed an addition for. The project was for a contractor who is working on the project for his own home, so he was able to take the ARC approved plans, and work through the challenging construction process on his own. I checked in on the project this week, and was delighted to discover another gorgeous renovation well under way.

Let's compare some of the drawings (which will show the "before" and "proposed") and compare them with the actual new construction.

And the new garage.

The amount of work that goes into a project like this is enormous, but the payoff is equally so. When it's complete the family will have a virtually brand new home with 21st century conveniences, but a home that still retains vintage charm. Something you don't always find in new construction these days!