The Great Importance of Curb Appeal!

The Alternative Architect

I never thought of myself as an ‘alternative architect’ until a dear friend recently referred to me as such.  It made me stop and think hard about what he really meant.  The term ‘alternative’ to me resembles people and ideas quite different than the main-stream… such as skateboarders and alternative music; or birkenstock clad feet and dreadlocked hair; or someone who walks the path less, or even least, travelled.  The latter describes me best.

The more I thought about it, the more I became willing to embrace the idea that I am, in fact, an alternative architect.  The plain fact is that I do not stick to the norm because that’s just not who I am.  It’s something I’ve always known and even celebrated internally but for some reason I never merged that self-acceptance into my career.  And all it took was one small, off-the-cuff comment.  Isn’t it amazing how things work out like that?

That one simple comment has inspired me, can you tell?  I am inspired to be me!

I am the kind of designer who…

  • LOVES historical architecture.  It pains me to mess with a building’s original character by adding on if it can be avoided.
  • sometimes pretends to be Indiana Jane.  I am a total nerd about architectural salvage and constantly think about ways to use various items from the past in new designs.
  • appreciates clever use of materials in creative ways that do not hint of being pretentious.
  • believes excess is way over-rated.  Live efficiently, productively and with only what you really need.  If you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, you probably don’t need it, and therefore you don’t need space to store it!
  • refuses to increase my overhead so that I am free to provide for my clients’ project needs without worrying about going over a company budget for time spent.

Wow!  That feels good!

Thank you, Michael, for being such a good and wise friend!

Now, on to new and exciting, beautiful things in 2014, including a new consultation service in locating architectural salvage materials for your next project!

My Latest Pride-and-Joy Project!

My Latest Pride-and-Joy Project!

You simply must click over to my Houzz portfolio to see photos of my latest finished project!!!

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The Best Kind of Kitchen

What would be your ideal kitchen?  Something fancy and grand?  Something quaint and cozy?  Something simple and sleek?

Even more important than the appeal of the design is the feeling you get when living in your kitchen.  It is the heart of the home, the most used room in the house, the warm place everyone tends to gather, no matter how small.  If you think of it like that… a gathering room… then what becomes of the dream kitchen you imagine?

Take a look at House Beautiful’s slideshow of designer kitchens.  Here are a few of my favorites…


Call me old fashioned. I am! But, I just love this mix of farmhouse and formal elements.


The size and beauty of this kitchen is cleverly extended with large, untrimmed archways.  Simple and breathtaking elegance!


Small and casual kitchens are not to be thought fruitless of potential!  What a fun idea to paint the cabinet interiors with a bright and cheery color!  Such a delight should give one joy to be in the kitchen!

There are endless, fabulous solutions for every size kitchen and every size budget.  What do you want to improve in your kitchen?  Ask me!  I’ll be more than happy to help with a free consultation!

Choosing A Kitchen Countertop

Choosing A Kitchen Countertop

Very often I am asked for a recommendation on a kitchen counter material.  The materials, styles and prices vary widely, so it’s not a quick and easy thing to answer.  This article by offers some very helpful information on the subject with some lovely photos to boot!

Have you seen Houzz yet?

Have you seen Houzz yet?

This is a great site for homeowners or anyone interested in design.  While you’re browsing, look me up!  I’ll have more photos posted soon of the cupola project progress.  It’s nearing completion!

Project Bloopers, Episode 1

I once had a client who called me in to help figure a very basic bathroom remodel. They had a limited budget.  I told them we could help them get what they needed within their budget as long as we stuck to inexpensive finishes and fixtures.

The next thing I knew the clients wanted to add finishing a portion of their basement. We went through the exercise of design for both the bathroom and basement, keeping things simple for a low budget project.

It wasn’t until I delivered the renovation estimate that the clients broke out into a sweat and told me they had expected me to stay within the budget of that very first ball-park number, the one I gave when the project was for the bathroom only.  I had assumed it was understood that the cost would increase as the project scope increased.

Sometimes what you think is obvious is not so clear to someone else.  I learned it’s best to communicate, put it out there, state the obvious, never assume.

Renovating on a Budget?

I’m about to risk raising some eyebrows with this suggestion, but I’m going to make it anyway.

There is a simple way for homeowners to save significant sums on renovation projects. And that is, if you cannot act as your own general contractor, hire an Owner’s Project Manager (O.P.M.) to manage the project on your behalf.

Why should that raise eyebrows? Because it relieves the general contractor of that duty, and therefore also relieves him of a hefty mark-up on the subcontractors. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the function of a general contractor, especially on large and complex projects (in which case having both an O.P.M. and G.C. would be a good idea). But, on smaller projects where the G.C. may be only funneling work to the subs and there is not a lot of work for his own crew, an O.P.M. seems to make sense.

A G.C. doesn’t really want to be bothered with a bathroom renovation, for example, where there is little carpentry involved. However, some homeowners have neither the time or the inclination to be their own G.C. This is where an O.P.M. can help. An O.P.M. can organize the project, coordinate the subs, communicate between the client and subs, make decisions on behalf of the client when necessary, manage the schedule, manage the budget, and see that everything is done according to the project specifications. For this service, an O.P.M. could save a client literally thousands compared to a G.C.’s mark-up.

If you plan to give it a try, look for an experienced Construction Project Manager, preferably with a Construction Supervisor’s License and general liability insurance.   Here is one resource for locating a Construction Project Manager in your area:

New Project News!

One of my most exciting projects yet got underway today – a Victorian cupola renovation!  It is a very small space, but will be so elegant once it is complete with its many custom features.  

With a new spiral stair that ascends among built-in bookcases and a glass enclosed display case, one will walk up underneath the glass top of a coffee table before arriving at the cupola level.  Through the new windows a peekaboo view of the Atlantic Ocean can be viewed while relaxing on the curved, custom-built cushioned seating in the cupola.  A maple laptop desk will be custom-milled as well, following the curve of the seating and extending the flowing lines of the spiral into the space. This flow along with a glass railing and the previously mentioned glass tabletop help lend a more open feeling in the space.  The vaulted ceiling will be finished with stained beadboard and illuminated with LED strip lighting behind a cove at the top perimeter of the walls.  

Check out the plans at my Houzz website!  I will be posting progress photos as it takes shape!


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