What does it mean to us to build beautiful, functional homes?
It means working together.
When I first started working as a project manager in construction I was not very excited about design. I had a typical contractor’s mentality and felt the design process was just a means to an end– the inevitable road to construction. It was tedious and it was time consuming. While I didn’t mind sharing my personal opinions with clients, I didn’t realize at first the impact of the decisions we were making together in the showroom.
One thing I fell in love with about the design process is how much more personal the experience is for our clients (than let’s say the planning or construction phase). Some clients know exactly what they want walking into the project, some have no idea, and everything in between. And no matter where our clients seem to fall on the spectrum, it is my job to guide them to the finish line and make sure that they are absolutely confident and excited about the final design.
It means finding out what we can do to maximize the space you have to fit your needs.
Whether the space is big or small, it is my job to make sure we are thinking of all the possibilities for how it can be used. Now I am certainly not a robot, nor do I have a perfect algorithm for finding the most perfect use of every space. But I am very curious. I want to know, who will be using the space and how? I want to know how I can take wasted space and make it useful. I want to figure out how we can redesign the space together to make it better.
When you live in a space long enough, it can be hard to reimagine it on your own. Growing up in the Richmond District for example, I never gave much thought to the design of our home. Most of my friends lived in old houses that looked exactly the same as mine and it was just normal. With big dreams of renovating the house someday, my mother sometimes expressed her frustration over the smaller things. Sometimes it was the hardwood floors that had been scuffed and blackened after many years of tiny baseball players running around in their muddy cleats, sometimes it was the fact that there was no room for a dishwasher and the sink got clogged every time someone washed a plate, and other times it was the fact that all the windows were 100 year old single pane glass that were not fooling anyone once winter rolled around. But even still I don’t think it once crossed my mind how dysfunctional the space really was until I moved out and started to enjoy the perks of a modern apartment.
Now looking back I am able to share my experiences to help clients reimagine their own home. What are you cooking in the kitchen? How often? What is in the drawers? Should those pots really be there? Should the utensils really stay where they are? Where can we move things so that it is easier for you to move around? Do you have any idea what joy a lazy susan can bring?… What does your morning routine look like? Do you have kids? Will you have kids? My brother was 6’5” by the time he was 16, do you know what it was like to brush our teeth together over a 24” vanity every morning before school? In all honesty it wasn’t too bad because I think it is just in our nature to make the most of the space we have. Only in retrospect can I say how valuable it would have been to have a second sink, or how much time it would have saved to clean a bathroom with bigger tiles. That is really the wisdom I hope to impart to our clients.
It means making the space feel like home.
We had a client once, Charlotte, who we were utterly convinced was a British spy. She was gone for several months out of the year, with her airline security consulting business taking her all over the globe with very little access to communication. Spy or not, Charlotte had very little opportunities to enjoy time at home so when we remodeled her two bathrooms it was very important we kept some rules in mind when we started shopping for finishes:
- All the colors must be neutral.
- Nothing fancy.
- Did I mention all the colors must be neutral?
While shopping with Charlotte, she was able to identify many finishes she liked– colors that she was drawn to, textures, patterns and shapes she was impressed with. However most of the time her commentary was followed up by an explanation of why it wouldn’t work, and it was really very simple. It was not uncommon for Charlotte to spend only 1 month out of the entire year at home. This time was meant to relax and regroup before her next venture. The colors could not be loud and the patterns could not be too overbearing because the space needed to feel quiet and calm. And in the end the finished product was a beautiful blend of beige, off white, and soft greys.
I’d say that Charlotte is an excellent example of why it is so important to thoughtfully consider the way colors, patterns and textures will interact with each other once they share their new space. For some maybe tranquility is executed with clean, modern, minimal lines; for others perhaps it is a Japanese-inspired combination of warm wood tones and matte black fixtures. It isn’t always easy to know the answer.
Our goal is to create Harmony in your home– synergy between function and aesthetic. We want to give you the same advice we’d give our friends, and we want to give you the patience we’d give to our family if they needed our help. And that’s what it means to us to build beautiful, functional homes– together.