Services we offer
New houses and cottages
We design new houses and accessory buildings that are period appropriate for specific historic building traditions. Our designs have ranged from (1880s) Queen Anne to (1950s) Mid-century Modern. The projects are historically accurate, well-crafted, and well-adapted for life today. We provide full architectural services from initial ideas through construction.
Renovations and additions
We also design sympathetic renovations and well-integrated additions for houses of all periods and styles. We have demonstrated expertise in adapting pre-1960 styles for our clients' current needs while preserving the original character of the house.
Renovate existing, or build new?
Good houses are always hard to find and available land in town to build new is scarce. Many of us buy a less-than-ideal house with the goal of renovation to resolve its shortcomings. In some instances renovation is not practical and it may be more cost effective to build anew. Building costs continue to rise. Those who renovate often prioritize and implement remodeling projects over time. It becomes important to develop a renovation master plan to follow, and avoid expensive missteps.
Our homes are at once a practical background for daily life, an expression of our values, and often the biggest investment we make. We want a good fit. The house should function well, represent our values, and create an atmosphere where we truly feel at home.
We offer homeowners several design services to quickly identify what changes will make the most sense for their house and circumstances, and how best to accomplish what they want within their budget. Our suggestions and designs will be appropriate for the character of the house, and we emphasize the ones least intrusive. Contact us if you would like to discuss your plans, or set an appointment.
As we have time in our schedule we offer Seattle area residents design consultations to help bring their home renovation project into focus and clarify options. The cost of the one-time consultation varies, depending on complexity of the project. For consultations beyond the Seattle area, we can sometimes make special arrangements.
The consultation with Tim takes place at your site, and includes:
1. Review your objectives and any as-built drawings or photographs provided prior to our meeting;
2. Check parcel data for your site and assess implications of land use codes (if relevant to your project) before we meet;
3. Meet with you at the site to walk-through the house (during daylight hours) while discussing your thoughts and concerns;
4. Explore design options that satisfy your objectives and are suitable for period and style of the house. If as-built drawings are available, we will likely use them to sketch designs.
For a small renovation or addition, like a new kitchen/family room, master suite, or backyard cottage, our fee is $300.
For most renovations and additions, or to reassess the potential of your house, our fee is $400.
More Extensive Projects
For more detailed design recommendations or product selections we provide the services outlined above plus a summary of our ideas and findings. Consultations move quickly and cover a wide range of topics. Some of the information we discuss may be unfamiliar or hard to retain. In writing a summary we emphasize the key ideas and take-away recommendations. The fee is $500.
After an initial design consultation you may want to prepare a renovation master plan for the house. This provides a road map for eventual development, and suggests incremental projects along the way. Together, we develop an optimal scheme for the house and the master plan records the vision. The set of drawings we prepare will allow contractors to estimate project costs, enabling you to prioritize and budget the work.
The master plan process begins by developing your objectives and identifying a realistic scope for renovation and additions, preparing as-built drawings, sketches and designs. Once the design is resolved, the scheme is developed into measured drawings (plans, sections and elevations) suitable for contractor review. Cost of renovation master plan service depends on scope and complexity of your project, but a typical budget is about 80 hours.
Expertise and commitment
Whatever the size of your project, our special expertise is in knowing houses of all periods and historic building traditions--their design nuances, construction and details. We can reconcile any changes or "misguided improvements" that may have diminished the character of the house over time. We are adept with the planning, permit and construction processes, and offer architectural services from start to finish. We can translate your desires into a successful project. Our clients typically have high expectations for their homes, the quality of work, and satisfaction in the design process.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson
The experience of practicing architecture for over thirty years confirms it is a confluence of forces-- social, economic and political-- that drive design. Momentum within the profession is strong, yet everchanging as a river. Wherever we jump in, the cultural currents carry us along. Some architects may not want to go with the flow. Designing strip malls and corporate palaces is not for everyone. They might work their way into an eddy, like historic preservation, that better suits them.
It is clear from working with residential clients and contractors for decades that all architectural work is collaborative. Its quality depends on the character and aspirations of the people involved. I aspired to do good work, and found in collaboration clarity of vision and persuasive powers are probably the architect's most important skills.
Our earliest projects were restorations of Arts and Crafts (1900-1920) houses in Pasadena, California where I grew up. The city's bungalow neighborhoods developed at the time it was a favored winter retreat in the Land of Sunshine. Its benign climate, beautiful setting against the San Gabriel Mountains, fragrant gardens and leisure class residents drew design talent to the city in the early twentieth century.
Pasadena produced some extraordinary architecture prior to 1960. This legacy, widely known and celebrated, surely influenced me growing up. But by the 1970s this heritage was largely forgotten or rundown. Surviving Arts and Crafts bungalows had fallen on hard times and were being carelessly remuddled. Other than Greene and Greene's Gamble House, few were preserved and fully restored.
I became active in historic preservation efforts, and gave informal advice to homeowners attempting to restore their bungalows. I suggested replacing lost features that once gave their Craftsman its distinctive character, like the wide overhanging eaves and rafter tails, and whenever possible to remove misguided improvements.
In this region of persistent sunshine we encouraged homeowners to restore interiors with the period lighting and deep color palettes that once provided relief and serenity. We found by restoring the original integrity of a house, we also recovered its character and charm.
This was an important lesson for me. In renovating historic houses I became more respectful of the building tradition and original designs. I came to see that architectural development was more than a parade of fashionable styles making those before obsolete. Traditional design was a wealth of beauty and common sense, and historic traditions could be adapted to create a good fit.
Our responsive and empathetic attitude toward renovating buildings ran counter to popular trends. Instead of "updating" historic houses in terms of the latest fashion we played it straight. We identified the original intentions behind the designs and responded to them in our renovations. The work expanded our knowledge of classic design values-- attention to building scale, proportion, hierarchy, harmony, and balance-- fundamentals pre-modern architects appreciated, but were lost to architects trained latter.
During this period it seemed only Modernist architects who overcame building traditions to develop a "signature style" were considered noteworthy. When they renovated historic buildings they usually did more harm than good. Traditional architects like us were considered unimaginative, and definitely outside the mainstream.
Some people who visited our painstaking restorations imagined we had not done a thing! Sure, we would have enjoyed more recognition but taking a supportive role was our choice. Whenever possible we avoided telltale signs of remodeling and modern incongruities that would compete for attention.
To us, the steady drumbeat of Modernism and economic imperatives in general had so diminished architectural character that most new buildings seemed creepy and dull in comparison to the lively historic buildings we worked on.
American society had also changed. Earlier civic aspirations and good neighbor policies were no longer apparent in development. New buildings often replaced historic ones of better quality, and as the losses mounted many of us began to question the wisdom of redevelopment altogether.
By contrast, restoration of pre-modern buildings was satisfying work and always well-received. We thought other architects might notice this and join us in supporting traditional design. Historic preservation had become a mainstream discipline, but within the architectural profession the idea of extending historic traditions to new buildings remained blasphemy: "false history... Disneyland."
Most Americans have preferred traditional over avant garde or trendy design, yet elite architects account for this as middlebrow taste. They stand ready to elevate public taste, but few today will buy the claim that opposition to the past is the engine of progress.
Modernism today, with over a century of development, is a historic style. It currently enjoys a spirited revival, as do pre-modern regional building traditions. We find it is possible to create traditional buildings well-suited for today and comparable in cost to other modern designs.
Our architectural practice moved from Pasadena to Seattle in 1989, and since then most projects have been in Washington State. The approach remains the same, to work empathetically with our clients and building traditions. My focus has shifted to allow more time to write historical perspectives and design small buildings from historic models--and, of course, to dance!