Services we offer
New houses and cottages
We design new houses and accessory buildings that are period appropriate for specific historic building traditions. Our projects have included designs from (1880s) Queen Anne to (1950s) Mid-century Modern. Our designs 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 most pre-1960 styles for current needs while preserving the building's original character.
Renovate existing, or build new?
Good houses are always in demand, and land available for a new one is scarce. Many of us buy a less-than-ideal house with the idea of renovating to resolve its shortcomings. In some instances renovation is not practical, and it would be more cost effective to replace the house. Construction costs continue to escalate, and our clients often prioritize and implement remodeling projects over time. It becomes important to develop a renovation master plan to follow, and avoid expensive missteps.
For most of us 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.
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 the 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 of objectives and any as-built drawings or photographs you provide prior to meeting;
2. Check parcel data for your site and assess implications of land use codes (if relevant to your project) prior to meeting;
3. Meet with you at the site to walk-through the house (in daylight hours) and discuss your ideas and concerns;
4. Explore together design options to meet your objectives that would be suitable for the period and style of 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 $250.
For most renovations and additions, or if you would like to reassess the potential of your house, our fee is $350.
More Extensive Projects
For more detailed design recommendations or product selections we can 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 difficult to retain. In writing a summary we emphasize the key ideas and take-away recommendations. 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, and enable 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 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 well-acquainted with the planning, permit and construction processes, and offer architectural services from start to finish. We will be able to translate your desires into a successful project. Our clients typically have high expectations for their homes, the quality of work, and satisfaction in the 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.
After decades of working with residential clients and contractors, it is clear all architectural work is collaborative. Its quality depends on the character and aspirations of the people involved. We 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 & Crafts (1900-1920) houses in Pasadena, California where I grew up. The city's bungalow neighborhoods developed at a time when it was a favored winter retreat in the Land of Sunshine. The benign climate, beautiful setting with San Gabriel mountains and orange groves, and its leisure class residents drew design talent to the city.
Pasadena produced an amazing array of inspired architecture in the first half of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, by the 1970s much of this heritage was obscured or threatened. Surviving bungalows from the Arts & Crafts era had fallen on hard times, and many were being carelessly remuddled. Other than Greene and Greene's well known Gamble House, few were preserved and fully restored.
I became active in preservation efforts, offering informal advice to homeowners who wanted to restore their bungalows. I recommended replacing lost features that 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 sun I encouraged homeowners to restore interiors with the period light fixtures and deep color palettes that once provided relief and serenity. We found that restoring the house's original integrity also recovered its character and charm.
This was an significant lesson for us. In renovating houses we became more respectful of historic building traditions and responsive to original designs. It also enabled us to see that architectural development was more than a parade of styles, making the ones before obsolete.
I came to appreciate the beauty and utility of historic building traditions, and how ideas evolved over time to create a good fit.
A responsive design approach to renovating buildings ran counter to current trends. Instead of "updating" existing houses in terms of the latest style or self expression we played it straight. We sought to understand the intentions behind original designs, and respond to these in our renovations. The work also expanded our knowledge of traditional design values-- like attention to building scale, proportion, hierarchy, harmony, and balance-- ideas of little interest to architects trained only in Modernism.
In fact, during this period it seemed only Modernist architects who overcame building traditions to develop a "signature style" were considered noteworthy, and when they renovated historic buildings they did more harm than good. Traditional architects like us were considered "uncreative," and definitely outside the mainstream.
Some people who visited our restorations imagined we had not done a thing! Sure, we would have enjoyed more recognition, but remaining anonymous was our choice. Whenever possible we avoided telltale signs of remodeling and modern incongruities that would compete for attention.
In our view the steady drumbeat of Modernism and economic imperatives in general had so diminished architectural character that most new buildings seemed cheap and dreary in comparison to the well made and lively historic buildings we worked on.
American society had also changed. Its earlier civic aspirations and good neighbor policies were no longer apparent in development. New buildings often replaced historic ones that were of higher quality. As the losses mounted, many people began to question the wisdom of redevelopment altogether.
By contrast, renovation of pre-modern buildings was almost always satisfying work and well-received. We thought other architects would notice this, and join us in support of traditional design. Historic preservation became a mainstream activity for architects, but within the profession the idea of extending historic traditions to new buildings remained unacceptable. This was claimed to be "false history... Disneyland."
A majority of Americans have always preferred traditional over avant garde or trendy design, yet most architects account for this as unsophisticated 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 is in fact a historic style with over a century of development. Today, it enjoys a spirited revival, but then so do are our pre-modern regional building traditions. It is certainly possible to create an appealing traditional house, well-suited for life 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 now is shifting to allow more time to research and write historical perspectives, to design small buildings from historic types--and, of course, to dance!