Style and Function designed for Luxury Homes

Style and Function designed for Luxury Homes

We have had the opportunity to design beautiful luxury homes for a variety of clients with a variety of goals. The design of a luxury home always goes beyond aesthetics – we focus on creating a unique, functional, comfortable home that facilitates the life our clients want to live in this new place. Some of the considerations we make include the following:

living room with two chairs and a sofa looking out to the views through large windows on three sides.

  1. Individual Style
    • Luxury homes are a reflection of our client’s individual styles, tastes, personality, and experiences. This new home will be an expression of our clients through unique features, details, finishes, and spaces.
  2. Enhanced comfort and livability
  3. Low maintenance
    • Using the right materials in the right place that have been time-tested provides durability for years in a luxury home. You don’t want to have to worry about fixing your home, you deserve to enjoy your home.
  4. Seamless indoor-outdoor connections
    • The integration of indoor to outdoor spaces through large windows and doors is a key to the luxurious feeling we want for each of our custom homes. We have also seen a surge of outdoor living spaces from decks to patios to pools.outdoor seating area, sun setting over mountain view
  5. Smart Home Technology
    • There are luxury home enhancements that allow for control of lighting, climate, security, and entertainment through smart technology that we often integrate seamlessly into each design. You can manage your home easily and even predict issues before they become issues.
  6. Personalization
  7. Detail
    • While the overall design and spaces are very important, so is the attention to detail. From cabinetry to trim we set the standards and team up with the experts that can deliver the quality that is deserved in each design.
  8. Exclusivity
    • A luxury home is designed in a way that creates an ambiance of exclusivity, style, and function. This is not to exclude anyone, rather it is to invite in the life you want to live in this new place.
  9. Investment Value
    • We work hard to understand the real estate market so that our clients can maximize their investment in their luxury home. While there are some things that you will want to do regardless of resale value – there are others we can guide you through so that you maximize your home’s value, should you take it to market. We don’t fall for the fads, we incorporate timeless high-quality design options in every project.
  10. Innovation
    • Our luxury homes are unique in their shape, forms, mechanical systems, and structural elements – but not just for the sake of being different. We work hard to understand the construction materials and systems available and to know how to build a luxury home to match your dreams most economically.Kitchen.

In summary, an architect is required to achieve a true luxury home that is personalized to your style and functional needs. An architect takes your home beyond the superficial aesthetics and delivers something specific to your dreams. The attention to detail starts in the mechanical system and extends to the cabinetry and trim. I have heard years after someone has enjoyed their luxury home how our design has made their dream life more possible.

“I don’t know how you knew we would need that in our home, but it works, and we love it.”

 

Cold weather Cold house No More

Cold weather Cold house No More

Do you have a cold house? This cold snap has been a great reminder of all the things you can do to your home to stay warm and comfortable. From air leaks to missing insulation to old windows, there are many things that can be improved in most homes.

Even if you are not ready to call in the contractors, there are simple things that you can fix on your own to make your home more resilient.

Stop the air leaks around every electrical outlet and light switch.

 

thermal image of outlet.

 

That’s right, air leaks exist around every electrical outlet and light switch in your home! Yes, your windows are also a source of air leakage, but first you need to stop these points. You probably have a lot more linear leak potential around outlets than you have window problems.

 

Seal around light fixtures and window trim.

 

 

Sealing around your light fixtures and window trim is also an easy way to help your home, and you can do this yourself. Caulk those joints where two materials come together. Here is more on how to pick the right caulk.

 

Think through other air leak areas.

 

 

Basically, you’re doing it right now because you’re reading this blog. Think about where the air leaks could occur think about all the places drywall was cut to install a vent, outlet, access panel, window, or light.

 

Good insulation is key!

 

 

  1. Adding the right insulation in the right place is critical. Start in the attic, that “extra blanket you put over the house to keep the warm air inside“.
  2. Add insulating curtains and open them when the sun is warm and close them when you want to trap the warm air in your home.Utilizing natural light is a great way to save you money.
  3. Once the attic insulation is right, you should have someone conduct an energy audit to determine where else you need insulation corrections.

What is an energy audit?

 

Indoor Air Quality

 

ductwork, foam, and beams

 

Thinking about your indoor air quality will help you stay well during these cold months when you’re spending more time indoors.

 

More Winter Considerations

Other winter considerations to cut your electric bill while staying warm are your fireplace, outside mechanical systems, windows, and duct leakage. All of these things impact your comfort and energy usage. If you have single pane windows you can add plexi inside of them or cover them in plastic for now – replacement is a longer term solution. If you have air leaks and missing weatherstripping, replace it. If you have insulation falling down in your crawl space put it back into place until you can encapsulate your crawl. If you have pipes coming through walls with air space around them, seal it up.

On cold days like this, I am very happy that we choose to focus on building science solutions that are proven and tested for our client’s custom homes. I know that they are comfortable in their dream homes.

 

 

 

Empathy and Compassion in Design

Empathy and Compassion in Design

As architects and designers, it has historically been our job to take a client’s vision from start to finish. But in more recent times, the role of the designer has evolved to include a deeper focus on how we can shape the way people interact with each other. Using empathy as a design tool is one way we set ourselves apart from other designers who may give you plans that are just adequate enough for a permit. Empathic design aims to create spaces for people to share and build empathy for one another while we, as designers, simultaneously build empathy for the people we are designing for. We must engage our hearts to make meaningful change in our communities.

Open floorplan of living room and kitchen.

As a result of intentional listening with our clients, we designed this open floorplan at the Harrisonburg Farmhouse to be a space for family and friends to gather and build meaningful relationships.

I like to think of it in three stages, which you can read more about here. It begins with cognitive empathy — identifying how someone feels, then emotional empathy — understanding how that person feels, and finally, compassionate empathy — feeling with someone and being moved into action. As a student in undergrad, compassionate empathy was the biggest principle in my projects both in and out of the classroom. However, the work that it takes to design based on empathy — the right way — is not always an easy task.

primary bathroom

Roll-in Shower at Casa Cielo.

Opening our hearts takes energy, vulnerability, and willpower. The things that we learn when we listen to people’s adversities can be heavy to take on, so it should be approached with an understanding of our own emotional availability. Nevertheless, listening to hear and understand is the main ingredient to figuring out how to best help people. Using empathy in design is being considerate of an individual or group’s unique needs and finding solutions that are tailored towards them. Setting aside our preconceived notions about peoples’ experiences and ailments is critical because those assumptions are what keep us from truly understanding one another. We can then use our knowledge and experience as designers to create the best solutions.

Waverly Apartments walking path.

Walking path at Waverly Place Apartments for the community to enjoy the scenic surroundings.

Holding space for others and actively listening, as in focusing on that person and not your own feelings or what you think is best, is the only way to truly have a compassionate interaction. Approaching people in need will require having difficult conversations and can get uncomfortable. On an individual level, I implore everyone to try to approach life with more empathy. It is an ability that can positively affect the way we react to and connect with people in all spheres of life. 

In our profession it is critical to be able to design using all of our senses, and listening is one of the most important. If we listen with the intention to hear and understand the information with both our minds and hearts, we can begin to create empathetic solutions that build a stronger community for all.

Harrisonburg Rockingham Child Day Care Center Project Update

Harrisonburg Rockingham Child Day Care Center Project Update

Harrisonburg Rockingham Day Care Center Rendering

Dust is in the air and this time it is not from dancers supporting a wonderful organization. The Harrisonburg Rockingham Day Care Center is under construction!

For 52 years HRCDCC has provided affordable childcare for the Harrisonburg and Rockingham community. Following their Dances with the Stars of the Burg fundraising campaign, the Center has raised enough funds to purchase and renovate an existing building on East Market Street. This building will allow the Daycare to continue providing sliding scale daycare opportunities in the heart of downtown Harrisonburg, something that is much needed.

The next fundraising goal is to fill the remaining funding gap for building expenses. WHSV covered this update and gives more description of what the funds will be used for here. Consider donating to this amazing organization that does so much for the community. Donation page here. Read more about their programs and reach at their website.

Harrisonburg Construction is the general contractor for this project and a long time supporter of the organization. They, along with Blauch Brothers, Mid-Valley Electric and many other trade partners, will take our design to reality over the coming months.

 

 

Updated Accessibility Standards in Virginia

Updated Accessibility Standards in Virginia

By Architect Adrienne Stronge.

 

When designing custom residences, we have maximum flexibility in designing spaces that accommodate our particular clients. This, of course, takes into account a client’s family size and structure, routines, hobbies, and future considerations. This is also true for a particular client’s mobility issues or concerns for the future. We are able to create spaces around custom equipment, body size and capabilities, and other individual considerations.

However, when designing apartments or commercial spaces, we are designing with the entire public in mind, which includes a very wide range of mobility issues and devices. 

Pool access ramp at Meadow Branch Apartments

In the near future, Virginia will be adopting a new code cycle, which includes references to the revised 2017 version of ANSI A117.1, which is the accessibility standards referenced in the International Building Code. What is interesting about these revised standards is all of the research that went behind setting those standards. 

Most of these changes are based on the 2010 Anthropometry of Wheeled Mobility report, which studied body and device measurements in individuals with a wide range of custom mobility devices, including standard wheelchairs, motorized wheelchairs, and scooters. The original ANSI 117.1 standards were based on a study in the mid-1970s that studied 60 wheelchair-bound individuals. This new study looked at almost 500 individuals and included technology such as 3D scanning to get accurate measurements and comparisons. The findings were then compared against standards in different countries to get an idea of how to set the “building block” dimensions.

The findings concluded that the latest standards from 2009 were accommodating roughly 80% of individuals, while the revised standard will accommodate closer to 95% of individuals. While it can be tricky to accommodate some special requirements in places where space is limited, it is exciting to know that the spaces we design will be accessible to a greater number of individuals. Navigating the built environment with a disability can be incredibly difficult, and we are in a unique position to make that easier on our friends and neighbors in our community.

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Holidays

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Holidays

During a recent weekend, my family and old friends gathered around my parents’ kitchen and blessed the food for the first Christmas party they have hosted since before the pandemic. My parents’ kitchen has always been more than just a place to feed the body. The conversations and laughter that have been shared while my mom whips up medal-worthy meals and my dad whips up his delicacies, like beanie weenie, are some of my favorite memories from growing up. For as long as I can remember, the kitchen has been the central part of the house I grew up in, and during the holidays the warmth I feel there extends to the many people we welcome in from the cold

Kitchen Addition wide angle

Frank Lloyd Wright believed that the hearth was the psychological center of the home. In the past the hearth was where families would gather around for warmth and cook their meals. But, as times have changed, it has become a bit obsolete as the anchor of the home. Central heating takes care of warmth, and the kitchen is now where meals are prepared and shared with loved ones. Someone, who I am sure was equally as wise as Frank Lloyd Wright, once claimed that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. So, as the location of where we make meals has shifted, so has the path to our hearts. 

kitchen, looking into the living room

Coming home for the holiday season means spending time with family, sharing meals, and catching up on life’s big and little events. The kitchen is often the busiest room in a home and because food is such an important part of familial culture and heritage, the kitchen becomes the most treasured room during the holidays. It is where recipes are passed onto the next generation and family history is made more vibrant amidst delicious smells and tastes. Opening the kitchen to the rest of the home not only increases functionality of the room, but it can also nurture greater interaction among family and friends.

wide-view of open floor plan. kitchen and second floor hill top house

The heart of your home may look very different from mine. We have designed kitchens that double as gathering spaces by using methods like opening them up to other living areas or adding large islands that can still conceal the mess that comes along with holiday cooking. Our work as designers is to ask you specific questions to figure out what would make your kitchen gathering space the dream you have always wanted. From renovation to new construction, we have seen so many different options and know what questions to ask to uncover just the right solution. In the gallery below, you can view a few of the kitchens that we have designed, each for a specific client’s needs.

So, as you gather together this year – if you find yourself thinking, “What if we made this little change?” give us a call to talk about your dream. We would love to help you figure out what is possible and what works best. We would love to help you enhance the heart of your home for future holiday seasons.