Various Shades of Grey

I have had a grey obsession for many years now. In architecture school, you learn that architects all wear black. While this is probably 90% true, and I definitely own key black architectural attire, I often dress in all grey. Additionally, my house is about 90% grey, hence the instagram photo that may have led you to this post. But I recognize that I am not alone in this grey obsession. Researching a variety of interiors these days, the color grey is abound, and it looks fabulous! Whereas many buildings have long been grey, thanks to concrete, limestone, and steel being key exterior architectural materials.

The thing about grey as an interior design element is that you can use just about any color as an accent and it will be perfect every time! That's why I am a huge advocate for selecting grey major pieces, such as sofas, chairs, even rugs. Then whenever you need a style change, you can change out pillows, arts, and accessories as you wish. Of course, in my own home, my pillows and accessories are all mostly grey too. But, hey, I already let you know that I'm obsessed!

I should also point out that yes, I spell it with an "e" GREY... Most Americans spell it GRAY. I think it's much prettier with the "e," and I feel that it makes it that much more mine.

Here's my round up of some stunning greys that I think are doing a great job at doing what they do:

1. A dark grey wall helps makes the white art, linens, and Louis Poulsen lamp pop.

source unknown

source unknown

2. Color blocks of grey. A definite favorite of mine, just like I did in one of my favorite interior projects, LA Home Office. And yes to West Elm's Saddle Swivel Chair.

source unknown

source unknown

3. A medium-light grey linen sofa will never go out of style. How awesome is that large scale ombre art?

Interior Addict, via Instagram

Interior Addict, via Instagram

4. A lovely grey, muted bathroom is the perfect place to relax in the tub/shower after a long, hard workout.

Lubelso Hawthorne Home by Canny, via designmilk

Lubelso Hawthorne Home by Canny, via designmilk

5. An all exposed concrete building is more than alright with me. It's one of my favorite things!

Bundner Kunst Museum by Barozzi Veiga, via Dezeen

Bundner Kunst Museum by Barozzi Veiga, via Dezeen

Minimal Monday

Any good architect will tell you that they don't have one particular "style." While it is true that a great architect or designer can design a space in just about any style out there, we all have our favorites. For me, that is Modern. Within the Modern design sensibility lives a multitude of subcategories, of which I will get into in future articles. Minimalism is what I'm going to focus on today because it is my ultimate favorite!

I should begin by saying that Minimalism is not just a style, it's a whole way of being. For more in-depth information about how to live a Minimal life, you should check out The Minimalists blog and podcast as well as read Marie Kondo's method on Japanese tidying. Both highly recommended by me.

But this is my architecture and design blog, so that's what I'm going to show you now. I would like to share a few slides from a Pechu Kucha I recently presented that represents what I find beautiful in architecture. (all of which happen to express my Minimal design sensibility)

House in Litoral Alentejano by Aires Mateus. Photos copyrighted by Daniel Malhao. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

House in Litoral Alentejano by Aires Mateus. Photos copyrighted by Daniel Malhao. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

1. One big move that provides multiple options

I think there is such a beauty in the utter simplicity and economy of things. Such as when something as simplistic as this sliding wood wall that Aires Mateus puts on this blank white facade can do so much in adding visual tension, texture, and geometry, while at the same time providing a way to close the opening into the house. And in case you didn't notice that single white step in front? Perfectly executed with the exact right amount of distance between it and the facade so that the sliding wall has a home and can go from roof to ground without interruption. 

House in Alentejo Coast by Aires Mateus. Photos copyrighted by Juan Rodriguez. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

House in Alentejo Coast by Aires Mateus. Photos copyrighted by Juan Rodriguez. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

2. The Unexpected

When I see the first photo here of this house by Aires Mateus, I am blown away. I wonder, how can this piece of architecture stand with such a paper thin vertical member? How was this wall constructed, what is it made from, how can it work? Then the second photo reveals the knife edge of a wall which thickens as it moves back toward the house. This is the "ah-ha" moment, but it doesn't ruin the architecture like learning the trick of magic might ruin a magic show. Instead it makes me appreciate the piece of architecture even more, as the fine piece of art and structure that it is.

House in Azeitao by Aires Mateus. Photo copyrighted by Daniel Malhao. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

House in Azeitao by Aires Mateus. Photo copyrighted by Daniel Malhao. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

3. Pure Geometry

Nothing gets me more than pure geometric forms extruded into a space in which to live, work, or play. This photo takes a new view of the house from the floor looking up into the sectional objects which really make the house unique and beautiful. Pure geometries have always been a source of inspiration for me and also that which I have created many past projects, such as The Blank House.

House in Alcobaca by Aires Mateus. Photography by Fernando Guerra. Courtesy of Dezeen.

House in Alcobaca by Aires Mateus. Photography by Fernando Guerra. Courtesy of Dezeen.

4. Using what Architecture gives you

What is more Minimal that using what you already have? Design wise, a stair is a stair is a stair. Stairs have a standard tread and riser dimension, and they have remained relatively the same all throughout architectural history. But what an architect does to express the stair as something else - here a ceiling, and also a set of storage closest underneath - is how an architect can speak their unique language to the world. Architects can use other elements

Cabanas in Rio by Aires Mateus. Photo copyrighted by Nelson Garrido. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

Cabanas in Rio by Aires Mateus. Photo copyrighted by Nelson Garrido. Courtesy of ArchDaily.

5. Simple Silhouettes

So striking to me is a building form so pure that its silhouette speaks as an icon of the project. In the case of these two Cabanas by Aires Mateus (are you seeing a theme here yet?) the silhouette(s) not only is strong on its own, but it is made stronger due to its relation to the mountains beyond. Architecture mimicking nature in such a way is beautiful to me.

Peter Zumthor's Therme Vals photographed by Fernando Guerra

Peter Zumthor's Therme Vals photographed by Fernando Guerra

6. Utilizing similar materials to the landscape

I love when a building use the materials similar to their landscape. Of course this is a cornerstone of sustainable design practices which all architects should be trying their best to maintain. Here, Peter Zumthor's Therme Vals in Switzerland showcase the locally quarried quartzite stone as both exterior and interior, for a fully immersive sensory experience within the local material. I also love how in this image, the architecture contrasts with the snow, but blends in with the mountain range in the background.

Haus Meister by HDPF. Photography by Valentin Jeck. Courtesy of Dezeen.

Haus Meister by HDPF. Photography by Valentin Jeck. Courtesy of Dezeen.

7. Slight variation in materiality to create difference

I absolutely love when something so simple such as concrete is used to show subtle variations, like the way HDPF has ground the concrete down to show the aggregate at different densities to create window and door frames.

So that's some of what I find beautiful in Architecture as well a taste of my Minimal design sensibility. Stay tuned for more blog posts in 2017!

Brentwood Remodel Progress

 
How many people does it take to get a 500 lb tub from the garage up to a second floor apartment? 8. It takes 8.

How many people does it take to get a 500 lb tub from the garage up to a second floor apartment? 8. It takes 8.

This week, the finish work begins in our Master Bathroom renovation project.  Finish work - which is the work you see when you look at a final project - always moves so quickly compared to all the prep work. But the prep work is very important, of course, as it's the backbone that holds the project together. You just never notice it - at least in a well done project. In the case of our Master Bathroom renovation project in Brentwood, Los Angeles, the plumbing, electrical, and walls were important things that needed to be well prepped before tiling could begin. Now the plumbing has been located in the proper places for two sinks at the vanity, a new shower in the niche, and a new freestanding tub. Electrical was also moved to make more logical placement of the switches instead of the old locations which had four different switches all throughout the bathroom (completely ridiculous and highly inefficient!) We also simplified the lighting by adding recessed fixtures in the middle "aisle" of the bathroom as well as one fixture in the shower niche.  After these two major items were completed, the cement/mortar bed was done everywhere where tile will be located. Now it's ready for the tiling! Flooring is the first step, which is about half way done as of last night.  Stay tuned for more pictures as this project will quickly come to completion!

 

Demo complete down to the studs

Demo complete down to the studs

Mortar and cement bed almost ready to receive tile

Mortar and cement bed almost ready to receive tile

Last minute on site tile decisions being made

Last minute on site tile decisions being made

Floor tiles are halfway complete! Nice flush transition to the wood flooring at the Master Bedroom.

Floor tiles are halfway complete! Nice flush transition to the wood flooring at the Master Bedroom.

 

Let the Demolition Begin!

 
Partial demo....or Contemporary Art Exhibition?  You decide.

Partial demo....or Contemporary Art Exhibition?  You decide.

The Master Bathroom renovation project which we refer to as "Blatau Residence" is officially under construction as demolition began last week!  Since this is a condo project and the previous work that had been completed was done quite poorly, the homeowner wanted to first do total demolition before ordering all the materials and fixtures, so it will be a week or so before the new construction begins.  But the good news is the existing conditions are all good and ready for our design to be implemented!

It's always so interesting discovering what is in your floors and walls.  It can really unearth how lucky you really are, as was the case in this project where there was no waterproofing membrane at the shower. Just concrete on top of the plywood.  Our contractor asked the client if the downstairs neighbor ever complained about leaks, they didn't. The plywood sub-floor also doesn't have signs of dry rot.  So lucky.

Hire a good contractor!  Don't do work yourself if you don't know what you are doing!!  You can have major problems down the road that you could be held responsible for!!!

Take a good long look at these "Before" photos, because before too long, you won't be able to recognize what we've done to the space.

Before

Before

Before

Before

Complete Demolition

Complete Demolition

 

 

 

The Top 5 reasons you should hire an Architect/Designer for your home remodel, renovation, or addition

I don't need a designer, I'll just Do It Myself!

Understandably, this is a common thought among home owners... you know your own tastes, you've conquered smaller projects on your own, and you may even be handy around the house.  While there are certainly success stories, as Designers, we are often called upon late in the game to try to save the day for a DIY project gone awry.

Architects/Designers are trained not only to innovate, but also to execute a design. Unfortunately, many issues can arise that result in a conceptual design looking distressingly different than the final product. In addition to creating the most beautiful looking design, Architects/Designers are experienced in sourcing materials, balancing proportions, and optimizing the efficient use of space. In this post, we'll provide you with information of which homeowners are often unaware, based on our experience with residential design projects.

The top 5 reasons you should hire an Architect/Designer for your home remodel, renovation, or addition:

1. Your Sanity

You will spend 100x more hours than any Architect/Designer searching through tile showrooms, not even know where to begin when it comes to flooring, and your head will really start to spin when it comes to lighting selection.  That's because this is what we do!  You may know Home Depot and one or two really high end showrooms, but we know everything in between.

Architects/Designers do this for their job every day, and even the specifics we aren't as familiar with, we will find out in half the time it would take you and will only show you the best and most closely aligned to what you are looking for.  We not only have the eye, we get all the trade magazines/emails, go to all of the events, and always know about new products because the companies come to us. Oftentimes the best products (and the best deals!) are only available for purchase by an Architect/Designer.  This is our job and there is a reason that people pay for it, because they don’t want to lose their minds.

2. The Most Aesthetically Pleasing AND Efficient Environment

The best Architects/Designers go to school for 5-7 years learning primarily one thing: how to make beautifully functional environments.  We take everything into consideration: proportion, rhythm, material, details, distances between objects, thicknesses, electricity, plumbing....The list goes on and on. These are things you might not ever think about or even know are present, and that is the best reason of all the hire an Architect/Designer - because the essence of your project is in the details.  If you've ever seen a bad tile or drywall job, you know what I mean.  Your Architect/Designer is not going to let that happen.

Aside from just the details, when you have a space that needs a new flow or function, we look at hundreds of options and configurations before showing you the top 2-3 results.  In other words, we spend the time so you don’t have to.  Because of our many years in school and access to amazing 3d graphic programs, we can do this stuff pretty quickly!

3. Great Solutions to Issues That May Arise During Demolition

No matter the age of your existing abode, chances are you don’t really know what’s going on in those walls, unless you built it yourself, in which case, you probably aren’t reading this because you are an architect/designer/contractor.

The thing is, we’ve seen the best and the worst case scenarios.  

Best case: when demo happens, the guts of your house have no issues and the contractor can follow your Architect/Designer’s plans without delay or a hundred change orders.  

Worst case (and this is a true story that we have dealt with): one entire side of your house has been completely eaten up with dry-rot due to slowly leaking windows over the past 20 years.  It needs new structural columns and framing.  It was one earthquake away from falling down.  You need new windows, because they are compromised everywhere in the house and you don’t want this issue to continue to happen.  You will need brand new stucco job on exterior because of all of this new work.  All of these unforeseen issues snowball and now you are looking at a total interior and exterior renovation that began as just a few rooms of your home interior renovation.  

Luckily you have your Architect/Designer on hand to help you through this process. They can design great, on the fly solutions specifically for your home and its conditions, adapting their existing drawings, pulling new permits as needed, and staying in close contact with the contractor along the way to ensure you don’t get hit with more of a bill than is necessary.  After all, if you've been smart in your renovation/addition project, you've had your Architect/Designer on hand since your initial idea phase and they know the project better than anyone at this point!

4. Someone to Coordinate the Team Working on Your Project

The Architect/Designer is the person in charge on a project.  For small projects, usually we are all that you will need.  But when projects get larger in size, we hire the engineers, lighting designers, and interior designer (of course, we are also interior designers, so in this case, you wouldn’t necessarily need a separate one!)  

If you are doing anything structural - you need a structural engineer to do calculations and give advice - we know structural engineers and hire them for you.  Ditto for electrical engineers, lighting designers, and interior designers - as well as any other type of speciality that may come up (again, depending on the scale of the project), such as a kitchen designer, LEED specialist, etc.  Your Architect/Designer will be able to recommend, hire, and coordinate the best of all the other specialities needed to bring your project from concept to completion.

5. Someone at the Construction Site with Your Best Interests in Mind

Referred to by Architects/Designers as Construction Administration - CA for short - this is by far the most important aspect you want to ensure you keep your Architect/Designer on hand for.  Many people wrongfully think that since the Architect/Designer already did construction drawings and specified all the finishes and fixtures for your space, that they don’t need there services anymore.  The problem with this thinking is that contractors never know 100% how to build everything per the plans and other documentation, there will always be questions - called RFI's (requests for information), no matter how detailed your Architect/Designer has been.  It can be some small detail that was overlooked, a drawing in question because they contractor does not understand something specifically, etc...  Either way, during construction is the time where you will rely on your Architect/Designer to answer all of these RFI's for your contractor as well as be on site occasionally to oversee that all the materials and details are coming together as planned and that your project will be as beautifully built as it was intended to be per the design.

Some people may shortchange themselves because CA services are billed hourly, but don’t be one of those people!  The nominal amount of hourly dollars that will go to your Architect/Designer will actually save you money by not having to make the contractor fix things he messed up that you didn’t notice until it was too late - your Architect/Designer will notice right away before the cost to redo things becomes an issue.  

Don't worry that your Architect/Designer is just spending time on site to make money, they aren't!  They have an equal investment to ensure the project is built correctly and beautifully, because they want photos for their portfolio and a happy client to give them future referrals.  To keep cost concerns at bay, you can ensure that your contractor sets benchmarks with your Architect/Designer as to when they should come to the site to review the construction progress and specific details.  Oftentimes it will be once a week or a few times a month, depending on the length and scope of the project, with phone calls and emails with the contractor in between.  Ultimately, having your Architect/Designer around will keep everything running smooth during the construction phase and ensure a beautifully constructed finished product.

We hope this post has been helpful in your beginning thoughts of your upcoming home renovation/remodel/addition.  If you want any further advice, feel free to give Bone Carroll Studio a call at 424.273.5053 or email us.