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oh no…not again – part II

Last time I talked about the loathsome return of the McMansion and how a new generation of homeowners and home buyers are moving away from the “traditional home” to something that is more sustainable, has a distinct modern architectural style and is suited to a different style of life than our parents and grandparents were used to.  But what does that look like?  As I’ve talked about before, if the “traditional home” is no more, what replaces it?  In order to answer that, first we have to look at what the traditional home is, break it down into its component parts and identify how our modern ideal has changed.

stock floor plan from random floor plan website

Above is your typical home plan that you can find in any suburban neighborhood in America.  Already you can see that the layout is very segregated and compartmentalized.  Immediately entering the home you’ve got a traditional foyer and a formal dining room.  The “great room”, otherwise known as a living room or family room, all of which are completely cut off and separate from the kitchen and breakfast area.  To the left, the bedrooms, including master, are reached via a small opening and hallway (not unlike a cave entrance).  You could almost draw lines and color code the disparate functions of the home without any colors bleeding together.  I don’t know about you, but this is NOT how I want to live in my largest investment – my home.

So what is the alternative?  What do we offer the next generation of homeowners that addresses this new lifestyle of efficiency, sustainability and open interaction?  First how about just tearing down a few walls?  I know what you’re thinking – I’m a GENIUS!

The Charleston - Sketched floor plans

So we tear down some walls, we blur the barriers between disparate functional spaces and suddenly, with just a little imagination and a lot of architectural education (i.e. numerous sleepless nights, countless gallons of dark roast coffee, more than a few packages of caffeine pills and a propensity for wearing black) we start to think about the “traditional home” as something other than the “traditional home”.

The Row House - single family 3/2

The two above floor plans were created by thinking about how people use a home.  And I mean really use a home not what people tell you in those horrific focus group meetings that developers use to generate ideas for floor plans and elevation layouts.  I’m speaking from dark and terrifying experience here.  Conducting one of those meetings is tantamount to asking a cat how to better design a carrying cage to be more comfortable….it’s still a cage for carrying animals – nothing special and certainly not enjoyable for the cat.

Returning to the topic at hand – if the traditional home is no more than what replaces it is a generation of designers and architects that design for the client – not a sudo-cleint, but a real flesh and blood person/end user – and the way that client lives.  In doing so we first have the opportunity to create something that will have a lasting impact on the lives of an entire family and secondly we will actually be providing the service for which we were made – creating good architecture.  Because at the end of the day, creating efficient, sustainable homes is at the core of good architecture.  Architecture has always been meant to have as little impact on it’s surroundings as possible, to be a part of it’s landscape rather than intrude upon it.  Returning to the basic tenants of architecture and architectural design is the future of not just the home, but the future of the profession itself.


the weekend warrior

To expand on my own personal ramblings from the other week about the new Riverside development that is forthcoming and my passionate disagreement with the opposition that has come out against it, I thought it would be nice to begin to chronicle some of my own preservation initiatives.

A little over two years ago my wife and I bought our first home, a 1918 Craftsman style bungalow in Riverside just outside 5 Points.

There was a bit of work needed when we moved in.  Least of which was painting.  The colors were horrid (sky blue walls and dark brown trim).  Not to mention there was no kitchen….and I mean NO kitchen.  There was a rusted out refrigerator and one counter with a sink.  No range and no additional cabinets.

living and dining rooms

original kitchen showing single countertop with sink

The floors as you can see above were…..well, there really are no words for how bad the floors were.  Now, nearly 2 1/2 years later we’ve done a considerable amount of work from painting, to refinishing most of the floors, adding new kitchen cabinets (all of which I’ll talk about in future posts).

Yesterday I started a big project – scraping, sealing and repainting the exterior.  I expect this latest project will take the better part of a year or more.  Luckily, in Florida, I can pretty much work outside year round (minus those two days a year where the temperature drops below 30 during the day).

rear of house at base

closeup of wood siding showing some of the damaged wood.

The paint is in a pretty sad state currently.  There are areas where spot painting has been done over the years as a repair.  Though it was done poorly and improperly, so now most of the paint has completely delaminated from the wood and needs to be completely scraped off (which isn’t much trouble since it basically just peels away without any tooling).

One of the coolest things about this project is seeing the changes in color choice over the years as I’m scraping, sanding and peeling through each layer to get to the wood underneath.

closeup of layers of color

As you can see above, there have been at least 3 separate color choices over the last 90+ years.  The oldest of which, as far as I can tell, was a grey-green color which is quite nice.  The blue was a little surprising.  There is a home behind me painted almost the exact same color, and on a larger home, it looks nice.  I have a hard time imagining my home (only around 1200 sf) being painted such a loud color like this.

We haven’t chosen a color as of yet, and don’t really need to until I’ve sanded, sealed and primed at least a 10′ square section of wall.  I’m thinking of going with the original color, but who knows how the wife will feel about that.  Stay tuned as I’ll post more progress photos as this little project continues.

The moral of this little story is that, as I’ve continued my renovations, I’ve come to have a deep respect and love for the old homes of Riverside.  The history and craftsmanship that they represent is irreplaceable and truly beautiful.  Respecting the original historical fabric of these homes is of the utmost importance.  These homes should stand out in stark contrast to any new developments that come to the area (even right next door).  And just as these homes represent the best of their time and place, so too should new homes and developments.  Otherwise you diminish and cheapen the history that these old homes represent.


some new links added and being added constantly.  check out who/what i’m checking out.


the about section has been updated.  if you want to know about me and what I’m trying to do here, go there and read all about it/me/why/how and for whom.

wuz up!

I’m going to write an introductory post of extreme awesomeness that will blow your minds.  Just give me a sec.  :\

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