Dressy Casual

Posted on August 5, 2011

I am posting this so you can have an opportunity to see how a design develops.  Currently under construction, this Beach Home is completely different from the previous. Both are in Encinitas and only about a 15 minute walk from each other, yet the styles are completely unique.


My philosophy has always been that good architecture is independent of style. The “bones” of the previous looked to be more of a ‘storybook’ home, whereas this one was more of a challenge. This 1970s hodge-podge sits on the hill with views of the ocean and came across to me as more of a beach cottage feel.

To the left here is one of the first photos of the project that I took.


This is the sketch of the front of the house. The original request of the client was to ‘fix’ the exterior and only do a “face-lift” — that is, to take off all the exterior finishes and give the house all one style or identity without adding square footage. After seeing the sketch, the scope of the project increased.



This is a rendering of the project as designed in the construction documents. You can see that there is a lot of trust from one stage to the next. The design did not change much at all, but the 3D version adds a lot of depth to the design that can only be inferred in the beginning.

The “style” here has been hard to define from a ‘book’ standpoint. However to help explain it to the owner, contractor, and others, I have called it “dressy-casual”. The vertical lap siding is informal and consistent with a lot of beach cottages. The detailing, however, is borrowing heavily from the very formal rules of the Georgian style. Kind of like wearing jeans with a nice white collared shirt — a.k.a., “dressy-casual.”


…. and here is where it currently sits in construction. The exterior is pretty far along. We still need the stonework, but I think the ‘dressy-casual’ is easier to see here. It is also easier to see how the stone (when installed) will settle the house nicely into the site. The color beautifully pulls in the sky and the water into the design and will provide contrast to the lush landscape designed by Shellene Mueller.

[One point of interest you will (hopefully) never notice: Since the windows and doors on an existing house did not take into account the future design, I went to the site and drew lines for the contractor on the outside of the building where I wanted every vertical batten. The reason (believe it or not) was so that you would not notice them! Almost every vertical board is spaced differently, but they (generally) start from the centerline of a window or door, expanding or contracting slightly before they come in conflict with the next window/door centerline. A time-consuming optical illusion, but hopefully worth it in the end.]

See more of this project here.

The Story Begins

Posted on July 19, 2011

I love old homes.  There is a sense of history and belonging that is difficult to replicate in new construction.  The first visit to this home was quite exciting.  The lines are incredibly strong and just looking at it, it feels like a “Storybook” home. Unfortunately the home had a tenant who was quite hard on the place.  As client and architect, our goal was to breathe new life into it and make it great again.

The home was built in the late 1920′s, so the original builder could not foresee our modern lifestyle.  The rooms were small with low ceilings, and the front door enters right into the living room without transition.  So the goal was to update the plan while restoring the charm of the style.


Two options were presented initially.  The first was to keep the home relatively intact while just updating the exterior.  The second option included updating the floor plan and opening up the spaces to give them height and character.  The sketch on the right is Option Two as selected by the owner.  The living space on the left is increased, the upstairs bedroom is provided a balcony and additional height, and the entry is moved to the left with an added vestibule.





Sketches really are our best guess at the time on how the house will look and flow.  Moving from the sketches to developing the design, there are always compromises to accommodate the reality of construction.  This next image is how the project appeared after after working drawings were created (prior to permitting) from the sketches.  The creativity involved in first designing the home, now switches to creative ways to include yet hide the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing.  Also researching and adding the detailing that is implied in the style, but currently missing.  That way the new is not just a modern version of the previous, but complete in style and feel, completing the original intent.


And the house has begun to unfold…

+ See more of this project here.

New Website

Posted on June 21, 2011

Welcome everyone!  This is my new website.  From time to time I will be adding content, keeping everyone informed of where current projects are, and uploading new projects.