by Maggie Flickinger
Barrett Studio architects is proud to have been named “Best of Houzz 2014″ again after our surprise rookie win last year. Since our first award, our images have been added to over 15,000 new Ideabooks in the past year!
Houzz is an unparalleled visual resource, with almost three million photos of quality architectural & interior design spaces from all over the world. Now that we’ve used Houzz to share our work with the world and to help our clients as we design their homes, we’d like to share our simple guide to maximize Houzz as a valuable piece of the “information in” phase of your project.
How to Houzz: Seven Steps to Success
- Become a Collector Collect images into Ideabooks based on colors, materials, and how spaces make you feel – we’ll worry about architectural details that tie the whole together.
- Focus & Organize Don’t get sucked in by the aesthetic “wow” factor! Try to think of how it would be for you to inhabit the spaces. Just because I love what an open air tropical grand family kitchen looks like (especially since it’s February in Colorado!) doesn’t mean that’s what would work – or what I would really want – for my cozy couples home in the West. Organize your Ideabooks by room or space in the house: Kitchen, Bathroom, etc.
- Thumbs Down! Include images that you don’t like…add notes. These “thumbs down” images are just as informative as images you do like and can avert the potential trap of going too far down a design path that won’t satisfy your needs.
- Sharing is Caring Give your architect access to your Ideabooks, and if they are involved in Houzz ask them to create their own Ideabook for your project. This sharing is the beginning of co-creation!
- Nuts & Bolts Make sure this image sharing is paired with a programming questionnaire from your architect. This defines the “program” or what goes on in the house – number of bedrooms, bathrooms, connections and adjacencies, special use spaces, how you want those spaces to make you feel, etc. Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, there are still pragmatic and emotive details that you just can’t convey with images alone.
- Talk Money Talk with your architect about the level of finishes and materials you’ve placed in your Ideabooks and how they stack up to your overall budget. If things align, great, full steam ahead! If not, your architect can give you an idea of areas where splurging makes sense to enrich experience, and areas where alternative materials or design solutions can save money and still evoke the same feelings as your Ideabook images.
- Letting Go Trust your architect to take these often disparate images and morph them into something that is not a copy, but uniquely yours! We’re trained to spot patterns, listen carefully both aurally & visually, and interpret the likes and dislikes of our clients into a special place that is theirs – that’s why it’s called a custom home! We’ll use these images + the program questionnaire + our discussions with you, add in what we know about our specific climate and spirit of place, and ultimately synergize a design that tells a visually consistent story – but not just the digital Houzz story, your story.
by Maggie Flickinger
This time of year, everything can start taking on a wash of, well, dreariness…boredom…familiarity. It’s the February doldrums in full effect! Not that familiarity is bad, but things can be a lot more fun with a dash of the unexpected. Some of Our Favorite Things surprise us with Materials Mashups. Familiar forms reinvented with unexpected materials, materials applications that inspire a rethinking of function, new production techniques for ancient building systems – here are a few of our Materials Mashup must-haves…
Back in the day – by which we mean the 1920′s – the popular petticoat shade was demurely crafted of delicate milk glass. Then along came feminism and a dash of steampunk…the creative minds at NativeCast reimagined the petticoat form with a stronger, more rough and tumble concrete shade. Their Milkglass Pendant doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, keeping the throwback filament bulb and solid brass fittings typical of this vintage style. The juxtaposition of the coy ruffled form crafted of unexpectedly heavy concrete is quintessential material mashup.
How about replacing the materials of gasoline, glass, metal, and combustion with the clean energy of our own two feet? That’s the idea of the Walking School Bus. The “bus driver” still takes part – but as a “bus walker,” acting as an adult chaperone to keep kids safe and on track…often there is a front bus walker and a rear bus walker. While not a new concept, it’s gaining traction in the US partially thanks to a nod from Michelle Obama in a July 2013 speech: outside of the environmental benefits, she touts the added bonus of pushing back the alarming childhood obesity trend.
Since Neolithic times, earth has been employed as a functional, spirit-of-place building system. In recent years, the comparative cost of rammed earth has skyrocketed when pitched against commercially available, mass produced building systems like the stick frame and the ubiquitous CMU. On-site block building machines can help, but structural integrity and specialized construction techniques can be problematic. Now, Watershed Block has commercialized the production of rammed earth blocks, clocking in at just 15-20% pricier than a colored ground face CMU. While we have concerns about insulating exterior applications in our mountain climate, this seems like a great contender for internal mass walls in passive solar homes. Only in CA for now, they’re currently on the lookout for suitable mico-manufacturing sites nationwide.
Ecovative has been pioneering sustainable packaging and insulation grown from Mycelium – the vegetative part of fungus – for a few years, and is now expanding into architectural & structural possibilities. David Benjamin’s seasonal Hy-Fi folly for MOMA/P.S.1 will grow building blocks out of mycelium and corn husks within a reflective framework designed to maximize the growth by increasing solar delivery. Mycelium is also the basis of mycoprotein – found in the popular Quorn brand vegetarian food – so I wonder how far off we are from an organic, renewable, edible structure…the mushroom revolution is here!
by Maggie Flickinger
What does Google Earth make of homes designed by BARRETT STUDIO architects? While creating a custom Google map for a springtime Barrett Studio Homes biking tour, we got excited about seeing our finished homes from this previously inaccessible (unless you have a pilot friend or a fancy UAV) vantage point. In this first edition of the Barrett Studio from Above series, Google’s satellites & airplanes spy daring biomorphic forms that mirror shifting geology and geometric arrangements with sacred roots. In several instances, there’s an uncanny resemblance between the finished home as shot from above the earth and the study model as shot from above the drafting table.
A fuzzy shot caught a mysterious radial UFO touching down in a fan on the rolling Wyoming hills, while in neighboring Montana, a vesica pisces vessel evocative of a fall leaf settles lightly.
Google also spies simple elegance in the deliberate repetition of square pavilions, and more complex clusters inspired by clues from agricultural & mining vernacular.
While architecture is experienced in 3D, studying the procession of spaces, organization of forms, unifying elements, and contextual clues in plan view early in the design process helps architects to inform that 3D experience in a way that palpably resonates. Seeing the results of this study in Google Maps often reveals the inspiration or “big idea” behind a home’s design: tying elements together to elicit a “can’t quite put my finger on it” feeling of unity and belonging as you live in the home. Next time you’re up high, peek out the airplane window or down valley to the town below and see what all those roofs tell you about the order within – what goes on there.
And, keep an eye out: next up in the Barrett Studio from Above series: Neighborly Neighbors!
by Maggie Flickinger
Barrett Studio architects is proud to have been named “Best of Houzz 2013.” This honor goes to professionals with project images most often added to Houzzer’s Ideabooks. Since we first uploaded a few images six months ago, we’ve added more and more, and now our images have been added to over 10,000 Ideabooks!
Houzz is an amazing visual resource, with over a million photos of quality architectural & interior design spaces from all over the world. Feel free to browse our images below, and you can get even more involved by clicking through and asking us – or other designers – questions about their photos! Even though it sometimes means playing detective and digging through our archives, we really enjoy being connected with design enthusiasts this way…feel free to use us as an information resource, and we’ll do our best to find answers / solutions for you!
by Maggie Flickinger
Lush and radiant, Pantone’s Color of the Year, Emerald Green, is energizing but sophisticated. Deeply connected to nature, Emerald is a powerfully saturated accent color that manages to be vibrant, yet deep. It looks smashing with greys & blacks for drama, or with stark whites for sleek elegance - it’s a natural for any architect’s palette! If bright on bright on bright is your theme, pair Emerald Green with Dandelion and Turquoise for an exuberant jolt of summer. Here are a few emerald green faves making the rounds at our studio…
Dramatic Emerald Green Soapstone could easily take center stage in a modern kitchen, with understated blonde cabinetry, a crisp white backsplash, and neutral grey or white flooring. The movement in the stone’s surface could seem dated, but when balanced by clean detailing and larger field tiles, this colorpop countertop exudes contemporary luxury. Functionality doesn’t take a backseat: soapstone features excellent heat, and acid-resistance. Quarried in Brazil & offered in Colorado through Arizona Tile, sustainability points are higher than European or Asian quarried natural stones.
Classic form paired with innovative materials is a foolproof formula, and one taken advantage of in the Produzione Privata Acquamiki Lamp. Designed by renowned Italian architect Michele de Lucchi, the lamp juxtaposes a sumptuously curvaceous silhouette with delicate mouth-blown Murano glass, tinted with a hint of emerald. Illuminate the Acquamiki with a vintage-style filament bulb for a retro look, or with a high-tech LED bulb for energy savings and modern flair.
Hand thrown ceramic sinks lend an artisanal touch to the bathroom – reinforcing the art and ritual of bathing and ablution. Michael & Nancy Linsley helm Linsley Studios, bringing their unique aesthetic and years of experience to architectural ceramics. This particular matte finish sink features a double cascade and a fluid intermingling of vibrant greens and blues, reminiscent of tropical waterfalls. Inset in a glossy black granite countertop, the colors become even more striking. Click here for more on the Linsley’s home & studio.
Are you a color virgin who longs to bring in color but hesitates when it comes to permanent pops? The Bow Bin wastebasket brings in a modest amount of emerald green, making it the perfect accent for the color adverse. Its generous proportions means it could do double duty as a laundry collector or toy bin – this beauty shouldn’t be hidden in the mudroom! Storage with a social conscience, the Bow Bin is made by the indigenous Aeta people, preserving traditional rattan weaving techniques, and benefiting the people through the NGO Preda.
by Amy Kirtland
This past summer I was a guest speaker at Las Chicas de Matematicas, a week long in-residence math camp for high school girls, held at the University of Northern Colorado. The goal of the camp is to introduce college level math to high school students while also exposing them to campus life and working professionals who use math in their careers. The young women from previous years’ camps had requested that an architect speak at this year’s camp, and that’s where I enter the story.
I was asked to speak about my career as an architect, how I use math in my daily work-life, and how I balance my professional and personal life. Considering that over 10 years of my professional career have been spent at Barrett Studio, I decided to use the studio’s design work as a focus for my presentation. At Barrett Studio we “listen to the land,” using climatic and site factors as informers of design. This can include data gathering and analysis of weather patterns, calculating sun angles, GIS mapping, and good old time spent on site as an observer. The data we collect and the experiences we have inform and directly influence the design of the structure, sometimes quite figuratively.
As I began to assemble the slides and piece my presentation together, it evolved from a discussion of site analysis into a discussion of nature’s beauty and biomimicry – taking inspiration from or emulating nature and its processes, through examination, to solve human problems – as design formulator. Biomimicry in architecture can be a formal or morphic study, or the investigation of a natural system can become more complex and include mathematics or processes. Below are a few images of biomimicry within our work and other architects’ work.
The Milwaukee Art Museum mimics a bird in flight as its kinetic brise-soleil unfurls day and night.
During and after my presentation, the girls were very engaged and asking lots of questions…I had piqued their interests! They were particularly intrigued by the Casa Viento windsurfing retreat and how we used and abstracted not only the physical form of the cactus, but also its internal mechanisms. The exotic location of the retreat was also a point of interest for the students. It is always refreshing to see raised hands and wide open eyes when you finish a presentation. I wanted to show these students that architecture can combine art, science, and math to create unique spaces that we inhabit and experience life within. I’ve found that thoughtful design can be aesthetically pleasing, functionally adept, and intellectually stimulating. Perhaps the architecture I presented germinated the seed in the next budding architect!
by Maggie Flickinger
If you’re tapped into the Conscious Living community, you’ve heard of cottage living, microhousing, and the tiny house movement – driving square footages down and eco cred up. But how low can you go? Of course, you wouldn’t want to make any horrifyingly planet-killing mistakes like using unreclaimed nails, but otherwise, this intrepid new homeowner from Portland has our nano-living stamp of approval.
Well, now that we’ve seen this shining example, we’re embarrassed that the smallest homes we’ve designed clock in at just around 1,000 square feet. Always up for a challenge, Barrett Studio is now exploring space and energy saving solutions for our clients such as:
- A living moss wall Murphy bed does double duty purifying your air and softening your sleep!
- Install Kinetic Power Harnessing Treadmills for your pets: They run all day so your electric meter doesn’t!
- The “Vertebrae:” a swiss army knife bathroom!
- Invest in a pair of binoculars and scrap your space & energy hogging flat screen TV – we bet your neighbors have cable!
- Why waste all that counter space while you’re sleeping? Grab an Ostrich pillow to turn your kitchen into a bedroom!
- Aggressive scheduling of your kids’ sleepovers eliminates the need for bedrooms at your house!
And the ultimate idea from David Barrett himself: Net Zero energy = Net Zero Square Footage: Socially acceptable couch surfing means you stay with friends and family eschewing a home all together.
Funnily Yours in Commitment to Our Planet,
The Barrett Studio Gang