Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of modernist architecture, is often associated with the adages, “less is more” and “God is in the details”, concisely expressing that purposeful design elements transform good buildings into extraordinary ones. When remodeling or designing a new home, seamlessly blending form and function with attention to detail creates a lasting impression.
Simple elements, like columns, baseboards, moldings, trims, hand railings and banisters, can have a dramatic impact on the design of your home.
Columns are a great way to separate rooms without using walls to achieve an open floor plan. They can be used as load-bearing elements or just visual additions. Similarly, pilasters may be used to separate rooms that share common walls or to add vertical separation between two areas of a home. Pilasters can be used decoratively around fireplaces or in lieu of normal casings, to create a grand entrance for any formal room or doorway. Both columns and pilasters can enrich the ambience of your home.
Baseboards are a defining feature serving as a visual link that travels into every room in your home. As part of a remodeling project, replacing or enhancing baseboards can go a long way. If baseboards have stature, a room becomes regal; when they’re skimpy, that same space can look unfinished. Modern homes have a minimalist approach to baseboards. An experienced residential architect ensures a home’s baseboards are in harmony with its overarching design.
Door and window trims add a completely different look to your home with very little work. Adding details to windows and doors brings a certain elegance to any home and often creates a first and last impression.
Other fine details, such as moldings, give rooms a sense of depth. They can be used on ceilings to mimic architectural details in a room, run along hallways or stacked in layers to create the illusion of length and height.
Thoughtful lighting design can transform a house into a home allowing the personality of the owner to shine through. Without good lighting, no other design elements have an impact. Experienced home designers create spaces that maximize natural light year-round using a combination of floor-to-ceiling windows, clerestory windows, above-counter windows, corner windows, skylights and glass doors.
Other fine elements, such as lighting fixtures that are distinct and look like works of art, can add emphasis and creativity to ordinary rooms.
Lighting coves are a great way to indirectly create a warm space. With this detail, light can shine up if the ceiling is vaulted, or down if there’s a painting or other feature on a wall to highlight. These are great places to add lighting while at the same time, creating an architectural detail within your home.
While the focus on interior details is often thought of when considering a home remodeling or new design project, the exterior of a home is just as important. The facade of every home needs balance and symmetry in order to appear properly designed and pleasing to the eye. A professional architect manages the complicated process of balancing detailed color choices, materials, shapes, and lines with functionality and durability.
Most modern exterior detailing is free from heavy ornamentation of classical building design and replaced with simple linear forms. Rooflines may have distinct cantilevers or large overhangs. Unique features such as seemingly flat rooflines constructed with materials from the exterior can blend harmoniously with nature around your home.
Windows serve as the eyes into a home; they should not only reflect the character of your house but also need to be durable and functional. Modern homes often incorporate large expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows, while traditional homes tend to look best with symmetrically placed, white-paned, rectangular windows. Other factors to consider include: UV ratings, privacy, proper ventilation, ease of cleaning and views beyond.
According to renowned designer Frank Lloyd Wright, “The architect must be a prophet… a prophet in the true sense of the term…if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him an architect.” Wright designed buildings in harmony with their environment and according to his vision of what the future would be, not what the world was. He saw the need for homes to be more fluid, more open, more livable, and less restrained.
A professional architect continually improves upon his/her craft, understands current trends, is attentive to detailed distinctions, and designs with an eye for the future.
If you’re considering a home remodeling project, contact us today (703-255-9861) and we’ll help turn your dreams into reality!
Residential architect and Commonwealth Home Design co-owner, Susan Pierce, discusses the importance of considerations like curb appeal, traffic flow, balance and symmetry, and functional design in home remodeling and new design projects.
Light, bright and open bathroom designs have become commonplace in new home and renovation projects. Learn more about Spring 2016 bathroom design trends in this interview with Susan Pierce, owner and architect, at Commonwealth Home Design.
Owned and operated by husband/wife team Kelvin and Susan Pierce, Commonwealth Home Design LLC has sustained and grown for 30 years, nearly eight times longer than half the small businesses in the US (according to the Department of Labor).
Upon graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Architecture & Urban Studies and an internship at a prestigious DC firm, Susan Caughey approached her then fiancé, Kelvin Pierce, an Aerospace Engineer, with a dream of starting her own construction business. After a conversation with a relative in the construction industry and some convincing on Susan’s part, the Pierce’s co-founded Commonwealth Home Design and married in 1986.
Susan and Kelvin’s first major project was the result of a design competition. Explains Susan, “We started doing decks for friends and then a bathroom for a neighbor. A potential client in Alexandria was doing a significant addition and they held a design competition with a modest stipend between me and another architect. It was such an important challenge and we won it!” The project was photographed and that gave Commonwealth legitimacy as an emerging home remodeling firm in Northern Virginia.
Since that time, Commonwealth Home Design has remodeled, redesigned and built hundreds of houses across Northern Virginia. The firm has won numerous awards, including Top Remodeler by Washingtonian Magazine, Contractor of the Year from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and the Chrysalis Award presented to remodelers that reflect the professional excellence of the residential and commercial remodeling industry.
The firm has perfected a delivery methodology that includes assigning one project manager to be on site, all day/every day managing subcontractors, monitoring the budget and ensuring expectations are met. This hands-on, client-focused approach streamlines communication and allows the firm to proactively manage setbacks and changes in project scope. Clients appreciate knowing they have one point of contact throughout the entire course of the project, from design through construction.
Beyond their commitment to enduring client relationships, the lifelong Vienna residents have a vast history of service and giving back to the community. Susan and Kelvin are active members in the Vienna Business Association, hosting several events at their signature “red” home. Kelvin also has served in a leadership capacity, including President of the Rotary Club in Vienna.
Ten years into their marriage, Kelvin and Susan traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia to complete the adoption of two newborn girls from the impoverished area. After witnessing first-hand the devastated economy of the Georgian people and the deteriorating orphanages, Kelvin formed The Divine Child Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to improve the physical environment and living conditions for orphaned children while supporting their health and providing educational enrichment opportunities.
To date, Divine Child has completed several building renovation projects and continues to serve its mission to provide a safe, secure and stable environment for the children of Georgia. (DONATE TODAY)
Within the past year, Susan founded the Northern Virginia Chapter of Day for Girls. Days for Girls is an international non-profit organization that helps women in third world countries gain access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene products allowing them to manage their monthly periods and stay in school. (GET INVOLVED)
What’s kept this remarkable husband and wife team together for 30 years in business, marriage and service—constant challenges, a changing market landscape, the continual need to learn and grow, and a since desire to build a brighter future for families near and far.
Pictures from Commonwealth Home Design’s 30 Year Anniversary Celebration