Have you ever wondered what happens during the design phase between an architect and a designer? Today we're giving you a sneak peek behind the curtain of design meetings, drawing markups, and the nitty-gritty details that have to be worked out before we ever break ground on new construction!
We've been deep in the design phase of this very special family project for the last few months. Our team is working with my architect brother, Trevor Miller, AIA, to design a dream home for my Dad and my stepmom Julie in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. If you missed the back story, catch up right here before diving into the plans for this very special home!
As we do with all of our clients, we had an in-depth meeting to discuss what specific things Dad and Julie were looking for in this home. Their list of must-haves were as follows:
Single Story Home
Ability to Age in Place
Enough Space to Fit Family + Friends When They Visit
Indoor + Outdoor Feel
Area to Entertain
As a reminder, we're talking about a close family with 7 grown kids, spouses + significant others, and a bunch of grandkids too, so that third point automatically made this project larger than what you might expect from a couple building their dream home.
Throughout these discussions, the design keywords that came forward for them were "earthy, traditional, elegant, farmhouse." One goal that is also a bit unique to this project is that they both wanted to be able to use as much of their current furniture as possible in the new house (but lucky for us, that house was one of my first projects, so I know exactly what we're working with).
At the risk of overwhelming you all with a ton of information, we're splitting this phase of the project into two posts! Today we'll cover how these goals manifested in the utility and hobby spaces, as well as the bedrooms and dining areas.
You'll notice we included the first set of original plans, and then a set of redlines that we, as the interior design team, suggested or added in, both in collaboration with Trevor and his team, and my Dad + Julie. So thankful that it has been such a collaborative process, with so much respect from all sides! It truly will end up being such a better project in the end because of all the feedback + perspectives shared.
One other thing to note... design is not linear. You have to start somewhere, and then there is back and forth between function, aesthetics, budget, and all the other details and considerations that go in to a project of this scale. I am showing you two versions below, but there have been several other iterations between these, and still a few more that will likely happen before plans are fully submitted for permits, as well as revisions and change orders that inevitably pop up during construction. It's all part of the process, but it's amazing to watch it develop!
utility + HOBBY SPACES
This first plan was the initial concept Trevor worked on based on the site restrictions, square footage, and program requirements from Dad and Julie. I'm always amazed by the first initial concept in a space... it takes a lot of imagination to start piecing rooms together, and imagining how they connect and relate to each other.
After reviewing those original plans, we all met to review together, and see what needed to be adjusted, improved upon, or simply rearranged. The utility and hobby spaces expanded into the space set aside for the garage, which essentially just meant a little more development in the "garage" rather than your typical open space. Dad and Julie love bike riding, so it was important to have a space for maintenance/storage and a gym area next door as well.
Once we were at this stage, I looked over the plans looking for architectural details that could be added or subtracted to aid in a more functional and beautiful interior - hence the call out for a dog door in the utility room, a built in 7' bench and updated railing in the mud hall, and symmetrical wall thickness on either side of the wet bar.
This set of plans eliminates a few areas of dead space, incorporated our notes from the previous round, reconfigured layouts in the laundry area and mechanical room, and removed the staircase to the bonus rooms upstairs, which has actually been eliminated completely at this point.
bedrooms + dining areas
Now we get to the entertaining side of the house! The initial plan made ample room for the outdoor entertaining area, and with so many family visits in our heads, we knew exactly how much room we would need if everyone was there for a weekend or holiday. Some things to note here are the three windows in the dining room, the size of the powder bath, and the shared bathroom between bedroom 3 and 4.
In this version, the closet in bedroom 3 pushed into the volume of bedroom 2, allowing for the door to open right into the bedroom rather than into a wall, which will make the space feel more open. That also allowed for the nightstands to expand and get rid of the dead corner near the bathroom entrance.
That decision led to expanding the area for the bathrooms, and splitting the space into two separate areas. This also allows for a bathroom with a shower and one with a tub, which is always great for the grandkids. The first plan also uncovered a need for a secondary office rather than a dedicated bedroom, so the plan changed to a corner desk with an oversized pullout chair, and a twin sized daybed.
For the dining area, I knew they had two existing buffets that could flank a double door rather than a larger folding door, and that double door would match the primary bedroom doors out to the patio.
I also noticed that the powder bath space had expanded quite a bit, and there was no need for that much room, especially if we were eliminating the door out to the outdoor area.
In this latest plan, the outdoor area is fully open for mingling or extra tables when needed. The hall closet disappeared, the powder bath turned, and we used the remaining space for some wine storage instead! We all love our wine, and being in the Santa Ynez Valley with future vineyards planned for the property made that an easy decision and excellent addition.
I had to ask Trevor how he's been feeling and what has been challenging throughout the process:
“I can definitely say that it’s a joy collaborating with you, and really fun to bounce ideas off each other - finding ways to make the architecture and interior finishes complement each other.
Nothing particularly challenging on this one… we had lots of room to let the design do what it needed to do. There were some challenges with where the angled volumes intersect, but that also presented some cool opportunities too.”
Same here Trev! I love being able to do this together with him, and also being able to showcase exactly why we always advocate for bringing an architect and interior designer into a project at the same time. We can catch each other's oversights, and add valuable knowledge to specific details throughout the project that will only save time and elevate the entire home.
Stay tuned next week for a peek at the rest of the spaces and how we worked together to make them cohesive!