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Archive for category: Design Ideas

wheels, casters, furniture, versatility

Casters at Target: Versatility of Furniture on Wheels

Having just come across a post advocating putting wheels or casters on furniture, I am thinking out loud. Enhancing versatility with casters is a terrific concept. Unless the piece in question is intended to be a certain height, like a desk, and it would be ergonomically awkward to raise it. Clearly, it’s always better to build in wheels right from the start, not as an afterthought. Read More

windows, built-in, window seat

Selecting Windows for a Built-in Window Seat Comes First

I’ve written extensively about a collaboration with a wonderful client while designing an in-home child-care facility. We successfully got the project approved by the City of Santa Monica. You can read about our process here, here, and here. Finally, it’s under construction; the client is selecting/purchasing windows for a built-in window seat at the moment. Read More

curb appeal, architectural, intervention

When Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal Requires Architectural Intervention

As architect on demand, I frequently get emails from DIYers concerned with their home’s curb appeal. When adding a few potted plants or planting climbing vines is enough to spruce up the entryway, Martha Stewart has great advice. However, it could be a question of subtracting, instead of adding. There are times when a façade can benefit from authentic architectural details and intervention. Read More

design tips

Helping Daughters Decorate: Design Tips from Mom Alla DIY Ally

As previously mentioned, I visited both of my daughters in New York last month. They have just moved from Manhattan to Williamsburg/Brooklyn into their new digs. Mia, a veteran at this — it’s her third move — is working on a guest post. No doubt she’ll share some of her wisdom and experience along with design tips from Alla DIY Ally (AKA mom). So very grateful that she involves me in the process. Read More

scale, proportions

Trendy or Timeless? Don’t Forget Scale & Proportions. Part Two

I am feeling better compared to last week. Not able to visualize the massing — confused by how various pitched roofs came together — I made a crude model to assist myself. And finally, I got on the right track. Big or small, the most important design rule is to pay attention to the scale and proportions of the space. Read More

trendy, timeless, style

Trendy or Timeless? But It’s Not About Style! Part One

I am nervous: adding to an existing house. In my opinion, the addition, instead of blending in, has to be distinctly autonomous. Making it trendy, reminiscent of everything else around, is safe. However, design is not about applying a style. The new has to work with the existing and the end result should be timeless. Read More

guesthouse, pool house, gallery

Guesthouse Doubles as Pool House and Gallery

I am back from New York. As anticipated, it was a productive trip. I’m inspired by the opportunities of the new project in Bridgehampton, “a former whaling and farming village.” Will gladly share many details as the design process moves along. It involves remodeling and adding to a traditional shingle-style house on a ¾ of an acre lot. Besides the primary residence, there is a freestanding shed on the property that will serve as a guesthouse, pool house and gallery. Read More

space planning, renovation, conceptual, questions

Before Renovation: Space Planning & Conceptual Questions

A message from a new client in Miami made my morning: “Hello, Alla. I am so happy I came across your website – thank you for offering your services.” She was very smart to consult an online architect and address space planning or conceptual questions before taking on a renovation project. Obviously, when someone  says that “your help and insight are much appreciated,” you work a little harder. Read More

submittal, requirements, one-story, addition, alteration

Submittal Requirements for a One-Story Addition or Alteration / Part 1

A friend of a friend asked me to help with producing a set of documents necessary to get a building permit. Acting as an owner-contractor, they are planning a one-story addition/alteration and need to demonstrate that all of the submittal requirements per the Department of Building and Safety are being fulfilled. Read More

working, little details, bath, shelf

Working Out Little Details: a Bath Shelf

A potential DIY Ally client asked me if I enjoy working out little details. She wrote: “Hello, I am remodeling a 1938 bath in Washington DC. Have worked with architects previously, so attempting this without an architect, with a very trustworthy contractor. But he’s not a designer, and I want to do something unconventional (from a standard builder point of view) with a long narrow shelf across the width of the room.” Read More

site plan, backyard, pool, hot tub, pergola

Site Plan: Backyard Pool, Hot Tub, and Pergola

My friend called to discuss his DIY project. They recently bought a property in Palm Springs and he said that the house itself is in a pretty good shape, but the backyard is begging for a makeover. He shared his initial sketches. Intuitively, he started designing with a site plan — arranging a pool, a pergola, and a hot tub using an aerial view. Read More

reflected ceiling plan, design

Reflected Ceiling Plan Design

As DIY Ally, I’ve been asked to help with a design of a reflected ceiling plan (RCP). Nothing technical, just a drawing, which shows the lighting scheme of a space. A client’s email stated: “So we are adding a room to our house, it will be 16′ x 20′ with a single pitch ceiling from 12′ to 8.5′ high. We would like to get some input on ceiling and lighting design.” Read More

displaying, organizing, continuity

Displaying and Organizing While Creating Continuity

My living room and adjoining dining room are abundant with the artwork by our daughters. But there’s nothing random about what I’m displaying. There’s a sense of continuity, a cohesive connection between all of the pieces. The organizing element, the theme of this curated installation is Human Beings. On view, there are sculptures, drawings, paintings, even painted textiles. Read More

floor plan

Start Every Project with a Floor Plan

The importance of starting with a floor plan cannot be emphasized enough. A new client writes: “Hello Alla. We have been renovating a house we bought last year, and our next project will be the front porch. The basic concept is to turn the current sunroom into 2/3 open porch and 1/3 mudroom/entry way. We would also like to move the stairs to the left, closer to the driveway.” Read More

IKEA's. Sunnersta, mini-kitchen

My Plans for IKEA’s Sunnersta Mini-Kitchen

IKEA’s new Sunnersta free-standing mini-kitchen is ideal for my garden room. Maybe to someone, it’s “the no-commitment kitchen,” but I love it. It was just unveiled as one of the brand new designs in IKEA’s 2017 catalog, which claims that this tiny thing offers “all the function of a full-sized kitchen with just a fraction of the assembly and installation effort.” Read More

architecture, 11-step method

Architecture 101: 11-step Method

Establishing Children’s Architecture Workshop in 1995 meant embarking on a journey that shaped the course of my life as well as career. A young mother and a newly licensed architect, I aspired to make an impact and become a better parent in the process. Years of hands-on teaching architecture experience enabled me to invent the 11-step method supporting anyone tackling a building project from scratch. Read More

skylights

A Few Tips on Choosing Skylights

I’ve been working on an overhaul project in Jersey City and writing about its various aspects that fit within this blog’s categories. This week’s theme “passion for details” lends itself to a discussion on skylights. All along, they’ve been a “suggested” on the plans with a dotted line. Today, I want to concentrate on defining what they are and consider them in section. Read More

reach-in closet

Tips on Designing a Reach-in Closet

Today, still working on the project in Jersey City, I am focusing on a layout for a modular reach-in closet. At this point, all four of them are drawn diagrammatically, as identical blocks. So far, I’ve assumed that 5 linear feet is enough per bedroom. If that’s wrong, the entire floor plan will have to be reconsidered. Read More

Alla DIY Ally, space planning

Alla DIY Ally Project: Space Planning

As Alla DIY Ally, an online architectural services provider, I am frequently asked to help with space planning. DIY home improvement enthusiasts can benefit a great deal by turning to an architect in the effort to make the most of the space available. In this post I’d like to discuss a couple of examples that demonstrate the aforementioned benefits. Read More

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