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Archive for category: Renovation

hacking, IKEA, limited edition, collections

Beyond Hacking: IKEA Is Introducing Handcrafted Limited Edition Collections

I appreciate IKEA’s trend of partnering with various companies to produce limited edition collections. For instance, a “splashy” new line with Dutch studio Scholten & Baijings capitalizing on a beloved DIY pastime of hacking off-the-shelf products. IKEA wants to be part of it too! Read More

planning, tiny, bathroom, kitchenette

Thoughtful Use of Space: Planning a Tiny Bathroom & Kitchenette

A generic statement, such as: “In this bright white modern space, the architect used clean lines, a minimalist palette, and simple shapes to create…” can succinctly describe my intentions for a tiny bathroom and adjoining kitchenette I am in the process of planning. Although it sounds formulaic, it’s anything but. Trends come and go; the object is to design with the site-specific requirements in mind. 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

learning, work-in-progress

Passion for Learning: Life as Work-In-Progress

Second installment of the workshop felt like the fastest three hours ever! In awe with the participants’ commitment, I admired and respected their passion for learning — the way they were striving to stretch their comfort zone — developing, acquiring knowledge and expanding existing skills. It made me think of life as work-in-progress. Read More

cornice molding, wall, ceiling, light, cove

Cornice Molding — Transition Between Wall & Ceiling — Doubles as Light Cove

Cornice molding (AKA crown molding) is a decorative trim and a topmost element that marks a transition between wall and ceiling. Parts of it are placed against both horizontal and vertical surfaces. Most of the time it’s purely ornamental; however it can also function as an intriguing light cove. Read More

paradise, backyard

How To Pursue Paradise in Your Own Backyard

I just attended an exhibit at the Getty Museum titled “Pathways to Paradise: Medieval India and Europe” documenting people’s travels to destinations across Asia, Africa, and Europe in pursuit of heaven on earth. People have longed to find it for centuries, but have not been able to. Somehow, it made me think of DIYers I work with, those who are instead of expecting it to be somewhere waiting for them, are willing to build/create their own. Right where they are — in their own backyard. Read More

bar height, console, study

Designing a Bar Height Reading Console for a Study Filled With Books

I have a design-conscious client who calls me up periodically with a new assignment to tackle. I love working with him — designing something that fits its function and is innovative can be extremely enjoyable. This time we are working on his study brimming with books. In addition to bookshelves, he requires a desk and a bar height reading console in the space. Read More

maximizing, function, minimal, footprint

Maximizing Function in spite of Minimal Footprint

Recently, a friend asked for my help with a design of an apartment she is looking to set up as a vacation spot for her family in Batumi, Georgia. Excited with a challenge at hand — maximizing function within a minimal footprint — I set out to create a compact unit that offers its guests all the comforts of a luxurious hotel room. Read More

waterproof, modular, shower, system

Waterproof Modular Shower System by wedi

I attended LA Build Expo a couple of weeks ago. Overall, it was disappointing, but I did come across a very interesting product; it’s called wedi. A 100% internally waterproof modular shower system, a lightweight and dimensionally stable (flat) panel assembly that acts as a substrate to virtually any stone or tile adhesive. I was happy to learn about it and look forward to specifying it. 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

French doors, windows

Designing Exterior Elevations: French Doors & Windows

I received an email from a DIY Ally client with the subject line: “Exterior elevations. Front door entrance, steel French doors and windows.” The message read: “Alla, I am thrilled to find your website and would appreciate your help. I am in the midst of remodeling my 1930 home and having difficulty determining the appropriate look of French doors, windows as well as the front/back door.” Read More

fireplace

A Fireplace Is a Heart of a Home

Phew! Just emailed a revised set of drawings to a client. Having gotten a NY State license, I am picking up the pace — we’re planning to submit for permits in less than a month. My passion for the project in Bridgehampton is all-consuming. Now that I’ve worked out all of the “big moves,” it’s time to get to details — I’ve been designing a fireplace. Read More

bathroom, efficiency, compact, shower stall, enclosure

Bathroom Efficiency: Compact Shower Stall / Enclosure

We’re on a family vacation in Mammoth. The only one who doesn’t ski, I’m sitting in our cute cabin, mulling over the subject matter for my next blog post. I waited to get here, assuming that our master bathroom will prompt a good discussion. Well… Outdated or not, I can still ponder the efficiency of its compact shower stall or enclosure. 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

bad experience, IKEA, kitchen, cabinet installation

A Bad Experience with an IKEA Kitchen Cabinet Installation

I wrote about helping a friend with an IKEA kitchen remodel recently. Unfortunately, it has not gone well. We are very disappointed with the cabinet installation. A problem that could’ve been addressed and resolved on site was ignored. The resulting mistake has not been acknowledged and fixed. Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing, the contractor in charge is still arguing, causing a major delay, not to mention a headache. Read More

plumbing, submersible sewage simplex pump

Plumbing Question: Submersible Sewage Simplex Pump

A client wants to act as a general contractor on her own small addition project. She asked me to help her understand the plumbing issues involved, as I’ve done with rainwater harvesting. Today I’m researching the installation requirements for a Submersible Sewage Simplex Pump, which will have to accommodate a new bathroom and possibly another small bathroom / kitchen if she converts a garage in the future. 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

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