Tag Archive for: Design Ideas


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

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

organizing ideas, beautification, lobby

Organizing Ideas: Beautification of a Lobby

I have to admit. My work schedule is getting more demanding. In the spirit of multi-tasking, this blog has become a platform for client meeting prep. Thus, I’d like to share my process of organizing ideas for a potential project. It involves a beautification of a lobby, a roof deck with a pool, and a subterranean 2-level parking garage. The client is the homeowners association of a 24-unit condo complex in the foothills of Hollywood. Read More

shabby, studio, apartment, home

How I Was Able To Turn a Shabby Studio Apartment Into a Home

Hello, it’s Mia Kazovsky, and I’m back for another guest post after over a year. Here’s a refresher: I moved into a studio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the beginning of 2016. In the previous post, I wrote about the first steps in the process of upgrading my digs. Today, I’d like to share how I was able to turn a shabby studio apartment into a home. Read More

Hollywood Regency Style, remodel

How to Remodel in Hollywood Regency Style

Hollywood Regency Style, a synthesis of 19th-century French, Greek Revival, and Modern was never of interest to me. That is until last Wednesday, when I received a text: “Good morning Alla. I wanted to see how busy you are these days as my parents just bought a vacation home in Palm Desert that is in need of a full interior and exterior remodel. Would you be able to consult them/me and possibly help with the entire process?” 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

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


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

stone walkways, dry construction, wet construction

Stone Walkways: Dry Construction or Wet Construction?

Last year, in addition to being under a tight deadline, I was working with a very tight budget. Consequently, I compromised on stone walkways, opting for “pool sand,” which turned out to be a mistake (soft underfoot and sticks to shoes). A year later, I am ready to fix it and am trying to decide between dry or wet construction. Read More

Home Depot, DIY Ally, studio apartment

Home Depot and DIY Ally Update My Studio Apartment

Hello, my name is Mia; Alla DIY Ally is my mother and I have been consulting with her recently in the process of moving into a new studio apartment in lower Manhattan. Although some of its aspects were very outdated, as a renter with a budget even smaller than my NYC closet space, remodeling was out of the question. With the help of Home Depot and DIY Ally inspiration I was able to make some affordable and impactful changes. Read More


Staircase Design: 8 Things To Consider

A staircase lets us move up and down between levels. Whether enhancing a two-story volume or creeping through an extremely narrow shaft of space, it is an important element in the overall circulation scheme.

8 Things to Consider while designing the staircase:

1. Logical integration into the structural system at lending points
Stair stringer (tread support that carries the weight) spans between posts and beams or other load bearing elements. The staircase should be designed both in plan and elevation. For additional information, please refer to a downloadable e-book DIY Like an Architect.

2. Placement
Its location in plan needs to correlate with the over-all circulation scheme on all levels. Think three-dimensionally about where the staircase starts and ends up.

3. Dimensional clearances
A person shouldn’t be able to extend and touch the staircase ceiling. It should not be lower than the height of a standard door (6’8”).

4. Safety
Always check applicable building codes for minimum and maximum required dimensions. Make sure that it is well lit from above.

5. Ease of travel
The staircase should be neither too steep or too shallow. For most situations, a riser of 7” (or slightly over) is recommended. All risers must be identical in height. The slightest discrepancy between steps creates a tripping hazard. Intermediate landings can be introduced to lessen the fatigue factor.

6. Approach and departure
The staircase can be approached and departed either directly or perpendicular to a stair run. Landings should equal the width of the stair by a minimum of 3 feet. No doors are allowed to swing over the steps.

7. Shape
When deciding on the type (straight run, “U” return stair, “L,” winder, or spiral) think about function and make sure it fits.

8. Style
Define your aesthetic with a choice of materials for the structural elements. Whether you opt for ornate or minimalist details, they need to follow safety code requirements. Take a look at these for some good ideas!

I hope this is useful. For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me here.