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Archive for: Image

film, constructive

Making a Film as a Constructive Way for Transcending Pain

Last Friday I flew to Chicago for the sole purpose of attending a screening of a short film my younger daughter Nastasya, an aspiring filmmaker, wrote and directed. Moreover, my older daughter Mia, an aspiring actress, played the main character in it. For both of them, this project is an epic achievement on many levels. Especially when it comes to doing something constructive as a way for transcending pain.  Read More

bi-parting swing gate, electric sliding gate

Choosing Between a Bi-Parting Swing Gate & an Electric Sliding Gate

I am in the process of deciding what kind of an entrance/driveway gate is appropriate for a client’s property. Should it be an electric sliding gate or a bi-parting swing gate? The height is pre-determined by the local code and it cannot exceed 48”, which means that this gate will not function as a privacy or security barrier, but as a clear demarcation between public and private domains. Read More

pyramid height law

From the Ground Up: Pyramid Height Law in the Hamptons

Problems eventually morph into blessings in disguise. My ignorance of Pyramid Height Law and subsequent compliance with it led to a better-organized plan. I am grateful to the Building Department inspector who put me on the spot. Thanks to him, I literally turned the project around and it’s much cleaner now. Read More

Geberit, concealed tank, in-wall, wall-hung toilet

Installing a Geberit In-Wall Concealed Tank for a Wall-Hung Toilet

A pre-school I worked on is finally under construction. There are lots of small details to address in the framing stage. Thankfully, I don’t need to worry about anything when it comes to plumbing — my favorite plumber Vadim Larkin is on the job. He just installed a Geberit in-wall concealed tank for a wall-hung toilet. Read More

architectural, setting

An Architectural Setting Enhances the Experience

I spent last ten days in NY, working on the Hamptons’ project mostly. Thankfully, there was a window of time to enjoy the city and explore a couple of current exhibitions. Giacometti at the Guggenheim. “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination” at The Met Cloisters. I picked these two because of their architectural setting. For me, experiencing how the buildings complemented the shows was just as relevant. Read More

picturing, space, planning stages, model

Picturing Space in Planning Stages Is Easier With a Model

A project you designed, when built, may present itself in ways that were ultimately unpredictable. Picturing a space with a degree of certainty is an acquired skill, and a scaled model is an invaluable tool for training your eye. It just makes it much easier to imagine what a room will feel like, to anticipate the spatial experience within it. Read More

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

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

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

architect, demand

Architect on Demand: Life & Work Intertwined

As architect on demand, I help DIYers with design-related questions. But it doesn’t stop there. My career is my calling; the work is passionately intertwined with personal growth. Yes, the main focus is the design and construction of my own life centered on infusing every day with meaning, lived to the highest DIY standards of lifelong learning. Read More

Prokudin-Gorskii, Parfyonov

Russian Empire of Prokudin-Gorskii as Documented by Parfyonov

I’ve become a big fan of a Russian journalist Leonid Parfyonov recently. Watching weekly diary-format installments of his video blog Parfenon. Living vicariously through his reports of cultural news including visits to art exhibits, theater performances, and architectural landmarks. As someone born in St. Petersburg, I’ve been glued to a computer screen for hours watching Parfyonov-narrated tele-documentaries, paying attention to his interpretation of the history and present state of affairs in Russia. My latest obsession is the inspiring film about the work of Professor Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, an inventor and a pioneer in the field of color photography. 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

organizing thoughts, parti

Generating a Parti? Try a New Way of Organizing Thoughts

Although nervous and uncomfortable promoting my own system, I’m compelled to recommend it. I teach a strategy of organizing thoughts aimed at generating a parti, a launch pad for an architectural design. The process is quite simple; it’s outlined in my how-to ebook DIY Like an Architect: 11-step method. 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

truth, artist, Jasper Johns

The Artist and His Truth: My Discovery of Jasper Johns

I’ve frivolously associated Jasper Johns — his flags — with 9/11 up until last Sunday. That’s when I encountered the artist’s extensive retrospective Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth at the Broad. The exactness and graphic quality of the work, its planned proportions, meticulous fabrication, and methodical repetition engaged, captivated, and inspired to seek explanations. Thus, I set out to educate myself about the artist and his subject matter. 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

one-bedroom, apartment, transforming, home

Patiently Transforming a One-Bedroom Apartment Into a Home in Brooklyn

Wasn’t I writing a guest post about turning my LES (Manhattan Lower East Side) studio apartment into a home just last week? It feels like that! Well, now I have crossed the bridge and moved to Brooklyn, and this time it’s not just me in a studio… I have a new roommate, my boyfriend. I am returning to DIY Ally’s blog to chronicle our experiences of transforming a one-bedroom apartment into a home! 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

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

creative work, imitation

All Creative Work Begins With Imitation

Over the weekend, visiting Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I snapped a few images of Gerrit Rietveld’s sideboard and Red/Blue chair. At that point I was collecting ideas for my next post. The following day, another Maria Popova article struck a chord. Titled Oliver Sacks on the Three Essential Elements of Creativity, it stated that all creative work begins with imitation. Read More

seeking, beauty, treasures, everywhere

Seeking Beauty: Treasures Are Everywhere

I am averse to diversions. What’s the point of venturing out? At home, in my private space, everything is so familiar, comforting, and stimulating at the same time. Perhaps. But seeking beauty outside of the cocoon could be an enjoyable as well as a rewarding pursuit. Clearly, there’s plenty to marvel at if I just step out and open my eyes to the world all around me. Treasures are everywhere. 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

midcentury, modern, landscapes

Ethne Clarke’s The Midcentury Modern Landscape

I recently saw a Gardenista article recommending a book by Ethne Clarke titled The Midcentury Modern Landscape. I’ve ordered and have just read it in preparation for an upcoming project. I’m going to Long Island, NY to plan a renovation and remodel. I will be adding an extension, a swimming pool, as well as (in Clarke’s words) “an easy-care landscape that ties it to the site.” 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

architect

I Am Learning How to Be an Architect of My Own Thoughts

An architect friend of ours, Marina Chkheidze, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in June. In August she was gone. I wonder what she felt once she knew there was no time and possibly no strength at all left to do anything. Perhaps that was the reason she was rushing to get it over with. No patience left, no desire to hang on. Read More

Re-imagining a Roof Terrace as a Garden and a Pool Deck

Good news! We just got a building permit for the daycare center project. With the load off, I can spend some time preparing for the presentation I wrote about last week. This time the focus will be on re-imagining the building’s roof terrace not just as a pool deck, but as a roof garden.  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

outdoor bathroom, wet room

An Outdoor Bathroom Will Function as a Wet Room

I am in the process of designing an enclosed patio attached to an existing house. The added space will have an outdoor bathroom. We are making it wheelchair accessible; it consists of a toilet, a sink, and a hand-held spray (without a showerhead). Since there’s no shower enclosure per se, the entire bathroom will function as a shower, which makes it a “wet room.” Read More

design camp, creative, teens

Design Camp for Creative Teens Visit & Tour

A few weeks ago I received an email: “Dear Alla, I got your name through a neighbor of yours, Monika Lightstone. My name is Sharon, and I am an ex-architect who currently is in charge of an art department at a yeshiva in Los Angeles, Ohr Eliyahu. In the summer, I run a 3-week design camp for creative & religious girl teens.” Read More

redesign, powder room, steps

How to Redesign a Powder Room in 5 Easy Steps

My friends are tired of the way their powder room looks and feels these days. They want to freshen it up, change the fixtures, replace a misbehaving pocket door. I think they should also redesign flooring and lighting. No big deal, right? But to them, even thinking about it feels like a huge undertaking. In this post I’ll show how to do it in 5 easy steps. Read More

DIY Like an Architect, workshop, generating ideas

DIY Like an Architect Workshop: Generating Ideas

Every time I teach DIY Like an Architect workshop through Art Center’s ACN, a sense of doing something meaningful gives me a jolt. Being able to assist with the process of generating ideas is uplifting. It’s so inspiring to come in contact with men and women who’d give up their Sunday to uncover new facets of themselves. I want to learn from them, actually. Read More

good environment, meditation, routine

A Good Environment for a Meditation Routine

I am getting better at living in the now. These days, I start my day by doing a particular meditation routine called Falun Dafa. Thanks to a good environment and my husband, an experienced teacher, with every practice I feel more confident and able to focus. At first, I was really distracted. Losing concentration is still an issue, but slowly it’s getting better. Regardless, I keep at it —  not too much of a commitment, just a 15-minute routine. Consistent, brief, daily sessions eventually garner good results. 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

The Autobiography of an Idea, books, architecture, Louis Sullivan

Books on Architecture: Louis Sullivan’s The Autobiography of an Idea

A client wondered: “If I only have room in my backpack for three books on architecture which ones should they be?” I promised to get back to him and, in turn, asked a friend — she is the authority — to name three books that taught her everything she needed to know about architecture. She instantly replied that absolutely number one is Louis Sullivan’s The Autobiography of an Idea. Read More

type V sheet, construction details, submittal requirements

Type V Sheet Construction Details: Submittal Requirements / Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the issues encountered while producing a set of documents necessary to get a building permit. Thankfully, I am done with all of the submittal requirements. Considering my aversion to all things UBC, it took staunch determination. And I’m especially proud of mastering the most tedious Type V Sheet construction details! 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

transitional space, design advice

Transitional Space Design Advice

My DIY Ally clients look to me for guidance, expertise, and design advice — I take their questions to heart. One writes: “I suddenly have the option of buying the apartment adjoining my own in NYC but the apartments are awkwardly connected at the kitchens!! I’m hoping for some advice about how we would join these two places and am concerned whether the transitional space would be so awkward that it wouldn’t be worth it.” Read More

remodeling, master bedroom, master bath

Remodeling Master Bedroom and Master Bath

A DIY Ally client wrote: “We are currently in the process of completely remodeling our master bedroom and master bath.  Please see the attached drawings for the existing bath layout, a couple of proposed layouts that we have considered (we have the Chief Architect Software), and a blank template if you want to make sketches of what you think would work for us.” Read More

good craftsmanship

6 Reasons Why Good Craftsmanship Matters

Whether you are building from scratch or remodeling, good craftsmanship makes a world of difference. Especially if you lean toward minimal aesthetic, like me. I recently had to fire a construction worker who just did not put his heart into what he was doing. He was rushing too much, making one mistake after another. The result was unacceptable. 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

kosher kitchen

Kosher Kitchen Design: 7 Considerations

I was very fortunate to interview Mrs. Sterna Citron, the wife of our rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Citron of Los Angeles, about her kosher kitchen. Mrs. Citron approached our talk as an opportunity to teach and reflect, as she said: “It’s something I’ve done all my life. So I don’t think much about it. In order to explain it to you, I’ve had to do some thinking about it, which is good.” Read More

Pantheon, engaging the architect within

The Pantheon and Engaging the Architect Within

Thinking of the Pantheon while engaging the architect within helps me begin, despite of uncertainty. Not knowing the outcome before embarking on something is really hard, but even if there are no guarantees, I can’t just sit around and wait for something benevolent to happen. Nervous or not, wrong or right — life cannot be avoided and I might as well plan for my thoughts to support, not undermine my efforts. 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

upcoming project, planning, kitchen remodel

Upcoming Project: Planning for a Kitchen Remodel

As a DIY Ally, I am always on hand to help with a layout for an upcoming project. This particular kitchen remodel is no exception. A couple came to me with the following request: “Our main goal is to open up the kitchen to the adjoining dining/living room area in order to take advantage of the view through the living room to the 12-foot sliding patio door that looks out onto our backyard and pond.” 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

making furniture, experimentation, David Gale

Making Furniture, David Gale, and Experimentation

Over the last 30 years, I’ve been making furniture that doubles as art for my own consumption. In college, I built it myself, but after practically cutting off a tip of my thumb, I started to rely on fabricators. That’s how I met David Gale; it was in 1989, right after I moved to LA from NY and was in the process of furnishing a new apartment. Meeting him inspired a wave of experimentation with metal. Read More

mindfulness, living in the moment

Practicing Mindfulness or Living in the Moment

Last weekend was spent with the family. It’s been a long time since we were all together — in one place. Long anticipated, finally a blissful opportunity of revisiting favorite spots and living in the moment, without any concern for the past or the future. It’s up to us to bask in the glory of it, to savor every second while practicing mindfulness — concentrating on each other. 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

architect, Louis Kahn

How I Am Still Learning from Architect Louis Kahn

Since college, the work of architect Louis Kahn has been a constant source of inspiration. Recently, I came across a letter of recommendation my professor at USC School of Architecture Roger Sherwood crafted on my behalf. He wrote: “I was impressed by a passion for books as something more than a usual search for the latest classical detail.” 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

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

repurpose, wet bar, functional space

How to Repurpose a Wet Bar Into a Functional Space

I received an email from a new client Heidi: “I have a wet bar in our dining/living room that we want to repurpose and make into something else.” She wondered if a small coat closet and a computer desk might be incorporated to turn it into a more functional space. Another alternative would have been to replace “the wet bar with a bar area against the wall, and ideally still include a small computer space.”  Read More

staircase

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.

Adi Console: the skeleton

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