Architecture + Design

Over the last decade, I’ve owned a few homes, and in each of those spaces, there has been (at least) one feature—one special detail—that I’ve loved. Something that stuck with me, such that when I look back, I can recall a routine or experience or feeling that was tied very distinctly to that particular home. So when I decided to build a home from [proverbial] scratch, I realized that I could scroll through the memories of homes past—my former condos, my restored Victorian and mid-century modern homes—and determine how to move forward. I got to really consider what it was I loved, then how to reinterpret it for an entirely different space.

It’s been one of the best parts of this insanely-daunting process.

The build-from-scratch effort is a long and tedious one. It requires an inordinate amount of patience. Of forethought, of back-and-forth, of resolve. What began with an architect meeting in 2015 and became appliance picking a few months later is still happening. Choosing finishes and marking progress is not quick or easy. But ideally, the space will be better for all the effort and time.

In thinking what exactly I have loved about past spaces of mine (and why), I came to realize a few absolute necessities of my yet-to-be-built space, and we carefully weaved them each into the design process. You can glean a bit of the magic in the fall 2017 and spring 2018 progress photos shown…but you’ll have to wait until I move in to see the rest.

In the mean time, here’s the what-to-expect rundown:

1. My goals are lofty. I loved my loft at the Westgate building downtown. No wasted space, just an open concept home. Use it all, live in it all, love it all. The new space will be a slightly larger loft, mind you…but a loft nonetheless.

2. The music matters. I used to take a moment of pause as soon as I walked into my Marmalade Victorian home after work to choose a record. I don’t know if placing the record player just at the entrance was an intentional decision at the time, but it became a favorite ritual of mine. Walk in, leave work behind, set the mood.

3. I’m rushing to the heavens. Speaking of ritual, this is a big one for me. That idea of stopping, of pausing…then walking through the threshold of “home” is a holy experience. Consider the massive columns that lead your eye to the “heavens” in a cathedral. Thanks to the help of my talented architects, Sparano & Mooney, we’ll be incorporating a similar theme in my home, both in the form of architecture and art. A floor-to-ceiling entry wall (22 ft. high) will act as a privacy panel from the glass front, but more importantly will serve as an opportunity to pause and reflect, as we’ll incorporate a piece of large-scale art. Additionally, a cross-section in the structure enabled us to work through the passage of light let in above and to the south of the door. Visitors will actually pass through a threshold of sorts between the outside and inside.

4. Let’s take a dip. My mid-century modern Apollo house was the only I’ve owned with a pool, but my god, I loved it. Morning laps, evening hangs, the occasional full-blown party…it got boatloads of use. Ultimately, it was such a worthwhile expense (for the sake of health/friendship/well-being), that I decided to incorporate a much-smaller version that separates the primary living space from my bedroom/pool house in the back. Morning laps, evening hangs, the occasional full-blown party…it’s all coming back to me now.

5. I’ll light my own fire. In at least three of my former homes, a fireplace has been present, and it was an anchoring spot in each space. Much as a pool will come in handy for 3 to 4 months of the year, so will the fireplace in the others. Heat aside, I kind of prefer to exist by candlelight, and this feature is a big deal for someone who loves to live in the dim.

6. Stay out of my room. Though the main space is a loft (and home to my kitchen/living area), we decided to build a separate structure for my bedroom and a flex space of sorts (the structures will be connected by an overhead hallway and the bedroom connected to the pool house/flex space by an interior staircase). Privacy is a tough gig where open-concept living is concerned, and this flex space will cover a lot of bases, much as my small sunroom in the Maryland building did. With a little creativity (and despite its being only 50 sq. ft.), it served as a guest room, movie room, and meditation den…and the pool house here will function in much the same way, but with a bit more room.

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