For Crying Out Loud !

“For Crying Out Loud”, I remember my Mom saying when I was a kid! 

What exactly does that mean and where did that saying come from?  Per the internet (so it MUST be true, LOL), it says that it is an adverb ‘Used to express frustrationexasperation, or annoyance’.  Well, that certainly describes my Mom when she said it to me, when I was a kid! (of course, I was an angel….NOT).  Anyway, somewhere over the years, I morphed that term into ‘For Designing Out Loud’!  It too, is an adverb, but instead, it is ‘Used by Patti Wilder Dallarosa to express designing-out-of-the-box when all conventional design is not solving the current design dilemma at hand.’ 

This usually comes after several attempts to fit 10lbs of ‘stuff’ in a 5lb bag!  (I think that you have heard me say that before.)  Sometimes it is best to step back from things to get a fresh perspective, which occasionally means turning the sketch paper around 90 or 180 degrees to literally look at the drawing from another angle.  It could also mean that the conventional way to solve the problem is not ‘cutting it’, and it requires the ‘creative-hat-on-head approach’ in order to conjure up a truly out-of-the-box solution. 

I used to love that Isuzu Rodeo (August 1992) Commercial on TV where the kid (girl) is coloring with crayons in a coloring book in class and the teacher is saying, “Stay within the lines.”  She then starts coloring like crazy outside of the lines and it then shows her as an adult driving her new Isuzu Rodeo off-road.  Being a ‘Jeep Girl’, I could totally relate to that!  This has always been my approach to problem-solving in life.  Try what you know should work, and if it doesn’t, then you ‘go outside the lines’ to solve the problem.

Funny enough, I have found myself using a colored array of PaperMate Flair felt tip pens as my preferred sketching and note-taking tool.  It helps me to have multiple colors when looking at different layouts and options and keeps me in a creative mindset when using them.  When looking through my current project files, I can locate sketches quickly, based on remembering what color ink was used for the sketch.

I like to have my clients be involved, as much or as little as they would like, during the design process.  Some folks want me to figure it all out and just show up with what I think they asked for.  But, most clients really want to be involved in the process and feel excited about being a part of the evolving layout and design decisions.  Clients being invested in the process is the best way to have a completed project that really speaks to them. 

In design meetings, I tend to use different color pens for each layer of sketch paper, which helps to visually separate the drawings on each sheet of paper.  I think that this is also a mental trick that I use to help keep the design elements as separate pieces that can be rearranged in an endless number of configurations, mixing and matching the parts of each sketch that we like and want to include in the final layout.

A quick example of this is a project where I was trying to get a larger Master Closet in an already space-challenged layout.  After rearranging the bathroom and closet numerous times, I ‘borrowed’ space out of the adjacent garage to gain an additional 30” for the closet.  This added a whole new row for hanging clothes! VOILA!  A decent sized Master Closet, which had a 30”cantilever into the garage above the front ends of the cars.  We have done this as well for Kitchen remodels that need to have another 24”-30” to make the Kitchen layout great!  Using a cantilever addition saves on foundation costs and really helps the budget for smaller projects.

Look at whatever method you choose for expressing yourself and see if you are ‘Staying Within The Lines’ or if you are comfortable with stepping out of the box occasionally.  You might find that although it can be momentarily uncomfortable, you can really achieve something amazing, every now and then, by challenging those lines ‘FOR DESIGNING OUT LOUD’!

Contact me and let me know if you are ready to ‘Step Outside of the Lines’ on your project for amazing results!


The Great Balancing Act

Gravity Glue Rock Balancing by Michael Grab

Balance.  Physical, mental, spiritual, family, and work.  Do YOU have balance in your life? 

I think that in today’s world of instant gratification, everyone is suffering from the lack of balance, in some fashion.  That lack of balance tends to creep into our lives without us realizing it until it becomes too obvious to ignore.  It may announce itself as a surprising emotional response to something not going as planned.  It might even emerge as a comment or observation from someone (yourself included), in a moment of clarity.  Whatever the method of delivery, it is important to recognize that something needs to change in order to bring things ‘back to center’.  Making slight adjustments as needed always results in a better ‘fine-tuned’ outlook on life.

Lately, I have been finding that my body is telling me that my workouts need to be a higher priority in order for it not to succumb to the ‘daily grind’ and the aches and pains of someone my age (older than 40).  I used to joke about the minute that you turned 40, you started grunting and making noises when you bent over to tie your shoe or anything remotely strenuous!  I now believe it to be true!  There must be something self-soothing about making the noise so that you understand that there is a reason for the discomfort and added effort to accomplish something seemingly so minor.  Maybe it makes us feel better that we are acknowledging the need to address it.  HOW to address it becomes the real question.

One of my favorite sayings is, “What You Think, You Become” (Buddha).  If you only surround yourself with the frenzied schedule, of work and appointments, you soon find yourself ‘burned out’ and only focused on work.  If you choose to also make time for self, family, and friends, you will have a good BALANCE in your life, which will be rewarding and lead to greater success.

The next part of that saying is, “What You Feel, You Attract” (Buddha).  If you feel calm and balanced, you attract calm and balance into your life.  If you feel frazzled, chaotic, and stressed, you will attract more of that into your life.  Give some thought as to what you want to attract into your life.  What would your life look like if it had more BALANCE?

The last part of the saying is, “What You Imagine, You Create” (Buddha).  Basically, if you can dream it, you can figure out how to create it.  Your imagination is the limit.  Too often, our little ‘voice of reason’ squelches our dreams, telling us that ‘That will never Happen’.  And so, we give up before we ever actually try to accomplish what we are dreaming about.  What can you do differently to imagine and create YOUR dreams?

I believe that we are a product of our environment, whether that is positive or negative depends on how we choose to respond to it.  As an architect, I have clients describe to me their ‘perfect’ vision for their space.  I carefully listen to each client to be sure that they are heard and that their unique visions are recorded in my meeting notes, including room sizes, function, colors, materials, textures, etc. for the proposed remodel or new space.  By including elements from all of these visions and making them work together as a single vision, I am designing a space that provides a sense of calm and well-being for each of the clients.  Sometimes this is solved just by providing a small reading nook, yoga space, or homework area to add a sense of organization amidst the often-chaotic typical household.  This is even true in offices, where we have created ‘Zen Rooms’ for employees to get out of their cubicles/offices and have a space with soft lounge furniture and a calming color palette, whenever it suits them.  All of these types of solutions help to rejuvenate our minds, recharge our bodies, and bring us back into BALANCE (Ahhhh, the dreaded ‘B word’ again!  HA HA!).

I find that it is best to have a mixture of things in your life that are exciting, fun, and challenging, while being supported with a space that provides, joy, calm, and rejuvenation , all resulting in a life with BALANCE!  That, my friend, is the best approach to keeping some sort of balance in YOUR life.

Contact me for a free 1-hr. consultation to discuss your project.


Well, The Way I See It ….

For years, I have said that I was going to write a book called, ‘Well, The Way I See it’……

It was going to be a coffee table sort of book that had a bunch of ordinary life observations with random commentary (think Seinfeld), sprinkled with a bit of insight (from my own experiences), and a decent helping of silliness (always a ‘given’)…..kind of how I like to live my life.  I now feel that the better format than a coffee table book would be a BLOG.  Actual definition is ‘WEBLOG’, but I prefer to think of it as an ACRONYM for (Bag Load Of Goodies) where you get regular tidbits of helpful and fun information.

I kept thinking that I should wait until I was really organized and ready to compile a series of articles that would be helpful and entertaining to readers.  The other night, I ended up watching a TV program during the ‘Stay-At Home’ 2020 COVID-19 Quarantine that was setup like a split-screen video conference between celebrities and their celebrity friends.  I was pleasantly surprised at the level of ‘ordinary’ (non-celebrity) conversation, and how it was nice to get a glimpse into the fact that we all share the same types of struggles with work, family, and ourselves.  It really comes down to how to have a sense of balance in our lives.  Ahh, the age-old question (at least in contemporary times).

On the show, one of the friends, was commenting on how so many people are afraid to stumble and look foolish when starting out in a new venture, because they are unsure of where to get started and where to put their energy.  His advice was to ‘not be afraid to stumble in’.  “If you wait too long to figure out the ‘proper way’ to do things, you’ll never get anything done.  You’ve got to just stumble in like an idiot, learn on the job, and gather your people around you.”  Hearing this really struck a chord with me.  Not sure if it was the part where it was OK to look foolish or be an idiot (both of which I have done my fair share) or if it was just highlighting the fact that too often we let opportunities (A.K.A.  this thing called LIFE) pass us by, purely by not taking action.

I have heard this same sentiment before from several other authors, business owners, and entrepreneurs.  Sometimes you just need to jump in with both feet, instead of being tentative and dipping just a toe in the water to test it out first.  Sink or swim, I guess!  Luckily, I am a good swimmer!  With that being said, I am jumping in with both feet……. worst case, I know how to float!  HA HA!

So, now’s as good of a time, as any.  I’ve got more than 31 years of experience in architectural design and creative problem solving.  Since starting my own architectural firm in 2003, I have had the pleasure of working with numerous clients, on a variety of project types.  Their wants and needs, as well as, their budgets have been all over the place, but there are a few requests that they all have in common:

  1. I need it to meet my budget.
  2. I need it to work within my timeframe.
  3. I need it to function for how I want/need to use the space.
  4. I want it to look and feel like the space that I have always dreamed of (this is true of both residential and commercial clients).

Keeping these goals in mind as the basic requirements, I have learned that we all have a different image in our heads of what we imagine the result will be.  Interestingly, not only are the images varied person to person, but we all have different levels of detail (some more than others) that go into what the vision has become over time.  I find myself saying to clients time after time…..”Well, the Way I See It Is…”, (and I go on to explain what I envision, based on what I hear (and see) from them.  Kind of an ‘imagination summary’ of what they have told me that they want.  Sometimes they have photos that they have collected from magazines, Pinterest, Houzz or the internet, and sometimes it is a verbal description or a combination of the two.  It is not just what words that they actually say, but also their body language and the feelings (and tones) being expressed along with the words.  All of this information goes into my notes and decision-making when laying out the design for the project, whether it be residential or commercial, a custom home, a whole-house remodel, an addition, or interior design.

The real challenge and problem solving comes when I take the vision that we have collectively established and come up with an approach for adapting that vision to the budget, timeframe, and function needed for the project to have a successful completion.  Orchestrating this balancing (there is that word again) act is the only way not to end up with a project that feels like it ‘missed the mark’ or is less than inspiring.  (Here, just let me wave my magic wand, right?)  Sometimes that’s how it feels when trying to pack 10 lbs. of stuff (you can decide what type of stuff) in a 5 lb. bag!  The proverbial bag of course could be the actual size of the space, the budget, or even combining the ‘must have’ elements from each of the clients on a project. 

I often joke about having refined my counseling skills, as well as, my architectural and problem-solving skills with this process, but it is true.  I always want to be sure that each client feels that they were heard, by seeing what they asked for in the completed space, even if each client had different ‘must haves’ in the space.  There is no winner when you end up with a compromised solution where neither client feels like they got what they asked for, and instead there is a mediocre space that does not inspire either of them.  A successful project is creating spaces that not only inspire the user visually, but one that feels great to those within it.  The best compliment that a client can give me (other than referrals, of course) is that they just love their new space and it is better than they ever imagined it would/could be!

So, are YOU ready to talk about what you want YOUR project to be?  I’m ready to listen and you will know that I did, when I say, “Well, The Way I See It ….”.


Comparing Fees among Architects

Talking about money is a little uncomfortable for most people. But, when you are hiring an architect, it is an important topic to discuss. Here is an article published on the Houzz site that will help you understand the different pricing structures you are likely to encounter. Go to Houzz to read more ….

Your Agent is also Your Architect

I recently came across this article in the Washington Post, which discusses how architects are providing more than building and design services. Like me, many architects are finding that offering real estate services rounds out their client service portfolio. Take a look ….


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