A Homeowner's View of Who Should Be - and Who Shouldn't Be - On Your Bidding List

An important part of the comprehensive service Residential Architects provide is helping our clients choose the right builder for their new home or remodeling project.

I've written a couple of blog posts about the subject because the success of your project depends on the skill and knowledge of the people who build it.

But almost as important as that skill and knowledge is the “fit” of your builder to your personality and your tastes – after all, you’re going to spend a lot of time, and a lot of money, with them.

That’s why I ask my clients to interview builders before we consider adding them to their bidding list.  It’s no guarantee that we’ll find Mr. or Mrs. Right, but it helps weed out the ones that we know aren't going to fit.

For the projects we design, we’re typically looking for smaller companies that focus on well-crafted, quality homes, rather than on cookie-cutter or big "show" homes.

In other words, if they’re running a half-page color ad in the Sunday newspaper, well...we’re probably not interested.

Which brings us to the following testimonial from an out-of-town client, for whom we’re designing a very private home, hidden back off the road on a large family farm.

Make Your Foyer Fit Your Home

Your home probably has several entries - front door, back door, garage door - but you only use one to welcome guests into your home. The front door in most homes opens into a foyer, a word derived from French and originally referring to a small room that separated the heated rooms of the house from the outside, keeping the cold out.

Fortunately, central heating made that function obsolete. Today, a home's foyer serves several other important functions, not the least of which is giving your guests a glimpse into the style and character of the rest of your house.

That's important, because a well-designed home should lead your guests naturally through a sequence of spaces from the street to the living areas.  If any of those spaces seem out of character with the others, then the whole house looks awkward and out of sync.

For some homeowners, the image of a foyer is a grand space - twin staircases, twenty-foot ceilings, an eight-foot diameter chandelier.  That's fine for a grand house, but not for a more informal home design.

A crazy-big and elaborate foyer gives your guests the impression that there's a crazy-big and elaborate house beyond - if there isn't, the foyer will be seen as pretentious and showy.

So what kind of foyer fits your house?  Check out these examples of foyers that work well, set the stage for the rest of the house, and do it all with character and style:


This contemporary foyer is the center of contemporary house - literally.  It separates and connects the two halves, and with all-glass front and back walls, lets light pour in from everywhere.  The "drama" here comes from the shapes and the light, not the size and volume of the space.

It's Just a Garage Addition...Before and After

"Garage addition."

Not exactly the sexiest words in residential Architecture.  But that doesn't mean this project shouldn't get the same design attention as a kitchen or bathroom remodeling.

This lovely Muirfield Village home, built in 1981 on the sixth fairway of Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament course, needed a third garage bay that would blend seamlessly with the existing house.


But the existing garage, on the right side in the photo above, didn't leave room to add another "side-loading" garage bay.

Remodeling an Historic 1932 Colonial Revival Home

The best home remodelings sometimes are the most subtle.  This 1932 Colonial Revival home in historic Olde Beechwold (Columbus, Ohio) needed updating, but didn't need a dramatic overhaul. The new owners moved from another home in the area, and already understood this home's potential.


The classic lines and symmetry of the home remained untouched outside.

Ready, Set, Stuck - 4 Strategies for Getting Your New Home Past the Dream Stage

So you've been dreaming about your new or remodeled home for a long time now.  You've looked at dozens – maybe hundreds – of house plans online.

You've built up a huge collection of photos on Houzz, or Pinterest, or both.

And yet somehow, you don’t feel any closer to your dream house.  Maybe you even feel a little further away from it.  You thought that by taking your time and collecting ideas and information you’d make progress, but instead, you’re stuck.

Getting stuck at the dream stage is a common problem that I hear about every week from people just like you – here are a few email snippets:

“…we've looked at around thirty home [designs] and still haven't found anything that we like…”

“I have been looking for…house plans and they are mostly horrible!”

“I was able to find one house plan that was close, but needs quite a few modifications…”

“…last night on Houzz, as I was skimming through photos for the 100,000th time…”

“Most of the homes I have found on line etc., did not have interiors to my liking…”

“We have no idea what all this is going to involve as we have never tackled anything like this before.”

“My husband and I have been looking for what seems like forever…”

Do any of those sentiments sound familiar? I have dozens more examples, but you get the idea.

A Tiny Bath Gets A Little Bigger, and Becomes a First-Class Master Bath

Making the most of a small space is a big part of what we do, but sometimes, we have to add a little more space to make everything work the way it should.

A little more space was all that was needed to turn this cute little hall bath into a very comfortable and well-appointed master bath.