Be "The Boss" of Your Home Design

“The rangers had a homecoming in Harlem, late last night
And the magic rat drove his sleek machine, over the Jersey state line
Barefoot girl, sitting on the hood of a Dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
The rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear down Flamingo lane”

The rhyme in the first lines of Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland” is subtle and complex, but there’s a balance and flow to the verse that helps make it one of the best in rock ‘n roll.

Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart”, on the other hand, is simple, straightforward, and the short lines rhyme easily:

“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going”

Both songs are appealing in their own way – one is simple and symmetrical, the other is balanced, but asymmetrical (and one’s a whole lot easier to sing along with!).

Houses can be that way, too. The classically-styled homes we’re all familiar with (see below) are often perfectly symmetrical. Their appeal is simple and easily understood – it’s no wonder American neighborhoods are filled with them.

5 Great Built-In Ideas for Your Home Office

A big home office used to be a fairly common room in the homes I’ve designed, back when “working from home” required a separate, private room.

That’s not the norm these days – with laptops, tablets, and home networking in most houses, Mom and Dad can get work done from almost any room.

But the home office hasn’t disappeared completely…it’s just taking up a lot less space.  Sometimes it's a much smaller room, and sometimes it's a wall of custom built-in cabinets and shelves, like the ones in these RTA Studio projects:

Tucked in a corner of the family dining area, and just off the kitchen, this desk/home management area helps keep this family's daily activities organized.

When Is A Design Trend Not A Trend?

We humans generally don’t like being surprised.  We hope that things will go according to plan; we like to know what’s coming our way.

We like to be in control.

Occasionally though, when a pleasant surprise does come along, we’re happy about it.

Like earlier this week when Karen suggested we see Dustin Hoffman’s movie The Quartet.

I’d never heard of it, and frankly wasn’t thrilled about seeing it (especially now, right in the middle of the summer blockbuster season).

But – it was a wonderfully sweet film, very enjoyable, unexpectedly poignant, and superbly acted.



A client of ours called the other day to tell us she’d just returned from the local “Street of Dreams” (also called the Street of New Homes, New Home Show, Home Parade, or something similar depending on where you are), and said she had a few new thoughts about the home design we’re working on with her.

Great Ideas for Custom Built-in Bookshelves

I clearly remember everyone talking about a "paperless society" a few decades ago.  It was the dawn of the "digital era", and all the buzz was about how email and digital documents would soon almost completely replace printing anything on paper.

And that was before tablets and smartphones!

Digital documents have certainly become a preferred method of data transfer for many of us (how many emails do you send and receive every day?) but there's still plenty of paper around.  Some things, it seems, just don't work quite right in a digital format.

Like books.  You probably still have books. Maybe a lot of books, and you need shelves to store and display them.

If you're thinking about building or remodeling a home, and you're past the boards-on-concrete-blocks kind of bookshelves, you might consider built-in bookshelves for your project.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

These traditional "library" bookshelves cover two entire walls in this remodeled home.

Are You Thinking About Building An "Open Floor Plan" House? Here's What You Need To Know

My new-home clients sometimes talk about a home design with “good flow”; or more often, an “open” or “open concept” floor plan.

“Open concept” sounds like a new idea, but is it?  What is an open floor plan, anyway?


The first American homes were built in the 18th century, when home design was restricted by technology and fashion.  Fashion, because the only building traditions the colonists had were the ones they brought with them from Europe.

Technology, because 18th century homes didn’t have central heating (it wasn’t widespread in America until the early 20th century).  Since each room in the house had to be heated individually, it made sense to keep rooms small, separated from each other with walls, and easy to heat.

This all-brick early 19th-Century Georgian house plan is very formal - notice how the rooms are arranged around massive fireplaces in the center of each wing

Are pantries and windows taking the place of upper cabinets in kitchens?

A great take on kitchen design from Jim Weiker, Home and Garden Editor at the Columbus Dispatch:

Need expert Residential Architectural advice for your new home or remodeling project? Contact Richard Taylor, AIA at RTA Studio Architects to arrange a meeting or an online consultation.