The Modern Homes Tour Austin is this Saturday, February 2nd, have you purchased your tickets yet? Curated by Ingrid Spencer of Architectural Record, the tour this year is definitely something you don’t want to miss.
One home that I was in awe of, is the Riley Home. I got to do a Q & A with the talented interior design and architect teams. Enjoy!
Interior Design Team: Laura Britt, Principal, RID, Jamie Wills, Lead Interior Designer, Ally Maxey, Design Assistant
1. In contemporary and modern homes, visual clutter is such an enemy, why?
Visual clutter can detract from the cleanliness of lines, balance and harmony found in contemporary and modern home. Typically the appeal of a modern home comes with an understated simple, yet visually appealing design. To add “visual clutter” to the space would be to take away from the simplicity and cloud the clarity and intention of the openness.
2. Minimalist doesn’t mean boring, right? How do you make this design style “unboring”?
Minimalist design certainly does not equate to boring. It can serve to increase awareness of shape, space and volume, and also create a greater sense of openness. This type of design process challenges the designer to find ways to incorporate texture, color, and light while balancing visual and spatial perimeters.
That being said there are several schools of thought about what constituted “good” minimalistic design; our challenge and end goal is to develop the design concept into a fluid design that adapts to the client’s need and environmental circumstances. Each individual has a perception of what modernism means to them; so our challenge and goal is to listen and develop a concept that translates into a functional and integrated environment unique to each individual.
3. I definitely love homes that meld indoor and outdoor spaces seamlessly. How did you achieve this with the Riley home?
Our approach to the intermediate space -the areas between being fully outside and fully enclosed from the elements- emphasizes the relationship between the exterior and interior spaces. In creating the exterior living areas, we wanted to create an opportunity for the family to utilize the spaces outside in the same way they would indoors. We did this by creating pockets of space for lounging, eating and enjoying the pool in the same way you create pockets of space for living indoors. This approach coupled with the glass to the outdoors invites you outside to enjoy.
An additional important note about the interiors is the emphasis of environmentally friendly and natural elements. The furnishings selections were made based on the best natural and non-VOC elements available, as well as a consciousness about durability and holistic sustainability. Many of the furnishings from this home are from our own furnishings line, VERVANO, sustainable modern furnishings all made in America. Many of these furnishings were made right here in Austin, Texas; thereby negating long distance travel and decreasing the overall carbon footprint. These furnishings are made from sustainably harvested woods and recycled steel.
Architect: Alan Barley, AIA, Principal
1.One of the things you stated about your approach to this project is that it is “holistic”, or “whole home design approach;” tell me more of what that means.
By holistic or whole home design approach, we mean that the house and the site work together as a unified whole. We also call it “green by design”. We look for the optimal way to incorporate the needs of an owner into a site by taking into account unique features such as orientation, topography, prevailing breezes, views, vegetation, neighbors, utilities, access, and cars. The architect’s job is to bring the owner’s needs and the site’s features together, where all the pieces work together in harmony. Here are few examples:
-The house works with the site’s topography instead of against it, making the home easier to build.
-The design emphasizes exposure to the north and south, minimizing the hot western sun resulting in a home that heats up less.
-With the house heating up less, a smaller air conditioning unit can be used resulting in lower first costs.
-With lots of north exposure the home can be flooded with good north light during the day minimizing the use of electric lighting and reducing heat gain.
-The house embraces the prevailing natural breezes, allowing flow through ventilation that happens easily allowing less reliance on air conditioning.
-Outdoor covered living spaces are oriented on the breeze sides of the home, making it comfortable in the summer months.
These elements, combined with many other additional relationships, result in homes that are healthier to live in, perform better, and cost less to build, operate, and maintain. Since the house layout is derived from the site, the home fits seamlessly and organically with the site.
2. Being green, minimal carbon footprint, sustainability….why do you think its so important to build and design this way in our time?
Building green allows us to design homes that “tread lightly” on the environment and work better with it. Many of the green materials we use are composites, which perform better and last longer. The way these materials are assembled are resource-efficient, which means less material is used. Building green slightly increases first costs, but will significantly save a client more money across the life of the house. Because the materials are cleaner, they are healthier to live with too. In addition, building this way is also beginning to be legislated. We see that already here in the city of Austin, and soon it will be standard practice.
3. For homeowners not essentially savvy on what green design is all about; what should they expect when working with architects like yourself where this design thought is not only commonplace but a passion?
We stay on the cutting edge of the green building movement, and over the last 23 years we’ve designed over 370 one-off homes for clients that are green by design so we know what is practical and what is not. We also continually test some of these concepts on our own projects. For example, all of our clients send us their electric bills so we can balance real-world results with the ideas. A client can trust that we’ll be giving them sound guidance that will result in a better home for them.
Get inspired and learn more about modern homes this Saturday! I’ll see you there!