Spring Is Upon Us

Spring is around the corner, and I am surprised by the beauty of an early garden before flowers have begun to bloom. A long project has finally come to fruition, and I am amazed at the loveliness of the space. Outdoor environments create an inner quietude, and a successful collaboration between client and architect in achieving a harmony between house and garden is a particularly satisfying process. Clarity of concept and creative agility are both required in accomplishing a vision that surpasses expectations. Our collaboration with Charles Debbas delivered more than we could have hoped for. Here is a collection of gardens — “outdoor rooms” — that have elevated landscaping to a breathtaking level: http://www.gardendesign.com/california/bay-area.html

It’s the perfect time to emerge from the cocoon of rain and embrace all that our gardens have to offer. Public gardens are beckoning, too; the abundance of beauty in our local botanical preserves and parks is remarkable. The bright warm weather is coaxing the most impressive displays of color and form, and in a true collaboration with nature, we should delight in its gifts!

The Elegance of Grey

Neutral but balanced, the color grey encompasses a coolness and a calmness that makes it a fantastic choice for any room. Choosing grey walls, a grey couch, grey cabinets or grey bed spreads, in shades either brighter or more subdued, allows you to achieve a unique variety within a single color. Timeless and sophisticated, grey lends a peaceful feeling to the space: security, softness, the perfect intermediate between the extremes of black and white. The other gift that gray bestows is an emphasis on whatever other color exists there. It can be either active or aloof, which makes it such a versatile palette.

This photo essay in Architectural Digest shows the beautiful and elegant range of grey:

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/best-gray-rooms-neutral-color-paint-inspiration#1

Designs of the Times

The winners of this year’s fifth annual AZ awards competition are a collage of some of the brightest ideas from around the world. They reveal a refreshingly optimistic global vision of the not-too-distant future: architecture and design that serves multiple functions and meets diverse needs, and never forfeits beauty. Winning ideas include innovative residential housing in France that uses angles and odd symmetries to best utilize the light and shade of its environment; commercial community centers in Bangladesh that are open and capacious and are built with local materials; a single-family dwelling in Vietnam that borrows ideas from nature in order to work in harmony with it; and minimalist lighting fixtures that are enlightening in every sense of the word.

Click here to read the full article.

A Slice of San Francisco

The city of San Francisco is growing fast, and in every direction — especially up. Architects explain that the surge in housing has been met in two ways. First, historical homes and buildings are being renovated and retrofitted with modern facades to enhance and buttress the old. Second, brand new houses are also being built, often on plots and properties that were once considered too challenging to develop. That means the new challenge is finding a design that will make the most out of the smallest slice of pie: When land is limited, the new instinct is to go high (or diagonally, at least) by converting the hillside into a terraced landscape and raising the roof, literally, using beams and balustrades to extend sight lines. This article from Design Milk gives a fascinating overview of some of the uplifting new ways San Franciscans are claiming space.

Click here to read the full article.