Posts Tagged 'tips'

The Client’s Time Investment

Once our working relationship is established (see Getting the Project Started), the real fun begins.

“How long will the design process take?”

As a rule of thumb, the design process takes approximately the same amount of time as building the project. In other words, a project that requires 6 months to build requires 6 months to design. This does not necessarily include permitting (which depends on many variables).

“How much time will you need me during design?”

Meetings

We will need to meet to review design drawings, preferably in person.  This is especially important for the first design meeting and for major design milestones. These meetings are usually 1-1.5 hours long.

Most clients find it helpful to meet at their home, so that we have a visual reference of size, configuration, etc. of the spaces being considered. Sometimes it is easier to meet at your place of work, or at a nearby restaurant or coffee shop, especially if the project is a new home or is located far away from your workplace.

Homework

You will have homework, including private discussions about the drawings and ideas.  You may find it helpful to continue to look for inspiration photos to illustrate thoughts you have as the design develops, and you will want to spend time researching fixtures and appliances.

Showroom Visits

Together, we will typically visit a plumbing showroom and lighting showroom.  These visits are usually 1.5-3 hours long.

We may also visit tile and flooring showrooms.  This is something that may be delegated to one lead “decision-maker”, and we may follow up (either separately or together) at additional tile showrooms.   Ultimately, we will meet at your home to mix-and-match samples and narrow choices.  The first tile showroom visit can be 1.5-3 hours, depending on the project. Subsequent visits and meetings vary with each project but are usually significantly shorter.

Tally

Many of my clients have said that they dedicated 3-4 hours per week to their project (some weeks more and some less, averaging 3-4 hours per week overall).  Your decision-making abilities, both individually and jointly, are the biggest factor affecting the time investment required.

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Getting the Project Started

“We want to move forward.  What next?”

Now that we know we’re on the same page (see How to Prepare for the Architect-Client Interview), we build the foundation for a successful project, beginning with:

  • Contract and retainer – When the budget, objectives, timeline, and chemistry are all in place, the next step is signing a contract. A retainer is required with your signed contract, which is applied to your final invoice. The retainer is typically 10% of the estimated fee.
  • Follow-up meeting – This is an opportunity to continue the discussion about design we began during the interview. You may be able to fill in a few blanks that you hadn’t been able to earlier, or you may have additional questions, ideas, or inspiration images to discuss.
  • Measure and draw existing – To get started on a remodel or addition project, I first need to document what is there. This may be limited to relevant areas or include the entire house, depending on the scope of your project. Most Seattle homes that are “typical urban lot” size take two people 3.5-4.5 hours to measure, which includes significant architectural features (walls, doors, windows, etc.), but does not include mechanical or electrical systems and fixtures, or items which would require destructive demolition. Note: We need to open closets, cabinets, etc. to measure how deep they are and will also take photographs.  Access to the attic(s) and crawlspace(s) should be cleared and ladders provided, if needed.

How to Prepare for the Architect-Client Interview

The first meeting is an opportunity for us both to interview each other.  It is very important that everyone that will be involved in the design process be together at the interview so that we all get the chance to ask questions and get a sense for what it would be like to work together.

“What do you need from us?”

1) Brief written description of your goals for the project, including:

  • list of “must-have” items, “would be nice to have” items, and “don’t want” items (Note: If all of the people living in the house don’t agree about the goals, it is helpful to know what differs.)
  • budget for the construction cost of the project (for more insight into costs, see “How Much Will my Project Cost?”).
  • timeline for the project (when you will be ready to start design, begin construction, and move in)

2) Inspiration photos from magazines, books, vacations, etc.  (Note: It is not necessary that these photos be “the answer” to your goals, so don’t exhaust yourself trying to find that!  It is more helpful that you find photos of things you like, even if the photos represent a variety of architectural styles.  A photo of a “cozy corner” may look different for you than it would for someone else, so photos really help me tune into your own personal taste and learn what those words mean to you visually and experientially. Even photos of something you really DON’T like can be helpful for comparison.)

3) Information that you may have about the house and/or lot, such as:

  • old blueprints – whether original or from previous remodels
  • survey
  • “Improvement Location Certificate” – Sometimes found in your mortgage documents, this is a drawing that shows the outline of your house, garage, etc. (the “improvements”), with dimensions of the structures and of the lot itself.  Sometimes, easement information and encroachments may be included in this document.  If you do not find a one in your file, you may want to check with your title company to see if there was one obtained on your behalf.  I have found that the drawing does not always make its way into your loan document package.)
  • copy of previous appraisal
  • if you’re changing the exterior appearance of the house, it is helpful to know if you anticipate problems with your neighbors
  • neighborhood covenants, if any

4) “Walk and Talk”  – One of my favorite things to do is to be guided around a house by potential clients, listening to what they do and don’t like about their homes.  It is fun to learn what they wish for, what they’ve already changed, and how they see themselves living there.

The Secret to Picking the Perfect Paint Color

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Paint color selection tools of the trade

For many homeowners, picking the perfect paint color is a daunting task – prone to error, causing arguments, piling up receipts for samples or do-overs, and sometimes resulting in the decision to “just give up and paint it white”.

This is why I include paint color selection as a part of my architectural services. Having done this many times before, I make it easy and fun for my clients.

Here are some things to remember when selecting paint color:

A lot of men are color blind.

One of every ten men have some form of color blindness, while women are rarely affected. There are different severities and types of color-blindness.  The most common type is the inability to distinguish red and green.  This can be very challenging when looking at various shades of paint colors, as often the only difference between two colors will be the amount of red or green undertone.

All whites are not the same.

If you hold a fan of “whites” at arm’s length, you would think they were colors like blue, pink, grey, or yellow.  Yet, each of them are considered “white”.  I have heard the following statements, each of which is a clue that my clients need help, whether they realize it or not.

  • “The contractor said he has a white that they used before, so we’ll just use that.”
  • “I just want white.”
  • “We don’t want any color, just an off-white.”
  • “My mother says we should use antique white.”

Complex colors change in different light.

Many of the popular brands of paints have a complex color base.  This makes the color very rich, whether light or dark.  It also affects the color’s appearance in different types of light.  When you select colors, you should look at them in the type and intensity of light they will be seen in.  DO NOT pick your paint colors on the floor of a fluorescent-lit showroom.

The trickiest colors are green, khaki, and grey.

In my experience, the colors that appear the most different according to the quality and type of light are green, khaki (or camel) and grey.  When I select one of these colors, I pull as many samples out of the oversize fan as I can find and pin them all up, either in the intended location or in the closest facsimile of the environment.  I look at them several times throughout the day as the light changes, and remove any chip that begins to take on the appearance of another color.  Green will tend to shift to brown.  Khaki will tend to shift toward either purple or green.  Grey will tend to shift to purple or blue.

Be careful with luminous colors.

If you adore “happy colors”, remember that a color can be bright without being luminous.

I once had a client who wanted a bright green bedroom, the color of the flesh of a lime.  The color she chose was very luminous – meaning that it had a “glow”.  As a small chip, it was very appealing.  But, when the whole room was painted, the color bounced off every wall, making the room so intense that the painters could only be in there for a short period of time before having to step outside to allow their eyes to adjust back to normal.  (That room was immediately repainted a soft yellow.)

Color looks more intense on ceilings.

A paint chip with a hint of color will take on the appearance of a strong color when painted on a ceiling.

Exterior house colors always look lighter than expected.

Selecting exterior house colors is one of the most challenging tasks.  Nearly everyone who has chosen their own exterior paint will tell you they wish they’d gone darker.

Exterior paint always looks significantly lighter (10x or more) than the swatch.  The sun is an incredibly powerful light source, even in the Pacific Northwest, and it affects the appearance of color dramatically.  When you are choosing exterior colors, you should be looking at the darkest colors in the range.  If you there is a house in your neighborhood you like, it is well worth knocking on the door to ask what color they used or to ask permission to bring your paint fan with you to compare swatches with their house.

Consider the items that will go in the room.

Does the furniture have a red or green undertone? Are there things in the room that will contrast too much with the color? Is there something that you want to use as a focal point against the color  such as artwork or antiques? Are there things on the ceiling that you don’t want to draw attention to?  (A color on the bathroom ceiling might sound like a fun idea, but remember that the exhaust fan, ceiling lights, etc. will be more noticeable than they would against a soft white.)

Avoid trendy colors.

The retailers have a knack for rotating color trends, and today’s beautiful green will soon be dated.  The exception to this rule is choosing a color that is currently “trendy” but is one that you have ALWAYS loved.  If you have loved it your entire life, you probably always will.  If it is a new color that you are enjoying, have fun with your towels, bedcovers, or rugs.  It is easier to rotate those when you become sick of the color than it is to repaint the room.

Question the accent wall idea.

My theory is that if you want a color but only on one wall, you probably aren’t convinced that you like the color – or that you will like it for very long.  Here is another opportunity for tablecloths, rugs, towels, etc. to take on that role.

A true accent wall uses a contrasting or more saturated color to emphasize the architectural features of a space, not to showcase a fad.

Ask for help.

I bring every Benjamin Moore and Devine color created into my client’s homes, sparing them the confusion at the paint counter.  Rather than looking at tiny strips of five or six shades, we look at 4″x4″ swatches of color.  My paint kit is organized by the amount of undertone in each color, so it is easy to predict which colors will tend toward red, green, blue, or purple, based upon where the color is located within the stack of each color.  I leave these swatches with my clients, ordering replacements for my kit.

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4"x4" squares of Benjamin Moore colors

After my clients have had some time to look at the color swatches in various lighting over a few days, we select a few to mock-up on the wall.  We don’t use the little paint pots or pouches unless they are the exact brand AND sheen we intend to use, since both of these factors affect the color’s appearance.  We normally have mock-ups painted in 12″x12″ or 24″x24″ squares, in both the brightest and darkest spots of the room.


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