In the past, I’ve written blogs about why you should hire an architect for your dream home project and what to expect from architecture fee proposals. What I haven’t done is show you the results of that work. This week we are going to look at a project currently under construction and the value an architect brought to the table. The project property is located along the Potomac River on a cliffside approximately 100 feet up from the river edge. The client started with a local builder we know, who quickly realized this site was special and needed guidance from an architect. Thankfully he recommended MSB Architects.
At the first meeting, the client provided us with floor plans, a 3D model, and some exterior views they had put together with DIY CAD software. The floor plan they devised had all the rooms they wanted, but we quickly realized that it didn't take advantage of the site conditions and the spectacular views. The initial plan gave the master bedroom and living room river views but left the remaining 4 bedrooms decidedly less scenic. We adjusted the shape of the house so the magnificent scenery was available to as many rooms as possible. This layout change didn’t cost any more to build but greatly improved the experience inside.
Continuing with our design to enhance the views, we pushed the main living room, located in the center of the house, forward five feet which allowed us to add some sidelight windows to the space. The extra windows allow for more natural light while providing a more panoramic view. An additional benefit to pushing the living room forward is that we were able to give the bedrooms on either side more privacy because the living room essentially creates a private balcony for each.
Ceilings are an often overlooked element in many buildings and yet they are important to help shape a room. Most houses have flat ceilings with an occasional vaulted ceiling here or there. It’s amazing how just changing the ceiling can have a dramatic effect on the room. A site like this would commonly add a gable roof facing the view. In this case, we decided to use a single sloped ceiling, as the rising slope towards the view will naturally draw your eyes while maximizing the vista.
These changes show how architects can bring value to a project and make your dream home even better. Architects spend years learning how to create spaces, organize movements, and use color to influence the emotional response to spaces. This training can be invaluable when to ensure your dream home doesn't become a nightmare in the future.