2021 has been a year of optimism for us all. With vaccines finally in ample supply and the pandemic slowed, it does seem like there will be a next phase–eventually. Most people believe that business will never return to the 40 day a week model. Obviously this depends on what you do for a living but the overall consensus is that having a home office will be a necessity not a bonus feature.
The pandemic caused us all to spend a lot more time in our homes and for that reason, we want them to be better spaces that bring us joy and comfort. Beyond rethinking how we design these spaces we also just want them to be updated, clean, and efficient.
2021 has also brought a new challenge in Portland, Oregon. We are battling a housing crisis and a market that has short supply of homes for sale. People are staying put and remodeling what they have which then has flooded the market with projects at a time where labor is limited and materials costs are skyrocketing. Is this the new normal? Only time will tell.
If you are considering a project at this time be prepared to be patient. Work with trusted designers, engineers and contractors who have experience with the process. And be prepared to spend more than you think. Every project is full of choices and those affect your budget. There is no square footage cost–it depends on the project, the house, the infrastructure, and your design aesthetic. And due diligence is a must–make sure you take time planning with an ample set of drawings–spend time picking out finishes and fixtures, design the cabinetry, have window and door schedules. The average homeowner is sidestepping this process to save money which catches up to them during the construction process when they can see up to three times that cost in delays or coordination.
COVID-19 has changed our lives. Just as we must adapt to this new normal so should the way we live. Our homes should accommodate the ability for us to transition to a cleaner environment at the door, prepare us as we head back out, and allow us to work remotely.
But how do we do this? Think about what your entry serves–it is the place for coats, shoes, bags and keys. But now we need a spot for things to quarantine (Amazon boxes and the like), dirty masks to go, clean masks at the ready, gloves, and the general ability to buffer our home from the outside world.
Le Corbusier was famous for putting a sink in the entry at the Villa Savoye. The home was designed for a doctor who was concerned with cleanliness and keeping his family safe. Now I’m not saying you need a sink by your front door but I think we do need to shift how we think about the entry and consider ways to make this vestibule space work better for us—a sink is a reminder we might all need. Programmatically many have or already want to add a powder room at the entry space which does the job. If you enter from the garage you can take this one step further—you could have a powder and laundry room near this entry.
Other qualities in our homes keep us healthy—natural light, fresh air, ease of keeping things tidy. As we spend more time home and our home becomes our school and office spaces it is important we make it as healthy as we can. Many mid-century homes had home offices near the entry or even with their own entry door. Your home office or studio doesn’t need to be a big space but rather an efficient space with the basics for working. It should be a comfortable, inspiring and have the ability to be closed off from the rest of the house if possible. Being able to leave your work is mentally healthier long term—and it is important to design this threshold to tell your brain when it is time to do so (or not!). And thinking about creative ways to help kids have a workspace that helps them disconnect are worth considering as well.
We will continue to discuss these ideas in the weeks and months to come so stay tuned on our social media accounts for ideas moving forward.
On Saturday, June 1st from 11-5pm our project was one of eight homes featured in the modern home tour hosted by the Modern Architecture + Design Society. Thank you to the approximately 450 people who walked through our project. Adrienne Goodwin, the owner of CONSTRUCT DESIGN, as well as Whit Thies and Matt Thomas, owners of Modern Organic Construction, were on site all day to discuss the project and answer questions.
The Nickles Residence was a modestly sized home was a design challenge that lended itself nicely to a 620 s.f. addition. By reconfiguring the traditional small rooms of the
existing 1007 s.f. Victorian home, we greatly improved the public space
and flow while adding a private master suite. Opening up the back center
of the house provides views that capitalize on the relationship to the
The new addition (phase 1) is a simply detailed modern
cedar box that provides a counterpoint to the more ornate Victorian
home. The new addition creates a “public” spine down the center of the
house, which suits the owners modern lifestyle. The addition utilizes a
troweled concrete slab-on-grade with in-floor radiant heating as both
finish floor, heat source, and foundation for maximum efficiency.
Special features include an exterior covered porch, wood fireplace, and a
wall of glass in the living room. Phase 2 completed
the vision of the home with a full remodel of the kitchen, guest bedroom
and main bathroom. We were able to complete the new living area with a
floor to ceiling bookcase.
You can see images from this project on our website.