How do you help clients achieve enduring quality and style?
At the first design meeting, I try to bring ideas and a vision for the scheme of the house that clients can see and feel. I help them find the best look for their lifestyle and aesthetic. Sometimes clients present images they see in magazines, not understanding the lack of longevity of that aesthetic. Whether their style is modern or traditional, furnishings need to be classic and high-quality—which will make them much more appealing in the long run. —Mona Hajj, Mona Hajj Interiors
Explain how you determine whether to renovate or tear down a home.
This is an important question for architects to consider because there is a serious problem today in established neighborhoods where good homes are being demolished, transported to landfill sites and replaced by oversized speculative houses. In working with owners, our approach has been only to take down homes that are poorly sited, poorly designed and poorly constructed, with no historic or cultural value to their context. When we dismantle these houses, we distribute their parts to charitable organizations and design new homes that are in scale with the existing neighborhood. —Stephen Muse, FAIA, Muse Architects
How has the emphasis homeowners place on outdoor spaces evolved?
Consumers increasingly see landscaping as an investment that enriches their quality of life for as long as they live in their homes. They want to feel connected to the outdoors and value homes that offer that connection. These days, the design of the house and the design of the landscape are treated as one process—even if the project is a renovation. Owners are thinking about how to get more light into their homes and create a smoother transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. —Howard Cohen, PLA, Surrounds Landscape Architecture + Construction
What’s the secret to making guests feel at home?
Today’s floor plans have created a new dynamic in entertaining. It’s no longer about gathering in formal living and dining rooms, which have been replaced by more livable house layouts. Designing homes with entertaining in mind, I always include bar areas, outdoor kitchens and game rooms—all of which foster inclusivity for any occasion. —Kristin Peake, Kristin Peake Interiors
What has changed the most in custom-home building?
The concept of outdoor living has evolved. Homeowners increasingly seek transitional spaces that seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor areas. With the advancement of retractable-door and -screen systems, clients are able to experience this openness regardless of climate restrictions. A dining room, kitchen, living room or even a bedroom can now easily transform and create a connection to the environment around it. —Bret Anderson, Pyramid Builders
How much value do clients place on eco-friendly landscaping?
Twenty years ago, most homeowners likely associated environmental sustainability with native plants. But today there is a far more sophisticated understanding of landscapes as part of a larger ecological system. As a result, our clients are committed to managing storm water responsibly and reducing erosion on their properties. —Jennifer G. Horn, RLA, Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture LLC
How have lifestyle changes affected your approach to interior design?
The need to recover from busy work-life schedules has increased. Our world is over-stimulated, causing a rise in conversations about the importance of nurturing family ties within the confines of the home. More than ever, people feel a need to connect with their pasts—perhaps related to an inner desire for slower and simpler times. We’re seeing the re-entry of Old World rooms, which some term “maximalism.” —Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey, SCW Interiors
What are tried-and-true guidelines for a successful renovation?
Years ago, clients came to us with a need and it was our job to recommend a solution. Today, they arrive with prepared solutions, having researched options and recommendations from multiple media sources. Our job now is to help the client better understand what they are asking for. I start by asking, “why?” It’s a great way to help shed assumptions and create solutions together that they’ll love years down the road. —Jonas Carnemark, CKD, CLIPP, Carnemark design + build
How do you explain the value and benefits of fine craftsmanship?
There is no substitute for quality workmanship and attention to detail. The market is flooded with new synthetic products that are sold as maintenance-free and sustainable. However, there are no true replacements for natural materials such as wood, stone, metal, clay, glass and plaster. Not only are these sustainable, but with proper installation and maintenance they’re the ingredients of a quality home that will last for generations. —Mike Campbell, Winchester