Working with an Architect as a Designer….or Leave Your Egos at the Door
Working with an Architect on a project is my favorite way of approaching a new build or remodel. Architects are often coming from a fresh point of view which can make things exciting, and sometimes drive you crazy. But the key here is leave the egos at the door and focus on the best possible project outcome for your clients.
Once as an in-house Designer for a local builder, I was handed a set of plans almost before the clients saw it. The plans were from an extremely well known Architect with offices literately around the world. Right off the bat, I’m seeing the kitchen is a football field away from the garage, Okay, I’m exaggerating, as I’m prone to, but it was really far if you were carrying a case of Coke!
So I am honored and excited to meet this Architect, but afraid the first words out of my mouth were going to be, “We’ve got to move the kitchen!”, which of course means moving all sorts of rooms and other things, i.e. plumbing, as well. So we meet on the upper floor of his beautiful office, in a gorgeous meeting room, and I think I managed to get a few accolades out first, before I said the potentially deadly statement… “Have you ever carried a case of Coke from the garage to the kitchen?”
He laughed and said, “How far is it?” He then smiled graciously, mentioned he had seen my work as well and was impressed, and he was listening. He turned out to be one of the nicest, down-to-earth people I have had the pleasure to work with. He is a brilliant architect, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. I later learned his homes are truly genius. I went on to work hand and hand with his team and designed a singularly spectacular house that was later the featured cover home for Luxe Magazine.
The Architect’s lead in the home design allowed the creative juices to flow. The clients who bought the lot and plans opened their hearts and minds and allowed me fill the home with remarkable, unique details. The architect’s round wall that enclosed the Powder Bath, became a floor to ceiling wall of water cascading over a stainless steel super sculpture by a prominent local artist, Gary Slater. Artistic wall finishes graced many of the rooms and fireplaces. Even the granite for the kitchen was totally unique and outstanding.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many architects over the years and sometimes I have to admit that I could put most anything in a well designed room and it would look great! The architecture is the “bones” under the skin and if they aren’t right it makes my job a lot harder. And conversely, if I can get an Architect to listen to me and not treat me like a “pillow picker”, I can get the ideas across such as… although the glass window to the ceiling is dramatic…it opens to the pool and grandkids are going to be peering in at 6 a.m. saying “Nanny and Pappy, get up and go swimming with us!”… give me a couple of inches for a window covering of some sort please!
I truly do love working with architects and I always try to keep my ego in check because, as in any situation, there is always something new to learn if you stay open to it. Architects have extensive training and education and often brilliant vision. Working together as a team can make the magic happen.