Adaptability in Architecture

As summer approaches, a season of change is upon many of us: graduations, returning to work in the office, transitioning to safe indoor gatherings and possibly even traveling. We’re reminded of the constant adjustments life brings us and how important it is that our homes evolve with us, too. Designing for future life-changes is essential to our process and architecture. This month, we asked our team to share strategies that help ensure the homes we design uniquely adapt to us as we grow.

From Kids to Teens

Project Manager Jim Coyle recently designed a renovation and addition to an historic Craftsman home to serve the needs of a family of six. “Two boys share one bedroom and bath, so we wanted to provide them with individual space and privacy, especially as they enter their teen years,” he explains. In the bedroom, Jim devised a private niche for each bed, separated by a built-in millwork partition that also provides additional storage. The niches each have a casement window and space for a nightstand. Each child has his own closet and set of drawers within a built-in dresser; plus one shared closet for toy and game storage. 

“In the bathroom, we were able to fit two wall-mounted sinks in the space that would typically be occupied by a single vanity, allowing both boys to get ready for school or brush their teeth at the same time. We also included both a walk-in shower and tub/shower combo, so that there will never be a wait at bath time,” he says. “We embraced the slightly more utilitarian style with a tiled wainscot and wall-mounted sconces, suggesting the clean lines of a modern fitness center or health spa.”

Working From Home

As part of an extensive renovation to a Colonial Revival residence, Senior Project Manager Korey Kromm was tasked with designing a private home studio that reflected the home’s aesthetic. Per the homeowner’s request, access to this space was to be hidden from the main house. “The area above the existing garage was converted into a studio, in order to keep sound isolated from more sound-sensitive areas of the home,” he says. “The space had existing exterior access for guests; but we also designed a new hidden door, integrated into the custom bookshelves, which provides access to the adjacent office. We chose to place coat hooks on the door to also serve the function of a doorknob” Therefore, to guests visiting the studio, it appears to be entirely separate from the family’s living quarters.

Left: The studio’s hidden door with coat hooks, which provides access to the adjacent office within the main house. Right: Soundproofing was integrated within the walls and ceiling.

Playrooms That Evolve

Many of our homeowners have newborns or toddlers, so ensuring their home grows with them is at the top of the priority list. Project Manager Katie Peterson recently completed a new custom home in Beverly Hills for a couple with two young girls. “They wanted a dedicated kids’ area off the family room for activities and toy storage, but needed it to be a functioning space once they grew older as well,” she says. To accomplish this, Katie integrated ample storage that aesthetically reflects the rest of the custom paneling within the family room. “The space currently functions as a toy zone, but can accommodate a window seat and table in the future for a homework zone, or additional seating when entertaining. We also chose to break the storage up into sections on each wall, in order to leave room for a potential future banquette.”

Left: The space currently functions as the girls’ playroom, complete with integrated toy storage on either side. Right: The family room nearing the end of construction. The playroom area sits within the window niche.

Outdoor Living

To take advantage of Southern California’s climate, an outdoor living room is an innovative way to extend a home’s livable space. “These spaces, in particular, need to be adaptable to different uses and can evolve with the family,” shares Senior Project Manager Ari Engelman. “They can be a movie watching space for the kids and their friends, or an after dinner conversation area for the grownups.” Within the renovation to a now Classical Contemporary residence in Beverly Hills, the patio adjacent to the indoor living areas is a comfortable place to kick back. “Besides the needs for nighttime lighting and heating which are subtly integrated into the pergola above we wanted to ensure that the television could be hidden when not in use. This was accomplished via a recess and simple set of bifold doors above the fireplace,” he explains.

The patio and pergola create a natural connection between the indoors and out.

Aging in Place

Designing “forever homes” often requires our team to consider opportunities to maximize homeowners’ ability to stay in their homes as they age. Project Manager Sergio Schwark contributed to the renovation and addition of a Provencal revival style home in Los Angeles, where he designed discrete elements to enhance functionality and reflect the lifestyle of a retired couple. “An elevator was added and custom handrails were installed. We also ensured most of the openings complied with handicap codes,” he says.

Custom handrails (left) and an elevator (right) were added to the existing home to accommodate aging in place.

Lifestyles and families change and adapt. Your home should evolve with you, too. Our thorough process considers design opportunities for life changes, from preparing for “aging in place” to planning new uses for the kids’ playroom. Explore our approach and process to learn more about how we design for the present and future.