Design is (Also) in the Details

Creating architecture at TBA is often just as much about the small details as it is the big picture. To us, this obsession with detail propels us to understand how you live in your entire home — so that we can create an insightful, empathetic design that evolves with you for years to come. With this in mind, our Project Managers have highlighted a sampling of details they’ve utilized throughout their tenures at TBA.

Tile Layouts

Senior Project Manager Kelly Becker’s favorite TBA detailing appears throughout our homes: bathroom tile layouts, specifically for tub/shower walls, surrounds and niches. “In all of our projects we provide careful details for how to align the grout joint at tile intersections to avoid mismatched courses or cut tiles,” she says. “When done successfully, the result is a fully custom and integrated space made to showcase the beauty of the material selected. It can make even low cost materials look high end,” Kelly notes.

Detail example of a double shower niche (top left), and several tile layouts within completed projects. The drawing corresponds to our tile/stone schedule, which outlines product specs, manufacturer, etc., and includes a hyperlink to the product page should the contractor or installer need additional resources.

For Furry Friends

Oftentimes, TBA details combine functionality with subtlety. Senior Project Manager Korey Kromm’s favorite detail lies within an extensive renovation he led in the Pacific Palisades: a dog door cleverly embedded into an exterior wall (instead of a door). “[This is] inside their Family/Playroom, which is adjacent to an enclosed dog run along their side yard. This allows their dog to come and go as he pleases, and ended up being one of the homeowner’s favorite things about our design,” he says.

Left: A drawing of the dog door detail, inserted between the home’s threshold and window.
Right: The dog door, which is discreetly integrated into a low-trafficked side of the home.


Senior Project Manager Ari Engelman’s work on a three-story hillside structure (with a guest house on the third floor and garages on the middle and bottom levels) called for careful examination of the foundation, via concrete shop drawings. “Concrete layout/elevation shop drawings are not common in residential construction, but can be critical,” Ari explains. “Double-checking that the top of all the piles, grades beams and top of slab (T.O.S.) elevations were correct was imperative for this project… The same was true for the concrete foundation walls.”

Left: This snippet of the concrete shop drawing combined the work of structural drawings (by Soly Yamini & Associates) with markups by the concrete subcontractor (Donald Scheffler Construction).
Right: The concrete foundation partially completed during construction.

Ceiling Sashes

“Homeowners often ask us how to avoid dark hallways and bring more natural light into their home,” says Project Manager Jim Coyle. To address this common problem, the TBA team may propose ceiling sashes at stair halls and upstairs hallways – spaces that are otherwise apt to be dark. “The decorative ceiling sash allows us to channel natural light from the roof to spaces in the home that don’t have exterior walls. Instead of a plain skylight that is far above the space, a ceiling sash can be decorative, with a wood frame and translucent (sometimes leaded) glass that casts a warm, soft glow.”

From drawing to reality: the decorative ceiling sash atop the stair landing within our Craftsman Chalet project.“ To emphasize the inviting quality of sunlight, we’ll typically paint the shaft connecting the sash to the skylight a warm, buttery yellow that maximizes the effect,” notes Jim.


Interior Architect Roger Garcia was excited when a homeowner recently opted to have us design adjustable sawtooth cleated shelves within their kitchen. “I like when movable pieces involve no additional hardware, but rely solely on the architecture,” Roger says. This concept includes a series of notches on the cabinets’, allowing the homeowner to easily adjust shelves up or down to their preferred height. “This is a detail I think the homeowner will appreciate more and more as they grow into their space; especially since it’s not often seen in today’s construction,” explains Roger.

Left: This drawing depicts the hardware-free shelving design.
Right: Notice the sawtooth cleated shelving within this island found in one of Martha Stewart’s kitchens. Inspiration like this allows us to share concepts with our homeowners throughout the design process. Photo via, “Martha and the Art of Collecting Copper Cookware”.

Fireplace Screens

“My favorite TBA details are our custom fireplace screens,” says Project Manager Katie Peterson. “With cities requiring direct vent gas fireplaces with glass fronts, this added custom screen sits in front of the glass and creates a more inviting appearance that we often associate with wood-burning fireplaces. With the help of our metal fabricators, this screen can be designed to fit within any style of home.”

A variety of fireplace screens – each uniquely designed to fit the home’s aesthetic – from completed TBA projects. In collaboration with Reath Design.

These details give a space its texture and character. Our primary focus is always to ensure these aesthetics enhance the functions and reflect your lifestyle — so that a home grows with you, too. Interested in learning more about the phases of design? Check out our process.