Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Trip to the Big Apple

Recently, LDa was invited to tour the new Liaigre showroom in New York City with Jason Ryan, the CEO of Liaigre. The space was finished about a year ago to highlight their collection and showcase their overall design aesthetic in the studio. Two of our Interior Designers, John Day and Jayme Kennerknecht, headed to the Big Apple to check out the new space and scope out some pieces for a design project. 

When asked what his favorite part of the trip was, John said, “Meeting the CEO of Liaigre and hearing about the design and manufacturing process. They have some one-off pieces that are not yet available [to the public] in the showroom and use this opportunity to gauge designer response to the new designs.” Jayme mentioned that her favorite part was, “admiring the juxtaposition of materials in various pieces, in a very interesting way.” 

Check out some of their pictures from the showroom below:


After enjoying lunch with Jason Ryan and Liz Bates, the Showroom Manager, John and Jayme stopped by Holly Hunt, Richard Martin, and John Boone. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to check out these showrooms, as many only have spaces in New York City. Here are some photos from the other showrooms: 

Ralph Lauren:

John Boone: 

Richard Martin: 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer's Here! Pool House Design Tips & Ideas

With summer quickly approaching, figuring out the best ways to cool off is something that is on all of our minds. Some of our clients have asked us to design pools for them. With a pool however, comes towels, toys, and the need for more storage. The solution? A pool house! We polled our designers and here's what they had to say about things to consider when building a fun, yet functional space...
  • When choosing furniture, it is wise to utilize outdoor furniture. It is designed to dry quicker than regular furniture and tends to be more lighter, allowing you to rearrange according to your needs. Invest in multipurpose pieces like a big daybed, for lounging and napping out of the sun, and a large coffee table, great for meals on the patio or games by the pool.
  • Create a seamless transition from pool area to pool house by using glass doors, similar to the ones shown in the drawing below, as either sliding or folding doors. Also, with the influx of perennial insects during the summer months, it is important to take screens into consideration when planning the flow and accessibility of your pool house.

  • To help keep the interior of your pool house clean, install an outdoor shower to allow guests to rinse off before coming inside. 
  • Having a small kitchenette in the pool house will come in handy for food preparation. Also, a small fridge is great for storing refreshing drinks and snacks. 
  • It is important to reflect the aesthetic of the main house in the design of the pool house so the building is complimentary and not obtrusive. 
  • Landscaping is critical as well – you want to build the pool house relative to the pool & adjacent landscaping.  When installing a pool, homeowners typically install a fence to surround the pool area. With this in mind, it is important to consider whether or not the pool house will be in the enclosed fence area or outside, and how accessible the house will be.
When planning to install a pool in your backyard, be sure to refer to your local by-laws and ordinances for any rules and regulations that may exist in your hometown.

The pool house sketched above is coming along! Check out some of the progress photos below. Almost ready for some summer fun. Did somebody yell, "Cannonball"?

Here are some other pool houses we have designed in the past...

Split Oaks Farm

 Split Oaks Farm
 For more pictures from this project, click here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Which housing style is best for you?

LDa Principal Treff LaFleche was interviewed for a playful story on housing types that appeared in last week's Sunday Boston Globe -  illustrated by Polly Becker. Local architects were asked to contribute the pros and cons to five common home styles.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

USA TODAY 2014 Pet Guide

LDa Senior Associate and Interior Designer Jayme Kennerknecht was interviewed by USA TODAY about design choices for homes with pets for their 2014 Pet Guide. Great tips about pet-friendly fabrics and rugs!

The guide is available for purchase here!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Customizing Furniture with Wallpaper

As an alternative to painting or refinishing your existing furniture, or as a way to customize something new, wallpaper can offer an array of finishes, colors and patterns. We’re currently working with Piper Woodworking, who are finishing up three custom made pieces for one of our clients with custom wallpaper doors.

LDa Principal John Day chose “Sullivan Opalescence” by MDC to be applied to the doors of these custom designed and hand built dining room cabinets. The results are stunning, the paper has a raised pattern and a slight shimmer – a sophisticated contrast to the metallic gray painted finish and walnut legs. Beautiful work by the team at Piper!

(Apologies for the fuzzy photos - the camera was picking up dust in the shop!)

While our pieces were made by professionals, John offers some tips for those interested in replicating a similar look at home:
  • Try to select a commercial grade wall paper that will allow for wipe cleaning and will offer better abrasion resistance, true paper type wallpapers can be used if they are framed on the piece with a wood rail to protect the edges. 
  • Wallpaper can wear on the edges if the door or drawers bind when closing. For tight fits, we suggest not wrapping the wallpaper around the edges, trimming the paper flush. 
  • If possible, request a swatch of your selected wallpaper and test how it behaves when folded especially if you’re using a heavier paper. If the paper is not colored through, the white paper underneath may be exposed when folded. You can also test to see if the paper could be touched up – would paint, a marker or even nail polish hide any marks?
  • Consider leather or fabric wall covering if your furniture piece needs to be highly durable or is located in a low water area like a powder room. A coat of varnish will offer extra protection for more fragile wall coverings.
  • Choosing hardware with a back plate will help to prevent grime and oil transfer from fingers.
  • Use Photoshop, Gimp or other software to mock up the repeat – helpful when determining how much to order as well as the overall look. 
  • As far as adhesive, white glue (PVA - polyvinyl acetate) was used on the pieces we had made, and is readily available. If you have metal, plastic or other non-wood surfaces – specialized adhesives would be recommended.
Wallpaper is a great inexpensive way to add some punch to a new piece or to refresh something you already have!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Causes of Fading in Residential Design

We recently had a client express concern about potential fading of the finishes and furniture in their living and dining rooms – where we had designed a large wall of sliding glass doors to capture the dramatic waterfront view.  

We reached out the door manufacturer, Dynamic Architectural Windows & Doors, for assistance. They turned out to be quite a resource on the various causes of fading, and provided us with some helpful information:

Essentially there are 3 causes of fading:

1. Chemical - This type of fading has little to do with light or of windows at all; it has more to do with chemical reactions in materials over time. Chemical reactions that lead to fading can be influenced by many environmental factors, such as the type of coloring agent, the chemical environment of each coloring agent in the material, the ambient chemical environment of the material, and the temperature, humidity, and radiation environment.

2. Wear and tear - Wear can cause color to be removed from a surface and this can look much like

3. Solar radiation (light) - The sun's energy is made up of light we can see and light we cannot see. Ultraviolet radiation is invisible to the human eye and has the shortest wavelengths of the three types mentioned, from 300 to about 380 nm. Visible light covers the approximate range from 380 to 780nm, while the near infrared radiation (sometimes called invisible solar heat) has the longest wavelengths, from 780 to 4045 nm.

Fading of interior furnishings is often attributed to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun passing through windows on to interior surfaces. However, UV is not the only portion of the solar spectrum which can damage artwork or furnishings inside buildings.

It is important to understand that while ultraviolet light is the most damaging type of light with regard to fading, it is not responsible for all or even most of the fading that occurs as a result of direct sunlight. In the past, window manufacturer’s efforts to reduce or eliminate fading have been primarily focused on reducing the amount of UV light by adding a laminated glass layer in their sealed units. While this does reduce, and almost eliminate, the amount of UV coming through the glass, it does nothing for the visible and IR radiation that can cause much of fading.

The doors we specified for our project are impact resistant as required by building code for a coastal location. The glazed panels in the doors are built up from a combination of Sentry glass for impact plus high-performance low-e glass for our climate zone. The glass has a UV transmittance of zero and performs twice as well as regular glass at blocking fading. In addition, the living room and dining room are north-facing, meaning that fading will not be a major concern for this particular project.

Since applying any kind of film to the doors would void the manufacturer’s warranty, (heat build-up from the film inside the sealed units could lead to seal failure), the only other measure our clients could implement would be to block some portion of the visible light coming through the doors with widow treatments like solar shades or drapery. But since blocking the visible light would also block the spectacular views that are nearly the most important part of the rooms’ design, the clients were satisfied with the level of protection already provided by the doors’ glazing and the northward orientation.

In this instance our clients can breathe easier knowing their furnishings are relatively safe from fading, but it was a good reminder of the many considerations when designing or renovating a home.

Special thanks to Randy Ratch at Dynamic Architectural Windows & Doors for providing us with the information we needed!

Monday, November 25, 2013

All of that’s above my ceiling? A St. Bonaventure Project Update

Last spring, as the concrete floors for the St. Bonaventure church were being poured, I posted some photographs of all the components that were soon to be hidden within the monolithic floor. A lot of time and hard work has passed since then. At our last site meeting, as the drywall ceiling was flying up quicker than I could even photograph it, I was struck again by how much of our work is ultimately hidden in the final building.

The design goal for the interior of the church is a calm, bright and spiritual space. The final ceiling finish will be crisp white painted wall board activated by delicate painted steel trusses and lit with large, high windows. But before we get to that, all these components had to be designed, fabricated, delivered, erected, attached, sealed, and ultimately…. hidden.

The steel frame was erected in the early spring.

The SIP panel installation followed.  First with the wall panels.
Then onto the roof. 

With the installation of the panels, the rhythm of the windows and dormers became evident. As did the importance of the light provided by the dormers and the skylight.

All of the seams between the panels were taped to prevent air or water migration between the interior & exterior.  And a system of sprinkler pipes was routed around and through the steel structure.

A layer of drywall was added to the underside of the SIP panels to create a non-combustible space above the finished ceiling.  And wood blocking was added where needed.

Below the sprinklers, a suspended metal grid system was hung. And all the electrical wiring for the lights in the ceiling was installed.

Just this week, the ceiling board went up and the steel was painted.  The space was immediately brighter and calmer.

Again, the light from the dormers and skylight became the most prominent feature of the ceiling.  Part of the creation of this spiritual place.

~ Kimberly Barnett, LEED AP

Friday, November 8, 2013

BSA Ethics Committee: Upholding Human Rights: The AIA Code of Ethics, and Design of Certain Spaces Within Correctional Facilities

This past Wednesday, LDa Principal Peter Nobile (an elected member of the 3-member BSA Ethics Committee) facilitated a discussion titled “Upholding Human Rights: The AIA Code of Ethics, and Design of Certain Spaces within Correctional Facilities.”

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), represented by Soros Justice Fellow Raphael Sperry, are advocating that the AIA change rule 1.4 under Canon I (General Obligations) as follows:

Current AIA Ethics Code: Ethics Standard 1.4: Human Rights: Members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors.

Proposed Rule 1.402: Members shall not design spaces intended for execution or for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including prolonged solitary confinement.

The discussion centered on the following question: how specific do you think our Code of Ethics should be in terms of regulating professional conduct? The evening was an enlightening and engaging and honest exchange of views and ideas around Raphael’s advocacy position and panelists included Elizabeth Minnis AIA, deputy commissioner, Office of Planning, Design and Construction at the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Raphael Sperry, Soros Justice Fellow and president of ADPSR; Jeffrey J. Quick AIA, director, Division of Resource Management at the Department of Correction for the Commonweal; and Brad Walker AIA, principal at Ruhl Walker Architects.

The BSA Ethics Committee, which includes Elise Woodward, Principal at Shepley Bulfinch, and Jim Collins, President of Payette Architects, and LDa Principal Peter Nobile will be making a recommendation for action to the BSA Board for their January 2014 meeting.

Thank you to all who participated.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Budget-Friendly Home Automation

When designing a renovation or new home, we often work with technology consultants to integrate custom home automation and A/V systems into our projects for things like music, powered shades, security, television, home theater, lighting control and heating / cooling systems.

Often, many small to moderately sized homeowners would like to have a greater handle on the technology in their house, but don’t have the budget or the opportunity to add major new equipment, new wiring or a fully integrated system. We have compiled a list of some smaller independent systems and devices that are cost effective and provide many of the same features for smaller homes or condos. These systems have become far more user-friendly, reliable and affordable with the addition of smart phone and tablets as controllers, managed through app based systems.

They not only enhance enjoyment and ease of use in the house - no ugly cable boxes at the TV's, the ability to turn off lights from the driveway, turning up the heat from the airport, or remotely viewing the pool camera on your iPad - they also allow homeowners to monitor a home's energy performance.

Sonos Music - a wireless music system that allows music in many rooms and zones and allows streaming from your iPod or from the internet services such as Pandora, Sirius and iTunes. This is a plug and play system with a reasonable price tag.

Apple TV - a very cost effective way at $99 to get all the different online music, video streaming on your TV in one easy devise that also communicates with your itunes, photos and other content your computer or ipad.

Nest Thermostat - They are not only pretty to look at and simple to use, but they are inexpensive and offer a great way to save energy and get a strong return on the investment price of the thermostat unit. The Nest device learns your behavior and creates a program that responds to the way you live in the house. It can be programmed from your phone and can be one of the largest energy savers in a home, up to 50% of your energy bill is controlled by the thermostat. Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents are eligible for a $100 instant rebate. They’ve also just announced a smoke detector and carbon monoxide monitor as well!

WaterBug Alert- the smart system shuts down your whole house water when it detects a leak. Great for second homes, travelers and large households. The devices speak to each other when a leak is detected and will shut the water off, saving potential flooding, mold, and construction after damage.

Energy Meter - simple plug in devise that tracks energy usage at the outlet and allows you to see if you should turn off computers at night, replace the old fridge with a more energy efficient one, AC and washing machines and track savings on LED lights vs. CFL or incandescent.

Multi room light control - a simple system that allows smart phone control, programming, motion detection, lamp diming, outlet control and a host of scalable features that will save energy and add convenience.

Lutron battery shades - Lutron battery powered shades are a great automation add on that does not require wiring and other hard cost elements. They can help insulate at windows, block solar gain and can be timed to help add or reduce day light as needed to reduce dependency on lights. The batteries are 3 year long life and they have honey comb with light filtering, black out, and thermal versions among others.

Maestro vacancy switch - Works with your existing wiring and has a motion sensor that will turn off the lights when you leave for a period of time. Reliable RF connect radio technology switches that you can swap out with two standard switches at locations in your home where you would like turn the lights off remotely. Perhaps the front walk and the foyer or mudroom when you arrive or leave. A very simple and cost effective bit of control and energy savings.

Solar powered attic venting fan  - helps reduce heat load in the attic, turns on when necessary with a thermometer device and is self powered for easy install. Venting an attic helps reduce cooling loads and demand and extends the life of equipment in un-insulated attics.

Video monitoring - Great value and perfect for travelers, second home, baby monitoring, pools and hot tub monitoring, parents and business' - has night vision, two way audio and works with web monitoring or smart phone devices.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 LEED Project Showcase

A special thanks to the USGBC’s Massachusetts Chapter for the first inaugural “Massachusetts LEED Project Showcase” celebrating the many LEED certified buildings and the owners, architects, builders and collaborators who bring these green buildings to fruition. In total, there are 682 LEED certified buildings in Massachusetts, with 220 certified since January 2012 - of these LDa is proud to have contributed 13 certified projects, three since Jan 2012!  We are one of the top firms in Massachusetts helping clients achieve LEED for Homes certification, with projects ranging from large addition/renovations to ground-up new construction.  One of our most recently certified projects achieved a HERS rating below 30!

Hosted at Google’s regional office in Kendall square, this sold out event was a great opportunity to reconnect with our peers and design teams. Principal Peter Nobile and Associate Dean Hofelich were in attendance, and spent the evening exchanging views and ideas with some of the Boston area’s most enthusiastic ecologically-focused designers like Rick Ames of Next Phase Studios, engineers like Chris Schaffner of The Green Engineer, utility representatives like Mark Stafford of National Grid, suppliers like Sterritt Lumber, and client groups including Boston University and Google.

For more images from the event, visit USGBC's blog!