2020 should be a year Marty McFly is told to avoid as he climbs into his time traveling Delorean!  Always looking for silver linings, I’ve liked articles pointing to the huge progress that has followed major plagues throughout history. (um, why do we need major plagues to figure this stuff out?)  There is a buzz about new healthy and safe design ideas. But my real hope is that true equality, unity, and a reliable sense of wellbeing for all will spring out of this storm.

You now know more about your own resilience and priorities. And - you probably know all too well about your own home’s limitations. If you or someone you know feels ready to make changes, read “A Stress Test for Your House: 6 reasons why now is the time to plan a home construction project.”  We’re ready to help, so give us a call.

Be well, I’m looking forward to seeing you in person and I hope that’s soon!

One June 2, I returned to the office.  I’d felt pretty lucky to have family and two kittens make working from home seem like vacation. So when I reluctantly dragged myself with armloads of stuff up the creaky stairs in the Wright Tavern, I had no idea how great it would feel to be back.  Balance and compartmentalization restored. A spacious office where CDC guidelines are easy to follow, and the best part - being with terrific colleagues.  

Sam Segal, a Middlebury rising second year student, is an industrious intern when he isn’t working at his family’s Trailside Ice Cream Parlor ( I can’t wait to bike on the Bruce Freeman trail and stop for some ice cream in Chelmsford. Sam completes tasks in lightning speed.
Holly Kania, a graphic designer from Lincoln, shares our office space and adds a delightful vibe as well as some great design advice.  Find her website design company at  

Nashawtuc Architects across the hall has kindly shared resources as well as vendor “lunch and learn” presentations that keep our Continuing Education points coming in.

Huge thanks to remote consultants working steadily and clients who have been patient with zoom meetings. Rob Coolidge, AIA, a fellow Centerbrook Architects alum with a background in engineering and a degree from RISD, completed a beautiful set of construction documents for a barn and mudroom addition and cranked out 3D models like the framing one below.  

A Stress Test for Your House

Adapted from an article by Jeff Krieger, AIA and Siena May Heath

Six Reasons Why Now is the Time to Plan a Home Construction Project

1. Borrowing Money is at historic lows.
Unlike the housing crisis of 2008, when banks were foreclosing on properties and not making new loans, money is available. You can find rates for as little as 3%.
2. You have stress-tested your house.
Home is supposed to be a haven. But it’s showing stress, especially for families with school-age kids. It may not function as well as it could, given the additional demands of parents working from home, college students and even recent graduates at home. A better office setup or place for kids to work, that family room or extra bathroom might feel crucial now. Perhaps you’re contemplating bringing your parent(s) to live with you.
3. The building industry is facing a new normal.
We’ve been speaking with various contractors and there are two schools of thought. Either one favors homeowners who have a plan for their addition/renovation:

Basic economics haven’t changed significantly for people contemplating a major home improvement. A pent-up demand for housing remains, contractors have a backlog with the delays in issuing permits, people are waking up to a need for better space, so being “shovel-ready” is wise if you have a project in mind.

Our economic recovery will be slow and deliberate, homeowners may be more risk-averse financially, contractor availability will increase and construction costs will dip. In recent years it has been hard to get a quality contractor but this may not be the case by next spring. A homeowner with a plan could take advantage of lower prices.
4. We need economic activity.
The government is pouring money into the economy to keep people employed and businesses afloat. It’s not an exaggeration to say that preparing to renovate or build will help get your friends, neighbors, and community back to work.
5. You have more time than usual.
Right now, many people have more time to plan a home renovation/addition or new build. We can see the importance now more than ever of being prepared for what comes next.
6. The quarantine has become the great re-balancer.
A silver lining that many of you have mentioned is that you’ve restored some balance in your life. We’re questioning what we were doing before. It has become clearer that spending more time with loved ones is critically important, and home is our center. Everything has been magnified and crystalized.
We can help.
If this resonates with you or someone you know, reach out to us to set up a Clarity Call. We would love to talk with you about your particular situation and how we can help.

Iconic World Architecture

Japanese Tea House
(Chashitsu) "tea room"

Traditionally, a chashitsu is a free standing architectural structure used for Japanese tea ceremonies. They range in size and simplicity, with a minimum of two rooms: one for the practice of the tea ceremony and the other for preparing food served with the tea (usually small sweets, such as wagashi). 

Tea house interior

Larger and more intricate tea houses have a more sophisticated kitchen as well as bathrooms, changing rooms, and a waiting room for guests to be welcomed and leave their shoes. Tea houses may also have a surrounding garden, or roji, meaning “dewy ground,” where guests pass through harmonious arrangements of plants as they anticipate their arrival.

Ideas of simplicity and tranquility became essential during the 15th century and continue to be important values in modern Japanese culture. To provide relief from the constant wars and uprisings in the mid 15th century, zen monks introduced a form of meditation through drinking tea and achieving salvation through Buddhism. This ritual brought a sense of peace to many during this disorderly time.
Chashitsu architecture has clear, meaningful influences from Japanese culture and practical function. Both the architecture and interior design coincide with traditional Japanese aesthetics, known as “wabi-sabi,” the acceptance of transience and imperfection. This concept derives from the teachings of the three pillars of Buddhism: impermanence, suffering, and the absence of self. 

Characteristics include simplicity, asymmetry, roughness, modesty, intimacy, and the appreciation of natural objects and processes.

Modern use of wabi-sabi design