These articles focus on the custom home design process. You’ll read about selecting the right building site, choosing an Architecture style, bath planning, and much more.

Empty-Nesters – Is it Still “Downsizing” if You Move to a Larger Home?

“Downsizing” is what an empty-nester couple does when the kids are grown and moved out, and the family home has become a house of mostly empty rooms.

It typically means moving to a smaller home, but that’s not always the case.

In fact, many of my empty-nester clients are “downsizing” to larger homes – sometimes much larger. It sounds counterintuitive – you don’t need as much space any more, why wouldn’t you want a smaller house?

Six Tips for Better Half Bath Planning

It’s usually the smallest room in the house – maybe that’s why half bathroom design never seems to enough attention to make the room it truly functional, and not just a pretty place to powder your nose.

And while a typical half bath might be no more than 25 square feet in area, it has more parts and pieces than most of the other rooms in your house. There are at least twelve different finishes you need to choose for a half bath including a faucet, countertop, cabinet, sink, toilet, mirror, towel bars, light fixture, trim, flooring, paint…you get the idea.

Which is why, on a per-square-foot basis, it’s one of the most expensive rooms in your home.

So before you spend all that money in that tiny space, here are a few tips to help you get the planning and design right.

Do You Need to Choose a Style Before You Design Your New Home?

When you begin working with your Architect, you might think you need to start by figuring out what style to choose for your new home.

That’s not a bad place to begin if you’re dead-set on a particular architectural style, or if you’re building in an area that requires it. Together you can discuss what you love about it, and figure out how to make that style fit your needs.

But choosing a style first isn’t always necessary. In some cases, it might actually might it more difficult to design the home you’ve been dreaming about.

How To Measure the Area of A House

One of the most confusing and misleading metrics in the home building and home selling business is area – the “size” of a house. The problem is that there’s no adopted standard – everyone measures it differently. There has been a move in the last few years to create a universal standard like the one architects use (specified in AIA contracts), but it isn’t mandatory, and isn’t yet widely used. There are more than a few ways to measure the area of a house.

Proper House Proportions: A Trick of the Trade

If you’re a house junkie like me, watching the home shows, reading the home magazines, and looking at houses wherever you go, then you’ve seen good houses and not so good houses. You’ve seen charming homes that seem perfectly settled; you’ve seen houses that seem “complete” – like there’s nothing you could do to make them any better. Those are often the ones with proper house proportions.

contemporary home office

Energy Efficient Home Design

If you’re not yet giving much thought to how much energy your new house is going to use, and how much it’s going to waste, then it’s time you started thinking about energy efficient home design.

It should be one of your top priorities – if for no other reason than your own pocketbook.

Energy used for heating and cooling homes is going to continue to get more expensive and as we’ve seen recently, world politics can quickly and dramatically affect your access to cheap energy.

The Difference Between “Symmetry” and “Balance” in Home Design

My clients occasionally ask me for symmetrical home designs. Sometimes that’s because they appreciate the elegance of symmetry, and sometimes it’s because symmetry is easier to understand.

Symmetry is found in all kinds of artistic composition, but so is asymmetry. What’s more important is balance – balance between the colors in a painting, the elements of architectural design, or the lines of a popular song.

I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to write a song, but I can’t help but notice some similarities between what I hear in music and what I see in architecture.

farmhouse family room

Sunbeam Family Farmhouse

If you’ve shopped for organically-grown produce at a farmer’s market in central Ohio, or dined at a local restaurant, you’ve likely tasted something delicious from the Sunbeam Family Farm. This 10-acre operation is a model of sustainable vegetable production and responsible land stewardship.

RTA Studio was asked to design the family’s home, on the site of a demolished home from a previous farming operation.