Residential Design

VOL.3 2018

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Page 7 of 91

Telling Stories Salvaged wood, exposed brick, charred cypress, marble, weathering steel. What do these materials have in common? They constitute a common palette for today's modern custom houses, whether renovation or new construction. There are common threads that weave through them—an authenticity, a touch of history, and a special character they bring to the projects they grace. It's hard to know when something is a trend or a more durable shift in taste. Nonetheless, there's important information in every trend, and if you can distill it, you can tap its potential. What makes these and similar materials seem authentic is their solid, practical appearance and their ability to age handsomely over time. We live in a world of perfect objects these days, sleek cell phones and flat panel televisions. There's a hunger emerging for a little "grit" in our lives, as Dan Maginn, FAIA, of DRAW Architecture, calls it (see our story on page 11)—a careful measure of beautiful imperfection. To harness the full effect, that grit should be highly curated and injected with meaning and purpose. It should tell a story about the location, or the client, or the building—and per- haps all three. It demonstrates the effect of nature's influence over time, or what the Japanese call wabi-sabi. Nothing can or will stay perfect forever, and maybe it shouldn't. When we go looking for projects for this magazine, we're drawn to a "little bit of grit"— to the elements of imperfection that add character and maybe even a little quirkiness to a house. Here, imperfection doesn't mean sloppy execution but personal, custom choices that set the house apart from others. This is the real difference between production houses and well-designed custom homes. Production houses are designed and built to be generically appealing. Even if their designers apply salvaged wood or another wabi-sabi-infused material to the house, by definition it can't be personal, it isn't custom; and it lacks the backstory of history, location, and client that makes custom homes so resonant and meaningful. The houses we've picked for this issue are very different from each other, but they share similar backstories. They deviate substantially from typical programs for typical clients, if such things really exist (production builders have to presume they do). They all occupy spectacular sites—waterfront, pasture, desert—and that's part of their story, but their power comes from the highly personal vision of their unique clients given form and function by their architects and builders. Custom homes are stories that architects, builders, and clients write together. There's something deep and interesting from each of their lives that is woven into the narrative. Well-chosen, evocative materials give us clues to the tale we're being told; they're part of the dramatic arc, but they are not the end of the story. S. Claire Conroy Editor-in-Chief EDITOR'S NOTE

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