Every house has rooms that live as the center of excitement: the living room, with its vibrant fireplace and sweeping view. The master suite, with its sumptuous comfort and unique textures. Even the bathroom, with its endless possibilities for relaxation and revitalization. All of these fun, enjoyable spaces can soak up all gleams of glamour in redesign and renovation; creative instincts lend themselves to things based in desire rather than pragmatism. The same is true when rebuilding for sustainability: water-saving fixtures in the bathroom, solar heating for the bedroom, double-sealed windows for the living room. Amongst all of these places – unless you’re a chef, of course – the kitchen is forgotten until the cupboards are simply too heinous to be looked at anymore. But before that moment hits, the kitchen’s renovation lives as the frightening undertaking, the one too overwhelming to even consider unless absolutely necessary. To do so in the pursuit of environmentally-friendly living may seem even more exhausting. But with just a few adjustments, the true heart and gathering place of your home can become one that exists sustainably for years to come.
Appliances are generally first on any hit list for a kitchen. It’s the thing people dream about when house hunting, and it’s the thing least likely to compromise in a design. Naturally, sustainable design calls for appliances designed sustainably, but it can be far simpler than that. Consider the needs of your home in every sense: how much cooking do you do? How much space do you have? How much food do you really need for your family? Scale your appliances accordingly – there is no point in paying an electric bill to cool a refrigerator that’s always half empty, or one filled with food that’s partially forgotten until thrown away. From washing machines to dishwashers to fridges, most European homes have compact machines for this exact reason, while most homes in the United States buy machines designed at an unnecessary size. Using energy-efficient appliances can be brilliant, but they need to be used efficiently, too.
Custom cupboards always add an effortless elegance to any kitchen. Lines masterfully intended for your own space, finishes artfully created for your own taste; with such specific design, the room can’t help but become a thing of comforting beauty. Of course, there’s an additional pleasure in hiring local craftsmen: getting to experience their process, support their work, and engage in the community. But by simply sourcing local timber for your project, you can elevate a gorgeous design with wonderful execution to being a sustainable one.
Much like appliances can be energy efficient, but also just efficiently used less, the primary concept of sustainable design is finding ways to allow less to do more. One of the simplest is also one of the most satisfying kitchen aesthetics throughout history: reflective surfaces. Shining whites, sparkling stainless steel, glittering marble; their luxurious glows aren’t solely about appearance. They’re popular in kitchens for their clean lines and sun-soaked appearance, but like most things, they serve a dual purpose. Those shining, sparkling, glittering tendencies also allow less electricity to be used in lighting a space by accentuating its natural light – a trick your great-great-great grandparents likely used, and one well worth stealing when designing a lovely, eco-friendly home.
There’s reducing, there’s reusing, and of course – there’s recycling. But this isn’t just about plastic bottles. Some of the most divine materials in contemporary interior design are currently made from recycled goods from textiles to floorboards, countertops to faucets. If such literal recycling seems too much of an overhaul for the renovation you had in mind, a quick visit to your favorite local antique shop could reveal another kind of recycling in the form of fabulous fixtures and to-die-for details.
If the hope is simply to renovate your kitchen in a stunning fashion, that effort itself can be done sustainably. Rather than replacing everything, examine what can be refurbished, reshaped, and redone: in essence, what can be salvaged. The original structure of your kitchen might be a work of art, merely buried in poor glosses and bad paneling. Even its original features might have marvelous facets, with more character than any modern cabinet or kitchen island could hope to have – if only you have the patience to strip away that paint and oil those hinges.
Any renovation or construction is overwhelming, in any home. A renovation that involves putting the place that makes your food out of commission may feel impossible. But whether you’re renovating the ancestral home or building the one that will last for generations, the best way to preserve its potential from present to future is to give it a sustainable foundation and environmentally-friendly structure. While its pragmatic purpose may often leave it shuffled to the bottom of your design dreams, revitalizing your kitchen is an investment in the real center and showstopper of your house to create a home that will last for every one of all those years to come.
As the saying goes, good things take time. In November of 2014, a family approached us to design their lakeside vacation home from the ground up. They desired a home where the whole family could enjoy skiing in the winter, waterfront fun in the summer, and socializing with their neighborhood friends year-round. It was an exciting undertaking, but not without its challenges. Nearly a year was spent working with the town on demolition of the former house on the property and deciding on guidelines for the new house to be constructed. In November 2015, Cristina Marais began working with the client on an interior design plan, while Rob Carty and Tim Giguere finalized the overall design of the house. Finally, just a few weeks ago, it was move-in day! Read on to learn how this home, a long time in the making, finally came together as a beautiful retreat for the entire family.
This time of year in New England, patio season still feels lightyears away. But those chilly temperatures, snow, and mud present an opportunity to enjoy the great indoors with those you love. Does that sound more like a headache than a good time? With a luxurious home wet bar, it doesn’t have to be. An investment in a fully-loaded home bar helps you kick back, delights your guests, and makes that time indoors so much more enjoyable.
February often seems little more than a frustrating extension to winter, filled with nothing but slate skies and slushy streets – especially when it starts with such a Super Bowl high, only to have nowhere to go but down (except for the inches of snow). For some, Valentine’s Day and snow sports offer a willing escape, but for others the wait for spring is interminable. Unless, of course, those others are in Portsmouth. As always, this gem of the coast has plenty of exciting events and cozy retreats to fill its time, whatever the season or the weather.
Throughout our homes, each space can serve an endless variety of purposes. A living room is a place of comfort, of entertainment, of lazy Sunday mornings; a bathroom a place of rejuvenation, of contemplation, of preparation. The kitchen becomes a headquarters, the pantry a kid’s clubhouse, and the other way around. On the weekdays, one is an area of hectic rushes and piles of refuse – and on the weekends, sparkling to perfection for the best parties around. But there is one space that remains unchanging, timeless in purpose and quintessential in essence: the master suite. From the sprawls of Versailles to the stories of the Plaza, master suites serve as the foundation of a home’s inner life. It is where we start and end our day. Yet while their purpose may be unchanging, they are often forgotten in renovations, an afterthought to a house’s interior design; and a bit of change within that space may be all you need to redesign the experience of your day to day life.
Even during the most comfortable of times, the thought of redesigning your house can be exhausting. Renovations strike terror into the hearts of even the bravest of homeowners. Both terms are harbingers for dusty air and sleepless nights, hectic mornings and gritty floors. But nothing is more tiring and frightening than when either term is involved with a building’s structure. This fundamental foundation – from the very literal foundation through every wall and angle – of a structure seems insurmountable, epic in importance and unfathomable to change. Shifting any elements, of any size, feels ridiculously difficult at all times – but never more so than when the weather swings from freezing blizzards to muddy false springs. Yet these elements themselves are so often the shifts needed to bring new life to a home, beyond the rejuvenation of fresh throw pillows and a switch of the rugs. But instead of focusing on the scale of a change or the differences in the exterior, consider the multitude of small, manageable changes in interior architectural details that can be achieved long after the original build, regardless of how daunting the season may be.
During the first week of the new year, it’s always nice to sit back and reflect. For TMS Architects, 2016 meant exciting new projects and clients, tying up loose ends, and taking time to celebrate and explore. We’re so proud of our team for their hard work and accomplishments this past year, and we’re excited to see what 2017 brings. Read on to learn about our favorite highlights from the year that was.
by J Dennis Robinson
Portsmouth is unique. New Hampshire’s only seaport, soon to celebrate its 400th anniversary, blends charm and culture with vitality and commerce. In this series historian J.Dennis Robinson profiles people who influenced, honored, pictured, preserved, and promoted the historic architecture of “The Old Town by the Sea.”
There are some of us who spend all year looking forward to this time of the year: the sparkling snow, the holiday cheer, the scent of woodsmoke in the air and a glint of candlelight at the dinner table. For them, the weather is sometimes the best part, or at least an acceptable part of the deal; cozy nights, long days on the slopes, and plenty of comfy layers in between. But for even those heartiest of people, this season brings some things few embrace: winterizing and renovations. Be it dedication to the environment or dedication to your pocketbook, the unique challenge of heating throughout our New England winters is one that has defined us for generations. With a vast array of options from short-term to long, your winter can be spent focused on the wonderland instead of the thermostat.