TMS Architects

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.”  

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There are countless intimidating elements to owning a home: renovations, upkeep, extensions. flooding, insulation, pipework. repainting, re-flooring, reupholstering. For every moment of comfort and excitement, there can be so many more of stress and endless planning. But there is a specially intimidating element, that comes especially just once a year: holiday guests. You love your home, and want everyone you love to love it as well. But beyond basic survival of the season, there’s the struggle of living your life this most hectic time of year, while also creating an environment in which your guests can enjoy the full experience of life within your home. The beautiful people you care for most can exemplify the best of the season’s merry spirit, with just a few planning tricks.

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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.

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There may be no word that strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners in quite the same way as this simple one: renovations. It brings to mind endless days of contractors tramping in and out of your house, strange problems that seem to grow unceasingly, and mystifying bills that breed themselves. Things that would never have been a thought before – how long can the kids do homework in the garage during this project? – become a daily focus in lives where days are already full. But renovations don’t have to be a spiraling, time-consuming era of stress when they can instead be an exciting time of possibility – even during this busiest time of the year. The thing most often forgotten when thinking about the word “renovations” is that “renovations” don’t have to be enormous, expensive, or time-consuming to make a massive impact on redesigning a space into new life. When it comes to innovative choices in beautiful spaces, the tiniest of details can make the most magnificent change.

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The concept of “cozy” might be most thought of in the chillier months, but the essence of that feeling is truly key to the interior of any home all year long, regardless of the temperature — because in many ways, that feeling of cozy is precisely what transforms an empty house into a beautifully fulfilling home.

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Summer may be coming to its end, but as all true New Englanders know, that only means the best of times spent in the great outdoors are just beginning. School may be in session and those September days tick away faster than seems possible, yet the temperatures remain warm, leaves remain green, and hours spent in nature remain so often the best of a day. Whether hot or cool, summer or winter, such experiences are priceless all year round – and even if school is back in session, that doesn’t mean the kids can’t enjoy the most wonderful aspects of the seasons. With a few twists and ideas, any outdoor space can become oriented to your youngest explorers, and kid-friendly can become family fun for all months and all ages.

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There is no time to truly enjoy the outdoors quite like the bittersweet end of summer. New England has known this for centuries, and that’s not likely to change soon: there’s a certain magic to that golden haze in the air and that hot breeze on the skin. There’s a certain magic knowing life can be taken a bit more slowly for just a brief respite, these few golden days of lolling and relaxing. There’s a certain magic to knowing the office will accept your lax schedule, and that the kids will entertain themselves outdoors while you unfurl with that long-awaited book on the porch. It’s a magic we dream of all summer, for most of our lives – and it’s the reason we build those gorgeous refuges by the water, soaking in the breeze, basking in the mountain glow. This part of summer is often where we love our summer best, with its beading sunlight and hazy, endless days, fully appreciating all that the outdoors have to offer. And if there’s one thing the outdoors provides best, it’s those eternal moments unifying today with all of those New England summers generations before us. TMS strives to ensure those very summers continue with environmentally friendly and conscious designs, continuously inspired by a time in which enjoying all our nature has to offer went hand in hand with taking care of that nature, in every beautiful outdoor setting.

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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.”  

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There may be little that most U.S. historians can agree upon. But if there is one thing, it’s that while this country of ours may so far have a brief history, it is one rich in detail and experience. While that may not be a surprising statement, the longevity of a cultural cornerstone within that short history – and its importance – might be: that of the country club. In our haste to become an independent nation, some habits are never quite forgotten and left behind; and some traditions flourish, much like ancient seeds brought to new soil. This country of ours might be just a few centuries old, but the first country club inspired by the empire we had just left was established within that first century – and in New England, have since become the epitome of luxury, the powerhouses of industry, and the utmost symbol of American potential and promise.

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Summer from the July 4th onward becomes a celebration and consideration of everything that makes America great, and of everything that makes such greatness stand so tall. Whether it’s the barbeques or the fireworks, the parades or the military bands, it’s never hard to find something patriotic during the summer — particularly in New England. But it isn’t the loud festivities that define a nation, or even its remarkable history. It’s the innovation those festivities raucously represent, and the history that influences us to this day. If there’s any element of the United States that exhibits a nation dedicated to ingenuity and prideful of past, it’s within our physical foundation: our architecture. And there’s no form more beloved and more copied the world over than that of the American waterfront summer home. While the original mountain, lake, and sea abodes may be beyond a century old in age and design, the influence of traditional summer homes over contemporary choices in any kind of space are a living piece of history as classic and unique as any monument.

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Chances are you spend more time in your bedroom than any other room in your house. It’s your place to rest and recharge, and your bedroom’s decor should support that. This especially applies to bedding. After all, you spend several hours a night in contact with it! So when a client approached us about custom bedding, our design team was committed to creating the ideal setting for relaxation.

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As summer creeps into New England, many of us are daydreaming about that picture perfect beach escape. An oceanfront home is the embodiment of luxury and relaxation, and we have the privilege to be working on a stunning one this summer. Though the project is still very much in progress, the shape it’s taken so far has us inspired for many summers to come. Take a look behind the scenes to get into that summer state of mind…

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Any beautiful home will have its most spectacular features. Those soaring ceilings in the living room, a spacious kitchen, that oak mantelpiece in the study, these sweeping bay windows. While many homes may have some lovely details, the truly splendid have that special spot where, just as you turn the corner down a hallway, someone’s piece of design inspiration leaves you breathless. Yet, that all-important piece is too often overlooked: the hall itself that brought you there. Seen as the perfunctory artery of any living home, the functionality of the hall relegates it to necessity instead of beauty. While without it, those other choices could not exist, transitional spaces remain a frustrating afterthought, needed but not glamorous; as if design exists only in large rooms, and doesn’t flow throughout a home. Considering that particularly as an entrance, this part of your home is the first you and your guests may see and connects every other element within it. A hall or foyer becomes not just a path from one room to the next, but the area that creates a gorgeous and complete home every step of the way.

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Any attempt to describe the work of Frank Lloyd Wright could easily fill an entire doctorate thesis, never mind a blog post. Any list of his accomplishments would take an afternoon to read, never mind fully comprehend. Yet any understanding of American architecture — and the history and future of architecture itself — owes itself to Wright’s work intrinsically, and bears his tenets instinctively. All of us at TMS are no different in this, particularly given his dedication to design that harmonizes humanity with nature, a fluid connection between the outdoors and in, and that a structure influences the lives of those who spend time within it. In celebrating the legacy of a man whose work spanned two centuries, nothing can be more apparent than the fact that it has guided the beginning of architecture in a third.

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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.”  

Read More

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As beautiful as they may be, not every garden needs to be as sweeping, lush and high maintenance as Versaille. They are not exclusively for the vast expanses and many landscapers of a Newport mansion. Nor are they only for the relaxing retiree of Cape Elizabeth, dedicating daily hours to temperamental plants and soil research. Gardens can be for absolutely anyone, and can serve a more fun and fulfilling purpose than pure aesthetic and priggish tea parties. Your home garden should be just that: a functional, wonderful, welcoming extension of your home.

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