Known as Foxglove Cottage, this former B & B was purchased by a young family hoping to save much of the building, both structurally and in exterior character. Confluence Construction was the general contractor on this magnificent project, where a tricky process of engineering ensued. The home was gutted, then redesigned by Becky Broeder with custom finishes & high end fixtures throughout. Each piece of lumber was hand selected at Heritage Timber by Becky and Bruce, the cabinet maker. Considering sensitivities to artificial light and allergens, this home was thoughtfully designed to maximize daylighting. Selection of healthy, mindful, regionally sourced materials prevailed, and locally made custom furnishings are being built to further fill the space. The result is a light, airy, customized environment that truly reflects the personalities of the homeowners & the architecture, and displays Becky’s texture-driven aesthetic.
I chose interior design as my passion and life work because I love to help people live happy, healthy, productive, peaceful lives. My education has drilled into me the importance of designing for health and safety, which is paramount to the decisions we make as designers every day. Taking this a step further, I believe in designing for mental health and safety. In our society, bombarded by negative stimuli and inundated with bad stuff, it’s imperative to our mental and physical health to find peace and quiet. The American Society of Interior Designers, ASID, states on their website that ‘in addition to designing environments that reduce stress, promote healing and are safe, trained and qualified interior designers need to apply their skills to create spaces that foster self-realization and unleash human potential.’ Personally, I think the best antidote to the noise of anger, greed, and narcissism is in training myself to think positive, loving, and helpful thoughts. I’ve been thinking a lot about the proven power of positivity and how I can apply that to my professional practice.
Much of my work is on residential projects, where I’m working very closely with clients to create sanctuaries that are comfortable, inspirational, restful, peaceful, and provide a healthy balance between solitary spaces to recharge and gathering spaces to stay connected with loved ones. Barbara L. Fredrickson wrote an article entitled Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Personal Resources, which scientifically asserts that people’s daily experiences of positive emotions compound over time to build a variety of consequential personal resources: increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms. The long term result was proven to be increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. So how can we adopt this practice and achieve these results in our own environments at home or work?
As a designer, it’s my job to get to know my clients well enough to anticipate and design for their needs. This involves designing for things they may not even know they need, but I know they will appreciate on a conscious AND subconscious level. The answers aren’t universal, they are very personal, but there are things that I know about humans in environments that can be applied to most people. Among universal design elements that feed our positive side are increased day lighting, getting outdoors daily, movement, and exploring & implementing that delicate balance between quite contemplation or mediation with social engagement or interaction. Finding a way to allow yourself to make these things a priority, then asking yourself what makes you feel your best you are important steps in being mindful about how your environment either aids or inhibits positive thinking.
I will be looking further into design elements that help aid in quality of life in coming posts. Thanks for reading and think positive!
The holidays are here and things are moving at breakneck speed on this charitable addition and remodel project, thanks to the hard work of JM Moran & Company Construction and the generous help from our subcontractors. Framing has all been done, aided by a crew of family friends that came up from Arizona who contributed more stylized accents including a groin vault in a hallway and other details. Anatoly Levchenko has roughed in all of the plumbing, generously working after hours. Alex at Anchor Electric spent several days laying out the lighting and switching plan we’ve thoughtfully arrived at. Windows and doors were installed, donated by Boyce Lumber. Matt from Fire and Ice is spray foaming insulation today and tomorrow, so we’ll be ready for that inspection in the next few days. We’ve come up with a fantastic kitchen design with appliances donated from Fred’s Appliance and with the help of ABC /FOX Montana, Kalee’s work family. Talented Logan at Boyce Lumber and I finalized the kitchen plan and cabinets are on order, also donated by Boyce. Tyler, from JM Moran & Company Construction and I are ordering interior doors and all door hardware today. Will and Chad, owners of Independent Roofing , are ready to put the roof and siding on shortly.
Here are a few pictures of the progress.
Future Kitchen, framed and renderings:
From the open concept hangout zone / kitchen area looking through to the bedrooms and bathroom:
And, exterior view:
I am still incredibly impressed with the generosity of the members of the Missoula building industry and I am so proud to be able to work alongside REALLY GOOD people who I am honored to consider my friends. This project has humbled me and also proven to me what community can accomplish. It’s been a lesson for me to keep running forward, make good decisions, and not get bogged down in details or perfect presentation drawings. It’s moving so fast because of compassion and love, and I’ve had to hustle to stay a step ahead with immediate decisions, for sure!
Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays.
“Black and white are absolute…expressing the most delicate vibration, the most profound tranquility, and unlimited profundity.” — Shiko Munakata.
Benjamin Moore color experts have deemed a white as the 2016 Color of the Year, OC-117 ‘Simply White’, to be exact. My younger self would be appalled, as I’ve always navigated in heavily saturated tones, but now, to my complete surprise, I’m undeniably drawn to whites, off-whites, and cream whites. What’s changed? Personally, I’d have to point to the presence of chaos in recent life events, more stressful obligations, and my absolute disdain for turmoil, aggrevation, and discord. I don’t like to argue, like I used to. I don’t like to live in clutter, like I used to. I don’t mind complete silence, which I used to avoid.
I’ve gone white.
Color psychologists argue that the color white evokes peacefulness and is reminiscent of goodness. It’s clean, quiet, and airy in interior environments and has been shown to aid in mental clarity. In my own practice, I’ve seen it used widely with clients that are embarking on a new beginning or significant life change after loss, sadness, chaos. In Chinese culture and Medieval Europe, white is the color of mourning, unlike black in Western culture.
And let’s not forget the significance of raising the white flag. Known as a universal sign of truce, I would argue that, for a multitude of horrific reasons, humanity may be craving more peace.
Thank goodness for the color of white. Bring it on.
As a person who thrives in nature and outdoors, I find a little irony that my greatest passion is creating interior environments. But it’s beginning to make sense to me. When I’m indoors, shades are up, doors are wide open if it’s not freezing outside, windows open sometimes even if it is freezing, plants and flowers surround me, and my dogs are always close. In my practice, my favorite and most used approach to the interiors I create for people is to intuitively interject natural elements everywhere I can. Whether it’s through natural finishes like real stone or organic cotton, or sneaking in day-lighting where possible, I love spaces that remind me, even if just subtly, of being outside. Turns out, I’m not alone and all these billions of dollars in studies are stating the obvious: What feels good to us- gardens, animal companionship, views, sunshine, are actually proving to be good for us. Duh. And it’s catching on in a massive fashion. Empirical evidence shows that even a brief experience with nature can elicit a restorative response in humans. Biophilic design is design of the built environment that reconnects us with nature and it’s been shown to be essential for providing people healthy environments that produce less stress and actually contribute greatly to the users’ health and well-being.
The term, ‘biophilia’ literally means, ‘love of life or living systems’. Unlike a ‘phobia’, which are aversions and fears that overtake people, ‘philias’ are attractions and positive feelings that people have toward habitats, organisms, and natural surroundings. As humans, we have an innate biological connection with nature. We are captivated by a crackling fire, sunrises, crashing waves, and for good reason. We can’t not love these things. But for decades, we’ve created sterile built environments doomed with interiors that are plain, toxic, devoid of any daylight, and causing us to die a slow, painful death both psychologically and physically. I’m thrilled that biophilic design is not merely a trend, instead, it’s going to be how we design built environments from here on out.
Next time you are in a commercial or hospitality environment and REALLY feel good, ask yourself why and try to pin it down. Every time I am having this experience I can unanimously point to natural elements whether it’s actual green things growing, daylight, natural materials. Then, next time you’re in an environment you are bummed out by and loathing, try to figure out why. Sometimes, it’s the colors of that environment, sure, but bad color comes from bad lighting a lot of the time. Bad lighting is not a part of biophilic design. Sadly, I’ve found myself going through this analysis often in medical settings- environments that should feel the best to us.
Here’s a great paper on biophilic design if you’d like to learn more: http://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/
Above is a kitchen I designed using many biophilic elements: maximized views; controlled day-lighting; natural materials in walnut cabinetry and flooring, travertine, granite, metals; plants and flowers; non-synthetic fabrics.
Thanks for reading! BB
One of the primary reasons I chose interior design to be my calling is my passion for designing spaces that improve lives. Good design lowers stress (decreased blood pressure), improves mental health (aids in fighting depression or PTSD), minimizes toxins that contribute to health issues (decreases risk for cancer), encourages movement (improved heart health), and enables people to stay in their homes as they age or suffer from a disability, among other good things. Healthy homes are an essential need in the human experience, no matter of socio-economic status or neighborhood.
Recently, I attended a forum in Boston discussing a partnership between ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) and the Clinton Global Initiative uniting to advance Health and Wellness by engaging 11 important partners in order to establish protocols for heath and wellness in design. Interior designers have always been able to tell you that a space feels good with arguments of scale, balance, proportion, etc. Now, as a result of these strong partnerships, new research is emerging daily supporting these claims with FACTS. As a true design nerd, I find this era in design to be extremely exciting. I love being able to support my design decisions with solid explanations. It’s a great time to be a designer, and an even better time to hire a qualified and knowledgeable designer.
Here are just a few design solutions to ponder:
- Increased daylighting in hospital settings has been found to greatly reduce healing time among patients as well as greatly reduce the burn-out rate among nurses.
- Eliminating high sensory objects and design details in an environment where the user or users have autism reawakens their ability to interact with society and discourages disconnection.
- The American Cancer Society released a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology stating that men who sat for six hours or more per day had an overall death rate that was nearly 20% higher than men who sat for three hours per day or less. Women who sat for more than six hours per day had a death rate that was almost 40% higher! And dedicated exercise showed no neutralizing effect. Designing corporate work environments that encourage mobility will lead to more productive, healthy, happier people who live much longer.
Here’s a link describing the ASID / CGI partnership along with the 11 organizations helping to create health and wellness protocols that will help us all in our built environments:
Here’s a close up of one of my often used wood artisans, based here in Western Montana and shot by Steven Begleiter, for a project we’re doing called Project People Made.
Kitchen cabinets are the heart of a well-designed and beautiful kitchen. Sure, they are viewed as a necessity in interior design, but when designing your future kitchen, it’s extremely important to consider how every detail will lay out to maximize your efficiency in the space and to maximize usage of the space architecturally. I am a firm believer in having kitchen cabinets made specifically for you and your needs in your space. A common misconception is that custom cabinetry is leaps and bounds more expensive that purchasing cabinets from an off-site manufacturing facility. That simply is not true in most cases and the extra minimal percentage of cost pales in comparison to the increased quality of the overall product.
Here are some of the benefits of choosing to have cabinets built locally:
1. Cheaper and Less Expensive are very different things. As Joe Jensen of Confluence Construction puts it, “Stock cabinets may be less expensive, but they are always cheaper”. Manufactured cabinets have nice looking door faces, can be glazed, weathered, you name it. But the reality is that the construction is not going to be great and they are not built to last. Here is a quick overview of the differences that make custom cabinetry a different animal:
|Custom Cabinetry||Stock Cabinetry|
|Joints||Dovetail, Dowel, or Mortise-and-Tenon||Glued, Nailed, or Screwed|
|Corner Braces||Wood Glue Blocks||Stapled Plastic Corners|
|Drawer Slides||Hidden Undermount||Side Slide Brackets|
Stock cabinet manufacturers do whatever they can to cut cost and keep production up, and quality suffers because of it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a kitchen full of new stock cabinets, opened the doors and snooped around the workings of a drawer, only to find myself disappointed. To me, the granddaughter of a wood worker, the difference is glaring: I see big disappointments to the end user down the road, especially given the amount of money spent on cabinets. THEY CAN AND SHOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER.
2. Everything You Need; Nothing You Don’t. With custom cabinets, you (and your designer 🙂 ) choose what you need and where. You can customize every detail at no extra cost because it’s all a part of the process. I’m nearly 6′ and would design my kitchen accordingly, with taller cabinets and taller work surfaces, making life not only more enjoyable but healthier in terms of ergonomic stresses. You can also select a unique cabinet and drawer layout, specific depths of drawers, widths and heights of shelves, details tailored specifically to your cooking, baking, and entertaining style.
3. You have the Ability to Locally Source Materials and Labor. Western Montana is home to some gorgeous wood species. Using local varieties is environmentally conscious and adds a unique local character to your project. Harvesting beetle kill timbers or using reclaimed lumber will also add an incredible look with a story to tell for generations. We are fortunate to have access to some AMAZING talent, as well. Employing local craftspeople gives a sense of pride. Plus, it’s important to know that you can pick up the phone to have service and answers before, during, and long after the completion of the project.
4. You Pick EXACTLY What You Want. Beginning a project that has no ceiling, design-wise, can be intimidating but incredibly liberating. With custom cabinetry, if you see something you like online or in a magazine, you can re-create that look. Hiring a designer during this phase will help in guiding you along the direction you would like to go, as well as help you in communicating your ideas and wishes to fabricators. Stock cabinet companies often claim hundreds of options, but my experience is that those options narrow down extremely fast, with only a couple suitable choices. Custom cabinetry will give you exactly the style and feel you’re after.
5. I Have Never Experience a Stock Building. Stock cabinets will always have hiccups when it comes to fitting cabinets built offsite into the actual site. Custom cabinets are built to fit, maximizing every single inch. Stock cabinet companies use fillers to accommodate discrepancies between the sizes they offer and the lengths of the spans available for cabinets. I’ve worked for a stock cabinet company for a short stint and was disheartened by the lack of flexibility when it came to layout. Fillers ran rampant! A custom woodworker will measure to the 1/32″ after the drywall is hung so that the products fit perfectly. This is especially crucial if you have a unique layout, an unconventional floor plan, or an older home with imperfections (Character!).
When embarking on a kitchen, bathroom, or master closet build or remodel, I encourage you to consider the above. If you’d like guidance in finding a talented craftsperson and / or designing your space, give a call and we’d be happy to make starting your project a lot easier.
I’m finally getting around to sharing images of the house on Fourth Street that we did for the Parade of Homes in Missoula. Contractor and friend, Joe Jensen, owner of Confluence Construction, and I have teamed up on quite a few projects, with outstanding outcomes. This was no exception. The homeowner has a great eye for color and wasn’t afraid to go for it. We took traditional and looked at it through a modern and whimsical lens. The personality of the home is pleasant, fun, functional, all while encouraging inhabitants and visitors to relax, have a deep conversation, have fun.
Kitchen: Unexpected, clean. Custom cabinets made locally.
Traditional Formal Sitting Room: Leaded glass from the original house (1907).
Formal Dining Room: Side Board and Floating Shelves made locally and co-designed by Becky Broeder.
Entryway: Unique, Show-stopper Chair Made Locally.
Master Bedroom: Original Bubble Glass looks out over interior staircase. Custom Draperies designed by Becky Broeder and fabricated locally.
Second Story Addition: Casual Hang Out Zone. Cabinetry made locally.
Bedroom / Office #2:
How cool is this? Bedroom #3 has a hidden door and built ins to die for!
Main Level Bathroom:
Exterior: Plaster. Beautiful!
Incredible Back Yard and Alley House with an Air-Conditioned Office and Large Garage:
I hadn’t posted in awhile and was searching to find an interior design topic that was rolling around in my brain that has to do with something other than my current projects. Then, it hit me: what’s on my mind are my projects!
I’m embarking on a large remodel of a beautiful horse property, just west of Missoula. The home was custom built over 20 years ago and it houses some incredible finishes. The owner is hoping to ultimately list the property for sale, so my challenge is to make this home stand out among other high-end residential listings in Western Montana while also making it appeal to a broad range of people searching for a place of this caliber.
I began by bringing one of my trusted General Contractors on: Jeremy Moran, of JM Construction. I carefully chose our team through a process of analyzing their level of expertise, but just as important, creating a team that will suit my client’s personality as well as the others’ on the design / build team. We’re in the beginning stages and have started the process of scheduling and assigning costs. Our plan is to move in two phases, doing a complete remodel of all that I have determined to be either too personal or specific to the homeowner, or considered outdated for today’s residential market. I’m designing a full chef’s kitchen, a feature co-designed by a local artist / cabinet maker I’ve had the pleasure to bring in the mix on a previous job. We’re off to a great start. I’m putting together the concept for the overall feel and aesthetic of the house based primarily on a couple of things: the mountain environment that surrounds the home and the elegance and formal nature of the home’s personality as it is now, but brought current and timeless.
Here’s a picture of the grandeur of the foyer. The structure of the entrance is spectacular:
It’s easy to see that the wood doors, trim, and beams will be my muse.
I will keep you posted with progress reports. Thanks for reading.