In this special post, we interview the founder and design director of Boutique Home Plans. Enjoy!
How did you get into designing homes?
I’ve always had a passion for design and an appreciation for the process of bringing an idea to life on paper. I previously ran a consulting firm focused on construction coordination and worked with architects on a regular basis. During that time, I realized there was an opportunity for me to take my technical background in structural engineering and pair it with my creative side. It’s been incredibly rewarding to make the transition and bring it all together.
Have any cities, places, or historical periods inspired your architectural style?
It’s a tough question as I get my inspiration from a lot of different places. I personally love New England architecture - your simple, timeless Cape Cod cottage. It is a quintessential American style, and when paired with the right plot of land and appropriate landscaping, it truly shines. That said, if I had to go back in time, I would love to experience the fascinating decadence of the late 1800s and the Gilded Age. Architecture was at its peak due to unchecked spending and ambition, and as a result, we saw many elegant mansions built on the coast or in rural areas to mimic European palaces. Of course, these were the homes of the ultra-wealthy and they are truly over-the-top and not realistic for living, but that is what makes them fun to visit and admire. I like to think about how to incorporate a sense of luxury into a more practical house design.
How has becoming a father changed your view on what is important in a home designed for a family?
Becoming a father has changed a lot of things in my life and we have another baby on the way! We currently live in a row home that we’ve renovated from the ground up, and after running up and down three flights of stairs a million times a day to grab socks or a bottle, you really start to analyze the flow of the house. I spend a large amount of time thinking about the day-to-day activities that people go through in all stages of life. An inefficient house layout can lead to wasted time. How can we make it simpler and more convenient to navigate a house? We can remove walls, reduce long hallways, find the right balance between open concept living and necessary privacy. People are multifaceted - just because you are a parent doesn’t mean you aren’t also entertaining guests, working on hobbies, or looking for a sense of simple elegance in your house. I try to design through the lens of everyday life activities and go from there.
What’s one misconception people tend to have about building a house?
That it is inaccessible and a luxury. The reality is anyone can build their own house - whether that is with a stock plan they love or a fully custom design. The key is having a clear, realistic understanding of your budget, and knowing there will be some level of compromise along the way. We provide several tools to make the process easier and more transparent, like our in-depth cost-to-build calculator or our step-by-step construction toolkit, to break down some of the early perceived barriers of building a house.
What’s your top advice for someone starting the home building process?
This will sound biased, but spend a good amount of time on the design phase as it will save you headaches down the road and help you stay within your budget. It is easier and more affordable to make changes to your house in the design phase vs. when you are actually in construction. I’ve seen it time and time again, in both residential and commercial buildings… people want to make what seems like a simple change like a wider door frame for the hallway. While it is certainly possible to make this change during construction, it is immensely harder when you’ve already poured the foundation and built the initial framing. There are a lot of dependencies and coordination in construction that are not obvious at first glance, so you want to feel confident in your design and the materials you are going to hand off to your builder or general contractor. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for you to make changes to our stock plans, and when you feel ready, provide you with detailed design drawings and material take-off information to support an easier build process on the ground.
Most people building a home plan to live there for a long time. What are some things to consider when designing a house for long-term living?
Generally you want to think about mobility as your family ages in place, so less stairs, keeping hallways and doors wide for accessibility, and first-floor primary bedrooms. But there are a lot of small things to keep in mind, too. For example, consider the number of steps it takes to get in the front door. Even 2-3 steps up to the door could be a barrier down the road. Consider zero threshold transitions, and think about potentially leaving space for a ramp in the future. Planning for these future changes now during the design phase will keep your costs down and help avoid complex retrofitting. You may also want to add more space to your house as your family grows. If you are considering an addition or more space down the road, you can incorporate those plans into your design drawings now as part of a phased approach or build unfinished bonus spaces that can be built out in the future. I always advocate for bonus rooms as you don’t have to have all the answers today but the space is there for you when you need it.
What is your favorite house plan right now?
It’s a newer one, but I love the Pendle Hill. It’s a smaller plan with two bedrooms, and it has a separate large garage and a great outdoor space. I can easily imagine living in this house and enjoying the different spaces with my family.
Rapid Fire Questions
One story or two story house plan
City or Country
Glass half full or glass half empty
Loud neighbors or nosey neighbors
Mountains or Waterfront
Fully Custom or Stock Plan