We’re so proud of our own Alev Seymen for her contribution to this Jules Thomas design project. While working at Castanes Architects, Alev provided the drawings and managed the project through construction. The team also included Klaus Toth of Toth Construction, and the magnificent end result is featured on the cover and in a full color spread in the Fall 2015 issue of Luxe magazine.
This annual event is a “slam-style” presentation with fast-paced, mind-blowing talks about remarkable green building projects! Please join us for an evening celebrating ten exciting sustainable building projects here in the greater Seattle area.
B&V is proud to be an Earth Partner sponsor of the event, and we’ll be teaming up with Hammer & Hand to present our Ballard Locks Residence, which achieved a 4-Star Built Green rating earlier this year. For more information and to purchase tickets, click over to the event page.
We’re so excited to announce that Jeff has been named a finalist in the HGTV Fresh Faces of Design competition in not one, but two categories! To win, we need your votes every day (instructions below).
There are 12 categories with a handful of finalists in each. The public voting period starts today, and you can vote once a day until October 30th.
Check out his profile, or go directly to the voting page: Jeff is a finalist in the Design with a Passion category for his now-world-famous “Lego Lounge.” Click here to vote for Jeff in this category. He is also a finalist in the Posh Public Spaces category for Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe. Click here to vote for Jeff in this category. Voting is a little complicated; you have to click through a good portion the images of all the candidates for each category before it’ll let you vote. Once you see “I’m ready to vote” you can then vote for Jeff. Thank you ahead of time for your patience AND persistence!
Thanks for your support!
Hey There. How are all of you doing today? (Or Tonight?) Mmm-hmm? Good. Can I get you anything? A coffee? Tea? Glass of wine? Absolutely. No problem. Let’s hang out and get to know one another. See, that’s just the thing: I am the resident newbie here at Board & Vellum, and this is my official “Get To Know You” blog post. So, welcome. Come on in. Relax.
Alright, who am I? Well, pause for a sec. Here’s the thing. I’m more than happy to rock your socks off, but let’s get one thing straight first: this is a sweet team we’re brewing here at B&V – a savory mix of skill, experience, savvy, and – not least – fun. (Add salt to taste.) Luckily, this gal loves to play chef. So, what’s with this new ingredient we’re throwing into the B&V mix? First off: we don’t just bring on new folks here willy-nilly. We are a small, integrated crew of design teams, curated not only by the indefatigable Jeff Pelletier, but also by the teams themselves. So, by the time we invite someone to join, we already know they will be another excellent addition to the B&V signature recipe. So fear not, Dear Readers, we’ve all been vetted, or figuratively taste-tested, if you can tolerate my cooking metaphor just a moment longer. Alright, I’m done with it. Have a sip of that coffee-slash-wine and let’s get this party started.
I suppose we should cover the basic credentials first. I come to B&V with a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History & Visual Culture Studies from Whitman College. While at Whitman, I had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, studying Italian film, contemporary art, and taking studio classes in black & white photography. And, it was there, somewhere among the hours spent in the darkroom, and the many more spent exploring the nooks and crannies of a classic city, that I decided to pursue architecture. Of course, formal education aside, the real architectural education never really ends, it’s more of a lifestyle that just keeps evolving – the more you put into it, the better designer you become. Study hard. Never stop.
The Digital & The Physical
Not being one to make rash decisions, before I applied to architecture school, I wanted to test the dream a little. So, the summer after I graduated from Whitman, I tried out an architecture studio course at the University of Washington. From there, I cold-called an architect in Walla Walla, and scored a role as his intern. For the next couple of years, working one-on-one with him, I learned the trade on projects ranging from residential remodels, to an art gallery, and a new outpost for a winery.
More recently, after (official) architectural school, I formed Simrell+Scott with my partner in life and work, Blake Scott. Encompassing both digital and physical projects, we love to cross-pollinate our design work, shifting between thinking about spaces we experience through pixels on screens, and spaces we experience through our literal presence in them. Across disciplines, we are total nuts for awesome, considered, design. From “Big Picture” down to the tiny edges and corners, real design and attention to detail matter; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re the type that gets annoyed with sloppy design, come on over, you’re speaking our language.
Back to the narrative, before joining Board & Vellum, my most comprehensive solo architectural project to date was a complete residential remodel and addition that transformed a bare-bones, ’50s era house into home full of light and natural materials. When the owners approached us, they feared remodeling wouldn’t be able to solve the problems they had with the house. But through sketches and models, we showed them there was, in fact, a solution through considered design, and they green-lit the project with excitement. With the right budget and considered design, there is so much to be gained from even the trickiest of spaces. So, don’t shy away – a little architecture can work wonders.
On the digital side, besides Simrell+Scott’s own website, one of our recent web projects is a color-adaptive portfolio for a watercolor artist that lets the viewer play with the art in a manner uncommon in art portfolios, much more like they might experience a piece of art in their own home, moving it from a wall painted white to one of another color. More and more, the digital and physical worlds are melding, and I’m excited to be Board & Vellum’s new resident tech geek.
A Seattle Gal for a Seattle Firm
Though I was two years too early to be born a Seattleite, I was absolutely bred one. My (Seattle-born) younger brother disagrees, of course, but I’m this close to being a Seattle Native, and, if it weren’t for him, I’d probably just get away with saying that I am one. Either way, I have a ton of Seattle pride. After my years attending Evergreen then Bush (schools, not plants), I tried out the life in Walla Walla, then Portland, even Eugene for a few, but I just keep coming back to my hometown here in Seattle; I love this place.
Both wild and urban, the Pacific Northwest has shaped my life both philosophically and practically. When I think about the spaces we inhabit, whether to design a new space, or to refine an old one, my thoughts are always mediated by my experiences over years spent in our local environment. I am intimately familiar with our particular brand of damp. I know all about it getting dark at 4:00 PM in December. I know what you’re talking about when you reminisce about the Old REI, even that particular smell it had. I’ve spent some good times in the Kingdome, and, yes, I remember when parking (or driving) anywhere didn’t have to be such a big deal. I don’t remember a time before curb-side recycling, and I get frustrated when I travel to other cities and can’t find a decent latte, or awesome produce. My husband and I joke about what we call “The Pacific Northwest Bubble” – it’s so awesome here that you forget how rare it really is, until you leave the bubble. Seattle has spoiled me, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
So, perhaps you’re new to Seattle, as I am new to Board & Vellum. Do you love it, yet? How about your home? Let’s talk about Seattle living – we know a little something about it, and the team at Board & Vellum is here to help. Let’s design for Seattle. We always need a way to let in the winter light, and sometimes, we need storage space for kayaks. We need somewhere to leave the damp parkas, and we need a way to keep a house without AC cool during that one hot stretch in summer. How do you want to live? What are the eccentric details of your life? What brings you joy? What warms your heart? What blows your hair back? I may be the newest B&V’er, but I’m all about the Pacific Northwest life. Let’s chat. Let’s build your life. Drop us a line. And, just one more thing: Cheers. Thanks for sticking around. Here’s to the next new thing.
Last Sunday the B&V team pulled out all the stops and created a living room parking spot for the 2nd Annual 15th Avenue E Merchants Association Street Festival!
Our “booth,” complete with carpet tiles donated by Flor, lounge chairs and the credenza from our conference room, a big bowl of lego bricks, a midcentury-modern lamp on loan from Robert, and a coffee table from Jeff’s house, was an inviting and intriguing space offering attendees a comfortable seat to #AskAnArchitect your burning remodeling questions. It was all built on a foundation of OSB to level out the asphalt.
Throughout the afternoon our talented staff fielded questions and solved problems. We also hosted a scavenger hunt, encouraging attendees to visit a dozen or so local businesses in order to fill in the blanks on the clue sheet. Anyone who got all the answers right was entered into a drawing for a Gift Certificate for 8 hours of free architectural services. (Congratulations, Ramona!) Check out the beautiful hand drawn map of the street created by our own Jeff Sandler!
Several bands and individual musicians lent their talents to the festival atmosphere, and the sidewalks were crowded with balloons. It was a pretty successful event that will only get better with time.
If you want to learn about all the changes on the hill, check out Capitol Hill Seattle Blog’s recap of the event with even more pictures.
The cost of a kitchen remodel is all over the place these days, especially here in Seattle. Contractors are incredibly busy, often backlogged and it is hard to get on “the list”. If you dream of having the perfect kitchen with all the bells and whistles, you can easily spend $80,000 -$100,000. The housing market is hot and prices are soaring, so you need to look at how to get the most out of your remodel budget – as they say “the most bang for your buck”. The trick is knowing where to spend your money. You may be surprised to learn that we can design kitchens using Ikea cabinets, or other pre-fabricated cabinets, and once the doors and pulls are on, it looks like a full blown custom design.
Take this kitchen for example. Would you guess that this is an Ikea kitchen? We can save the clients a significant amount of their budget by specifying Ikea cabinets. For this project we added some custom walnut shelves to match the cabinets to help tie it all together. The clients provided vintage orange knobs and pulls as the inspiration and it really made everything pop. With the money that they saved by using stock cabinets rather than all custom cabinetry, they were able to buy high end appliances. They ended up with a fantastic kitchen!
I used to build custom cabinets and furniture when I lived in Colorado so believe me when I say that I love designing fully customized kitchens, but sometimes it’s just not feasible. When you think about the whole kitchen, just about 80% of it is hidden away. That’s how a company like Ikea can provide a cost effective solution. You can get a standard sized, well-built, inexpensive box that’s ready to install, and save on the labor it would take to build a full custom set of cabinets. Once you have the cabinet boxes in place, you have lots of options for doors, knobs, pulls, etc. and add your personal style. The important thing is to spend the bulk of your budget where it’s going to make an impact. And by mixing standard cabinets with custom features, it can save you a ton of money, without compromising on the overall design. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, but it is something to consider.
Hello everyone! I am beyond excited to join the team at Board & Vellum! What an amazing group of people to work with. I am only in my second week at B&V and I already feel at home. Ever since I was a young dude growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma I had a passion for drawing and designing things. I really had a lot of fun designing my own cars. I would get pretty detailed with some of them. I would even take into account what the stitching in the interior would look like and whether or not the steering wheel was wood or wrapped in leather. I also was a huge Lego fan…and still am!
I continued to have that drive for designing things. The summer after my Junior year of High School, I took a 5 week pre-college architecture program at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. I learned so much about architecture and art at Parsons. It really exposed me to the life of an architecture student, and I loved it. I also knew I wanted to be in a larger city that had great architecture. After graduating from high school, I continued my path to become an Architect and moved to Chicago for college. Chicago was the perfect city to learn about architecture. It is beautiful!
In May of 2013, I graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with a 5 year professional degree in Architecture. During my time at IIT, I learned even more about architecture and about myself. IIT taught me how to build and design a building from passion and skills. It was important for me to not just learn how to design a building, but to understand how the building was constructed.
I did learn a great deal at IIT, but where I really started to fully understand the architecture process was at my first job, Myefski Architects. I worked at Myefski for two years and then decided I needed a change and to get a new perspective on life and architecture. That change ended up being a move to Seattle!
People ask me how’s life living in Seattle so far and I reply “it’s like taking a breath of fresh air.” Seattle has a very good energy. It is very exciting. There’s so much opportunity here and it’s thriving. I have SO much to explore and I look forward to continuing my new adventure in Seattle and at Board & Vellum.
All of you here in Seattle have seen the towering cranes and the seemingly endless construction sites around this beautiful city. It is boomtown right now and consequently, things are busy! That means that scheduling out your project takes careful preparation to properly plan your life and ensure that things happen in a reasonable amount of time. I’ve written before about how long it takes to truly plan a remodel, but I wanted to go into more detail to illustrate what you should expect when thinking about remodeling your home.
I’ve built a generic project schedule for a typical remodel we see here; a second story addition to a house in Seattle. Assume that the lot is normal (no steep slopes or crazy wetlands…seriously watch for frogs – they can trip you up), that there is no General Contractor selected, and that it will require a full permit review. I’ve shown a contract signing date of September 1, 2015 so you can understand roughly when things happen after that. This assumes a pretty normal and not overly-aggressive schedule and should help you understand the different items in play.
First we’ll measure the house, then run through a general analysis (pre-design) of the site, and then dive into Schematic Design. If you want to know more about that process you can check out my recap here.
Once we complete Schematic we’ll use our Schematic Pricing set to get an update on where we are in terms of cost. We’ll tweak the scope, define the scope, and then move ahead selecting a General Contractor and clarifying the scope of work. Note that sometimes the “value engineering” portion can take much longer than the one week allotted here as it involves a long process of weighing the pros and cons of what you include in your remodel to meet your budget. Here’s some additional thoughts on finding that contractor.
Now we dive into the Permit set. Right now even calling for a permit intake appointment in Seattle can mean that you don’t get an appointment for 2 months (remember all those building cranes….yeah, they’re slowing things down at the City). There’s a lot that happens here, and even after we submit there will be corrections and some time spent processing that. This length of time is a big variable and it is best to leave a lot of slop here to plan for the unexpected.
After we submit for Permit we will actually dive into the Construction Documents to wrap up supplemental details needed by the Contractor. It is at this phase that we’ll typically finalize a lot of the interior finishes and details. Once we get the final permit corrections we’ll wrap them into this set and then issue the final set of construction documents.
When construction begins we are almost 9 months from the signing of the contract. Add another 6 months (that is a big variable depending on your scope of work as it could easily be 9 months or more) and you’re looking at least 15 months for your total project duration.
The other factor to consider, of course, is when your design team can start. We are divided into teams here with each team having different availability for their project load. Some teams are almost 6 months out at this point while others still have some availability in a few months. It changes weekly, of course, so being able to lock things in with our clients earlier on helps us plan ahead and feel confident with the schedule.
From my conversations with clients, there’s unfortunately a clear misunderstanding about how long this process takes (things don’t happen as quickly as you see on TV!). I hear easily 75% of the time when talking to someone about their project that they’d like to be done in no more than 12 months (often even 4 or 6 months). As you can see from the diagrams above, that timeline is very challenging or impossible for a project with full permit review. We’re always happy to walk you through options to expedite the schedule, but if you go into it knowing how long things should take if done properly you’ll be able to manage your expectations and come out with a better project. And, of course, when you work with us we’ll give you a tailored schedule to help you move forward.
Our first installment of Night School was a success! A dedicated group from B&V, along with a handful of outside guests kicked off the event. We ate, drank, watched a wonderful documentary (Citizen Architect), and enjoyed a critical discussion about the role of architects, pro-bono work, student workforce, and adhering to building code. This all proved to be an exciting beginning to something we plan to continue into the future and share with all of you.
The night was inspiring. The legacy of Sam Mockbee and the Rural Studio is one of commitment to community and the humble role of the architect in society. One of the most exciting points was that this educational model is producing innovations in cost-effective design and construction solutions. For instance, one of the major initiatives at the Rural Studio is the 20K house whereby students conceive of and work with families in the community to create houses which, including labor, cost only $20,000. This initiative is a direct response to the highest mortgage a person can receive on Social Security assistance alone.
In our discussion, we both praised and critiqued the model. Architects have a long and dark history of testing ideas on the disadvantaged and our group was careful to acknowledge this in our discussion. The work of the Rural Studio, as we discovered, breaks from this model by growing a relationship with the community and truly becoming a part of Hale County. We saw fit to compare this to other design-build learning initiatives in which some in attendance had participated, that were not as well integrated into the community. It helped the discussion that a number of people at our first evening had done design-build work in Vermont, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and China.
So will we continue this experiment of Night School? Absolutely! We were pleased with the conversation and open format of the night and look forward to putting on more Night School evenings. The format and topics have intentionally been left somewhat undefined. The hope is that as a result the event will grow and evolve over time and become shaped by the people in attendance and the developing conversation. If you happen to be able to make an evening, you will be helping to shape something that we are very excited about here at B&V. Look for our next evening of Night School in a couple of months. For now, I will leave you with a few links to tide you over until next time.
Local Lectures and Events:
Thought Provoking Blogs: