Our blog is a resource for anyone wondering how to approach their project, get a design question answered, or just get a peek inside the world of Board & Vellum. From how we collaborate with you on a project, to our approachable and practical thoughts on design, along with a sprinkling of other fun things we’re up to, use this blog as a resource to help your project move along.

Advice for Young Architects
Arts & Culture
Ask an Architect
Commercial Office
Custom Residential
Events
Firm Culture
Going Green
Historic Preservation
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Multi-Family Residential
News
Other Tangents
Retail
Seattle Design Community
Third Places
 
Retail

How Your Neighborhood Can Inform the Design of Your Commercial Space

Neighborhood and community context is important to the success of a retail — or other commercial — space. Here’s how being site-specific can be beneficial to your commercial project and help you make the impact you need to win and retain customers.

Read more.
Custom Residential

What to Think About When Designing a Cabin

When designing a cabin, what should you think about? What happens behind-the-scenes during the design process that results in a cabin that simply “feels right”? Read on for a bit of a peek at what guides us when collaborating with clients on a cabin project.

Read more.
Multi-Family Residential

Are Condos in Seattle Coming Back?

It’s no secret that Seattle has an affordable housing problem — and the lack of condos on the market is one (of many) contributing factors. So, why are there so few condo buildings in Seattle? Read on for some backstory about how we got here, and, hopefully, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Read more.
Interior Design

Our (Current) Favorite Kitchen Details

This time around on our “B&V Designer Spotlight” series, we asked our interior design team to share their (current) favorite details for kitchens. So, from lighting to cabinets, with a bit about ideas for materials and finishes, read on to learn what’s exciting the team these days.

Read more.
Custom Residential

Bold & Colorful Exterior Paint for Your Craftsman House

Thinking about painting your house? Considering going with something other than a neutral shade? There are a ton of great colors out there for you to choose from, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about different families of colors you might choose.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

What’s Blooming Now: Spring Comes to Pacific Northwest Forests

Spring in Pacific Northwest forests brings new growth, lush in the damp, misty woods. Among the seemingly endless shades green, there are also a few lovely, subtle blossoms to enjoy. Learn about three of our favorites, found during a walk in the woods: Pacific dogwood, trumpet honeysuckle, and false lily of the valley.

Read more.
Multi-Family Residential

Why Lobbies in Multifamily Buildings Are Worth It

Do you remember the so-so lobbies you’ve passed through? Probably not. But do you have pleasant memories of the ones where you really spent some time? Of course! Great lobbies make a big impression. When they are well-designed, they impact our lives in ways that stick with us — the backdrop for important moments in our lives.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential

Why Custom Construction Details are Worth It

When you find yourself in a space that really feels amazing, take a moment and study how the details come together. These custom details take time and skill to produce, typically done during the construction documents phase, and the details are what take a project to the next level.

Read more.
Advice for Young Architects

Advice for Starting a Design Firm

Starting a design firm isn’t easy. It takes a lot of luck, it can exciting, but also stressful. You’ll need to take some calculated risks. It worked out at B&V, and we’ve grown to about 40 people in 8 years. Here are some tips learned along the journey of starting a design firm.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential

Should You Remodel, or Tear Down Your House and Build New?

So, your house isn’t meeting your needs. How do you decide what to do? Should you remodel or tear it down and build your dream house? Or, should you leave the house alone and move instead? Here are six areas you need to consider to help you make this complicated and delicate decision.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential, Interior Design

Do I Need to Permit My Remodel?

More than likely, if you’re remodeling a home in the Seattle area and wondering if you need a permit, the answer is, “Yes.” The real question is, “What type of permit do you need?” Of course, we can help you figure that out, but here’s a quick preview to get you started.

Read more.
Interior Design

Why Should You Have a Foyer in Your Home?

It seems like foyers are disappearing from the floor plans of newer homes. We know people think they want to use that square footage elsewhere, but we feel strongly that you should have a foyer in your house, even a tiny one. Here’s a little about why, from each of our designers on our interiors team.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential

Enclosing Your Patio: Is It Feasible?

Is your patio feeling a little neglected? Have you day-dreamed about enclosing your patio? Sometimes, it’s the perfect solution and relatively simple to pull off; but, other times, depending on your context, it can be quite a bit more complicated. Here‘s what you need to keep in mind so you can make the right call.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

What’s Blooming Now: April Showers Bring May Flowers

After the spring rains, who doesn’t love some May flowers? There are plenty of them out there heralding the growing season, and here we’ll highlight some of our favorites: Magnolia, Sweet Olive, and Fairy Wings. Learn not only to recognize them, but what they like, and if they’d be a good fit for your yard.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Commercial Office, Retail

When Should I Hire an Architect for My Tenant Improvement?

Commercial clients sometimes think they need a signed lease before hiring an architect, but it’s much better to bring an architect on before you sign that lease, locking you into a space that might not meet your business's needs as well as you hope it will. Read on for more about how we can help.

Read more.
Going Green, Landscape Architecture

Planting for Bees: Sustainable & Bee-utiful Landscapes

In honor of Earth Day, let’s talk about a crucial part of our global ecosystem that needs our help: bees. How can you help? Lots of ways! Read on for a few to get you started, including how you can support bees in your garden, or even from a tiny balcony.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

Landscape Details in an Urban Yard

Just like interior spaces, beautiful details are what help exterior spaces shine. To help illustrate, this post is a narrated tour of a project near and dear to us — just imagine it as if you are over for a summer party, and getting your first tour of this urban yard.

Read more.
Custom Residential, Interior Design

Clever Ways to Increase the Storage Space in Your Home

Not everyone can Marie Kondo all their extra stuff away — sometimes, you just need a little extra storage space, and we don’t mean you should go rent a storage unit. Here are ten ways to maximize the space you already have in your home to find additional (or previously under-utilized) space for storage.

Read more.
Interior Design

How To Feng Shui Your Bedroom

We spend a third of our lives asleep in our bedrooms, and that time is incredibly important to our health and wellbeing. To make sure you are getting the most out of your bedroom, here are some Feng Shui practices you can implement to improve the energy in your bedroom.

Read more.
Firm Culture

Introducing, Christina!

It‘s time to meet a new B&V’er: Christina Sanchez! Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Christina caught the travel bug young: first traveling the US with her family, then abroad on her own. Beyond the sheer delight of it, her travels also inform her desire to harness architecture as a catalyst for positive change in the world.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential, Interior Design

Reducing Stress with Good Design

Reducing stress with good design is a thing, we promise. Even if you can’t put your finger on it, sloppy design causes stress. But well-designed spaces make you feel good, often without you realizing. Our goal as architects and designers, is to create those spaces that you love to be in, stress free.

Read more.
Interior Design

Our Current Favorite Lighting Fixtures

Are you daydreaming about new light fixtures? You will be soon! We asked our team of interior designers what light fixtures they are currently swooning over. Check out each their responses in this post for some great designers, studios, and manufacturers out there who are making some beautiful fixtures you’ll love to see.

Read more.
Commercial Office, Interior Design, Retail

How To Create a Residential Feel in a Commercial Space

Are you hoping for a residential feel — that "homey" comfort — in your commercial space? You aren’t alone! Spaces that capture that homey feeling draw people in, and can help people feel more comfortable and relaxed in your establishment. How do you pull it off? Here are our top ten design elements to make it happen.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

What’s Blooming Now: Early Spring Flowers

It’s definitely starting to feel like spring, even if we know there’s more rain around the corner. Early spring flowers are emerging, marking the start of the beautiful seasonal change, leaving winter behind. Read on to learn about three of our favorite early-blooming powerhouses: cornelian cherry, manzanita, and crocus.

Read more.
Custom Residential, Going Green

Approachable, Sustainable Ideas to Save Money in Your Home

People assume that green building, or using sustainable practices, will cost them more money. But, while some upfront costs may be higher, often, the long-term costs are lower. Here are five approachable and sustainable ideas you can explore to help make your home healthier for you and your family while being better for the environment.

Read more.
Ask an Architect

Do Architects Advocate for the Client or for the Architect?

Does an architect or designer advocate for your interests or for theirs? We believe your design team should advocate for you. That doesn't mean just being a "yes man" — it means working with you to design the best path forward. Here are a few areas we can especially help by being your advocate.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

How Much Does It Cost to Redo the Landscape at My House?

Estimating the budget for redoing your yard doesn’t have to be just a finger in the air, and a simple cost-per-square-foot estimate won't quite get you there, either. We recommend using your home’s value as a starting point. Here is a quick guide for what you can hope to build at different budget levels.

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential

Can You Convert Your Attic to Living Space?

Just because it seems like there is enough space in your attic to be converted into a finished room, doesn’t mean it’s actually a good idea to try it. Most of the time, it turns out to be unfeasible, and here are the four main reasons why we usually don’t see these projects move forward.

Read more.
Firm Culture

Introducing, Taylor!

Say hello to Taylor, a landscape architect joining our team at Board & Vellum. Taylor has a deep curiosity for the environment and its complex systems, both natural and social. When he is not in the office, he is likely exploring in the mountains or people-watching at the park.

Read more.
Interior Design, Landscape Architecture

Seven Reasons You Should Add House Plants to Your Interior Design

House plants can be a great improvement to an interior space — here are seven reasons why you'll benefit from including them as part of the interior design of your space, and it's not just for aesthetics.

Read more.
Interior Design, Retail, Third Places

Ten Design Elements to Consider for Your Third Place

Always dreamed of quitting your 9-5 job and opening your own coffee shop? Or perhaps looking to spruce up your existing quaint café? Look no further! Here are ten key design elements you won't want to forget, taking your Third Place’s design to the next level and encourage your clientele to linger.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

What’s Blooming Now: Contrasting Winter Colors

In winter landscapes, there are certainly fewer blooms, but fortunately, even dormant plants can offer visual interest. Contrasting winter colors in the landscape often come from other elements of the plant, such as the bark. These three plants are some of the ones we’ve enjoyed seeing shining through the snowy weather.

Read more.
Going Green, Interior Design

Selecting Sustainable Materials: Your Go-To Guide

Of course, materials play a large role in interior design, and their impact on the sustainability of a project cannot be ignored. So, how do you select sustainable materials that live up to your requirements? Here is a quick guide for what to look for, including material makeup, material source, manufacturing processes, and third-party certifications.

Read more.
Ask an Architect

How Do Architects Work with Out-Of-Town Clients?

Do you have to hire an architect or designer in the same geographic area as your project? No. But, that being said, there some crucial things to know and consider if you go this route. Here are answers to common questions we get about working with out-of-town clients or non-local design teams.

Read more.
Commercial Office, Custom Residential, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Multi-Family Residential, Retail

Virtual Reality for Architecture: Experience Your Space Before You Build It

Can you visualize a space from floor plans as if you were in it yourself? Don’t worry, most people can’t, and that sometimes makes it hard to communicate design ideas. Virtual reality can help with that — we can spin up a VR model so you can experience it as close to real as it gets.

Read more.
Arts & Culture, Events

Work by Jon-Eric Schafer in the “By Others” Gallery at Board & Vellum

We have a brand new show at Board & Vellum’s By Others gallery: ceramic sculpture and watercolors by Jon-Eric Schafer. Join us for the opening at the Capitol Hill Art Walk, February 14th, 6-9 PM. For a teaser, read our Q&A with him to learn a little about his work.

Read more.
Interior Design

What Happens at a Feng Shui Consultation Session?

Are you interested in Feng Shui but don’t know where to begin? We now offer Feng Shui consultations at Board & Vellum, either stand-alone, or in coordination with a larger project. Here are the five components that make up a Feng Shui consultation, so you can go in with eyes wide open.

Read more.
Interior Design

How To Live Big in a Small Space

Do you live in a small space? (Or, do you have small spaces in your larger home?) There are all sorts of things you can do to maximize small spaces, to help them “live larger” so-to-speak, so you don’t feel cramped. Here are seven tips to keep in mind.

Read more.
Retail

Design Your Retail Space for Selfies (Yes, Really.)

Maintaining a small retail business is really hard — you need great marketing, and to get your space in front of a lot of eyes. We say, design your retail space for selfies! If your shop or restaurant looks unique and interesting, your visitors will help market it for you. Here’s how to get started with design.

Read more.
Landscape Architecture

What’s Blooming Now: Sights & Scents of Midwinter

Is winter all just chilly, dark, and gloomy? Well, maybe if you don’t know where to look, or where to sniff. Don’t fret, there are some lovely — often overlooked — sights and scents to enjoy in the midwinter landscape, and we’ll explore some of our favorites here: Witch Hazel, Daphne, and Sarcococca (or Sweet Box).

Read more.
Ask an Architect, Custom Residential, Interior Design

Ten Tips For Designing a Great Small Bathroom

Judging from the number of sub-par small bathrooms out there leaving you wanting more, it must be hard for some people to design them! It's true, it is tricky to design a great small bathroom, but it is completely doable. Here are ten tips to help you design one that feels just right.

Read more.
Interior Design

Feng Shui: A Brief History

How old is the practice of Feng Shui? Was it practiced only in China? How has it evolved over the centuries? If you’re wondering these things, and more, read on! Bonus: We also tell you what type of Feng Shui consultation we offer at Board & Vellum.

Read more.

Or, if chronology isn’t your thing…

Here are a couple of our (current) favorite posts. Of course, it’s hard to choose, so feel free to poke around; we hope to have a little something for everyone. And, if you have a burning question you’d like us to cover in a future post, please let us know!

Ask an Architect

Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

When you are interviewing architects, interior designers, or landscape architects for your project, how do you know what to ask? A good personality fit makes any project better, but don't leave it with that – come to the table prepared with these important questions to help you ensure you find the architect you're searching for!

Ask an Architect, Landscape Architecture

Questions to Ask a Landscape Architect or Site Design Team in an Interview

When you are looking into hiring a landscape architect or a site design team, even if you’ve been through the process before, make sure you ask these important ten questions. From design process, to fee structure, to timeline, and more, we lay it out for you so you can jump into your project well-informed.

Considering a project? Or, just curious about something?

Send us your questions about design, architecture, interiors, landscape, third places, LEGO rooms… Anything, really. We’re always eager to meet new people, and we’d love to get to know you, your project, and your goals.

Get in touch.
Seattle Business Magazine Best Companies to Work For 2018: Board & Vellum

In the Top 10 for small business for the 3rd year in a row!

Best of Houzz 2019: Design & Service – Board & Vellum

Recognized for “Design” & “Service” for the 6th year!

LEED Certified in White

Our team includes LEED-accredited professionals.

Certified Passive House Consultant in White

Principal Jeff Pelletier is Passive House certified.

PSBJ’s Top 25 LGBTQ-Owned Businesses 2016 in White

Honoring companies that lead in promoting equality.

Board & Vellum on PSBJ's WA's Best Workplaces List for 4th Year!

Ranked for the 4th year in a row as a great place to work!