Building for the future

Building for the future.  When you hear that phrase, what do you think of?  Investments?  Adding that extra bedroom to prepare for a future child?  I've followed Mike Rowe and his mikeroweWORKS Foundation for quite some time, and recently the foundation teamed up with This Old House to raise money for the scholarships that the foundation offers.  Why?  Mike and Norm explain it here

For many of the same reasons we have talked for many years about all of the positives of apprenticeship programs of old.  Most of what I know about carpentry I learned by working, essentially as an apprentice, under my father and brother, and others that I've worked with.  

Would you or somebody you know be interested in an apprenticeship?  I'd love to talk!  There is much to learn, but if you're willing to work hard there is good work to be done.  There is not much that compares to the feeling of finishing something that you built with your own hands.  Especially if it is built well enough to last for generations.

I'm glad to be a part of building (literally) for the future.  And I hope that more people will join me.

On the boards...

We're in the process of putting together schematic design for a project that we're quite excited about!  More will be able to be revealed in the coming months, but for now....a perspective to enjoy...

Designing buildings within an existing neighborhood is always an enjoyable challenge, especially so when your client has the desire to create a backdrop and framework that fosters community and is fitting to its place.

Simplicity, Intentionality, and Architecture

The practice of building is one whose roots extend back to the very beginning when man required shelter from the elements. That practice developed over millennia, forming the many traditions we now see and experience the world over. In contemporary practice, buildings have become increasingly complicated—particularly following the advent of air-conditioning (see Dean Hawkes Environmental Tradition for a history on how air-conditioning shaped the design of modern buildings). The beloved villages of Europe and quaint town squares of our American cities and towns stand as a testament to the notion that this need not be the case. These historic places have, and continue to form the background for the childhood and adult memories of countless people. They have been adapted to serve the needs and lifestyles of the present day. Buildings used to be simple, albeit requiring the acquired skills of talented crafts people.



The simplicity of traditional forms and details often go hand-in-hand with time tested methods designed to weather the elements in an enduring way—be it an eave return elegantly designed to avoid water pooling inside a soffit, or a porch railing whose bottom rail is designed to prevent the spindels from rotting with continual exposure to snow and rain. Often our historic towns are filled with houses and buildings that use simple, informed technologies to address issues of weather and climate. These buildings are often definable shapes (an L, a square, a rectangle, etc). They were well informed by a tradition of knowledge which understands the properties of the materials used and how they weather. They were simple and informed, and consequently enduring.

San Gimignano Gateway
Eave Detail

As considerable investments for those wishing for a new home or business, the process of both design and construction should be well considered. Buildings are lasting cultural artifacts, capable of being handed down through generations. The rooms of our houses are where the memories of our families are formed. In a similar way to how a song can elicit memories of times past, daily memories of a place also speak to the lasting impressions our buildings leave us with. A simple sunset in a bedroom that looks out across a valley as a child can elicit strong memories for a grown adult years later. An afternoon breeze against the curtains of an open window in a kitchen may recall the sweet memories and smells of the rejuvenation of spring. A bakery shop whose wood shelves smell sweetly of the bread and pastries that for years have passed over their rails. Each of these aspects of daily life enrich and form the memories we hold of a place. They are simple elements, that when given deliberate thought, add value and meaning to a place.

Charleston Interior
Villa Farnese Interior
Giorgio Varsari's Loggia, Arrezzo

As designers, these memories shape and inform the work of Holverson Design. They are an inspiration to the work we do. What a great privilege to help provide the setting for other's lives. And what joy to include beauty as part of that vision.

Incremental Development -- Strong Towns

Small town development is a daily topic of discussion at Holverson Design.  Helping to create beautiful places that strengthen our towns is our passion.  Small, incremental developments.  It's all about taking baby steps.  Take a look at this short video that the people of put together and take a look at their website ( for more discussion on strengthening the places we love.

Tiny is great, but small may be better.

Tiny House Nation. Tiny House Builders. Tiny House Hunters. Those are just a few of the shows depicting the recent trend of tiny homebuilding.  There is a lot of wisdom behind the idea of simplifying you're life and purging of the extra 'needs'. As I mentioned in a past post (Yes, Your House is Too Big), we, as a culture, have become accustomed to extravagance and excess. Economic and social hardships have led many people to reconsider the 'American Dream' and explore an alternative lifestyle. For some, that alternative lifestyle is minimalism.  The Tiny house movement and minimalism go hand in hand, as at the center of both is the desire to eliminate excess and unnecessary items and space, clearing up their life to be able to live a more fulfilling, meaningful, and less distraction filled life.  Those are aspirations that we should all have. Which is why I admire those going that direction.

 'The Bantam House EX' - 1,250 SF.  Not tiny, but definitely small.  (click image for plans!)

'The Bantam House EX' - 1,250 SF.  Not tiny, but definitely small. (click image for plans!)

My mother is a dietician and has often said the phrase, "anything, in moderation." She has generally been referring to food, but there is a lot of wisdom in those three words that could well be applied to the rest of our lives as well. People seem to enjoy extremes (and I, as a general rule, cannot say that I am exempt from that), so it is not all that surprising that Tiny Houses have gotten a lot of coverage on TV shows, magazines, and blogs. But are Tiny houses the answer to our problems? What if you are a family of six (my wife and I have four kiddos)? We could all fit in a 170 square foot house on wheels, but have you ever spent a 3 degree day in the Midwest with a 6 month old, a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a 6 year old inside? It would be difficult to build a trailer that could contain the energy! What about 300 SF? Technically, yes, you could survive in a home that small with a family of 4 kids, but I'm not talking about survival only. We could survive in tents. If you really want to get to the bare minimum then you live in a tent and forego a permanent structure all together (illegally, of course).  The extremes are where we get ourselves in trouble.  We could all stand to do some purging, but when we latch on to the extremes we separate the camps too significantly.  What about going down to 1,500 square feet instead of the 3,000 square foot house?  That's a significant change and it's likely to be appealing for more people than moving into a 180 square foot trailer.  Big change is good (and necessary), but we may be missing an opportunity to provide an even greater impact by providing a middle ground and reaching more of the masses with the wisdom behind the mantra of moderation.


Have thoughts on living with less? I'd love to hear from you!  Comment below or shoot me an email.

CNU23 - Meeting the Demand for Walkable Places

 Dallas' West End

Dallas' West End

This past week I attended the CNUs annual conference which, this year, was held in Dallas.  It was a tremendously useful and inspiring few days.  Upon returning I was going to write a summary to share, but PlaceMakers did such a wonderful job that I thought it would be better to direct you to theirs!  [click here

Our cities and towns have seen a lot of changes in the past 100 years.  Some good, some bad. As always, we have the option to continue on and ignore past mistakes, or we can learn from them and make the changes necessary to our planning and legislative processes that will enable us to provide a framework that fosters community rather than breaking it down.  Those changes will require citizen engagement at all levels, but the happiest person is the engaged and invested person.

Come Meet Us!

Holverson Design will have a booth at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce 2015 Home & Business Expo next Friday and Saturday (April 10th & 11th).  Stop by, say hello, grab a business card, and discuss your next project!

The Holverson Design booth will be located at C5 (see the map above)

Current project: small, country home...

I've been fortunate to be able to work with some wonderful clients on some wonderful projects since founding Holverson Design.  We are currently finishing up design drawings and are working on construction documents for a small home (just over 1,000 square feet) and barn in Southern Wisconsin.  It's been a really enjoyable project and one that I'm excited to share images of when it is complete.  I'm including a sketch preview of the project with progress and completed project images to follow later this year!