SLHL: What is your design style/philosophy?
David: I appreciate many different design styles, whether it is very classical architecture or very clean lined and modern. I believe in Louis Sullivan’s philosophy that “form follows function.” My thought for a home is can it be an escape from the hustle of the everyday world and be a place where you can truly relax and unwind. I have had many clients that had requirements for their home that required enough space to entertain 100 people or more but were afraid that their home would feel like a banquet center with cavernous spaces. After the projected was completed and they had several months to live in their new home, they often reach out to me and tell me they couldn’t believe that their home could accommodate their large parties and still feel cozy and intimate when it was just the immediate family using the spaces.
SLHL: Where is a place in St. Louis that inspires you?
David: I have always enjoyed the historic homes in the Forest Park area. The homes are grand, and the details are incredible. It has always amazed me how the craftsman of years ago could build so ornately without the use of modern machinery. My father is a retired cabinet builder and could work a piece of wood as if molding clay. He always told us “if you are going to do the job, then take your time, have some pride and do it right.” The pride and skill each craftsman put into their trade throughout the magnificent homes is what is inspiring.
SLHL: What is the first step you take in a project?
David: Initially I meet with the client and we just talk about the project. We discuss their goals for the project, what their “must haves” are as well as what is “needed” and a few things that would just be “cool to have.” We do not talk technically about how it will get done; I just take notes and ask questions. Listening to your client is paramount. Everyone says they listen to their client, but its more than just hearing the words they say; a lot of times, it is about hearing what they don’t say that makes all of the difference to a project. Then, after the meeting, I usually just think about it for a couple of days. During that time I start building ideas and solutions in my head, daydreaming. Once I have several different directions in which I could take the concept, I sit down and begin to sketch.
Pro Tip: Hire your architect and let them lead your project team. Architects are trained to do so much more than “draw your blueprints” and then step out of the picture. They bring much more value to the project. Be prepared to spend more time in the planning stages than your excitement level wants your brain to allow. Good planning equals faster build times once you do get started. Planning up front also keeps budgets in check.