Architecture Details Can Make All of the Difference

“God is in the details,” a quote famously attributed to Mies van der Rohe, means a layout’s idea must be thoroughly and always represented through the entire fabric of the design down to its smallest details.

I received a superb email the other day by a girl who had been occupying areas for interesting architecture. She had stumbled upon one of the houses designed by my architecture firm and wrote, “What I have mostly seen has been in the arena of ‘has potential,’ ‘a near miss’ or ‘completely missed chance.’ Until today.”

I believe the has-potential and near-miss houses are often due to poor detailing. I remember the first time, as a pupil in Michigan, I walked through a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Of course the house was impressive, but what struck me what I recall most — was that the consistency of the thought, how Wright taken his architectural thought (substances, rhythms, geometries) through to the smallest details. The house had integrity and depth, like a novel with wonderfully deep and meaningful characters. One may have a terrific idea for a story (has potential) but when written with bad character development, the story will drop flat (a near miss). A poorly detailed home is similar to a novel with shallow characters.

These five jobs help exemplify the importance and potential impact of architectural information.


1. This is a tremendously well-detailed house. Nothing about this endeavor, from top to bottom, is poorly considered. A number of substances come together with a symphonic result — that isn’t easy to do. A considerable amount of thought and work goes into a project to ensure it is clean and simple.

My favourite detail within this endeavor (which probably goes most unnoticed) may be the small recess where the outside wall and the roof link, creating a shadow line that highlights the floating nature of the roofing. Had the recess been too small or too big, or had the fascia been overly thick or too thin, this detail could have failed.


Horizontal lines emphasize the tide of the wall on precisely the exact same project — a potential near miss that instead hits the goal.

PLACE architect ltd..

2. Another well-detailed, well-thought-out project. Every detail, connection and material chosen furthers the overall idea, creating credibility and consistency.

The overhead door expands on the industrial semblance, as do the exposed steel trusses, woven steel fabric and metal.

Website lines architecture inc..

3. Material selection is key to appropriate detailing. The project shown here has beautifully chosen materials for its circumstance. The thin fascia, wooden beams and wooden columns are appropriately sized, and the links aren’t overdesigned.

Website lines architecture inc..

The interior of the exact same endeavor continues the detailing with exposed beams, linear windows and wood flooring.

Website lines architecture inc..

A well considered detail above the garage doors creates a rhythm, a lyricism.

The construction zone, ltd..

4. Sometimes a detail can be enlarged into something special.

From the Sonoran Desert, color is vitally important. A trellis offers shade and may be designed or detailed in a million ways. Here the trellis is comprehensive in such a manner that it becomes its own work of art without veering in the overall aesthetic thought of the house. Still authentic, still consistent.

The construction zone, ltd..

The parts of the trellis move in the breeze, making shifting shadows.

Spry Architecture

5. Much like the opening pages of a novel, this entrance sets the point, offering a hint, a foreshadowing of what is to come. The entrance is simple, nothing extraneous: a rusted metal column, beam and cover. Nothing is wrapped in stucco; there are no extra layers.

To the right is a speech marker: 16 ft of rusty metal bolted to an exposed concrete stem wall with 12-inch-tall water-cut numbers. The sunlight shines from beneath the speech marker, casting a shadow of the numbers streetside.

This small detail sets the stage for the house, which is modern, tidy, linear. The speech marker points to the total idea.

Spry Architecture

Finally, while detailing, one ought to think about the convergence of substances. Here we have sand-finished charcoal-gray stucco converging with stainless steel and decomposed granite, substances often utilized in the desert. Color and texture combine to paint a simple mosaic. Details finish the thought and meet the design’s guarantee.

A project that’s well thought out, in which every detail is carefully considered, will have an integrity that’s often lacking in architecture.

Tell us What are some of your favourite architectural details? Upload a photograph or share your thoughts below.

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Book Tour: 'Coastal Modern'

Sometimes coastal style brings to mind an explosion of seashells, driftwood, ship’s wheels, nautical and rope versions, with everything themed out in honour of the sea into the max. Not in interior designer to the stars Tim Clarke’s world. Through careful screening and a gorgeous comprehension of mixing textures and materials, he’s created a fresh, updated and contemporary approach to coastal fashion, which he’s sharing with the world in his new book, Coastal Modern. The styles are certainly not confined to beachfront fantasy homes.

Clarke has divided the book into five coastal contemporary styles: Scandia surf, beachfront Mediterranean, shore classic, inherited simplicity and indigenous forests. While each has its own distinct aesthetic, Clarke doesn’t believe in hard and fast rules when it comes to style. His advice for getting the coastal contemporary appearance: “Keep things simple. Use chunky linens in solid colours for upholstery; coating with vintage ticking stripe and large-scale faded print cushions,” he says. “Layer a natural woven carpet with a faded ethnic rug to define a seating area”

Whether you’ve got an ocean view or you’re landlocked in the Midwest, the book is full of gorgeous photography by Noah Webb and useful information from Clarke. This is only one of the most inspirational tomes to grace my coffee table in some time. It makes me dream of the shore and moves me to edit my house. Here’s a glimpse inside.

Penguin Random House, LLC

Scandia surf. This is what Clarke deems “the new Nordic style in the shore.” Drawing from Scandinavian contemporary style, it brings in a airy and light palette, highlights natural substances and celebrates clean lines, superior proportions and uncluttered spaces.

However, the appearance isn’t strictly minimalist. As you can see in this area, fun beach finds and artwork produce a pleasing composition on the wall, and even incorporate the above driftwood and kitschy miniature ship wheels.

Penguin Random House, LLC

Seaside Mediterranean. Clarke draws design inspiration from many countries along the Mediterranean Sea’s coastline, including Morocco, France, Spain, Greece and Italy. Elements such as mosaic tile, aged stone, taupey-gray wood finishes and plaster walls are part of this material palette.

This kitchen illustrates Clarke’s beachfront Mediterranean style with its pared-down aesthetic. It incorporates materials such as wealthy wood counters and limestone floors. Lattice panels include a subtle pattern that recalls North African Mediterranean fashion, while pieces of coral reefs are styled as if they came out of a French flea market.

Penguin Random House, LLC

Beach timeless. Clarke describes this quintessential relaxed and rambling New England shore “cottage” when defining this appearance, remembering the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. To keep matters livable and comfortable, Clarke urges avoiding having a lot of stuff. Rather, he advises, “simplify to fewer bigger pieces, arranged symmetrically to permit free movement”

Clarke updates the shore classic appearance whilst paying homage to its traditional ago, freshening things up with new (but casual) upholstery, utilizing organic materials such as canvas, sea glass and grass. While he’s attentive to edit, he’s certain to incorporate beloved items, from black and white photos to favored beach reads.

Penguin Random House, LLC

Inherited ease. This style incorporates classic, heirloomworthy pieces into their own sort of coastal style. The key is to use items that are classic; nicks, age and patina simply increase attractiveness. When these furnishings are somewhat more formal, casual arrangement and layering lends the style a relaxed beachy look.

This restful bedroom is a great illustration of how to attract the serenity of coastal style to any room, anywhere. Natural fiber textures along with a calming color palette drawn from sand and sky make this room a relaxing retreat. A weathered chandelier and an antiqued mirror add a sense of age and elegance.

Penguin Random House, LLC

Native forests. This fashion celebrates wild and woolly nature, and has a more rustic and groovy vibe. It recalls the aesthetic of Sea Ranch in California, the rocky coast of Maine and the heavily wooded shores of the Pacific Northwest.

As noticed in this comfy den, the appearance celebrates materials like stone and wood in large doses. It is the grooviest of the coastal contemporary styles.

Penguin Random House, LLC

Exotic inspiration. Component of native forests is appearing at coastal fashion from round the world. Rich forests, tropical plants and cultural prints collected together can make you feel like you’re halfway across the world even if you’re in your own backyard.

Twist your porch, deck, patio, lanai or gazebo into a coastal-feel retreat with a seaside color palette, organic fibers and tropical substances. This distance will become your beach-inspired home away from your home.

Penguin Random House, LLC

“I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. … It was on my first trip to Hawaii 15 years ago that I actually started to visualize my company involving the ocean in a real way,” says Clarke.

Actually, Hawaii is ongoing to inspire him today. I asked Clarke what his most recent inspiration is, and he explained, “I am in Hawaii, and I am loving the lava against cobalt blue ocean. … I believe I am going to do a whole blue and black room once I get home”

Penguin Random House, LLC

Coastal Modern is available in stores now.

Tour more design publications

So Your Design Is: Coastal

A Neutral Palette Pleases by the Sea

Shingle Style Meets SoHo on the Jersey Shore

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