2015 March 22

Farrow & Ball Latest & GreatestAs designers we are often asked whether paint or wallpaper is a better choice, and just like a lot of design questions, the answer is subjective.  Wallpaper has traditionally lent itself to more formal spaces and most of us associate it with our grandmother's parlor; however we have found wallpaper on all kinds of surfaces in recent design trends; from ceilings to closet linings.  As new Farrow & Ball stockists, we were introduced to paint on paper--Farrow & Ball wallpaper.  Their unique process of applying Farrow & Ball paint on FSC certified paper with traditional block and trough printing methods is stunning.  The depth of beauty this process creates is in the texture.  And happily, we can now answer the question, to paint or to wallpaper by saying, "both".  Each double roll of paper is made to order and complementary paint colors are recommended with each wallpaper design.  Wallpaper designs are launched approximately twice a year via the Latest and Greatest Collection.  This spring's Latest and Greatest as well as the full line of Farrow & Ball wallpaper is available for viewing, selection and order through the Drawing Room, our design showroom of original artisan work.  Stop in for a cup of tea today; if you don't like the papers, the paint is also available.  Contact us at info@anthif.com or 508-748-3494 for more information

2015 January 25

It's the time of year when things in New England start to feel a little bleak, especially when we are in the midst of a blizzard watch.  But now is the time to start planning for outdoor spring projects especially if you want to be enjoying them for summer.  The design process needs to run its course and most construction projects are too big of an investment to rush through....so, curl up with something warm and start brainstorming about a new outdoor space.  Here are some thoughts we can share with you to help you along.  Give us a call if you would some help with designing your new outdoor space.  In the meantime, check out some of the Follies we have available in our online shop through our collaboration with Sperry Fabric Architecture and stay safe through the storm.  


2015 January 18

We were fortunate to be invited to attend the first Merida Studio Mill Tour in Fall River, MA last week.  Accompanied by the Creative Director, Textile Designer, Business Development Associate and other designers from Southeastern Massachusetts we saw first hand how each of their wool rugs are made.  Yes, you read correctly, each wool rug is made in Massachusetts.  We learned the difference between a Jacquard and a Dobby loom.  We learned why being in Fall River is important to Merida; textile innovation returns to its roots. We learned that we can create a custom rug for our clients, one that is made with integrity and innovation.  We learned about sisals that are milled in Belgium and hand finished in Fall River.  We learned about their design process and the current expansion of their portfolio offerings. We couldn't be more excited to have their samples in our showroom to share with you and specify for your next project.  Contact us today, 508.748.3494, to learn more about the incredible wool rugs made in Fall River.


2014 June 19
2013 August 18

Bryan Randa, GlassglowerGlass has many architectural applications.  We have met artisans that work in this material, each with their unique process, as we strive to enhance our design work.  Blown, etched, reclaimed, painted and fused--glass has many faces.  The work of Bryan Randa is light and colorful; Bryan is a glassblower that is working on Cape Cod.  We met Bryan while we were preparing for the Southeastern Mass Artisan Expo [SEMAX]; his work is currently on display in the Drawing Room where we are anticipating the arrival of his glass blown pendant light fixtures. 

Deep and light carved, etched plate glass and mirror is the focus of Deborah Goldhaft's architectural glass work.  Deborah is a Rhode Island artisan and will be featured during our Meet the Glass Artisan event this weekend. Ed McAloon is an artist specializing in traditional leaded glass design, restoration, and construction.  His background in the architectural salvage informs his glass work.  He continually strives to enhance his techniques working with glass.  Ed is a Rhode Island artisan and will be featured in the Meet the Glass Artisan event this weekend along with Deborah Goldhaft. 

Kolman Artisan Glass creates architectural installations in decorative painted glass. Connie Kolman has developed a unique technique where she combines papers, foils, and paint to create stunning compositions on glass; we were fortunate to recently complete a design project utilizing Connie's decorative glass.  The full line of Kolman Artisan Glass, as well as the fine art line, is on display in our Drawing Room.  The art of fused glass can be seen in the work of Jeri Dantzig, an artisan from Martha's Vineyard.  Jeri's furniture, art and tableware add color and zest to any environment.

We find glass to be inspiring and are drawn to incorporate unique applications in this material into our work.

2013 August 5
Remodeling, decorating, and more ∨

Before starting a bathroom remodel, search for bathroom ideas and interesting products, including a one-of-a-kind tub, vanity and bathroom sink.
Work with a home decorator when choosing floor rugs or hanging new window shades in your home.
2013 February 7

Yes, we said it.  Construction is disruptive and we urge you not to believe anyone who tries to convince you otherwise.  It is loud, it is messy, and it is a far cry from your daily routine.  For this simple reason, one of the discussion items we cover with clients during the design process is how they will operate during the construction process.  Is a temporary rental available to them, and if so, at what cost?  Does the preliminary budget include a line item for such expenses?  What about storage of posessions you do not want damaged during construction?  Businesses, families, individuals--all need to operate during this process--better to think about  it while working through the design and plan ahead rather than waking up one morning to the sound of a sawzall.

2012 December 14

Building projects are defined by a variety of different regulations, some of which are changing.  One such example is the mapping updates completed by FEMA for flood zones in Plymouth County.  While some property owners may have already been contacted by their financial institution requiring them to purchase flood insurance, others may also be looking at new restrictions on construction within their flood zone.  Going into a project, it is important to start with good base information which will allow you to make educated decisions about your design options.  Utilizing the services of a registered land surveyor to obtain an elevation certificate is paramount when considering construction in or around a flood zone.

2012 November 17

Modern families have different compositions from traditional families but are often relegated to living in homes with traditional floor plans.  To address this issue, we have been working on variations of a house and a half--homes with floor plans that have built in flexibility to accommodate modern family composition from making room for Mom and/or Dad to unrelated housemates to the return of a son or daughter who is going through a transition.
A lot of consideration is given to mobility in a house and a half as well as consideration to areas with varying degrees of privacy.  Connections to the exterior are important, not only for mobility, but for added aesthetics.  Have you seen a good example of a house and a half?  Please share it with us.  Need some help with a house and a half?  Please contact us.

2011 December 8

A contingency is a dollar amount built into your budget to cover unexpected costs during the design and construction process and it is typically expressed as a percentage of your total construction cost.
While much work is done in advance to learn the facts about your project, the property, and the parameters by which your project can be designed and constructed, sometimes there are unexpected or unforeseen conditions that are only revealed during demolition or construction.  Some examples that we have encountered in previous projects include unacceptable soil materials, underground tanks or piping, structural damage, and insect damage.  At the onset of the project discussion, we recommend to all owners that they leave extra room in their budget to cover the cost of resolving such problems.  The amount of the construction contingency can vary due to the size, complexity, and known facts about the project; however, a reasonable construction contingency is between 5 and 10 percent of the total cost of construction.
When preparing your preliminary budget, it is prudent to also include a design contingency which would cover the cost of any changes you make to the design after construction has commenced.  Sometimes, a great idea comes along later in the process or a need may change–it is better to have anticipated such a cost in the preliminary budget than to have to pass on such a great idea or change of need or mind.
Please remember and understand that changes occuring after construction has commenced are often costlier because of scheduling and possible re-work by your builder and architect; however, in most cases you are doing this project once and you want to get it right and to your liking.
With thorough planning of your preliminary budget to include both a construction and design contingency, you will be more prepared to resolve the unknowns that can occur during the design and construction process.

2011 September 23

We have added a new page to our blog entitled, In the Works, where we  feature photographs of sample projects throughout the design and construction process.   It is important to remember that while planning ahead during the design process enables you to understand the outcome of your project, there are certain areas that may require revision during the construction as the demolition may uncover aspects that had not been foreseen.
Developing a good working relationship with your architect and builder will help you overcome these challenges.

2010 October 24

The utility company is notified, the demolition equipment and crew arrives, and within a day or two a building is transformed into a pile of debris and rubble, unrecognizable as the structure that was once occupied as a school, a store, or a home.  The decision to demolish a structure should be made after careful consideration of the variables that exist for each particular project.  If, after such consideration, you determine that demolition is necessary, there are alternative options to the conventional bulldozer approach that many of us have witnessed.
In New England, buildings are often moved.  There are a variety of variables that need to be considered when moving a building and contacting a professional building mover is the first step. Some of our past clients have advertised “a free building” in the local newspaper; in these cases, the cost of the building move is borne by the person acquiring the building.  Depending on the size of the building, this process can take the same amount of time as conventional demolition.
Deconstruction is the act of disassembling a building into its parts.  Non-profit organizations, such as Building Materials Resouce Center, exist to divert good quality building materials from landfills and help low income homeowners maintain their homes affordably.  Our experience on past projects with deconstruction has been positive.  The process does require additional time, but properly accounted for in the overall construction schedule, it does save you money on disposal fees and can earn you valuable tax deductions.
Once the building is deconstructed and the materials are stockpiled neatly on the job site, a pick up service is often available, where the materials are taken away for re-sale.  In the case of BMRC, listed above, the materials are sold at low prices to the public and considerable discounts to low- and moderate-income customers.  Back at the job site, a carcass of what was once a building remains after it has been deconstructed as not all the building materials can be re-used.
The demolition equipment now arrives on the site, but the pile of construction debris does not go directly to the local landfill.  Companies such as S&J Exco  haul the debris to processing facilities, which recycle the material into usable, pliable products for consumers–recycling as much of the used building materials as possible.
The demolition alternatives described here can also help your project attain LEED points if you are pursuing LEED certification from the US Green Building Council.
Considering these alternatives may save you money and at the same time, may help another individual in need and further reduce the amount of construction debris that is directed to our local landfills every year.

2010 October 1

Many stories exist about contentious relationships between architects & builders.  As stories, they can be extreme and would lead you to believe that all architects & builders behave in this manner or that if you work with one or the other you will end up in a contentious relationship.  This story is about how to avoid such contention.  Your project should benefit from working with both an architect & builder.  There are many capable professionals that can assist you in the process.  We are not suggesting that all disagreements will be eliminated during the design and construction process, but utilizing this common sense approach will get you through the process and you might have some fun along the way.
1. Select a Builder in a similar manner that you select an Architect.
Be methodical and ask questions.  It is an equally important selection and it will have a direct impact on your project and the process.
There is no right or wrong time to select a builder.  Some of our projects come to us with a builder and we utilize the builder’s input during the process to help our Clients with their decision making.  This approach is especially helpful with projects on tight construction budgets.  In other projects, the builder is selected after the final design drawings are complete.  This approach allows you to interview builders and request estimates at the same time while knowing that everyone is including the same information in their cost estimate.
2. Communicate your goals clearly.  
Whether you are speaking with your architect or your builder; be clear about what you are trying to achieve with your building project.  It is not reasonable to expect that a building project will heal a marriage, friendship, or company; it won’t.  It is reasonable to expect that a building project will provide you with the additional office/living space that you need when you tell your architect and your builder that you have outgrown your space.
3. Keep your goals and your construction budget in line.
It is important to remember that having ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’ may lead to disappointment and contention.  Be realistic about your goals and your construction budget.  This Budget Worksheet  is a good start and your architect or builder can help you complete it in advance.
4. Be prepared to make decisions.
Almost always, there is more than one way to achieve your goal.  When presented with a variety of options, ask questions.  If you need more information to make a decision, ask for it.  If you need more time to think about the options that have been presented, take it.  However, be sure to communicate that you need some time to decide which option you prefer.  Open communication and timely decisions expedite the design and construction process.
This process and your project may require a lot of your time, effort and resources, but properly managed it can result in a successful working relationship with an architect & a builder.

2010 August 16

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has approved a new commercial building code edition, the 8th Edition, effective August 6, 2010 which is based on the 2009 International Building Code. Projects currently in design can still utilize the 7th Edition for new building permits for approximately 6 months. During this ‘concurrency period’ project teams may choose to utilize either the 7th Edition or the new 8th Edition without mixing provisions. At the conclusion of the concurrency period the seventh edition is retired and the eighth edition becomes the sole code in effect.
According to the Board of Building Regulations & Standards, the eighth edition of the building code is different from previous Massachusetts editions in several aspects.

  • The eighth edition is comprised of the 2009 IBC and a set of specific Massachusetts amendments. Unlike previous editions, amendments are not incorporated into this version of the code, rather, they are provided as a separate amendment package. The manner in which the new code is published is similar to other New England states that adopt the international building and publish a set of specific amendments.
  • The eighth edition specifically recognizes the 2009 International Existing Building Code (IEBC) with separate Massachusetts amendments. Therefore, the 2009 IEBC replaces the unique Chapter 34 of earlier editions.
  • The eighth edition also recognizes other 2009 International Codes, including:
  • The International Energy Conservation Code,
  • The International Mechanical Code, and
  • Certain sections of The International Fire Code.

The new, eighth edition will soon be available at the Secretary of State’s Bookstore located in the State House @ the intersection of Beacon and Park Streets in Boston; across from the Boston Common. It will also be available on line @ http://www.sec.state.ma.us/spr/spridx.htm
No immediate action is required of Building Owners and Tenants due to these changes; however, Due Diligence, Strategic Real Estate Planning and Development, and Budgeting for existing and new buildings should acknowledge upcoming requirements.

2010 July 19

Selecting an architect is important to the outcome of your project. We recommend talking to several architects before you make a final selection. The selection process does not have to be very complicated–talk to colleagues, business partners, friends or family who have worked with architects in your geographic area or your specific industry. You are looking for at least three architects to determine who is the most qualified and/or the most appropriate for your project. If you don’t come up with three from within your own network, contact your local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. www.aia.org
Once you have identified three architects, learn more about them by visiting their website or talking to people who may have worked with them in the past. Contact the architects directly to determine if their skill set is appropriate for your project. If geography allows, schedule a time to meet with the architect in person. The location of the meeting can vary by project, but in most cases, we find that meeting at the project site is the most valuable to the process as it allows you to explain what you are trying to accomplish.
Explain your goals and ask the architect questions–ask about how they might approach your project and if they have worked on similar projects; ask to review samples of their work, either in photographs or through a tour (if the facilities are open to the public); ask about their professional credentials and whether or not the architect is licensed; ask about what services will be provided and how the architect is compensated. At some point during the meeting, typically at the conclusion, the architect will offer to prepare a proposal for you to review and approve. The proposal does not include design work; rather it is an outline of what, when, and how the architect will complete the work. This will be the basis of your agreeement with the architect if you select them.
Keep in mind, while you want to select the most qualified architect, you also want to select an architect with whom you are comfortable as you will be interacting frequently over the course of the design. Your architect serves as your advocate throughout your project; take the time to select an architect who will serve you properly.

2010 June 29

An architect listens to your concerns and serves as an advocate for you throughout your building project. The purpose of this blog, A Building Story, is to serve as a resource for individuals and organizations planning renovation, addition or new construction projects through the sharing of stories and experiences we encounter as architects. It is our hope that the blog will help to clarify the design and construction process for beginners; and for those who are more seasoned in the design and construction process, we hope you will contribute to the dialogue.

“The built & physical environment shapes our daily lives; let’s fill it with wonder.”

~Excerpt from Archit8 mission statement