Rosen Residence by THERE design

  • Tom

    There were a number of features (visible from the photos) that I did not like. It’s a small open space and I think the owner would have been wiser to stick to one type of flooring throughout – tile, perhaps with area rugs to add warmth in both the living and sleeping areas. I also didn’t like the transition from kitchen to bedroom – a storage unit that sits half on tile and half on hardwood – makes it look like the placement of the unit was an afterthought. And finally, the height line of the cabinetry and appliances along the back wall looks awkward – the glass fronted cabinet, fridge and storage unit are all at different heights, with a combination of brick and ceramic backsplash on display – it’s very distracting.

  • Brad W

    I really like that the backsplash stops short of the ceiling. The upper cabinets overlap the backsplash and float off the brick wall. The floating effect is repeated by having the islands supported on stainless legs. This adds interest and texture to the kitchen.

    I think that the owner and architect have really achieved a nice space here and prove that good design is accessible.

  • John Brown

    Here is a special treat.

    I was fortunate enough to have a brief conversation with the owner of this project a couple of days ago while he was waiting to get on an airplane. He took a few minutes to answer the following questions on his blackberry.

    1. How did you work with your architect?
    After an initial two hour paid consultation session, I asked the architect (Katy Flammia of There Design, Boston) to work with me through a concept development phase. This was defined as a set period during which we would work together to design a set of initial drawings that could be used for construction with a contractor. Understanding there is a fine line between a small and large job we designed a fixed fee, fixed time limit project that had a defined set of objectives: 4 pages with suggestions for color, lighting and layout. The set period was 2-3 weeks.

    2. What value/benefit did it bring to the project?
    The work with the architect set the foundation for a successful project. The firm was able to translate my ideas and concepts and combine them with experience and expertise to deliver a project that I could not have done myself. Without them I would have most likely ended up with a more run of the mill “home depot” design which is generic and without style. With the firm we developed a piece of art together which is unique, well thought out, comfortable, and has resale value.

    There were many times I wish I had the budget for an architect throughout the project as insight into critical decisions later in the project would have been helpful. But throughout I was doing my best to build and create in a way that honored the design foundation.

    3. Would you use an architect again?
    For sure I would use an architect again. You need the design knowledge. Builders build but that does not mean they design. Even if the infrastructure was perfect in a place I would still use an architect to help me finish and perfect it.

    I enjoy the creative process. It was fascinating to work with an architect to challenge me to see what was not there. I knew from the moment I saw her work I wanted her to work with her. I did not take no for an answer. When she first saw the place I had knocked down all the walls and wires were dangling from the ceiling. Literally she walked into a construction zone. But I told her I had to live in it first torn down to get a feel of what it could be.

    I asked her to help me get the ideas out of my head, to push me and help me make this place into something it can be. I told her I needed her and she was the only person I considered. I asked her to design a proposal that economically worked for her. And they rest is history. Along with a good contractor I got a place I love to come home to and all people who worked on the house remain good friends to this day.

    It was rewarding on many fronts.

    Thanks to SR for taking the time to share his personal experiences with us all. It brings an extra dimension to the drawings.

  • Louis Pereira

    John – Thanks for sharing this information!

    What I gathered from reading this was that the client is passionate and unwavering , had a good relationship with a thoughtful and skilled designer / architect and a dedicated builder. All critical to the success of the project, even by moderate means.

  • Paul C

    A few observations. I agree, the backsplash detail is quite good. I wonder though if the thickness of it, which is effective in creating a subtle object in the space, may also have been a result of having to accommodate the new electrical requirements along the masonry wall. Having to deal with that reality of the electrical and then creating something of it, is thoughtful design. Also, I like how the one cabinet/island is left open underneath. It helps to maintain the open feel by having the flooring continue underneath. Subtle detail but very effective.

    And lastly I wonder, during the concept development, how many discussions there may have been regarding the orientation of the tiled full height partition nearest the bedroom space. It would seem rotating it 90 degrees would also help to define the spaces and provide and end to the counter.

    I really enjoy viewing small spaces that are well thought out. Thanks for sharing.

  • Val


    I was delighted to learn about you and this website from The Globe last Saturday. I’m not a designer or architect but have long been interested in both – not from a “Canadian House and Home” sort of perspective, but rather from a cultural “A Pattern Language” perspective. Light, flow, utility and size – these interest me – especially tiny homes, like those The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company design.

    Thanks for this interesting exercise of the day. I have to agree with Tom on some issues. I, too, was distracted by the height of the wall cabinets in relation to the brick wall. Further, I found the tiled wall ‘separating’ kitchen and bedroom an eyesore. I think I would have turned it, with tile on the kitchen side and plaster on the other, so that a photo or art piece might be placed there. Or have a smallish round or square hole cut in it, which might hold a vase or candle. Needless to say, this wall might work in reality but looks odd to me in the photo.

    All the best.

  • Robert T

    Some interesting elements in a small space. I also think rotating that wall 90 degrees at the end of the kitchen may provide a bit more separation between kitchen and bedroom.

    It looked to me from the photo that the pillar wall and cabinet arrangement was not built per the plan. The plan shows the base cabinets kind of wrapping that wall while the photo seems to show the wall standing on its own, separated from the base cabinet. If it were built per the plan, I think the mass of the base cabinet would have provided a better separation between the spaces even with the wall in its present orientation.

  • John Brown

    The treat gets better!

    Steve, the owner of this project,has very generously offered to answer any questions you all might have about the project.

    He will be checking on this comment section through the day so ask away.

  • Corbin

    A very wonderful space, the beautiful backsplash seemingly “floating” over the rich brick wall was the first thing that caught my eye. I could see it as being both beautiful and practical by hiding the electrical and anchoring the wall cabinet. The kitchen has a great layout, I like how the bedroom closet overlaps onto the Kitchen flooring, it seems to unify the two spaces, I could even see it as being a pantry that steals some space from the bedroom.I agree with the positioning of the full-height closets over that section if the brick wall because the bed works best in the more private area behind the bathroom.

    I love the fact that it was done on a budget, consulting with an architect even just for a couple hours is a brilliant idea. I am now inspired to seek an architect once I obtain my first property later this year, Perhaps I can seek your insight John!

  • Rhonda

    I have a question for Steve.

    First of all, thank you for telling us about your home and for participating in the discussion. This is a great addition to an already great slow home site.

    My question is, was the designer involved at all during construction? If a question came up did you answer it or did she? Did the designer talk at all to the contractor during construction?

    Thanks. Like Corbin said, your project is an inspiration to all of us who love design but don’t have a lot of money to spend.

  • Steve

    Dear All

    First, hi from Luxembourg! It is an honor to be considered for this site.

    To answer a couple of questions:
    - My involvement with the architect was mostly during the first three weeks. After that I as left to interpret the designs with contractor. This is not to say that she was not helpful later on but rather the intensity of contact was at the beginning.
    - So if there were design flaws after they were of my doing. I did a surprise reveal with her four months after construction.
    - This was a complete gut jump to the studs except the floor in the front room.
    - Recently I shifted the bed against the back wall and added paintings and a custom divider to better separate the kitchen and bedroom.
    - I have plenty of could have should have would have mokentsvv

    Please keep the questions coming if I can be helpful.



  • Brad W


    Some have commented on the small wall in the kitchen – was it a fixed object or was it added as part of the design?

    Doing the project again, what would you change and why?

    As you know, I think you have done a great job with your space and thanks for participating in the discussion.

  • James Scott

    What a treat to have Steve jump in and provide incite into his personal project. I’m positive that you and John are really breaking down barriers for home owners craving to take the next step. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Steve


    Small wall. Any guesses?

    It is not structural but houses the power cable from the main line. We learned that I shares the cable with my neighbor downstairs. I have my own meter but I was not able to move the cable flush with the side walls to eliminate the mini wall.

    1. We built the mini wall knowing we were going to eventually put some thing there which I just did.

    2. But the key was getting light into a dark kitchen.

    3 things to do again
    - have the architect (Katy) for throughtout the project. I had to make tough decisions along the way.
    - designed a different duct that would of allowed for different moveable wall options for separation. We put the duct there because the hvac was in the middle in the back. But then we moved it to the corner after the design.
    - had the large cabinets not overlap into the kitchen. But again when we moved the hvac we had put push the other things up. The cabinets also house washer and dryer.
    - again the two above were my changes / alterations after Katy’s design.
    - move the power column
    - installed a counter top and wall unit oven. I could tell you the story of getting that up the stairs. It will never go down.
    - doing something more with the space above the refrig.
    - but the above things are more minor. I am really glad for the Katy’ help and the finished product.
    - I can attach some interesting before pictures if you like.


  • John Kuharchuk

    While generally a very desirable end result was achieved by the design of this home, turning it into essentially a 600+ square foot studio apartment limits resale and potentially someone’s use and enjoyment. For minimal cost, a movable screen or partition with a translucent material (think shoji screen) could have been used to delineate the bedroom from the kitchen and rest of the apartment. Privacy would have been gained without compromising the shared light and ‘airiness’, in addition to creating a distinct room. The washer/dryer could have been moved slightly toward the bedroom to accommodate the stacked panels and the bedroom wardrobe units would have only been impacted minimally.

  • Brad W

    Steve – any pictures would be great…

    How long did the project take?

  • John Brown

    On behalf of all our visitors I want to thank Steve for taking the time today to be a part of today’s discussion. I am incredibly impressed with your openness and enthusiasm. It epitomizes the spirit of slow home.