Back To Proportion, Balance And Scale

good proportion, balance and scale


I good while back I did a series of posts on proportion, scale and balance. Mine started off like this:

Despite out best intentions the traditional buildings that are being constructed today do  not always feel ‘right’. They fail in the small details- the proportion of a window, or a badly –detailed door surround or in a short-sighted choice of material.

[Read more…]

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A Book Review

I have had the pleasure of reading for review the latest publication from my friend, Steve Mouzon.



Steve was the town architect for The Waters in Alabama, a TND (Traditional Neighborhood Design) community in which I live and work. He is one of the pioneers and movers and shakers in New Urbanism- a cause near and dear to my heart.

Steve’s new book,  New Media for Designers + Builders is an electronic book. It was written in Apple’s iBooks Author, which for the first time allows e-books to be what they’ve always wanted to be: beautiful, highly interlinked with the outside world, and full of interactive fun. You can read it on an iPad. There’s also a Kindle version in the works, which may be complete by the time you’re reading this.


I am having one heck of  a time trying to decide how best to describe this book to you since I have never seen one quite like it. I will tell you this, it will never be deleted from my bookshelf. It is a reference tool like no other that will prove to be invaluable to anyone who designs: Planners, architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, and other creatives. It’s also for anyone who builds: developers, contractors, homebuilders, and tradespeople of all stripes, plus allied disciplines like real estate. In short, it’s for those who work more often in the world of bricks-and-mortar than clicks-and-orders.

This one book answered more questions for me in a shorter amount of time than all of the hundreds of hours I have spent over the last five years trying to figure out how to best fit  myself into this new world that we find ourselves in. It breaks down all of the different channels of the new media and explains what they are, how they work and why they might be important to your business. If you are familiar with that particular “channel”, say twitter, then you can simply skim or skip. If, however, you have no idea what a tweet is or why you should be on Linked In or why you might need to be blogging then you can spend hours if need be clicking on live links that take you as deep as you want to go into the subject.

If you, like most of us, have been baffled by the changes in our industry and have struggled to even recognize the “new normal” landscape, read the book. One comment made by Steve that I think is dead-on is that if you are waiting for the glory days of 2005-2008 to come back you are already out of business. It will not look like that again so you better be evolving to fit the new paradigm.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Recognizing this in 2008 is what led me to design my line of fabrics and furniture. Embrace the change and you never know what is around the corner. Steve has great stories of his own to tell about this.

Another thing that I have always struggled with is branding. I know that those who have done the best job of branding themselves have made a lot more money than I; but it has always been so important to me that I give a client a space that reflects them, not me. So, I could just never make the leap. Steve saved me. He and Josh Miles discuss the difference between branding and causes; and how what we really want is to be remarkable. I love that. I loved it even more when I read this quote, “brands might be seen as ‘high-cost remarkability with handcuffs’.” YES!!! That is exactly how I felt. I don’t want to do the exact same thing all the time for every single person but still I do have a niche’ and within that niche’ my goal is to remarkable.

You have to read the book. Period.

To purchase go here.

Steve is a much sought after speaker on a variety of topics. He can be reached at

Phone: 786-276-6000


Physical Address:

1253 Washington Avenue

Suite 222

Miami Beach, FL 33139

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Great Information If You Are Building Anything!

No pretty pictures today but this information from my architect buddy

Steve Mouzon

was too valuable not to share.

Conditioned Crawl Spaces


   Here’s a great idea Eric Moser introduced me to. Crawl spaces are normally the dark underbellies of houses where the dirt floor is always damp if not downright standing in water in wet times of the year. Mold and mildew often abounds there, and if cancer-causing radon gas gets into your house, it usually gets there by coming through the crawl space.

   The crawl space is as cold as the outdoor air in winter, because you have to ventilate it in order to remove at least some of the moisture so that your floor joists don’t rot… and sometimes, they rot anyway. And so you have to insulate the floor system, almost always with fiberglass batts. Problem is, anytime a plumber or other service person is in your crawl space, it’s really easy to dislodge some of the fiberglass, giving that unconditioned air direct access to your floor.

   Plumbers aren’t the only creatures in your crawl space. Most crawl spaces are teeming with all sorts of vermin, from feral cats and squirrels (sometimes having a fight) to rats, bugs, and other creeping things. And all of those unwanted critters probably do more to dislodge your soggy floor insulation than the plumbers do.

   When Eric introduced me to the idea of a conditioned crawl space, it sounded at first like the latest way to spend more money, which is unusual, because Eric is normally so practical. But the more I listened, the better it sounded. Here’s what you do:

   A. Insulate the foundation walls with rigid closed-cell insulation, rather than insulating the floor system. Unless your house is on a steep slope, there’s probably a lot less surface area of walls to insulate than the area of the floor. So you may actually save money on the insulation.

   B. Skip the foundation vents; you won’t be needing them. Savings are minor here, but every dollar counts, right?

   C. Use a really good vapor barrier (at least 20 mils thick) and seal it tightly to the top of the foundation wall. Cover the rigid insulation on the foundation wall, and extend it all the way across the floor. Make sure all the joints are taped securely. You’ll need to insulate the band joist above the top of the foundation wall with rigid insulation, but don’t cover this with the vapor barrier, as the band joist needs to be inspected from time to time in order to satisfy termite inspectors or property inspectors if you’re selling the house.

   D. If you really want to do the best job, install a 2” thick “rat slab” over the vapor barrier on the floor of the crawl space. This slab doesn’t need to be troweled, nor does it even need to be particularly level… just make sure that it’s not thinner than 2” in spots.

   Building a crawl space this way has benefits beyond the elimination of mold, mildew, vermin, rot, and diseases for your family. Your plumber will thank you profusely whenever he has to service something in the crawl space, but it doesn’t stop there. You won’t have to worry about pipes freezing under the house anymore, because you’ll actually be piping a bit of conditioned air into the crawl space. It might be 10 degrees cooler than your living room, but it’ll be much warmer than the winter air outside. This also means that ductwork running through the crawl space isn’t subjected to summer heat or freezing temperatures in winter, so your equipment will be more efficient. You can also put your airhandling unit in the crawl space, where it can be serviced in a clean and dry environment. Like the attic units I blogged about earlier, this can save a couple thousand dollars or more in finished space, because you won’t be needing that HVAC closet next to the great room anymore.

   Bottom line: you’ll likely spend a bit more money upfront on a conditioned crawl space. Estimates run as low as $1,500 if you do all the work yourself (without the rat slab) up to several thousand if a contractor does everything for you. But you’ll clearly save that money back before long on service and operation costs alone, and that doesn’t even begin to count the health benefits. What’s your family’s health worth?


   ~Steve Mouzon

 Thanks for the great idea Steve and Eric! I will try to use this .

And if you would like to say,”That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at


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Another Historic Treasure

Just days after I posted about the historic Gay House (here) a friend started talking about another amazing old house in Montgomery that hubby and I actually looked at a lifetime ago, the Winter House.

The story goes that there is a tunnel that was used to escape Wilson’s raiders that leads from the basement to the river.

 The old grainy photo is from some ancient files that I dug up but take some time to examine this glorious structure. Notice the unusual balustrade around the porch and the trim detail between the columns. It looks like a key hole. See it? I love that charming little window over the front door. Steve Mouzon you need to jump in here with some more interesting info on this house.

 And speaking of front doors does it get any better than this? I want them.

 I know. It makes me cry also. Check out those corbels. How many must there be in all????? And by the way this is how shutters are SUPPOSED to be used. Have you ever seen the vinyl version that some builder stuck on a building BACKWARDS!  Please.

Love, love, love those fish scale shingles and that awesome window.

Southern Accents you might be headed back to town.

If you want to say, That was fun!” at the end of your project contact me at


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