From Drawings to Dream Home: Timeless Designs Fulfills Clients’ Visions
By Virginia Dean
The architectural construct is sleek. Simple. Sharp. It is Timeless Designs of Wolcott, Vermont, offering residential and historic commercial design services that include, but is not limited to, new construction and renovations.
Three-Phase Design Process
“We follow a three-phase design process for all projects,” says owner and executive director Ray Boutin. “Each phase builds on the previous phase. In comparison to building a house, it is important to start with a solid foundation (schematic design). On that foundation, we can build a frame that will last for generations (design development). Lastly, we put the finishing touches that make every home unique (construction documents).”
In 2017 in Milton, Vermont, for example, client Shaun Brooks approached Ray indicating that he wanted to renovate an existing farmhouse that is surrounded by beautiful farmland and stunning views to the west. He wanted to add a second-floor master suite, two-car garage, and a wraparound porch. The exterior was to look like a traditional farmhouse. The interior was to have an open layout with farmhouse finishes. The main level of the existing house would have the kitchen, dining room, and living room with no separation between them. An addition would have a large mudroom and home office on the first floor. He needed three bedrooms for his children and a master suite that would have a large soaking tub and spacious walk-in closet.
“During construction, the ‘attic’ space above both the garage and house had a lot of potential usable space,” says Ray. “We set up the space above the garage to be a large office, while the attic in the house has two extra guest rooms.”
Ordinarily, during what Ray calls the schematic design phase, he and his crew work closely with their clients to establish the program (wish list), scope of the project, working budget, and a general sense of the desired aesthetic.
Refining the Plan
“We design the floor plans, exterior elevations, and the basic character of the house,” says Ray. “These drawings can be used to secure conceptual architectural review board approvals.”
In the design development stage, the information in the schematic design phase is refined. The team begins to focus on specific elements that together form the whole (e.g., building sections, trim details, kitchen layout, types of heating systems) and works to ensure that the proposed design is realistic in terms of budget.
The focus of the construction document is on producing the necessary documents for the bidding process and construction. It also includes the addition/editing of details and documenting the specifications. “It is our goal to have every detail documented prior to sending the design out to bid,” says Ray. “This allows for a more streamlined bidding process and, ultimately, an accurate bid by contractors.”
The Hands-On Client
Shaun was what Ray calls a “hands-on client” and, as such, came to Ray with an overall vision—not typically something clients do. He provided Ray with sketches and photos to illustrate his vision. “From there, I would work his ideas into a well-thought-out home with a lot of back and forth dialogue,” says Ray. “Shaun did the legwork in selecting the products and working with the manufacturers to order products, typically sending me the manufacturers’ quotes and specifications to make sure it worked with the design.” Shaun was so hands-on, Ray related, that he did a lot of the site work himself using his own heavy equipment.
Once a design is complete, the Timeless Design team continues to work with its clients and contractors to ensure that the project is brought to fruition and is in accordance with the design, schedule, and budget. This includes weekly project meetings; a review of the progress of construction; overseeing the contractor; reviewing shop designs and submittals; preparing and confirming the completion and that the certificate of occupancy is issued.
The Brooks farmhouse was completed in the winter of 2019. His partner, Darcy Tomlinson, says Ray was a pleasure to work with. “We were looking for someone with expertise in 1800s-style Vermont farmhouses, and he designed our dream home,” says Darcy. “People literally stop daily and take pictures. Ray was always available via text or phone call in the middle of the project when we needed him the most. I would highly recommend working with him.”