More and more homeowners are working directly with local architects to collaborate on fully personalized homes.
In this North Haven project, Blaze Makoid Architecture’s design was driven by the client’s desire for a retreat for themselves and their family and friends and for a home conducive to weekends that revolve around socializing.
Building your own home, hand in hand with a small architectural firm, changes the way you live. It’s not just about the small choices—the thoughtful consideration of where your gaze will fall when folding laundry. It’s the very act of making those choices that leads you to invest in a house in a different way.
“A home isn’t just something you purchase,” says James Merrell, whose eponymous architecture firm is located in Sag Harbor (66 Main St., Sag Harbor, 631-725-9842). “When you’re talking about custom houses, it’s about something you’ve been dreaming about, imagining, realizing.”
Blaze Makoid, who has 12 architects and designers on staff at his Bridgehampton office (7 Tradesmans Path, Bridgehampton, 631-537-7277), sees his clients’ investment of time and attention (as well as money) translating into a sense of personal pride. “The house isn’t just a transaction, but something they helped create,” says Makoid. “They’ve been an integral voice in the project since the first sketches, seen construction through different stages, and experienced the ups and downs of a complicated process.”
Makoid is currently working on a project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for San Francisco-based clients, but he is still able to keep in close contact with them. “We do a lot of GoToMeetings, where we hold virtual meetings and both the clients and ourselves can control the screen,” he explains. “Between email, text, and the phone, we’re in constant contact with our clients.”
Merrell knows when he’s working with clients who have artistic or creative experience, because the collaboration ends up being all the more interactive, feeding everyone involved. “Clients who have an artistic background are comfortable having a dialogue about ideas,” he says. “They understand there’s a process. They inspire other ideas, because it’s something we’re sharing in an open conversation.” The most inspiring aspect of the process, Merrell finds, is when a client comes with a set of ideas, and his firm has a set of ideas, and in the process of collaborating, new ideas are formed.
He compares building a home to going on an adventure: It’s not just about the final product—the photos and souvenirs—it’s about the journey itself. “No adventure is memorable if you don’t end up in a place you didn’t expect from the beginning,” Merrell muses. “Once you’re living in your house, you look around and see evidence of the adventure. The house itself dissolves in your mind, and you see this record of the creative process.”