Steam Roller Print!

Just for fun here is a post from my art blog!

I can’t get that song by Pharrell Williams out of my head and that is okay by me. It is a catchy uplifting tune that brings a smile and a springy step. I recently had the pleasure of helping with Design Discovery a week long session for high school kids interested in design fields. We talked about Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Interior Architecture. We toured public plazas, museums and even new buildings led by the architect who designed them. We drew, sketched and used Jenga sets to build models. I answered questions, described what I do on a daily basis and what it takes to be a licensed architect. Ugh I even admitted that 30 years I too participated in this program. Ugh not because I didn’t enjoy it but rather the shock noting it was 30 years ago.  Where does time go?!


We spent time each day explaining how the profession works. Not just through school but after and the many disciplines and specialties that can be involved in any given project. I enjoyed hearing what these future design students were interested in and what field they may pursue. Many questions were discussed. “Math or art?” “If I have an extra high school hour which one?” “ I like math but I am not creative?” “I don’t enjoy math or computers”


Math math math. I often hear from adults even clients that they really wanted to be an architect but weren’t good at math so they didn’t pursue it.   Didn’t even look into what it takes for an architecture degree. The answer: not as much math as you expect! Yep basic college algebra, descriptive physics and structure classes which explain how buildings stand up! Around 4 classes! Full disclosure I enjoy math and found my college math class was easier than my advanced high school class of course that was 30 years ago! Surprise!


Art is important and will help you with any major. Yes there are fancy written presentations in your life in any major. I am happy that into to art is required in my kids’ school district. Not everyone has taken any art classes in the freshman design studio I teach. They catch up but honestly design studio is easier for those who have a few art or drafting classes.


Back to the happy…. I think being optimistic is the most important trait a designer can have. Our projects exist in the future you have to believe in the future!   There are enough roadblocks along the way for any project that if it starts out on anything less than a positive note it has a tough chance and long road being realized. You can learn art, you can learn math and you can be happy. It seems silly to think that happy is important but in my practice I know it is. I like happy projects, happy houses and happy clients. I like to laugh and yes even laugh when my friends say I cackle rather than laugh! Math? Yes you will need some, Art? the more the better, Happy? REQUIRED!


This blog is dedicated on Father’s day to the most optimistic person I have ever known, my father. Miss you every day Dad.

Last week on Mother’s Day I wrote about being both mom and an architect.  Actually Mother’s Day is a very important change of  seasons here in Kansas City.  At least for my family it is. Three very important events happen:

1. The hard top on  my Jeep Wrangler is replaced with the soft top for the summer to allow easy top down access,

2. The flower pots on the deck are filled with beautiful flowering annuals

3. The Coolaroos are installed!


Okay truth be told with my daughter  away at college the flowers did not materialize.  The annual trip to the nursery  is delayed a few weeks. The Jeep is summer ready and the Coolaroo is up. This year we are trying just one of our Coolaroos rather than previous use of two. The shade tree we planted years ago has matured enough to happily shade us both part of the deck and the southern face of our home. I love this crabapple tree yet I am not quite sure of it’s exact species. It has a maximum diameter of 24′ so we strategically  placed it about 13′ from our home and it doesn’t drop it’s fruit. What? Yep once the fruit appears it doesn’t fall off and mess the yard. As a kid, it was my job to pick up apples from the trees in our yard. Some were in great shape and easy to collect while others were a gooey mess. Not  having to pick rotten apples was intriguing for me. Little did I know that the fruit says put until picked. Picked that is by a hearty group of squirrels and birds all winter!  A living bird feeder.

Back to the title our Coolaroos were spoofed. My husband was explaining the annual installing of the Coolaroos to a friend when he Googled  a picture to show what a Coolaroo is. I have blogged about my Coolaroos before so my images… the pictures I took are already online. Low and behold MY picture of MY deck with MY Coolaroo is being used on a website with a copyright stamp placed diagonally across it. Years ago a wise builder told me the only people who worry about being cheated are cheaters! This is a great example someone using someone’s else picture and then having the nerve blast a copyright diagonally  on it!!!




 p3-coolaroo shade sail


I admit it is a great picture. I teach a first year college architectural design studio.  How do you define a space? How many points are there in a space to define it? Any guesses? 8 yep EIGHT! Think of a cube with  8 corners… think of a room it has 8 corners. Yes it is a very basic explanation but when first starting design it helps to understand how spaces are defined and why some spaces work and why some are fuzzy not well defined. I took the picture to show that Coolaroos can define a space to create an exterior room. I took the picture in the space to show the Coolaroo as a ceiling.  If anyone doubts I took this picture or read my Sunday NY Times under it today please note the handmade clay sun on the wall of house I made with my kids! Not sure  if I am flattered or mad but like my Coolaroo in any language!



Hello blog long time no see.  Happy Mother’s Day!!


I recently needed to write a paragraph about myself for upcoming Women in Design mentoring night.  This brief statement would be used for introductions. The event allows women to meet a wide of design professionals to discuss career issues one on one.  Easy enough right? Actually who really wants to condense themselves to 4 lines or even write about themselves? It fell to the bottom of my weekly to do list. I was sent a friendly reminder with other participant’s paragraphs.  About half of the statements were attached.  Impressive and well known group, I was happy to be included. I read their statements. I completely understand there isn’t a right or wrong way to write about oneself and a few lines isn’t much but not ONE person mentioned their family.  Not one! There were schools, firms, awards,  volunteer positions in the community but NOT one family child or spouse was noted.


I am mom! I am a mom to three teenagers!



Seriously do women still need to hide the fact they are mothers? Still? it is 2014! So I suggest owning it. So while I could have sent info about where my work has been published or awards I have won, I instead focused on my family. Yep I get many questions about how to balance life. Design and family can sometimes be tricky with long hours with demanding projects. I own the fact that I have a family and actually it HELPS me during interviews. Many of my clients have families too! They need a mudroom that works, a garage to stash strollers, bikes and every imaginable piece of sports gear. They don’t want to spend hours organizing their homes every week they want a thoughtfully designed home that works for the WAY they LIVE. Yep we use a microwave to reheat dinners as a busy family schedule with several kid activities can impact dinner time. We need a space to do homework nearby the kitchen so multitasking can happen. We also need a space where a science projects can exist  for weeks on an adjacent table. Yep we need a laundry space that works so soccer socks and uniforms can be found quickly!


Working moms have a tremendous amount of information to add to the design mix. I say own it. And when you see a young mom trying to do it all, Go out of your way to give encouragement! Who have you mentored lately?


Rebecca Riden Rebecca Riden AIA Architect

Rebecca started her firm that specializes in residential design 18 years ago. A graduate of K-State she is licensed in Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico and Michigan. As a one person firm she sees every project through from initial client meeting to final move in! Her work has been featured  on HGTV,  Kansas City Star, KC magazine She also is an adjunct lecturer at UMKC where she teaches architectural design studios.  Proud mom to three teenagers she lives in Prairie Village with her husband also an architect.



The Kansas City Star

It sounded improbable when Eddy Krygiel first told me about it: How he and his wife, Angiela Meyer, had gutted a West Side home and put two bedrooms and two and half baths in it.

Surely, I thought, they’re crammed into the space. Nope. Nothing in it feels cramped.

Krygiel, an architect, designed a home that feels more spacious — and stylish — than a lot of so-called McMansions.

The same goes for Sarah Magill’s nearby home, which was designed by KEM Studio. It is 1,200 square feet, which is actually bigger than she wanted.

The home of Krygiel and Meyer was the first in Kansas City to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified; Magill’s home received a 2013 award from the Kansas City AIA Design Excellence competition and the home was one of four finalists for Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year for 2013.

The two homes share a number of features: All-white walls, high ceilings and lots of windows that create a sense of airiness; pocket doors that cut down on swing space; and few, if any, interior walls and hallways.

Such designs are a reversal of a long-running trend. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, newly built homes grew from an average of 1,660 square feet in 1973 to more than 2,500 square feet today.

But in recent years, experts in real estate and home construction began reporting that more clients are giving priority to high-end finishes, smart design and green materials rather than gobs of space.

Rebecca Riden, an architect in Prairie Village, has worked with several clients to design small homes or maximize space in existing ones. She recently reworked a small two-bedroom home, she says, by adding a breakfast nook with built-in bench seating, two porches and lots of built-in storage.

Riden is a fan of Sarah Susanka, an architect who wrote “The Not So Big House” series of books, which have sold more than 1.2 million copies since 1998 and espouse a philosophy of building better, not bigger.

Riden says there are a lot of benefits to living in and building small homes. It’s more eco-friendly and reduces clutter.

“You have to force yourself to have a place for everything and storage becomes critical so it forces people to think about what they bring in,” she says. “Maintenance overall also decreases and goes back to being green. It frees up time. Less cleaning, less maintenance.”

So let’s take a look at the lessons these West Side homeowners have to offer in terms of efficiency, green design and a simple life.

A foreclosure reborn

Krygiel and Meyer bought their two-story home, which was in foreclosure, five years ago for $1,000.

He recalls inquiring about the property and the real estate agent asking, “What the hell do you want that for?”

The roof had a gaping hole, all the pipes had burst and the fireplace was so decrepit that it collapsed and fell through the floor. The home also seemed small for a family of four.

But Krygiel could see its potential.

“I knew there was an answer in here somewhere, but there were moments of panic when I wondered if I was going to make it work,” he said. The rehab took six months.

The first thing he did was eliminate walls on the first floor to make one open, loft-like space that comprises a kitchen, dining room, living room, half bathroom and office for two.

It felt spacious one recent afternoon as a soft breeze blew through several of the home’s 19 windows.

Artwork and furnishings, most of it modern and clean-lined, provide pops of color to the white shell.

Open shelving above the kitchen counters holds colorful dishes, glassware and Le Creuset cookware. Eliminating upper cabinets gives an illusion of more space.

“We intentionally buy stuff that we’re OK leaving out,” Krygiel said.

“Stuff that’s functional and beautiful. It’s happy stuff,” Meyer said.

The kitchen island contains a cubbyhole that hides litter boxes for three cats.

A table in a nook between the dining room and kitchen provides office space. A closet behind it houses a laundry center and other necessities.

Krygiel had two HVAC units installed to eliminate the need for air ducts that would have eaten up valuable square footage. Plus, he said, the two units counted toward LEED certification because they can turn a unit down when they’re not using the space it serves.

The second floor contains the two bedrooms (the girls’ room has bunk beds), two full bathrooms and a cozy green reading nook where one of their daughters does homework.

“We have nice bedrooms, but they are not big or elaborate,” Krygiel says. “The idea is to push everyone downstairs where we can spend more time together.”

Room for a treadmill

Magill was in her kitchen, which is in the middle of her home, one afternoon. Sunlight poured in through floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Would you like a tour? It’ll be very short,” she said, chuckling.

The all-white kitchen consists of upper shelving, Ikea cabinets and white appliances along one wall. A desk occupies an alcove next to them. An island topped with white quartz can seat six comfortably.

The ceiling soars above and a loft, with one of the home’s two full bathrooms, juts out slightly over the cabinets and adjacent desk.

“KEM talked a lot about using light and volume to make a small space seem bigger,” Magill said.

The home was built from scratch on a narrow lot chocked with limestone. Neither it nor Krygiel’s home has a basement. According to Brad Satterwhite, an architect at KEM Studio, Magill was open to just about any idea that maximized space.

“She said, ‘Let me lay my life out for you and then you design for it.’ Her desires were fairly simple, but she realized you have to be creative to get them.”

Those desires included a digital TV and movie projector and large retractable screen, a space that flows well for entertaining and a way to store her fold-up treadmill.

Magill got everything she asked for. A closet behind the living room sofa holds the treadmill. She rolls it out to run while watching TV on the large retractable screen that pulls down over the living room windows.

And every inch of the place, including the loft, is used when Magill hosts movie nights and concerts.

Her bedroom is at the rear of the house, separated only by drapes.

“Eventually I will have a Murphy bed that folds up and this can be used as an entertainment space when I’m not sleeping,” Magill said. “I like having everything open. It makes it really easy.”

Satterwhite and Krygiel noted how we spend so little waking time in our bedrooms that it’s not worth allocating a lot of space to them.

“Visually, with it being open, you see all the way through to the back of the house, so it feels like more than 1,200 square feet,” Satterwhite said.

The length of a short narrow hallway off the kitchen is lined on one side with closets. It ends at a floor-to-ceiling window. Turn right and you’re in a small full bathroom that has a closet with a stacked washer and dryer.

Magill says she throws her laundry directly into the washer, eliminating the need for a hamper.

She has moved six times during the past seven years. She’s purged a lot of her belongings to lighten her load.

“It’s minimalist living. I grew into it,” she says. “Now, with this small space, it keeps me honest because I just don’t have room. If I get something new, something old has to go.”

Common features in well-designed small homes


• White or light-colored walls


• Furnishings with clean lines that introduce pops of color to the space


• Lots of large windows to allow natural light


• Pocket doors that don’t require swing space


• As few walls as possible


• Short hallways or none at all


• Small bedrooms and bathrooms


• Built-in seating and storage


• Multipurpose rooms


• Modern, clean-lined furnishings and artwork


• Beautiful yet functional stuff that doesn’t need to be put in a closet

Looking for a great way to start the year? Wanting  to get started on a home addition or  dreaming about a new home but don’t know where to start? I recommend  the NOT SO BIG HOUSE series of books to all perspective and seasoned clients. A wonderful resource of inspiration and great details.

Home Design Books

My favorite home design books. Notice I have 2 copies of The Not So Big House? One is a lender copy for clients who haven’t read the series and want to read it right away!

The author of these wonderful books Architect Sarah Susanka  recently spoke at TEDxSan Diego. Wonderful way to spend a few minutes to learn about her philosophy not only on NOT SO BIG HOUSE DESIGN but also on the NOT SO BIG LIFE! A wonderful quote from talk  “Help people make houses better rather than bigger. Not knock socks off neighbor but a home that fits YOU to a tee.” ahh music to my ears!

I am going to make the first project of the new year …ME!!  Project number one with time set aside for writing and printmaking. What do printmaking and writing have to do with the daily operations of my architecture practice? More than you might realize. Writing for me, whether a blog post or an article  helps me clarify design ideas. It forces me to distill what I am thinking into a few key words. I am often asked the EXACT same questions by perspective clients so I am writing it ALL down so I can say please look at my blog I have the answers there.  I wrote them down just for you!

Printmaking is a chance to draw, design and think without a specific problem to solve which allows me to daydream and recharge my creativity. Printmaking provides a fixed time for me to work either by limited press time.  Also the actual time I have before the ink dries on plate and  won’t run well through the press without sticking to paper creates a deadline for me! I use presses away from my home studio which allows a chance to pack up for the day and plan the printmaking event in advance.

What will you work on this year?! Here is the youtube link enjoy!



This is a great read!

Originally posted on Postcards without stamps:

I attempted to do the impossible over Christmas – I set out to part with one-third of my belongings. When I announced it to my husband and our toddler my husband worryingly replied: ‘But that means that one of us needs to go.’ :)

Well.. not quite.

All that went was the evidence of overcommitment: unread books, unused items, not-yet-or-not-often-worn clothes, forgotten home decorations, disliked music, excessive stationery and other neglected bits and pieces. I was very happy to remove them from my sight and give us back the space where we could hear our thoughts without having our attention pulled in many disparate directions. We needed a home that will stop us from being preoccupied with what we haven’t done and instead allow us to do what we want to do. Do you have a space like that? Space where you can stay relaxed but focused? Space that calms…

View original 150 more words

Ready for a Happy New Year? 2012 has been an INCREDIBLE  year. I have had the pleasure of meeting with extraordinary clients who are kind yet very determined and passionate about the space they will call home. Being invited into someone’s house to meet with them and listen about their home future plans is always a treat! I take it seriously. While it can be an incredible amount of fun to transform a home or build a dream home it is not for the faint of heart. Anything worth doing well takes effort and perseverance. I want to say thank you to all my clients this year for letting me be part of your life while we design your home!

In an effort to share the kindness that has come my way this year I want to share a few helpful hints for anyone considering a home design project!

After picture of a farmhouse with new front porch and a southern side porch.

After picture of a farmhouse with new front porch and a southern side screen porch.

Before picture of a farmhouse. Owner wanted a home to have more character and a welcoming front porch with enough space for a swing.

Before picture of the SAME farmhouse. Owner wanted home to have more character and a welcoming front porch with enough space for a swing.

Ten FIVE home design tips to keep in mind during design.

  1. DREAM. Think about how you live right now and how you  imagine your future. and Pinterest were made for dreamers!
  2. TIME. Take the time to do it right. Everyone is anxious to get started but planning and making sure everything is decided before you start can save you time. Really? YEP!  Spending time to plan can save you time.
  3. BE HONEST. This goes to my jetted tub clients who have NEVER used their tubs in ten years. I have decided there are either those who like a soaking tub and will use a tub or those who have never used one in 5 years and might never use one again in the next 5 years. So with that in mind don’t stray too far from your everyday life when designing which brings us to…
  4. WONDERFUL A new home or extensive renovation can be wonderful and inspiring  but at the end of the day food needs prepared, clothes need washed and phones charged. Don’t forget the small details and how everyday activities should have the space to do them well and the way you like to do them! Think about how your FAMILY lives and how your home can help you live better.
  5.  TEN PRIORITIZE  Item Five is not item TEN. Yes I can have a list of hundred items here but a very wise editor at the Kansas City Star once told me pick 5 topics and do them well. Same idea for home ideas you can have hundreds of ideas in a home but some are more important than others. Make a list and you will be surprised of how many items/ideas you can reach but be prepared to be flexible…view or more storage in a kitchen translates to windows versus cabinets. It is your home so YOU can decide. Be strong and consider your options. your friends will want to help, your family will want to suggest ideas and your window and cabinet-maker will also be very happy to share an opinion. Many opinions can confuse and cause doubt so keep YOUR big ideas handy and remember this time, this house is all about YOU :)

An article from the the Kansas City Star I wrote about Screened Porches!

Fall is a great season for a screened porch. Spring is equally a wonderful season for a porch and even summer can be an enjoyable season! Currently 90% of my home design projects include a screen porch for clients. Why are screened porches so appealing? A screened porch can provide a bug free, fresh air yet dry space to enjoy anything from dinner with friends to a quiet place for coffee while reading the paper. After a busy day working inside, even a few moments spent on a porch can provide a welcome chance to reconnect with nature.

A new screen was added to an existing home. While the home had an existing screen porch it faced north towards the driveway rather than south towards a shared garden.

To make a screen porch feel part of home I like to use sliding doors. A four panel sliding door unit with two doors that slide and two that stay fixed creates a doorway of five to six feet wide that makes the porch feel connected to the adjacent room. It is perfect for entertaining when an extra table space might be needed but everyone can still overhear what is happening inside. This additional space easily can make a cozy room feel just right when filled with guests. Sliding doors don’t take door swing space in either the porch or room which helps furniture layouts on comfy porches. Being able to open a sliding door just a smidgen to allow fresh air in is also a bonus as it easier than opening a swing door and using a door stop which is pretty much required here in the windy Midwest. Doors between the house and porch also don’t need screen doors since the porch provides the screening proving easy clear access.

Using a double sliding door unit provides a wide doorway from home to porch.

Location, location, location, a screen porch will block sunlight into the adjacent rooms. Ideally the room with doors to the porch has windows on adjacent walls to allow natural light. Although a wraparound porch may seem intriguing it can create dark interior rooms by limiting sunlight. Southeast is the preferred location to allow light throughout the day but not the harsh west light. The porch roof overhang needs to be studied to see what works well to block summer sun but allow late fall, early spring light.

Having always lived in a four season climate I appreciate fall yet realize that winter is around the corner. As much work as it is to winterize a porch by hauling cushions and even furniture inside, it is equally exciting to bring it back when the warm spring weather returns. Keep in mind while shopping what furniture, fabrics and even rugs will need protected and where they will be stored if necessary during those winter days.

Sometimes a client is tempted to want the ability to use a screen porch year round by installing windows. Honestly it isn’t the same as it becomes a sunroom or another room with many windows and the outdoor feel can be greatly diminished. Feeling a breeze roll though on a screened porch on a quiet fall evening is definitely a treat, and for those warm, still days a ceiling fan built for exterior (wet and wind) use is a welcome addition!  Adding a screen porch can make a house feel spacious with it’s unique features of sunlight, fresh air and nature sounds creating a completely different feeling space altogether. A screen porch provides the perfect place to be thankful for our Kansas City fall days.

The goal of any sensitive addition is to make the new feel as if it was already there! New screened porch added to existing brick Colonial home! The second floor is a new master suite.

here is the link and the entire article I wrote for the Kansas City Star on interior doors!


Interior Glass Pocket doors photo by Jim Barcus Kansas City Star



Drawing Board | Interior doors shouldn’t be an afterthought

Mirrors, glass and sturdy construction are worth the extra expense.


Special to The Star

Updated: 2012-04-08T03:11:24Z

About this feature
Kansas City contains such vibrant public and private buildings that House + Home wants to share residential design through an architectural perspective. Local architects will write about ideas, building materials and projects. Drawing Board runs the second Sunday of each month.

        The doors inside your home are a key part of a new home design or renovation. And even on their own, they’re a worthwhile upgrade.

Consider how many times a day an interior door is used. Careful attention is needed when deciding on a style or size.


Often clients are surprised to learn that they have the option to select an interior door style for their home. If a door is not selected by the homeowner, the standard default is a hollow six-panel Colonial molded door. A solid interior door with frame and panels is more expensive than a hollow one, but just one test swing at a showroom, and clients are sold on the feel of a sturdy and beautiful door — they bring back memories of an older home.

Sometimes doors are the first items to be replaced on a home renovation dream list when clients say their existing ones feel flimsy.

Mirrored single panel door. Photo by Jim Barcus Kansas City Star


Even within a door style there are many options. Craftsman-style doors with simple square detailing can have several panels within their frame or just one. What makes sense with your home? Do you want to dress it up with applied trim, accent arches with an arched top panel or quietly add detail with an elegant yet, simple panel design?

Once a door style is selected, other features should be considered. The panels can be glass, providing a great solution where you need acoustical privacy but still want to see into a room and feel connected to nearby activities. The glass doors can help create a quiet zone within the house for reading, homework or even to make a phone call while the adjacent room has a television or music playing.


Interior doors can be pocket doors, which slide completely into a wall and out of the way. Pocket doors are a good option for a small room, hallway or where wall space is a premium.

Doors can save wall space, too, if a full-length mirror is desired in a bedroom, bathroom or closet. You can add a mirror to a single panel door easily for a custom traditional look. Many door manufacturers will allow the option of a mirror on one side.

Even the numbers of doors in an opening should be thought through. A pair of smaller doors or a bifold door rather than one large door can save space, frame the doorway and add interest. The size of the door is a key thing to consider. Examine the doors you have now to confirm what size works for you. Often, larger bathroom and bedroom doors are selected to accommodate future potential needs.

Spend time selecting home elements such as doors because then you’ll enjoy them for years to come.


To reach architect Rebecca Riden, go to


Thoughts about designing a new home or rethinking an existing one by an award winning Kansas City residential architect.

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