Thursday, March 6, 2014

Garland's Residential Idea Book

Today I put on my architect hat and...

Okay.  No hat.  More like making sure I'm wearing only black, white, or gray. (No, fluffy yellow bath robe as some bloggers might wear to type this post.)  Corb glasses are optional.

Corb.  A 1953 color portrait of architect Le Corbusier by Willy Rizzo at Design You Trust

There!  Ready.

The City of Garland - my home town - has published a wonderful guide book: the Garland Residential Idea Book.

The City of Garland's Residential Idea Book - I believe this is public domain, 
since this was paid for by tax dollars and the book is a free download.  Get it HERE.

This book is filled with useful information.  It helps a homeowner identify what style their existing home is, then suggests ways to work with that.  Ideas for renovations or additions that improve that house... not ruin it.  The premise is that you can update, make your home more livable by today's standards and more inviting (or, to be blunt, more salable and a better investment), by helping along its original architectural style.  Finding compatible choices in paint color, details, and landscaping are demystified.  There's a great section on Curb Appeal.  And this little book is so thorough that it includes great floor plans showing, for example, how to convert your garage into a master suite or how to enlarge your kitchen, each tailored to fit existing residential styles.  

It's terrific!

The book - like the inner ring suburbs it champions - has a certain charm.  There's affection in describing the characteristics and foibles of Garland's historic building styles.

The book starts with a brief illustrated history of Garland's residential development.  Around the city center are its earliest houses - charming late Victorians from the 1880s to the turn of that century- then a wider circle of bungalows from the "Craftsman" period of 1910-1930 plus the "Tudors" of the 1920s-1940s.  Then came the lull in building due to the Depression, followed by the boom after WWII.  I like the style designations: "Minimal Traditional," "Traditional Ranch," and "Late Ranch."  ("Minimal Traditional"!)  Later came 1970s "Contemporary."  (Architects of that vintage called these "Contempos.")  After that are just dates: "1980-2000" and "2000-present" because it takes a while to evolve a good nickname.  (I guess the moniker for the '80s will have the word "Gilded" in it... or maybe just "Brassy.")  A brisk, useful style guide.

Suggestions for home improvements are pithy too.  Photoshop-ed TM color options on real houses illustrate advice on finding compatible paint colors.  ("Shooped" is, I hear, the new vocab for image manipulation.)  Good advice on landscaping.  Top Ten ideas for quick fixes.  Photos and advice about the importance of building details is particularly well done.

Garland Residential Idea Book would help homeowners in many other places.

Get the free book HERE.

Or look on Garland's webpage (with more good info) under "Development and Permitting" and then "Idea Book Series."  I certainly hope this becomes a series, because this guide book is terrific.  What a smart way to spend my tax dollars!  The firm of Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture created the book for the City of Garland - many thanks to everyone involved.

Best line in the book?

"...improvements are not just about making individual homes better, but they are also about improving neighborhoods as a whole."

I tip my architect-hat to that sentiment.  Let's improve the world home by home.

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