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Tessa Maristela

Efficient Time Management in Construction

Efficient Time Management in Construction 1103 736 Tessa Maristela

Time management is a decisive skill essential to prevail in an industry as demanding as construction. Construction projects, whether it is from the ground up or a simple residential or commercial remodeling, incorporate different stages of completion that may include mechanical (machine-operated tasks), technical (electrical, HVAC, roofing), and aesthetic considerations (color schemes, fixtures). Each stage revolves around intricate tasks that pursue strict budgets, schedules, and safety protocols.

Construction time management is critical to guarantee that the projects are successfully fulfilled within the projected completion date in the budget allocated.  Projects that are managed effectively through monitoring, especially those completed before their deadlines, expels unnecessary waste of funding, time, and resources. However, planning must also consider attainable timelines dissected into subtasks for a better work system that ensures quality work. This promotes the successful transition from one completion stage to another.

Further, since construction is a sizeable industry involving different participants, effective partnership contributes to effective time management, entailed in consistent communication that establishes collaboration in operations, team building, and collective productivity.

Lastly, efficient time management is, in effect, efficient risk management that minimizes and deters unanticipated costly interruptions.

What is Construction Time Management?

Time management is the implementation of a systematic and organized set of tasks for optimum productivity and functionality in the construction industry. Efficient time management is assembled within a system of procedures that carefully deliberates on task prioritization, proper scheduling and monitoring, constructive partnership and collaboration between the key figures and team members engaged in the project.

The Ground Plan

A ground plan is an overall roadmap of timeline trajectories and goals for completion. It considers the necessary resources and the budget to maintain these resources which should include materials, tools and machinery, manpower, and weather constraints. Factoring in all these aspects in construction to create a plan makes it effective and helps to prevent work delays as well as provides a cushion for adjustment should something unexpected come up.

Time Monitoring

Monitoring a schedule is effective time management. It gauges the reasonable amount of time needed to accomplish a task and tracks the actual time spent to accomplish it. This establishes a team member’s strong and weak points to further identify if immediate modification is necessary to complete a task on time. Time monitoring also enables the team to produce more effective schedule projections for more productive outcomes.

Hierarchy of Tasks

The hierarchy of tasks in construction is influenced by identifying the different stages required to complete a project. If the construction project calls for a new structure from the ground up, for instance, naturally the first stage and priority is to build the footing. Priorities are identified and dictated by the nature of the project at hand. The nature of the project determines the checklist of tasks that need to be fulfilled at a certain stage of the construction. This establishes task goals and priorities to guarantee proper timelines and punctual project completion. However, it should be adaptable to adjustments should the need arise. A regular assessment of the task accomplished against the task checklist will confirm if you are within or behind schedule.

Integrated Collaboration

Integrated collaboration among team members is successful when communication is open to ensure awareness of the tasks required for each role. It is especially significant to urgently communicate when collaborative decision-making is necessary to handle unforeseen construction issues. Effective communication fosters teamwork when everyone is open to diverse inputs to unanimously agree on a single decisive solution against setbacks. Maximized communication minimizes work delays. Integrated collaboration through open communication is fundamental for effective time management.

The Kitchen Work Triangle and Work Zones (Which Is Best For You?)

The Kitchen Work Triangle and Work Zones (Which Is Best For You?) 1695 802 Tessa Maristela

The kitchen work triangle is a design principle comprising three major work areas zoned into: the sink (cleaning), the range or cooktop (food preparation), and the refrigerator (food storage). These three work zones, when laid out to form into an imagined triangle, facilitates daily kitchen tasks effortlessly with an open work flow. It makes for an efficient layout that supports productivity,  movement and foot traffic.

The design principle dictates that all three sides of the triangles must measure between 4 feet to 9 feet apart with an ideal triangular perimeter of between 13 feet to 26 feet. This promotes a convenient and modest distance between each work zones that also saves time in moving from one work space to the other.

The kitchen triangle is a commendable layout but may not be ideal for all kitchen given the variety of needs of a contemporary family. A kitchen having beyond the modest size may allow for more than one cook at a time, which finds the work triangle limiting and less functional. There is a larger demand for more appliances in a sizeable kitchen which may be challenging to fit into the traditional work triangle concept.

A kitchen design must be flexible to movement and work convenience. If there’s an engaged foot traffic in the kitchen that allows the kids and both the parents to be in the same space, the design can adopt different work zones that distributes the traffic and work flow evenly, instead of the three triangular points of the sink, range and fridge. The work zone is a pliable modern approach linked into the work triangle with clear emphasis of the zone function rather than the spread and perimeter of the triangular work spaces.

The modern kitchen has work zones prevalently factionalized into: (1) food preparation and assembly (range, cooktop, oven, microwave, etc.), (2) food storage and refrigeration (refrigerator and pantry), (3) cleaning and food disposal (sink, dishwasher, trash and waste incinerator), (4) cooking containers (pots, pans, skillets, etc.) and (5) plates and utensils (plates/bowls, spoons/forks, cutlery, blender, etc.). These zone areas have functional integration that connects the tasks of food preparation to cooking to dishwashing and food storage.

A kitchen design, regardless of size and shape, must have the groundwork that is consistent with the principles of efficiency, work flow and foot traffic. As much as the visual element of the kitchen matters, design performance must account for optimum functionality in the application of the kitchen triangle or work zoning.

Are you planning to upgrade and remodel your kitchen soon? Contact us for a free consultation. We are here for you!


Color Schemes for Your Kitchen

Color Schemes for Your Kitchen 1920 1280 Tessa Maristela

Your kitchen must be tailored to articulate your personal style. Color, integrated into diverse surfaces of your kitchen, is one design aspect to define your personality. You can either choose complementary colors or contrasting colors to create a color palette that considers wall paint, backsplash, countertop, flooring, and accessories. Complementary colors blend fluidly while contrasting colors create a deviating interest in a color scheme. Either way, any color scheme is guaranteed to work that makes you feel at home and enjoy your time in the kitchen. We share the color palettes we have used for our new build and kitchen remodeling projects over time.


Kitchen on Argyle Avenue (by Historia Design)

This is a high-contrast modern kitchen rich with textures of red wood field cabinets, natural light wood flooring, a full-height backsplash, and an island countertop with lavish grains of white and black anchored on a matching ebony cabinet. The classic richness in texture on all surfaces makes a strong and timeless design statement.


Kitchen on Argyle ( By Historia Design)

The warmth of multi-wood finishes for the cabinet, island, and flooring accessorized with a gold backsplash makes a luxurious assembly of colors. A black island cabinet topped with a glossy black granite countertop adds elegance to luxury.



Kitchen on Superba Avenue

Black and white make a classic tandem. It is an ageless combination that does not go out of style. We suggest using white as the field color for cabinets with a contrasting black accent on the countertop or subway tiles for backsplash.


Kitchen on Pebble Beach

Ash grey mixed with earth wood cabinets sets the tone for a contemporary kitchen. The contrasting textures agree with each other, highlighted by an interplay of grey and white walls and countertops. Why not add an aesthetic touch of black pendant lights, faucets and cabinet handles to finish the look?


Kitchen on Curson Avenue

Mixing blond wood finishes with charcoal grey builds a contrasting dimension between light and dark. Blond tall and wall cabinets that are duplicated as floor finishing draw focus to the charcoal base with steel grey countertop making it the central point of interest.


Kitchen on Moraga Drive

An all-white kitchen is soft on the eyes. Since white expands and creates the illusion of space, it is recommended for small kitchens but also works for kitchens of considerable size. White is a fresh neutral tone that can co-exist with any color. Grey subway tiles for the backsplash and grey grains on a white countertop, matched with stainless steel appliances and accessories create a cadence of mild distraction from the sterility of all-white cabinets.


Kitchen on Via El Molino

Soft green kitchen cabinets make a perfect contemporary cottage look. Blending well with the paleness of the beige backsplash and flooring, this color scheme makes a pleasantly relaxing space for meals, stories, and family time.


Photo Credit to Curtis Adam

A navy blue island cabinet and white cabinets against the wall are a favorite two-tone configuration that draws on the nautical appeal. Popular in beach homes, the color mix is a playful combination that balances between the light whites and the dark, profound navy blues. A flooring with natural dark brown and red hues added to the mix perks up the space with an earthy feel.

Photo Credit to Medhart Ayad

Design Solutions for Small Spaces

Design Solutions for Small Spaces 1027 664 Tessa Maristela
Photo Credit to  © Medhat Ayad

Small homes come with unique demands when it comes to designing their spaces. You will be surprised to find that each space has a hidden potential. You just have to be clever and creative with your design solutions to make them work for you. Dig into your decorative style, furniture, and storage needs that are adaptable, versatile, and agree with the limited space available.


Among the first things to consider are the size and amount of furniture. Do not torment your space with enormous furniture and overcrowd it like a stuffed turkey. Instead, scale down the size and amount of furniture so that it will fit into the space with ease. A minimal approach will prove to be more functional, as well as give you more space to move around.


Contemporary furniture has come a long way with innovative designs that double up as storage. Using furniture with built-in storage is a clever solution to maximize your space. A few examples are beds with pull-out drawers underneath, sofas that transform into beds, coffee and side tables with removable tops to reveal an enclosed interior storage, and bench seating with pull-ups to access a storage space inside. Murphy beds are gaining back popularity, especially the custom-made design that multi-functions as a bed when pulled down from the wall and a table when the bed is pulled up and not in use. With the bed pulled up, the available open area can be utilized for other living functions.


Do you know that there are concealed areas that are part of your house’s architectural features you can optimize? For instance, have you ever thought of adding roll-out drawers under each step of the stairs? Or a closet under the hollow space of your staircase? You can store shoes, bedding, cleaning towels, and whatnot inside the step drawers. Closets under the stairs can stand as a mini-library for your books or can be made into a utility space for cleaning equipment, or perhaps a place to hang umbrellas and raincoats.


Petite houses with high ceilings offer the potential for a mid-air functional space, such as a loft, for use as a sleeping, entertainment, or office/study area. Lofts liberate floor spaces for other functionality.


Sliding or pocket doors dismiss your worries about hitting furniture in a cramped space, as hinged doors do when swinging them open. Changing your hinged doors to sliding or pocket doors is not a huge undertaking. The benefits to consider are far greater than the discomfort of moving or skirting around furniture, or knocking off a standing lamp next to a door each time you open it.


Large windows open up your space, visually expanding it toward the outdoors. They also invite the view into the interior and allow natural light to come through. On the other hand, lack of window boxes in the room.


There are design approaches that also apply to enlarging your space, like the intelligent use of color. Light colors visually broaden the size of the room compared to dark colors that make them look smaller. You do not have to choose one color for the whole room. Be inventive: you can apply the same color on the majority of the walls, except perhaps for one wall that you can make into your focal point.


Have you ever entered a dimly lit room and felt so enclosed? You can fix that with the right kind of lighting. Lighting brightens up a room, be it natural or electrically powered, and like light colors, provides a feeling that the room is bigger than it normally is. If you do not have enough windows to embrace natural light, compensate for it with good lighting.


Decorative mirrors’ reflective nature creates the illusion of space. Placing it strategically in small spaces like hallways, foyers, above console tables, and even in bathrooms can make tiny or narrow spaces feel bigger. Mirrors also bounce the light back into the room, making it look bright, cheerful and visibly widening the space.

Small spaces do not have to be viewed as a disadvantage. You just have to think outside the box to convert it favorably with creative solutions. Let us know if you need help with maximizing your space. We are ready to hear your story.

© Max Vakhtbovych Photo

What is an ADU?

What is an ADU? 1155 765 Tessa Maristela
Photo Credit to © Max Vakhtbovych

Demand for housing in California is at a steep incline in ratio to its production rate. The fraction of houses built is less than 50% of what has been necessary in the last ten years. The increasingly unfulfilled demand forcibly influences housing costs, which consequently collide with affordability, and becomes a challenge to renters and homeowners alike.

An ADU is an alternative housing that addresses these challenges and provides benefits that both renters and homeowners can enjoy. ADUs stretch the bracket of housing categories to increase the endorsement of affordable housing for renters, while providing supplemental income and value to a homeowner’s property with extra square footage.


An ADU or accessory dwelling unit is an additional living space to a primary residence that provides self-sustaining amenities. Utilities are conventionally connected to the single-family structure within the property. An ADU has its own kitchen, living/dining room, bedroom, bathroom and an exclusive entrance.

ADUs have a few diversities:

  • Detached: The unit is not connected to the main house. It could be a new building or a detached garage conversion.
  • Attached: The unit is an attached first floor/second-story addition to the main house.
  • Converted Interior Space: Also known as a JADU (junior accessory dwelling unit), the space is an existing part of the primary residence converted into an independent living unit. An attached garage, attic apartment or master bedroom are ideal conversions.


Homeowners build ADUs for flexible reasons, including provision of habitable space for visiting guests or independent living to senior relatives, in-laws and grown-up children. The more prevailing reason why homeowners build ADUs is to create a stable source of auxiliary revenue. Renting ADU spaces establishes additional financial gains for mortgage payments or covering other living expenditures.


Is a building permit required for an ADU? Absolutely. Local governments require a permit to legitimately build any habitable space within your property.


In July 2022, the California Department of Housing and Community Development updated ordinances, allowing for an ADU to have a maximum unit size of 850 square feet, or 1,000 square feet for ADUs with more than one bedroom. Local bureaus without any existing ADU laws in place permit a maximum unit size of 1,200 square feet for “a new detached ADU, and up to 50% of the floor area of the existing primary dwelling for an attached ADU (at least 800 square feet).”

A statewide exemption ADU is an ADU consisting of up to 800 square feet with a four-foot rear and side setbacks, and a structure height of 16 feet.

A JADU or junior accessory dwelling unit conversion should not exceed 500 square feet.


Beside the additional monthly income derived from renting a space, an ADU appreciates the property valuation with the expansion of extra square footage. Given that a property owner selects the right model, manages his budget wisely and hires the right building professionals, an ADU can justifiably turn out to be among the most profitable investments for a homeowner like you.

* Photo Credit to ©Max Vakhtbovych

2023 Leading Home Renovation and Remodeling Trends

2023 Leading Home Renovation and Remodeling Trends 1920 1280 Tessa Maristela

On the threshold of 2023, we look forward with high hopes and fresh expectations. With projects already lined up at the start of this year, we see inspiring movements on the upsurge, signaling another year of promising residential transformations.

For the past three years, we have learned to adapt and changed the way we live through the pandemic and inflation of commodity costs. As home owners, our priorities for comfort and practicality redirects the significance of  our home renovation decisions.

Here are this year’s projected residential renovation trends:


Working from home has been on the rise. Businesses conducted through online communication not only conform with the social distancing mandate but also deliver a more relaxing and less rigid working environment. The attic, den, garage or a guest room are ideal spaces for renovation or conversation into a home office.

Home Office of Residence on Argyle Avenue


Kitchens and bathrooms have high-traffic volumes, exposed to frequent use more than any other rooms in your home. With a broadening attention to practicability, there is a growing demand for kitchen and bathroom upgrades in 2023. Upgrades are as simple as replacement of vanities or countertops, plumbing or hardware accessories, cabinet refacing or refinishing, or major kitchen and bathroom remodels.

Kitchen of Residence on Argyle Avenue

Bathroom of Residence on Curson Avenue


More owners are investing in increasing the square footage of their homes. With a growing need for space, the addition of living spaces has become essential. Extension constructions can be as small as adding a bay window in the living room, a full-size pantry to a kitchen, a walk-in closet to a bedroom or an outdoor kitchen. Major additions, such as a covered sunroom, a dormer in the attic, a second story above a garage or an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) for guest accommodation/rental intention, are gaining popularity in construction.

Walk-In Closet of Residence on Pebble Beach


We have been cooped up in our homes during the pandemic. It is projected in 2023 that homeowners look forward to expanding their living spaces into the outdoors to enjoy multifunctional activities for relaxation, dining or barbecue cookouts. Outdoor renovations such as new patios, balconies and garden decks are foreseen to accelerate this year.

Balcony of Residence in Argyle Avenue


We have seen an increase in exterior facelifts in construction. The popularity of  exterior upgrades and mixing of exterior finishes in 2022 migrates into the new year. With the production of new materials and innovative ideas for combined use of textures, exterior remodels will see an incline in demand.

Exterior Poolside View of Residence on Ramirez Canyon Road in Malibu

Whatever upgrade you are contemplating to give your home a new look this new year, we would love to hear from you. Contact us for a free consultation now.


5 Meaningful Ways to Make Christmas Magical

5 Meaningful Ways to Make Christmas Magical 1086 716 Tessa Maristela

The glitter and sparkles on fir and pine trees, the fuss and mad dash to complete our gift list. We see festive lights. We feel the excitement. We smell the scent of Christmas in mid-air. And yes, we yield our business-as-usual column to the magic that is Christmas. So, let’s ponder with careful reflection: how can we truly make this Christmas magical amid the pandemic?

Christmas in the time of Covid may not be a season of merriment for everyone. Some of us may have lost a friend or family member. Some may have lost their jobs and deprived of their means of livelihood. However, let us not be swept away by the dark grips of the pandemic. Instead, be encouraged to put on our Santa hats, live the true meaning of Christmas and find ways to make Christmas this year truly magical:


Let us be part of something bigger than ourselves. Give back to the community by offering to help in a homeless shelter,  food bank or community kitchen. There are endless volunteer opportunities to lend our hands and share our time. Why not make volunteering a family affair and a yearly tradition? The heart of Christmas, after all, is in the faces of the under-privileged, lighting up with a smile when we hand them thick coats or hot soups to warm their bodies against the chill of December.


It does not take a lot of effort to be kind to someone. We make an impact with simple gestures that say we care. Offer our seats on public transportation. Drop off a food basket at the doorstep of a neighbor who just lost his job. Pay for the person behind us in a grocery line. Give warm food to the homeless on the street. Leave a thoughtful note on someone’s windshield. Offer a hot drink to the gardener, mailman or garbage collector. Say something nice to a friend or stranger. We never know how the day is going for someone. A simple act of kindness can make a difference.


Giving donations provide for those who have less, especially this season. We can make Christmas memorable for others by donating toys for the kids who have none, food for the impoverished or coats for the homeless to warm their backs.

There are countless charities where we can send our contributions. The more popular ones are food pantries and thrift stores. Food pantries run by local churches are open to accepting non-perishable food products. Thrift stores run by charities raise funding for their causes from our clothing donations.


Maintaining the protocol of social distancing should not deter us from celebrating Christmas with the people dear to us. With distancing imposed upon us for the last three years, we yearn even more to be closer to our family and friends. Take heart in knowing that the pandemic has no command over our celebratory mood. Thanks to virtual technology, we can still gather while far apart in a zoom get-together.


Sometimes we immerse in the commercial aspect of Christmas, we lose sight of its true meaning. Generous by nature, we choose to give something grand to make someone dear to us happy. Perhaps it’s time to pause and contemplate: generosity also comes from a place beyond our deep pockets. Why not give something from the heart: a poem we wrote, a simple scarf we knitted, a basketful of fruits and jars of jam we put together, a memory scrapbook of photographs we collected and compiled through the years. Gifts from the mall cannot measure up with the value of a handmade gift made from the labor of our love.

Be your own Santa. Look back at the true meaning of the season and make Christmas truly magical.

From the Substrata family to yours, we wish you all a meaningful Christmas!

Why is Metal a Popular Choice for Residential Roofing?

Why is Metal a Popular Choice for Residential Roofing? 741 433 Tessa Maristela

Metal is rapidly becoming a prevailing material preference for residential roofing installation, where once it was traditionally dedicated for commercial use. Its rising popularity among homeowners can be attributed not only to contemporary aesthetics that are trending in roofing systems but also to essential benefits desired.

Strength of Material

Metal is extremely strong and can endure the abuse of acute weather conditions. It repels moisture and reflects heat, making it ideal for humid climates. Its innately slippery nature combats snow from holding on to its surface, allowing snow to slide off effortlessly, which consequently reduces the weight on the roof. Compared to asphalt shingles, metal roofs can outlast varying and inherently unpredictable elements of nature like wind, rain, hail, snow, storm or hurricane.


Legitimately installed by skillful professionals, metal roofs can have from 40 to 70 years of longevity because of their strength factor. While your children have all grown, moved out to college or started an independent life outside home, your metal roof stays with you for almost your lifetime. Think about the financial value it provides from not having to worry about replacing it over an elongated lifespan.

Energy Conservation

Metal roofs reflect solar heat, minimizing the use of a cooling system in your home, which ultimately save electricity costs. When it does get hot on a scorching summer day, metal roofs do not take long to cool off after the sun sets.

Ecologically Friendly

Its 100% recyclability makes metal environmentally friendly. Demolished shingles after exhausting their shelf life are disposed of on landfills, while metal can be transformed into new sheets or repurposed into other forms of metal commodities. Moreover, metal’s heat-reflective and cool-emissive qualities not only minimize your electricity costs, but also encourages to gravitate from further consuming non-recyclable resources such as gas and coal that are used to run electricity.

Fire Resistance

Metal roofing does not yield to fire, making it favorable for houses located in regions vulnerable to wildfires during extended dry spells. It also does not ignite into flames on rare occasions when struck by lightning amid a thunderstorm.

Light Weight

Lighter in weight than most roofing materials, metal delivers reduced load-bearing pressure on roof footholds, upholding a house’s structural stability. Additionally, irrespective of being light weight, metal roofing systems have interlocking panels resistant to severely rough winds. It is simple and quick to install, credited to its weight, therefore shrinking labor costs.

Low Maintenance

Metal roofs demand minimal maintenance due to their durability, impenetrability and high resistance to volatile environmental circumstances, orchestrating for you a more comfortable, worry-free and sustainable lifestyle.

The Space Debate: Open Concept Versus Traditional Floor Plan

The Space Debate: Open Concept Versus Traditional Floor Plan 1164 779 Tessa Maristela

One of the major decisions in purchasing a new home or custom-building a home is choosing between an open concept or a traditional floor plan. Understanding the distinction between the two floor plans helps to decide which one best suit your needs.

Open Floor Plan

The open floor plan has been interminably the prevailing inclination of modern architecture. Walls that conventionally divide two or three rooms are eliminated to devise one room with unrestricted space. The kitchen, dining and living rooms are collectively integrated into one sizeable room.

Traditional Floor Plan

The traditional or closed floor plan reflects the classical elements of architecture defined by walls separating each room for a designated purpose.

A Brief Architectural History

Prior to the mid-40s, the traditional floor plan included a hallway that channeled access to each room isolated by walls to distinctly serve their function. The kitchen, considered a utilitarian section for food preparation, was located at the rear end of the house. The dining room was a formal area for meal consumption and the living room was essentially for socialization. In the 1900s, forward thinking architects like Frank Lloyd Wright revolutionized the configuration of the kitchen, dining and living rooms into one great space, transforming it into the heart of social gathering and entertainment. Thriving families became more relaxed and less forbidding in their approach to space use, especially in the fabric of urban living.

Pros and Cons 

Accessibility and Traffic Fluidity

People can move freely through a large space on an open floor plan, making itself seamlessly accessible to central living spaces such as the kitchen, dining and living rooms.  The absence of walls allows efficient traffic circulation for domestic activities or entertainment of large guests. In contrast, a traditional floor plan hinders movement while navigating around dividing walls or opening doors to access another room. People with mobility concerns such as those with walking aids or confined in a wheelchair may find walls and doors challenging in their limited ability to move effortlessly.

Natural Light

An open concept home obliges the sun to bathe the space with natural light through huge windows. A room with lavish supply of sunlight feels more cheerful, warm and cozy. Not to mention the additional benefit of having large windows invite into the interior a view of the outdoor landscape and to enjoy the spectacular changing colors of the twilight sky. Shared natural light also provide the opportunity to save on electricity use.

Traditional floor plans, on the other hand, have walls that are constricting and do not provide even distribution of natural light. Windows are smaller in each room, limiting the amount of light flooding in.

Sound and Smell 

Open floor plans have the disadvantage of sound and smell traveling across space, while traditional homes have wall partitions to suppress the spread of bothersome noise or odor.

Heating and Cooling

The traditional floor plan offers more economical heating and cooling distribution. Each confined space can be designated as a separate HVAC section, granting the capacity to manage temperature in rooms that are in use.

Temperature control in an open floor plan can be prohibitive. A large space naturally requires more cooling and heating and is less energy efficient. Huge windows that are typical in open concept homes provides less cushion against the outdoor cold or heat.

Socialization and Entertainment

Unlike a traditional floor plan, open concept homes enable you to enjoy conversing and exchanging stories with your friends and family in the living room while you are preparing meals in the kitchen, because there are no walls separating you from them.


Open floor plans are excellent for social occasions but are limiting when you are looking for a quiet retreat from a gathering. The traditional floor plan provides a public space for socializing and personal space to relax and cherish your private time.

Clutter Control

There is a greater need to control clutter in an open concept layout to keep things tidy. Toys scattered on the living room floor need to be stored or a messy kitchen has to be organized at once to avoid unsightly disorder. Traditional homes have the advantage of hiding clutter behind wall enclosures.


It is recommended to conceive a unified and collective design theme for a large living space on an open floor plan. A closed floor plan, however, is more flexible with creating design statements that can be unique in each room.


With an open-concept home, parents who are working in the kitchen have full visibility of their children at play or an elderly family member watching television in the living room. This is a discernable challenge in a traditional home, since wall barriers enclose the occupant of the room.

Open concept and traditional floor plans have both positive and negative attributes. Debating about which one works best ultimately comes down to fundamental considerations such as your lifestyle, funding, space requirement and growing needs.




Coordinating Exterior Finishes

Coordinating Exterior Finishes 1359 975 Tessa Maristela

The potential of architecture to transform experience rests on factors such as form, function and an aesthetically competent design. Texture is one aspect that can amplify a building’s dimensionality, visual character and marked singularity by introducing understated integration of elements. Like painting on canvas, we refer to texture as an optical palette of exterior finishes that are remarkably distinct but can simultaneously achieve material congruity when applied on a building’s facade, expressed in a symphony of colors, patterns and panel layering of assorted scales. While there are no strict architectural guidelines on combining exterior finishes, too many textures can look cluttered and engulfing. Focus must be directed to a larger purpose of building a sound and cohesive combination of textures while committed to the virtue of simplicity. Materials such as timber, metal, bricks, glass, stone and fiber cement, artistically and intelligently combined, create contemporary and modern expressions that are convincing and refreshing.

Elevating an otherwise flat and dull field of broad surface with an interesting spectrum of textures inspires visual variance, accentuation and transition of space. For instance, the warmth of organic materials like wood complements the industrial appeal of metal. Layering of materials such as stone, glass and vinyl perk up the dimensionality of space by producing notable visual distinctions.

While abiding by the design principle that form must follow function, it is not to say that visual interest must be sacrificed. The objective is to balance the mix of materials to maximize design performance. Consideration must be given to realistic outlines such as durability, sustainability, cost efficiency, even the integration of materials to fit the site and its environment. As an example, corrosive-resistant materials such as stainless steel endure for decades. Stone has inherent texture, is durable and timeless, cost effective and requires low upkeep. Incorporated on a building located in the coastal regions of California or Florida where the air is moist and salty, the combined use of stone and steel makes for the desired balance in design performance.

We share a few photos from Substrata’s album of completed projects, illustrating versatility in the mixed use and allocation of diverse materials that adhere to unity and balance in design.

Mercer Vine on 3rd Street

Drawn to the existing urban fabric of 3rd St, the Mercer Vine exterior adapts the physical texture of the city embodied by the industrial overtone of teak wood sidings, brick subways and storefront glass. A few shades lighter from each other, the brick subways on the ground level terminate with teak wood sidings above them. The two textures do not confuse but complement each other. Projected as a distinct volume, the storefront glass invites into the interior a view of the cityscape.

The Ashby on Hobart Street

Black and gold decorative Art Deco stones highlight the entrance of The Ashby on Hobart Street, while the wall siding pursues a slight transition of two-tone colors separating the ground level from the upper floor.

Malibu Residence

Configuration of volumes decisively breaks down the scale of this residence in Malibu with multiple dimensions of vertical glass panels and horizontal wood cladding, punctuated by grey horizontal panel boards above and below it.

Malibu Residence Poolside

The exterior of this Malibu residence poolside articulates the contrast between the warmth of horizontal wood paneling against white stucco field walls.

Superba Residence

The Superba residence employs dark molding accents to trim around windows and doors, coordinated with dark metal roofing, railings and exterior metal sconces. A simple colored accent like this interrupts the austere simplicity of plain, white hardie-plank sidings.

Design by Architect Susan Nwanka Gillespie

Pitch roof lines of the Curson residence are defined by charcoal tones that also trims around the entry and glass-paneled doors, matched by a tapered chimney with complementing dark grey subway tiles. The entry door with a light finish unique from the rest of the exterior stands out. Minimal application of color contrasts transforms the traditional look of this 1920s house with a refreshing contemporary statement.

Exterior of a Proposed ADU on Hoover Street / Rendering by Nwanka Design

Designed by Architect Susan Nwanka Gillespie, a palette of varying textures on the exterior of this proposed ADU breaks the scale of a single volume to outline the layout of the house, conventionally defining the living/dining areas from the sleeping quarter above it. Vertically suspended above the glass panels, a warm wood layering creates a striking contrast against the transparency of the glass panels and opaque, charcoal grey horizontal hardie-plank cladding. The connection between the three elements (wood, hardie-planks and glass panels) provides an asymmetrical balance in design, achieving different visual weights in composition and texture placements.