bogjan142I have but one book from my undergraduate studies in the School of Architecture that I have kept close to me. My favorite pages are dog eared, referenced passages are highlighted in pink and the worn jacket is evidence of my admiration.  It is called, A PATTERN LANGUAGE Towns – Buildings – Construction by the Center for Environmental Structure out of Berkeley, California.

It is a small, fat, red bound book that could easily be mistaken for a bible. I inherited a love of books from both my parents who have their own library legacy – one of facts and ideology and one of passion and adventure. Both my children who are under twenty years of age already own more books than any other possession.  It is no wonder then that I design more home libraries and library style built-ins than anything else. A passion for books runs in my blood and this particular book speaks to my heart.

A PATTERN LANGUAGE describes, or rather deconstructs, the sacred connection between our built environments, the natural one and the people who use them. It details deeply rooted archetypal patterns which foster spirit and joy from alcoves and paths to pools of light and  from  the  smallest  scale  of  one’s  garden  to  the  larger   sense of space we call towns and cities.

I have a kindred understanding for this particular vernacular stemming from a time when I built forts and treehouses and explored walled villages in Europe as a child, when I ran retirement developments for the aging as a young adult to this current moment when I am building out a 4,000 sq ft home for a family in metamorphasis while designing five other interiors for couples looking to nurture a new facet of themselves. While it is an intuition more so than a cerebral one, A PATTERN LANGUAGE does a splendid job of breaking the causes of those feelings into timeless design specifics. I dedicate  this  year’s  blogs  to  this  book  and  the  path  of  inspiration  it   has set before me.

Enjoy the new year and take the time to 
discover your own sacred connection to place.






Crabmeat Salad
     3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
     1 tablespoons champagne vinegar
     1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or minced
     1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
     1/2 teaspoon table salt
     1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
     2 tablespoons mayonnaise
     12 ounces lump crabmeat (or backfin), preferably Atlantic blue crabmeat, carefully picked over for shell fragments

Gazpacho Salsa
     1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
     1 medium plum tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
     1/2 small cucumber, peeled if desired, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
     1 small rib celery, cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
     1/2 small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
     1/2 small jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
     1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
     3/4 teaspoon table salt
     1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
     2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
     1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Avocado Salsa
     3 avocados (ripe), cut into 1/4 –inch dice
     1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
     1/2 teaspoon table salt
     1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
     2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime

     1 cup frisee
     2 oranges, peeled using a paring knife and segmented


  1. FOR THE CRABMEAT SALAD: Whisk the olive oil, champagne vinegar, lemon zest, mustard salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.  Measure 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a medium bowl and mix with the mayonnaise.  Add the crabmeat to the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.  Set the remaining vinaigrette aside.
  2. FOR THE GAZPACHO SALSA:  Toss the yellow bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, celery, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, salt pepper, olive oil, and sherry vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. FOR THE AVOCADO SALSA:  Toss the avocado, coriander, salt, pepper, and lime juice in a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. TO ASSEMBLE:  Place a 3-inch-wide round biscuit cutter in the center of an individual plate.  Use a slotted spoon to press 1/3 cup of Avocado Salsa into the bottom of the cutter using the back of a soup spoon.  Lift the cutter off the plate slightly to reveal some but not all of the avocado.  Holding the cutter aloft, press 1/3 cup of the Crabmeat Salad evenly into the cutter on top of the avocado.  Lift the cutter farther to reveal some but not all of the crab salad.  Holding the cutter aloft, use a slotted spoon to press 1/3 cup of the Gazpacho Salsa evenly into the cutter on top of the crab.  Gently lift the cutter up and away from the plate to reveal the crab tower.  Repeat the procedure five more times with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Dress the frisee with the remaining champagne vinaigrette.  Place a few sprigs of the dressed frisee on top of each crab tower and arrange the orange segments, if using, around the towers.  Serve immediately.













We completed this Wauwatosa bathroom moments before guests arrived from Argentina!

Since this was a newly married couple in their first home, this project began with a tight budget.  If, however, this is possibly your “forever home” and your main bathroom, you might just find yourself adding to the wish list and stretching that budget. In this case, we upgraded from man-made tile to natural travertine marble for both the floor and the field tile over the soaking tub. The difference is dramatic.

We also splurged on a deeper, more narrow soaking tub which allowed enough room to face the side with carrara marble and top it with a profiled barnes and partial deck. The look is pure sophistication.  The wish list included a handheld shower in addition to the tub faucet and shower head. Cost was kept minimal by mounting the handheld up high enough to serve as the shower head for now.

Lastly, my client favored the look of antique pine over less-expensive his/her pedestal sinks, so we custom retrofit the base of an antique pine hutch for a drop-in sink and finished the look with a small antique pine storage bench for bath toys. Old medicine cabinets were removed to the right and left of the sink and drywalled as niches with drop-in travertine shelves.

Lastly, we replaced the small original mirror with one that both balances the space and ties in with the antique sink cabinet. Everything is updated and upscale. Just in time for the next guest – a baby boy!


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