By Castro Design Studio

Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Sneak Peek at a Modern House in Progress

I am one of the most fortunate people I know.  I have a great wife, a wonderful new baby girl, and I get to design beautiful houses for a living.  This is one of my projects that is almost finished.  These photos were taken during the last days of construction, when there was a crazy amount of work happening in order to get the house ready for “move in day”.


Please pardon the shameless self promotion, and enjoy this quick tour.  Click on the images for a larger view.



One of the perks of my job is that I get to work with wonderful clients.  A few months ago, I was approached by an amazing couple who wanted help designing their house.  They explained to me that this was their “forever” house, and discussed with me all the things they pictured in their mind’s eye when they thought of their dream home.  I am so very grateful to them, and all of my clients, for trusting me to design their most personal spaces.

I find it hard to believe that a few months ago, this was all that the house was.  SDI Homes was selected as the building contractor, and through the design process we refined the spaces, sourced materials, and solidified budgets.  One of the things I am most proud about this house is that we were able to create a highly detailed, energy efficient, modern house that is comparably priced to a conventional house.  We used all the same materials that you would use in any house, just in some unconventional ways.

It is incredible to watch stone masons at work.  They shaped all these pieces of granite to fit together seamlessly, and they make it look so easy.  The picture shows what became known as “the monument”.  It is a sculptural element meant to echo a stone element of the house, and mark the approach to the entrance of the house.  My friend Terry, The Architecture Tourist, calls it “the stargate”.

When you come into the house, you look straight through to the Family Room, and out a wall of glass to a reflecting pool, which spills into the swimming pool.  The fireplace surround is marble, framed in iron, and set in a wall of walnut.  I was very fortunate to work with Ed Belding of The Belding Group, who designed the interiors of the house.

The Family Room and Kitchen form one space in the middle of the house.  This space opens up to the pool deck, in essence extending the living space into the back yard.  The cabinets are walnut to match the floors and fireplace wall opposite in the space.

The Breakfast Room is next to the Kitchen and also opens up to the pool deck.

The Dining Room takes advantage of a great view of a group of mature trees.

The Master Bedroom is on the first floor.  It opens up to the pool deck, and to a great view of three quarters of an acre of urban wildlife sanctuary.

The Stair Hall is accessed from the Family Room.

The handrail, along with the iron fireplace surround were manufactured by Charles Calhoun, and his team of artists at Calhoun Design and Metalworks.

From the second floor roof terrace you can look at the pool deck, and get a glimpse at the back yard and pool design by John Howard, and the great team at Howard Design Studio.

Kim and Julia went with me on one of these site visits, and they could not wait to try out the pool!

I can’t wait to see the the house as the landscaping matures, and the furniture and art are installed.  As much as I love all of the houses I design, I am always amazed by how much more beautiful they become when they are lived in.  I believe that it is the people who live in these houses that give them life and make them homes.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of one of my projects.  You can see more of this house while it was under construction here.

Thanks for visiting!

An Afternoon In Blue Ridge

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few days with some great friends at their cabin in the Georgia Mountains.  It was a much needed escape from the Atlanta heat.  We got to really disconnect, and enjoy each others’ company.  One afternoon we took a drive into the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia.  I saw some interesting things I wanted to share with you.  Click on the photos to see a larger image.


This is the town’s police station.  When it was originally built it was the City Hall.  I really like the stone in this building.  It has the right mix of refinement and roughness to make it really charming.  The building also has a great tile roof.

The train station was built in 1906, and still serves as a station.  These days the train goes on a “tourist loop” around the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I have always loved the proportions and simplicity of early twentieth century commercial buildings.

This coffee house was originally built in 1926 as The Fannin County Bank. This facade is much more dressed up than the previous example, but you can see the same great sense of proportion.

I am by no means a car guy, but it is easy to appreciate the design that went into classic automobiles.  We saw this great service station, and chatted with the owner.  He was busy restoring these cars.   Behind the garage doors were a Ford Model T and a Ford Model A that were being reconstructed.   It is easy to see how industrial and automotive design had a great deal of influence in architecture, and vice versa.  You can see some of the same forms, colors and details typical of these cars in the Art Deco Buildings of South Beach, Miami.

 This poor guy reminded me of the Constitution Building in Downtown Atlanta.  The Constitution Building is one of the few examples of the Streamline Moderne style of architecture in Atlanta.  It is easy to see how it was once great, and now it needs someone to rescue and restore it.  This car was fortunate enough to find someone to do just that, but will the Constitution Building have the same good fortune?

You can see the Constitution Building in the background of this still from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”… Unfortunately, they did not really have to do anything to it to make it look as if it had been through the zombie apocalypse…

These are some other images of the Constitution Building as it now stands.  I invite you to join the Atlanta Preservation Center,  and Docomomo Georgia as they work to find a way to save the building and find a new life for it.

Finally, I leave you with an image of a whimsical bench swing.  It brought a smile to my face and reminded me of childhood trips to the Florida Keys.

Thanks for visiting!