Studio NYL "I had the pleasure of meeting Michael a few years ago through a mutual architect friend. I have since worked with Michael on several of his architectural projects, even including his house. His architecture style is wonderful playing off traditional forms but with contemporary detailing and materials palettes. Michael is a joy to work with. He carefully crafts each project, and has fun while doing it.

He is unflappable, always calm and collected, exploring each stage of the project with meticulous detail. He has been awarded numerous architectural awards over the years, a testiment to his peers' respect of his work. He is also a very fair businessman, paying as much attention to this aspect of his practice as his architecture. I always look forward to his call saying that we will collaborate again on a project. I recommend Michael and his architectural work without any hesitancy." ~ Julian Lineham

Client TestimonialsWhat were your initial construction or remodeling goals?
When we set out to build our house we wanted something smaller than our previous home, that we could grow old in, that connected us to the outdoors, that was energy efficient, that was modern but warm and inviting. We also wanted the house accessible for two reasons – one as we aged, and the other because we had a friend in a chair. We wanted him to be able to come to our house and feel welcome, so we wanted it was easily accessible to him.

How did the project meet or exceed these goals?
The project exceeded our goals. Our architect was a pleasure to work with.  It was a wonderful partnership in which he built upon his appreciation for our goals and ideas and added his own ideas that elevated our home from what we had envisioned to something we find truly special.  It is clear and simple, yet works in a more rural setting.  His use of different materials and placement and sizing of windows gives the house interest.  The addition of glass garage doors in a couple of locations gives us a sense of openness and wonderful light.  From every room we feel connected to the outdoors, whether through windows or doors. The siting of the house was perfect. The house has also proved surprisingly effective for displaying art that complements the spaces. The marrying of modern with western and warmth was fully accomplished, and the smaller accessible space makes living easy and helps our friends feel comfortable and welcome. We have also been very happy with the energy efficiency of the house as all of our electricity is covered by photovoltaic solar panels. The house is warm and comfortable in winter with the thermostat set low, and cool in summer. The concrete floor helps stabilize the temperature.

Another nice surprise has been the guest bedrooms, which are in a building close, but not connected to the main residence. Our children were grown and were living nearby, but on their own, so it made sense from many perspectives to have the guest rooms in a separate building. Soon after we moved in both our children’s circumstances changed and they moved into the guest rooms. It has given them, and us, privacy, and yet we were all together.

Does the completed project feel like an expression of your character and lifestyle?
Definitely.  We had lived in an historic home that had its own charm and warmth.  Our new home continues to have an inviting feel, but captures more openness, efficiency, and harmony with the natural environment. The spaces all work exactly as we had envisioned them from private to public spaces. Our kitchen/dining/living space is a place everyone wants to be. Our “away room” is a place we watch TV and get away. From our bed we can watch the sun rise, see the birds in the trees, and hear the coyotes call at night. We love being outside and we like the comfort of our living space. This house offers us both of these things.

What was the most important contribution your architect brought to the project?
Mike had an ability to appreciate our vision and ideas, many of which had merit but lacked cohesion.  He built upon these and added his own knowledge of materials and sense of design to make a home something that we find wonderfully livable, efficient, interesting and aesthetically pleasing. He made our vision a better reality than we could have imagined. ~ Polly and Dennis Donald - Rustic Knowles Residence