vancouver architect Archives - Vancouver Architect

Healthy Lifestyle Starts In a Healthy Living Space

A better and healthy lifestyle shouldn’t start with visiting the doctor’s office every now and then. A healthy lifestyle starts from within and in your mindset, and that includes a healthy environment in all aspects, starting from a healthy living space. 

Most of us think that, in order to live a better life, we should make sure our doctor’s visits frequent and on time while keeping our medicine cabinets full of pills. The truth is, the western lifestyle and its approach to medication can also cause more harm than good. Why most people nowadays tend to live a simpler life, eat healthy food, and spend more time in nature? The answer is simple – to have a longer life and fewer issues. This is the path of happy people!

How can you live happily and stay healthy? By keeping ourselves motivated, sharp-minded and focused on the goodness of life rather than negativity. Listening to music that keeps us happy is always a better choice than depressing news that won’t have any effect on our lives. Media are thirsty for your attention, while your mind is thirsty for positive vibes.

Nurture yourself with positive energy and help your body to cure itself.

I am an author and an architectural designer. I combine holistic/self-improvement philosophy with architecture. My wish is to open a dialogue about how to improve our living space to make it age-friendly so that we can live in our homes happier, healthier, and safer!

Your Home Is What You Are

There is no such thing as a magic pill for a better living, yet it doesn’t mean that you can’t live a better life, starting today. Collect your hopes and desires, new aspirations, and change your lifestyle to make the silver time of your life a truly golden one. And what is the one place in the world that overflows with all those? Well, you’re probably sitting there right now.

Coquitlam interior designer, healthy living space
Coquitlam interior designer

Your home is where you created all your memories, the first times, the happy times and the sad times, celebrations and goodbyes. The community around you makes (and reflects) your identity, the person you have become, and the respect you have within. It’s not easy to leave everything behind and start over elsewhere as a stranger. But you don’t have to.

We all have to make sure the environment around us is as safe and pleasant as possible. Even if you are in your golden years, it’s still possible to age in place and achieve peace of mind by proper preparation and some adaptations. Your stamina can be enhanced by the environment designed around your lifestyle, as the indoor atmosphere is one of the prime influences on mental health.

Healthy Living Space = Healthy Residents

Have you ever thought about your house layout and if it really works for you? If you live there long, you’re probably used to it, and adapted your way of life to the way our spaces are arranged. However, never forget that your home can be improved and changed at any time. As your lifestyle and goals change with age, so do your needs, and the environment should follow. 

So what can you do to improve your home? How can changing the layout of particular areas improve or complement your healthier lifestyle? Well, the truth is it can do wonders. Not only can it improve efficiency and productiveness, but it also boosts your mood and even help to achieve some of your goals. Even small changes count. 

Perhaps you need more space in the kitchen? Finding a neglected corner to upgrade it into a workspace may lower the stress that comes with working from home. Some improvements to a bathroom layout can do wonders for relationships. And don’t even make me start on how beneficial remodelling can be for ageing in place. 

Kitchen Is an Essential Part of a Healthy Living Space

Cooking at home is great for both your physical and mental health. The process requires focus, enhances creativity, improves social life and communication. At the same time, using fresh or minimally processed ingredients help you maintain the proper diet and boost your energy levels. 

Coquitlam architect healthy living space
Coquitlam architect

Sharing the experience with your friends and family boosts a sense of community and improves relationships. However, that also requires sufficient space. That’s why replacing a standard kitchen with an open-space plan is an excellent move, that can bring several new dimensions to your life. 

Healthy Living Space Should Encourage Movement

A sedentary lifestyle is the destiny of many, and going to the gym is not always an option. A spare room or a basement can be transformed into a designated space for exercise and workouts. Whether it’s a small gym or a yoga sanctuary, this adaptation can seriously enhance your workout routine, leading to improved mental and physical balance.  

What you need to do is to create a space that makes you feel good and, at the same time, makes you want to spend time in it. That way, procrastination will not be an option. The right ambiance, smart choice of colours, and tactical lighting can enhance motivation for any kind of exercise. If your choice is yoga, a peaceful palette of beige, green, or blue will promote relaxation and harmony. On the contrary, if you go for weightlifting or cardio, vivid colours and lively patterns will launch you to the right mood. 

burnaby interior designer
Burnaby interior designer

Healthy Living Space Is Free of Clutter

Excess can be stressful, especially if your things lie all around. Clutter and disorganization can raise your cortisol hormone levels, becoming a source of chronic stress over time. Smart storage can help to keep that under control. 

A cluttered work environment affects your brain and the way it processes information. Having continual mess in the living zone affects all activities, including the time for relaxation. But the worst place to have cluttered is your bedroom. 

Sleep problems are a common issue that keeps many adults up at night. Apart from insomnia and conditions like anxiety and depression, hoarding and overall clutter are the main culprits. Investing in remodelling that will improve storage and promote healthy organizational habits means investing in future life.

Keeping your bedroom a safe, technology-free zone is another great way to improve sleep and mental wellbeing. And if you can’t stand to leave your gadgets far, furniture with hidden compartments, even charging stations, will solve the problem. That will keep your circadian rhythm more balanced and the habit of scrolling before sleep at bay.  

Healthy Living Space Promotes Social Life

Community and connection are inseparable from well-being. Make sure that your home is an enhancer rather than a barrier to your social life. An open space built to promote communication will raise your hosting standards and help you invite people over more often.

What Else Can You Do

Proper ventilation is very important. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) will not only filter the air but also balance out the temperature of the incoming air to level it with the existing home micro-climate. A dedicated system that runs a stream of fresh air in and out of the house all the time is an excellent solution to ensure great indoor air quality, and create a more healthy living space. 

It’s also important to know where the air is coming from. Air can travel all around the house, from the attic to the crawlspace, passing through the living environment. Broken-down insulation and rodents can decrease the quality of air that’s pulled into the house. Crawlspaces can contain moisture, mould, gases, while attics may host bugs and critters. Together with cracks in insulation, it’s not the kind of air that you would like to breathe. 

Without seals and proper vapour barriers, you will probably end up will the amount of moisture too high for a healthy living space. Moreover, older homes have more issues and a higher potential to be toxic than newer homes. Remodelling will eliminate all these issues, including lead paint, leaks and cracks, to deliver a strong shell in which you will build a new, improved life.

If you need advice or professional input to make sure your home is a healthy living space, schedule a consultation and find out how to improve today. Investing in the quality of your future life is one of the best investments you can make. 

Do You Know Your Architect’s Favorite Color?

Getting to know Aryo Falakrou, Architectural Technologist

Aryo Falakrou MyHomedesigner favorite color
Aryo Falakrou MyHomedesigner

Do you know your architect’s favorite color? If not, then you are gambling with your life. The quality of our lives is dominated by the quality of space we live in. If you are about to build or renovate, then you have a golden opportunity to upgrade the quality of your life. Who designs the quality of your life? Your architect.

That’s a big responsibility. You are giving someone the task of designing your quality of life for the next 10 to 30 years. Not something you hand over on just because you see a good portfolio.

Choosing your architect isn’t just important, it’s life-changing.

What You Want to Look for in an Architect, Apart From a Favorite Color

If you want a spectacular success in your project, you must know precisely who your architect is. That you drill deeper to find out what truly motivates them, influence them, guide them when they create spaces. To clarify, you should know them as well as they know themselves, down to their favorite color.

Red Flags: What Architect Is NOT For You

The architect who believes that he always knows better. The kind that imagines, once the client sees the final project, will wrap them in their arms offering eternal apologies for questioning the genius. It is great when this happens, except that it often doesn’t. As a result, the clients are forced to live in an overpriced house that was someone else’s dream. That isn’t the house they wanted or asked for.

How Can You Make Informed Decisions on Whom to Choose?

Fortunately, drawing an accurate bead on your ideal architect is quite easy to do. If you ever watched a crime show on TV, you’re halfway there already.

CSI Your Architect (Favorite Color Not Included)

Watch one of the CSI show, or just about any crime show built around the investigative process and you’ll see that one of the key tools the investigator uses is to narrow down their options is to create an in-depth profile of all the suspect’s habits, dislikes, past history, known associates and driving personality.

Similarly, your goal is to create a multi-dimensional profile of your idea architect.

From there, you want to fill in all the business and personal details you can gather. Avoid making this a flat, one-dimensional view. It’s more than just a job description. What you’re really after is a rich, multi-dimensional profile that embodies the mindset, attitudes, experiences, habits and goals of the architect who is going to translate your goals and dreams into a place of life.

To help, I am going to make your CSI profile on me a lot easier. This Q&A will give you an inside look at my past, present and future.

waterfront home
Waterfront home

What Is Aryo’s Background?

Born and raised in Iran, he left his native homeland for Vancouver without a word of English at the age of 33.

Before the move in 1997, life was good for Aryo in Iran. He was working on some incredible projects, designing high-rises and shopping malls in the capital city, Tehran. Opportunities were opening fast, but his eyes were elsewhere. He wanted to develop himself as a designer and saw North America as the place he could reach his full potential faster.

Why Canada, Why Vancouver?

From North America, Canada was in his vision, and Vancouver was the warmest metropolitan city in Canada. He loved people in Vancouver, and he felt home the first year he arrived.

What happened when he moved to Vancouver?

To sum up, he arrived in Vancouver alone, unable to communicate, without a job but with an ingrained work ethic and a burning desire to succeed.

The employment market for architects in the late 90s was tough for anyone, let alone a newly arrived immigrant. He focused on improving his communication skills and learned the building codes and permit processes, which were very different from Iran. Still, it took him over a year to land his firm job.

What Work Was He Doing?

Aryo started short term contracts moving jobs every six months as each project finished. Working for 14 different firms within seven years was like riding a project-roller-coaster with every different type of project you could imagine. The pace was relentless and exhausting. But then again, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Aryo became much stronger and increased his already impressive work ethic.

When Did He Start His Business?

By 2006 he was married. Aryo had walked through the fire, overcoming the language barrier and developing a knowledge base of local zoning and building codes better than anyone in the city.

So he buckled up and started his firm with high hopes. Nothing could stop him. Unfortunately, it was terrible timing. Consequently, his business turned to a sitting duck just in time for the 2008 global financial meltdown. Desperate for survival, he had to downsize and take his office into his home.

How Did He Cope With the Recession When There Were No Design Contracts?

In the beginning, his policy was not to accept any contracting jobs because he wanted to stay focused on design. However, as the times are tough, and bills need to be paid, he had to compromise. He ended up taking jobs as a contractor, working alongside tradespeople and builders. While this was a step away from the design work he wanted so badly to be doing, this experience strengthened his construction knowledge and the challenges tradespeople are facing daily.

What Drives Aryo, Besides Favorite Color?

As you might have already picked up, Aryo is ambitious. He wants to do incredible work. He also wants to create works of art that are iconic, alive, and multi-dimensional. By thinking outside the box, he wants to make an impact on the world and the lives of his clients. In short, Aryo thrives on challenges and standing out from the crowd.

How Does Aryo’s Ambition Benefit Me As a Client?

The typical architect doesn’t put enough effort into understanding the client. His approach is to understand his clients, their goals, their inspiration, life desire, and comfort zone. In the words of Aryo: “The other day I told my builder to work as if the home he was building was built for Oprah.”

“I ask a lot of myself and the people who work on my projects,” he says. “We all need to work as if the Queen is going to be taking a tour here.” That is how he works. Every project is as if the client is someone incredibly important.

What Is He Against?

There is a significant trend nowadays for sustainable homes. While he loves the idea of sustainability and he preaches to his clients as much as he can, he also values the aesthetic of the final product. Net Zero, Passive House, or high-performance buildings don’t have to look ugly. Luxury homes can be energy efficient too. Therefore, he puts most of his effort to make sure function, beauty and sustainability can best satisfy the needs of his clients.

Who Does Aryo Admire and Why?

Aryo likes to create places that change and motivate the people who live and work there. Along those lines, he admires business geniuses Richard Branson and Elon Musk and in the architectural world Zaha Hadid. He appreciates the way they think big when everyone around them is thinking small.

Elon Musk wants to conquer Mars and very well may do that. What type of thinking does it take to reach Mars?

Thinking outside the box gets you to Mars. Additionally, it gets Aryo’s clients into their dream homes. Aryo has learned to think bigger than he used to because he has also engaged in personal and business development through the Bob Proctor Coaching program. Aryo has learned a lot AND he implements it. The years of working hard to stay in business had made him think realistically. While he does think outside the box, he is not a risk-taker. Every choice that is made on a project is in favor of the client.

How Does Aryo Define Success?

It took him a long time to remind himself that his driving passion is to leave a footprint, a small ecological one, and a large one on the world as a whole. It is this passion that brought him from Iran to Vancouver, where he is now pioneering his firm, My Home Designer.

What Is His Design Philosophy?

Aryo ultimately values three things:

Harmonizing nature and ancient philosophy with modern architecture

Incorporating sustainability into an ideal lifestyle

Aligning each dream home with the goals of its occupants

“Your home should be a reminder of who you really are and where you are going,” Aryo says. “When it’s well designed, it can inspire you to live your life to the fullest.”

This new chapter begins by opening your imagination, that of a child so we can translate a sanctuary from your youth into your dream home. When he interviews his clients, he draws out their goals and personalities. Through this lens, building your dream home and lifestyle is possible by incorporating shapes, forms, light, and of course, a favorite color.

What Is Aryo’s Favorite Color?

Good question, his favorite color is blue with a touch of red!

A Beautiful Stairs Design Holds Things Together

The concept of architectural and interior design revolves around functional space utilization, practicality as much as aesthetics. It’s a journey through dimensions, a creative process that depends on inspiration as much as on applying a set of rules, principles, and elements correctly. Stairs design plays a significant role in that concept.

These essential architectural elements are space, line, and form. The key to success lies in finding a proper balance.

Space is the foundation of an interior; it’s the area waiting to be filled up — a length, width, and height. The space is not easy to change, and it presents a framework for the art of design.

Floating Wooden Staircase
Floating Wooden Staircase

To shape the room means to connect the lines, creating harmony, unity, and contrast. Horizontal surfaces are often associated with function, and they affect the optical perception of room dimensions. Vertical lines, walls, dividers, doors, windows serve to open or block a view and alter the sense of privacy. And then there are dynamic lines, like the stairs design, that can be diagonal, zigzag, or curved. They connect all three dimensions and bring a sense of energy.

surrey renovation
Creative stair design

A form is a shape of space; a set of dimensions materialized into a functional area. Interaction of arranged forms is the first key to the house interior design. The distinction between harmony and chaos here often lies in the formation of space. Think of staircases like the strings that provide multidimensional interaction while holding the whole space together.

Staircase Design: The Basics

The horizontal surface of a stair is called the tread while the vertical front is the riser. Other elements of a traditional staircase are the steps are the inclined supporter beams and newel posts that also support the handrail, forming a balustrade.

Staircases are traditionally built of wood, and stone, later added iron and then concrete and steel. Technology development made it possible to turn almost any creative idea into reality. LED lightened curves and sci-fi sweeps became essential features of modern design. 

Lightened Stairs
LED U-Stair Design

It is hard to say who was the first to come up with the idea of stairs. The traces of ancient forms of stair design can be followed through history back to the first human structures. Our ancestors used flat rocks stacked for easier climbing or reaching entrances, while the first magnificent staircases took shape in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Old Stairs
Labyrinth Stairs

The evolution of stair design ideas marks the changing times in history, philosophy, and development of human needs. Tracking those throughout history tells us a lot about culture and civilization. For example, although spiral stair design may feel somewhat new, those became common in very early medieval times. The first spiral staircases served for climbing up the round-shaped towers or church steeples.

Stone Staircase Design in a Palace
Palace Staircase

Then came the palaces and stair designs became more grandiose and ornate, turning to a central feature for impressing visitors in affluent places. Everything has evolved, from politics to human beings, fashion to technology; however, the stairs’ role remained the same. Modern designers use innovation to incorporate new forms to the grand old styles, but it’s still the matter of creating functional masterpieces. People still splurge millions to get the most impressive staircases in their houses.

Mosaic Curved Stairs Design
Stunning Mosaic Stairs

Common Types of Stairs Design

Ladder Stairs

The tiniest sliver of square footage is great for tight spaces and small residences, although often not permitted as the main staircase. Tiny vertical stairs come in various styles, from a literal ladder form to more stylized versions. They typically have taller steps and can be particularly challenging to climb, and even worse to go down.

Straight Stairs Design

The simple straight staircase is a single linear flight with no change in direction. It presents the most common and affordable style whose aesthetics lie in its simplicity. The straight-line stair design eliminates the need for any specialized support and requires only attaching at the top and the bottom. Railings and handrails are easy to install. 

Straight Stairs in a House
Simple Straight Staircase

Modern variations of the straight staircase design include open risers, innovative materials, and metal cable railings that significantly alter the fundamental look.

Although simple, straight stairs are not always the most practical solution, as they can take up a large amount of linear space. Additionally, in tall rooms with high ceilings or any area which requires a straight staircase higher than 12 feet, a central landing is necessary. Due to the increased amount of space this design demands, designers often turn to another style. This type of staircase is featured more in commercial buildings than private homes.

Dining room
North Vancouver stairs design

Floating Staircase

A floating staircase is a modern version of straight ones. It usually features no risers, while threads are attached to the wall with the support invisible/minimally visible. The material used for threads can be wood, metal, glass, or stone. This style sometimes involves glass or plexiglass risers for achieving a floating appearance.

Floating Stairs
Floating Stairs With a Console Support

Modern floating stair designs also come with creative LED lighting, hidden or built-in inside threads. This look often foregoes handrails, with glass used in place of a traditional railing to provide safety without sacrificing the open vibe. 

Modern Threads Design
Modern Industrial Stairs

This is a zigzagged, more dynamical version of the classic straight style. The stairs make a 90-degree turn, going left or right after a landing. This kind of stairs is appealing for various reasons, primarily because they are more practical than straight ones. They take up less space, usually in the corner of a room. Also, this stair design is more comfortable to navigate because of the landing that breaks up the flight of stairs. 

On the other side, they are more complex to build, more expensive, and usually require support for the landing and the turn.

Orange LED Stairscase
LED Light in Staircase

U-shaped staircases are similar to L-shape, generally consisting of two flights going opposite directions with a landing in between. These also take up less linear floor space and can be handy for a corner design, but are often more visually attractive. The main drawback of this staircase design is the turn that can be inconvenient for transporting more substantial items.

Winder Staircase Design

White Winder
Winder Threads

Here comes something slightly more complicated. A set of winders is composed of treads that are wider on one side than the other. This stair design utilizes them to save space and remove the need for landing. The stairs are continuous, forming a wedge shape as they make the turn. You can typically find those in older residences, often serving as the second set of stairs in the home. Although less common in contemporary homes, this staircase design is reviving in popularity with the trends that favour smaller and more sustainable homes. (this type of stairs do not meet current codes, as a result, we won’t be able to design such stairs in your space anymore)

Spiral Stairs Design

A compact design centered around a central pole, when looked from above, forms a perfect circle. Radiately attached narrow wedge-shaped treads aren’t the easiest to traverse, but the appeal is worth the effort. Ideal for tighter spaces, spiral staircases in the free-standing form is still considered more of a novelty style. Because of their contact nature, they are fairly common in the beach houses and compact city dwellings. 

Many municipal building codes require that a spiral staircase be only a secondary route of egress from the higher floor. It’s true that their form is one of the main drawbacks as much as it’s an asset. Only one person at a time can use this kind of stairs, and with caution, because the inner portion of each thread is narrow. 

Spiral Form
Spiral Helix Stairs

Also known as the helix stairs, circular form is more reminiscent of a traditional staircase than a spiral one. This is the kind you might find in a medieval castle. The curve is graceful, more relaxed than a spiral staircase, and the steps are easier to travel. This is one of the styles that create an appealing architectural focal point, but also require more open space and are more expensive to build.

Curved Stairs Design

This is another style featuring no landings. This staircase is continuous, and the way it follows a bend of the banister makes a striking architectural statement. It’s most commonly used in or near an entryway, where it can easily catch the eye. The lack of full circle makes it easier to traverse, and the curve is usually gentle, making an elegant choice for any style of home. This type of staircase is considered one of the most difficult to construct and, consequently, one of the most expensive.

Curved Stairs
Curved Form

Bifurcated or Split-Staircase Design 

Enter the grand duchess of all staircases. This is the obligatory statement of the entryway of almost every grand and spacious home. The bifurcated staircase starts with a broader flight at the bottom, splitting through a generous landing to make two narrower flights. The flights continue, turning left and right, respectively. This style is an iconic design statement, usually dressed to impress down to the tiniest detail.

Split Stairs Design
Gorgeous Bifurcated Stairs

The staircase design point is not only to provide vertical circulation but also to enhance the overall concept and style of a house. It is usually one of the first features you will see, so they are a significant factor in making a first impression. While we have elevators, escalators, and who knows what more the future will bring—can you imagine the world without stairs? 

Neither can we.