Our Design Process for Houses + Architecture

Imbue Design's philosophy about architecture and process for designing custom moderns homes and commercial spaces.

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Everything we design begins with the same essential (and exciting!) process: discovering a project’s unique design parameters.  These are the regulating ideas that inform all the decisions which are made throughout our work on the project.  They can be client needs, site opportunities, government regulation, climate, furry friends, culture, budget, time, sustainability, unreasonable phobias, secret obsessions, etc. 

For us, the most critical design parameters are generated by two things: you (the client), and the place (the project's context).  All other design parameters, though vital, are subservient to these.  We weave together how you want to live and how a place can influence your experience to create the meaning that makes your building a work of architecture and your house a home.  We understand that every client and building site is unique resulting in a singular combination that demands responseive design.

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There is an infinite number of solutions for any given set of design parameters.  But at the end of the day, of course, only one design is realized.  In order to better understand the solutions best suited to you, each of the three partners at Imbue produces a distinct, initial proposal for your review.  The three proposals are presented in the form of scalable floor plans, 3D renders, and 3D models.  By varying the layout, aesthetic, material and size of each proposal we’re able to establish a broad spectrum of possibilities for you to consider.  With your feedback we can pinpoint your position along this spectrum of aesthetics and lifestyles to produce a fourth and final schematic.  This client-tailored schematic design becomes the beginning point for the rest of the project’s development.

Rick's Bear Architecture


Throughout the entirety of each project, all three principals are actively engaged.  We are the design team.  No lackies here.  However, as amazing as we’d like to believe we are, we know that real genius is the result of multiple experts combining their experience and knowledge to create something of substance.

Early in the design’s development we begin an interdisciplinary collaboration with the construction team, engineers, consultants, and permitting authorities to map out the most effective strategies that will maintain design integrity, financial goals, timeliness, and ultimate success.  Establishing preliminary structural options, cost estimates, code requirements, and sustainability goals at this stage help to mitigate unwelcome surprises later on.


Often referred to as plans or blueprints, construction documents contain all the information required by: permitting authorities (to issue a building permit), lenders (to establish appraisal value), and the contractor (to bid out and construct the project).  

Working closely with the construction team and consultants we produce the project’s technical plans, drawings, details, and specifications.  We submit them to the permitting bodies and negotiate the necessary permits.  Finally, we assist the general contractor in pulling building permits, procuring bids, and fielding questions.  Permit in hand, the general contractor sinks a shovel into the ground and construction begins.

House Plans Framing


By contract, we're on site at several key milestones of construction.  By nature, we're there much more often.  After all, we grew up chasing brooms and swinging hammers.

During construction we continue our collaboration with the contractor and the trades to answer questions, ensure that construction is going according to plan, finalize details, resolve issues, and verify fabricator shop drawings.  Through it all we keep the client informed on their project's progress.

At this stage we also like to indulge in  a little grade school nostalgia by taking clients on various field trips to ogle fixtures, appliances, lighting, cabinetry, and finishes that may have not already been specified.  When commissioned to do so, we'll even help make the finer decisions  like furniture, dinnerware, and art selections.

We're with the project from design conception to the housewarming party (as prestigious guests of honor, of course).  We'll bring the baked brie.

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