Barefoot Luxury: Coastal Interior Design That Connects You to Nature

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Being by the water has a unique and almost spiritual effect on our senses. The moment we arrive at the coast, something changes within us. The light dances on the water’s surface, the air is imbued with the scent of the sea, the wind carries a refreshing briskness, and the landscape undergoes a breathtaking transformation. Successful coastal interior design captures these ephemeral feelings, making the experience of being by the water unforgettable, regardless of a building’s distance from the shoreline.

The Allure of Coastal Living

Coastal living is an aspiration for many, and for good reason. The geography of the countless waterfront coasts around the world offers varied climates and characteristics. Yet, they all share a common desire in their interior design: to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Whether it’s the gentle lapping of water against the shore, the distant melodies carried by the wind, the starry night skies, bonfires on the beach, or the mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets over the endless horizon, coastal interior design acknowledges that it cannot compete with the grandeur of nature. Instead, it seeks to enhance our human experience and amplify all the sensory delights the coast offers.

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The Essence of Barefoot Luxury

Barefoot luxury is the heart of coastal interior design. It’s about creating comfortable living spaces that exude a casual elegance. These spaces are designed to be both creative backdrops and sanctuaries where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Whether you’re watching fireflies on a warm summer night, sipping coffee with a breathtaking view, hosting a dressy cocktail hour, or simply lounging with sandy feet and bathing suits, barefoot luxury makes every moment feel significant.

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The Power of Coastal Inspiration

“To me, the explanation of life seems to be its melody, its pattern. And I feel in life such an infinite, truly inconceivable fantasy.” – Isak Dinesen

Coastal interior design aspires to create spaces that are not just beautiful but also inspirational. Architects and designers who work on coastal projects understand that they can be catalysts for future inspiration, relaxation, and fun.

By capturing the essence of the coast’s magic, they transform ordinary spaces into extraordinary ones. Artists, authors, and film directors often recognize coastal settings as powerful connectors to the human experience, frequently utilizing them to tell compelling stories and evoke deep emotions.

Coastal interior design goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about creating an atmosphere that connects you to nature and enriches your life. Whether you’re fortunate enough to live by the water or are planning a coastal retreat, the essence of barefoot luxury can transform your space into a haven of peace and inspiration.

It’s a reminder that the beauty of coastal living lies not only in the magnificent views but also in the way the spaces we inhabit enhance our connection to the natural world.

Bohl Architects has forty-eight years of experience in designing beach homes in styles ranging from Modern to Craftsman. Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your coastal project.

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And After All, You’re My Window Wall

“Because maybe
You’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all
You’re my WINDOW WALL”

- Not quite Oasis
Window Wall River

Windows Are Poetry

Like a great song, windows are poetry.  Windows alone are nothing special. Windows are simply a frame with an insert of glass when you look at them piled in a big-box store or on a job site before being placed on the home. The real magic comes when the window or windows are carefully placed within the composition of the wall.

Contemporary Window Wall

A Window Wall is Complex Design Challenge

A window wall is a complex design challenge.  To be a successful composition, the wall must strike a balance of figure and ground that reverses when the sun goes down. The openings must be designed for day and night. In addition, the window wall needs to be designed for the temperature and movement of the sun.

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Activities occurring on both sides of the wall will be affected by the movement of the light.  Designing the openings in the wall to respond to this movement creates a dynamic rhythm with the space constantly changing.

Waterfront Window Wall
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How Do I Achieve A Window Wall Design?

There are multiple ways to achieve successful window walls. One way is to create punched opening with the biophilic intention of framing the view as if it’s a moving picture. The careful placement of punched openings can be used to deliberately manipulate the light for dramatic effect on the interior.

A more challenging design is the modern window wall. Advancements in glass and steel technology now allow us to flank large scale windows together. The objective is to blur the definition of the interior and exterior. When done successfully, the window wall creates a grand gesture connecting to the expanse and horizon of the landscape, while maintaining the refuge of being inside. A window wall is about the quality of light and view, not so much the quantity of light and view.

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What are some key characteristics and considerations of window walls in architecture?

  1. Natural Light: Window walls are designed to flood interior spaces with abundant natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours. This not only enhances the overall ambiance of the space, but the energy efficiency of the building.
  2. Panoramic Views: They offer breathtaking panoramic views of the outdoors, whether it’s a scenic landscape, urban skyline, or any other visually appealing surroundings.
  3. Indoor-Outdoor Integration: Window walls blur the boundary between inside and outside, promoting a sense of unity with nature or the cityscape.
  4. Thermal Efficiency: Properly designed window walls incorporate energy-efficient glass and framing systems to minimize heat gain or loss, ensuring comfort and sustainability.
  5. Architectural Aesthetics: Window walls can be a striking architectural feature, contributing to the overall design and aesthetic appeal of a building.
  6. Climate Considerations: Local climate conditions, including temperature, humidity, and wind, will dictate the appropriate selection of glass and insulation solutions for year-round ease and comfort.
  7. Privacy and Glare Control: Depending on the location and purpose of the building, window walls may require shading devices or blinds to address privacy concerns and reduce glare.
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Walls by Bohl Architects

Window walls offer numerous advantages, but their design and implementation must be carefully planned to balance aesthetics, functionality, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort. When executed effectively, they can transform a space, creating a dynamic and visually captivating environment.

No matter what the project, Bohl designs in a way that connects the inside of the home to the outside. Window walls are just one of the many ways we accomplish this. For the majority of our clients, we have incorporated a window wall into the design of their house.

Bohl Architects have forty-eight years of experience designing legacy houses. We love incorporating window wall designs into the homes for our clients. A window wall is a wonderful way to capture the view of the landscape and develop an effortless connection of the inside and outside.

We love what we do, but the final product is only successful if you love what we do. Call us at 410.263.2200 or click here – we’re excited to hear about your unique project.

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Ceiling Design – A Room’s 5th Wall

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Chronicles of Choosing the Wall (And Ceiling?) Paint

Between scrolling Pinterest for hours and awkwardly asking your acquaintance of a neighbor at an open house what color paint they used in their house (we’ve all been there) you finally settle on a color to paint your interior space.

You head to the paint store asap. If you go any longer you might change your mind…again. Once you’ve got your paint and materials, you remember that 5th wall. No, we’re not talking about a pentagon-shaped room. Look up! It’s the ceiling. You automatically reach for a gallon of ceiling white and call it a day.

This is a missed opportunity. Ceilings are often taken for granted.

“You’re telling me I must choose a ceiling color as well?” says the Client.

We get it. The decision fatigue is real…But hear us out.

Famous Examples of Ceiling Design

Incorporating the ceiling into the design scheme of a room can change the entire ambiance of the space. Coffers, beams, domes, and cathedral ceilings are some of the many ways that ceilings become design opportunities for making the space special.

Think about some grand examples like, Sistine Chapel, Pantheon, Grand Central Station in New York City, Oxford’s Bodleian Library…While your ceiling is likely not the same size as these rooms, you can look to these famous spaces as inspiration for ceilings on a smaller scale.

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Bohl Architects Ceiling Design Ideas

We love getting creative with our clients, but we understand that grand gestures aren’t for everyone. Although, it would be cool to bring Michelangelo back and have him do a ceiling in a Bohl home. And per request, we’re happy to channel our inner Roman and design a giant, concrete dome for your living room.

Usually, we take a more modest approach with our clients. We agree that sometimes ceiling white is just the simple and sophisticated way to go. Not every space is meant to have a unique ceiling design or color. Below are a few design notes that Bohl has on ceiling paint ideas.

50/50 Paint

The ceiling doesn’t necessarily need a grand gesture, sometimes, a subtle change like 50% wall color and 50% ceiling white will give the room a tailored finished appearance. 

“Alright I don’t know about doing a mini constellation on my ceiling, but I can commit to the 50/50 paint idea.” – Client

Haint Blue Application

Haint blue is a Southern expression and describes the blue paint that is used on the ceilings of wraparound porches to mimic the sky. This is another less ambitious option (although we are always down for a grand gesture.)

Bohl Architects often does a sophisticated take on this expression on simple flat interior ceilings, using Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue.

This. Color. Is. Incredible.

HC-144 is layered in its reflectivity and depending on the light, it can appear blue, green, or gray. It’s restful. It works well in a lot of different rooms.

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Wallpaper on the Ceiling

Wallpaper on the ceiling, especially in a bedroom, adds a level of polish that is appreciated when lying in bed. Is your book boring you? Set it down on your chest and stare at the mesmerizing ceiling instead.

Papers in subtle patterns work well for this application. Victoria Larson’s Cowrie is our current favorite for this. Bold, exciting, patterns can elevate the excitement of spaces and can be used according to your willingness to commit. A small commitment could be a powder room ceiling, or a larger commitment could be wallpaper on the ceiling of a kitchen or living room.

Whichever you choose, Bohl’s goal is to design a tasteful space that brings you joy.

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Bohl Architects is Here to Talk the 5th Wall

Amongst all things architecture and interior design, we are here to talk with you about the ceiling. We realize that designing a home can be overwhelming at times. There are a lot of decisions to be made, even when it’s a smaller scale project. Deciding on paint colors for your walls, and ceilings, is just one piece of the puzzle. Sometimes, ceiling white is the way to go, but we’re here if you’re interested in exploring other ceiling design opportunities.

Bohl appreciates listening to you about your dreams of space and wants to support you in your design decisions. We enjoy creating architecture for the sake of architecture, but the love of this art and business is mainly because of our collaboration with creative clients.

Bohl Architects has forty-eight years of experience in designing legacy houses. Give us a call and we can talk about the 5th wall.

Ceiling Design (FAQ)

Why is ceiling design important in architectural planning?

Ceiling design, often termed the “5th wall,” plays a crucial role in a room’s ambiance. It can enhance the room’s character and augment its aesthetic appeal, making spaces feel more personalized.

What types of ceiling designs exist for homes?

Numerous designs exist, from traditional flat ceilings to intricate ones like coffered and domed ceilings. The choice often depends on the room’s function, the homeowner’s taste, and architectural considerations.

How can ceiling design influence the perception of room size?

Ceiling designs can manipulate spatial perception. Specific elements and colors can either elongate or expand a room, affecting how spacious it feels.

Are there trending colors or techniques for ceilings?

While the classic white remains popular, emerging trends include the 50/50 blend and the “Haint Blue” hue. These choices can offer modern twists and redefine room atmospheres.

Is wallpaper a viable option for ceilings?

Absolutely, wallpaper on ceilings can add a layer of design depth. From subtle elegance to striking patterns, wallpaper can transform a room’s overhead landscape.

For a deeper dive and personalized advice, consulting with Bohl Architects is the best approach. Our expertise ensures optimal design outcomes tailored to each space.

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The Importance of Dogs – Dog Room Design

Client (And Dog) Survey

At the beginning of every project, Bohl Architects asks that our clients fill out an in-depth survey that helps us understand their current lifestyle and what they hope for in their future home. 

If there are multiple humans to be living in the house, we require that everyone fills out the survey. This way, we can identify where people are on the same page and where opinions about programming priorities are different.

If we establish that the clients are “dog people,” we have a dedicated section of the survey for these domesticated companions. Since it’s nearly impossible for the paws to type, (although dogs have proven to be quite impressive) we make sure to ask our client intentional questions that help us create a space that caters to both the pet and the owner’s needs.  


Understanding the Client’s and Dog’s Lifestyle

To design the house in a way that fits you and your needs, we want to know about you and your dog’s lifestyle.  Does your pup(s) do everything and go everywhere with you? Does your pup(s) have specific areas where they thrive?  Asking these big picture questions help guide the design decisions.

We would advise a client differently on the materials used if they are happy to embrace a comfortable level of patina and wear versus if they prefer a house in pristine condition and unchanged over time. Either way, we work with you (and your pup) to make sure that it lives up to your expectations. 

Reducing Damage in the House with Quality Materials

Heavy traffic areas are often beat up over the years and even more so when there are animals in the house. Materials are a central consideration regardless of having a furry friend, but they are especially important when living with dogs. 

  • Carpet runners over wood floors in high traffic areas.
    Carpet is easier on our pups and helps keep them from slipping and sliding on our floors indoors.

  • Oriental carpets

    Oriental carpets work so well with our pups!  Easy to clean and hide the fur and occasional mishap that may occur.

  • Sunbrella fabrics

    Commercial grade indoor/outdoor fabrics make living with dogs so much easier. Angela Healy has a drooly black German Shepard who has established residency on her living room sofa. The sofa is now covered in navy blue Sunbrella fabric, which is easy to remove and makes periodic cleaning easy. Boy do our domesticated companions have it good!

Dog Room Ideas

We occasionally have clients that want to create a dedicated space for their pet, and we collaborate with them to execute their dog room ideas.

  • Dog bath in the mudroom

    Having a space to clean your pup before they enter the main parts of the house is a game changer.  Additionally, an outside shower can also do double duty for this purpose.

  • Built-in dog doors and doggie crates

    This gives your pup some autonomy over their decisions to go outside or take time out from the humans in the house.

  • Built-in doggie station for chow time

    Having a pull-out bin for dog food and a designated place for dog bowls helps makes dinner time more efficient and less likely to be messy in a high traffic area like the kitchen.

  • Dog room in the pantry

    We’re currently completing a kitchen renovation for one of our long-time clients. Over the years, they have had a precious dog by their side. We segregated the pantry from the main kitchen, so that this dog would have her own space. Plus, there is a glass door that she will be able to look out to the water views. There are pocket dog gates with stone plinths on either side, and a pull-out cabinet for her food. Wood floor is shown in the rendering, but we have since decided to put stone floor in the pantry so that it doesn’t get scratched up overtime.

Bohl Architects is a nationally recognized architecture and interior design firm specializing in custom residential design and historic preservation projects. We strive to create spaces of pure delight and that’s for our clients and their pups.

We love what we do, but the final product is only successful if you love what we do.

Call us at 410.263.2200 or click here to get started with us today– we’re excited to hear about your unique project.

German Shepard
dog room

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Molding Cartoon

How Moldings Enhance Your Home

History of Moldings

The original purpose of moldings dates from prehistoric times when moldings were used as structural elements to bind together or connect surfaces. The Ancient Greeks took moldings to a higher level by visually dividing spaces using crown molding designs based upon geometric shapes of an ellipse, hyperbola, and parabola. The Romans based their molding designs on circles and today we still use their quarter-round and half-round moldings. During the Italian Renaissance of the 1400’s, Greek and Roman molding designs were revived and illustrated in pattern books to provide exact dimensions of these features for builders to use in construction.

Types of Molding

Moldings are used to enhance the intersections of floors, walls and ceilings. Baseboards along floors, wainscot along walls, window and door frames on walls and cornices at ceilings incorporate the elegant profiles and ornamental details of a molding’s surface that is designed with recesses and reliefs, with the primary importance of the type of shadow it will cast.

Thornton Sitting Room for Moldings

King George III gave his name to the Georgian style of architecture that featured elaborate moldings. The living room in the Thornton Estate in Kent County, Maryland, includes many types of moldings. There are layers of elaborate crown molding, egg and dart, and dentil profiles that incorporated the window headers. The space also includes chair rail and baseboard, as well as the Chippendale mantel with a pineapple motif, the symbol of hospitality. An unusual detail is the reeded trim (vertical half round shapes) for the windows that interrupts the chair rail and extends to the top of the baseboard. This detail makes the room seem taller in height. These moldings and ceiling medallions of plaster were crafted by hand, since the invention of large machines for planning wood that led to mass production of moldings did not occur until the second phase of the Industrial Revolution.

Moldings Today

Fast forward to 1969, when molded polyurethane moldings were introduced. Unlike wood, this material resists decay, insect infestation, and water damage and requires little maintenance. Since polyurethane moldings are not a natural material like wood, they cannot be stained. King George III might not approve, but modern house designs have little or no moldings or trim to maintain a minimalist look.

Case Studies

Modern Case Study 1

For the Hudson Valley Farmhouse project, Bohl Architects created a minimalist look by minimizing the use of baseboard molding. The kitchen and dining area has no interior molding around the windows and doors. At the windows, the drywall turns the corner of the window jambs to end at the window frame, which accentuates the rhythm of the windows and frames the landscape. When you have large windows such as these, replacing moldings with pops of color can add architectural character to the space.

Case Study with Moldings

For an addition to an 1840 Gothic Revival style house, Bohl Architects specified moldings including baseboard, paneling under the windows, crown, layered molding around doors and cased openings and wrapped beams with additional crown molding to intersect the ceiling for a coffered look. The light olive color ties this addition to the original part of the nearly 200-year-old home, which was recently featured in Veranda Magazine.

There are many ways to add ornamentation to your space and moldings are a great option. Whether you prefer traditional moldings or minimal moldings for your new home or renovation, we can collaborate with you to create your individual look!

Trust The Experts At Bohl Architects

Bohl Architects is a nationally recognized architecture and interior design firm specializing in custom residential design and historic preservation projects.

The interior spaces of our homes dramatically capture views of the landscape and develop an effortless connection of inside and outside. We take you on a journey of architectural exploration, leaving you not only with a home that is entirely attuned to your needs and wants, but with a better understanding of how our collaboration with you brought the space to life.


We love what we do, but the final product is only successful if you love what we do. Call us at 410.263.2200 – we’re excited to hear about your unique project.

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The Modern Beach House

The beach is the ever-changing boundary of land and ocean, offering a mesmerizing view across the waves to the distant horizon.

From the time the first settlers arrived on the shores of the New World’s Atlantic Ocean, coastal homeowners have tried to tame nature’s elements. Water that varies from still to stormy, tides that erode the dunes and the aftereffects of hurricanes that destroy homes in its path.

Still, the lure of the sea is irresistible, and we continue to dream of owning a Modern Beach House. Continue reading to discover the key elements and design features of a modern beach house that seamlessly blend with its coastal surroundings and provide a comfortable, yet sophisticated living space.

Modern Beach House Views

Views of the water vary from morning fog to the sparkling surface created by the high noon sun as it dances over the water, to the still night’s dark blanket of water illuminated by a full moon. Next to the tranquil view of the endless horizon, who can resist the sound of waves breaking and rolling onto the beach? The soothing sound instills a sense of calm, and the wave break freshens the air as it sends cooling breezes. It is no surprise that insomniacs love recordings of ocean sounds, no matter how far they live from the coast.

Choosing a Knowledgeable Team to Build a Modern Beach House

Before embarking on the journey of building a modern beach house, the homeowner mustn’t look over the complexities of building along the water. To make sure the process goes smoothly, you must have a knowledgeable team that has experience navigating the intricacies of the shoreline.

When working on a waterfront property, an architect is required to design more in-depth site plans and submit for distinct grading and building permits. During the contractor selection process, it’s key to make sure that the engineers and builders are aware of additional site work that may be necessary before construction, as well as how to deal with any foreseeable complications. While choosing a solid team applies to every building, it’s especially important for those on the beach.

Modern Beach House Exterior Challenges

Modern Beach Houses come with unique challenges. Many sites are long and narrow, to maximize the number of ocean front lots, so providing every room with ocean views and balanced sunlight is not easy. Plus, window placement is critical for privacy from close neighbors.

Corrosive salt air requires careful consideration of a beach house’s exterior materials and hardware that resist mildew, rot, termites, and high winds. Materials such as concrete, cementitious siding, anodized, powder coated (available in many colors) or pultruded aluminum door and window frames, marine grade stainless steel door hardware, and metal roofing are all appropriate choices. The latter also has the additional benefit of reflecting the sun, which could lower AC cost, if light colors are selected.

Modern Beach House Design

Modern Beach House design is a blend of the clean lines and sleek minimalism of modern architecture with informal interiors inspired by the beach setting. Imagine light, airy volumes framed by white walls to reflect the sunlight and sisal or gray-washed engineered wood flooring, walls of windows that combine large picture windows and operable units to maximize the sights of the ocean and the sound of waves breaking over the sand.

Think casual furnishings, easy care fabrics of lightweight cotton and linen, natural materials, splashes of all shades of blue in furnishings and pillows, accessories of mirrors framed in seashells and accents of found beach treasures such as shells and driftwood.  

When you step through the front door of your Modern Beach House, you can’t help but exhale and leave the work week behind as you toss off your city shoes and slip into clogs for a walk on the beach.

Chesapeake Bay Modern Beach House Design by Bohl Architects

Our team at Bohl Architects carefully considered these factors above for Bembe Beach. The special microclimate of a gently sloping site with a sandy beach along the Chesapeake Bay. The Owners are avid sailors with young children who sought a beachfront lot to launch their boat for weeklong sojourns on the Bay.

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The Owner, Elina Donaldson, is an Interior Designer of Simplicity by Elina and is known for creating bright functional spaces with a strong connection with nature. Bohl Architects incorporated her preference for clean lines, natural elements and shapes in the materials and products for the house. Full height sliding doors and window planes make the open plan living-dining-kitchen a seamless indoor outdoor space.

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In response to the coastal site’s challenging environment, Bohl Architects selected a rain screen exterior cladding system with monolithic fiber cement panels to withstand salt spray, sun exposure, high humidity and airborne debris and hurricane force winds. The house’s rectangular footprint is offset with one side of the front elevation clad in gray fiber cement panels, and the other side clad in horizontal teak boards that will weather over time. The reveals to the black rainscreen membrane create a grid onto the two wall planes that are joined together like interlocking puzzle pieces. At the front elevation, windows and doors are thoughtfully set into the wall grid.

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At the dramatic waterside rear elevation, the grid changes to three stories of structural framing infilled with large panes of glass. Projections of decks with glass rails at the second floor and the third floor’s sunroom with floor to ceiling glass walls reach out to the Bay. At twilight, when the house is illuminated from within, the walls become prisms of glass.

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The compact floor plan evokes the Maryland historic center hall plan with the circulation element of stairs that rise along the side wall of the first floor to become a bedroom “bridge” to the second floor‘s three bedrooms. The staircase then changes to two separate single runs, one up to the box bay sunroom and another up to the top bridge between the third floor office and family room.

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With the “service” areas at the front and the primary rooms at the rear, each level of the plan is organized for views of the Bay that range from a flat plane of still water to stormy top caps.

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Simplicity by Elina evokes the beach setting with the stained concrete floor finish on the main floor, the blue waves of the rug, and the sleek modern bar stools paired with the Scandinavian dining table and chairs. The kitchen cabinetry is a modern grid of stone blue panels and wood open shelving.

Bohl Architects has over 47 years of experience designing beach homes in styles ranging from modern to Craftsman. Our team is grateful to work on spectacular waterfront projects with amazing clients, and Bembe Beach is one of them. Now that summer is here, contact us to fulfill your dream of a house on the beach!

featured Eyebrow Arched Window to Treehouse

From Eyebrow Arched Window to Treehouse

One of Bohl Architects’ favorite window styles is an arched design, whether the windows are shaped like a low eyebrow or a wide-open eyebrow with a gracefully curved header. Eyebrow windows originated during medieval times on cottages with thatched roofs as a way to break up the expanse of steep roof planes. The most famous ones appeared in the city of Sibiu in Transylvania in the 15th century.

From Eyebrow Arched Window to Treehouse

Word spread among the townspeople that the sinister windows, which resembled eyes, were designed to frighten passers-by. Their actual purpose was far less nefarious, for they had an important purpose to provide both sunlight and ventilation for the attics under the steeply pitched roofs. Today, the eyebrow windows are one of Sibiu’s greatest tourist attractions.

The heavy lidded look of the Romanian windows later became “eyes wide open” windows featured in houses during the English Arts & Crafts movement and also in the mid-19th century by Architect Henry Hobson Richardson, the father of the American Shingle Style.

These distinctive window shapes were featured in the Craftsman bungalows and English cottages that were popular architectural styles in the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s. During this period, Architect William Draper Brinkloe incorporated this design element in several cottages that were built on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.


From the interior, the graceful curvature of the window’s dormer roof over the multi-paned triple window enhances this sitting area off a primary suite.


Eyebrow or arched topped windows are not limited to residences-who doesn’t wish they had a tree house like the Swiss Family Robinson, of Disney fame? Bohl Architects channeled this memory from childhood in our design of a tree house that incorporates a French casement double unit window with an arched dormer.

Throughout history, a folly was built on estates for decoration or for aesthetic pleasure in the landscape-think the folly in the remake of “Pride and Prejudice” when Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett were caught in the rain and sought shelter in a folly. The “folly” treehouse Bohl Architects designed is part of a project for which we have been both architect and steward for two consecutive clients over the last twenty years. The property is a magnificent working farm containing a century old main house and multiple outbuildings. The Corsica River runs along the length of the farm and the architecture, with all its various pieces and parts, is seamlessly integrated into the landscape. 

Our clients were fearless in their trust in our direction and asked us to create a tree house in honor of the arrival of their first grandchild.  Bohl Architects design nestles intimately in a mature walnut tree that was strategically chosen for its distance far enough away from the main house to encourage feelings of adventure or retreat. The design is a simple platform accessed by a ladder and a hatch up to two spaces, separated by a French casement that has a dual function as window and door. The spaces are topped by a thatch roof, which helps camouflage its placement in the tree and reflects the Anglo/Craftsman roots of the surrounding buildings. The design offers just enough shelter to not feel enclosed or stifled by the humid environment of Maryland summers and elevated enough to catch the cooling breezes to encourage hours of imagination in an idyllic escape to the outdoors for a beloved grandchild. 

Check out the 3-D video below for a sneak preview to see how this design has evolved and stay tuned to see the finished tree house that will delight the Owners’ grandchildren and children of all ages!

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From Barn to Barndominium

Every year, the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words to reflect pop culture, slang, technical terms, etc. In 1989, a new word, “barndominium”, or “barndo” appeared. Connecticut developer Karl Nielsen coined the word “barndominium” to describe his intent of creating new communities planned around raising horses. He envisioned stables on the main floor surrounded by fenced paddocks for horses with living quarters above. Slowly, the idea of a home that had space for both animals and their humans began to evolve, although this concept was not really new.

Since pre-historic times, the word “transhumance” has been defined as herds of dairy cattle being moved from their winter homes in valleys to the upper Alpine areas during the warm months. The cattle feast on their daily diet of fresh grass, flowers, and water from pure mountain streams. At night, the cattle rest in a barn while the farmer sleeps in the loft after he makes cheese from the daily supply of milk.

While you may not be an equestrian or a dairy farmer, the idea of having space on the main floor for an RV, boat and/or cars, with living quarters above is appealing to many. This idea culminated in a segment of HGTV’s popular program “Fixer Upper,” that featured a 1980’s horse barn’s transformation into a family barndominium.

The “Fixer Upper” barn’s horse stalls had been converted into a garage and storage space and the upper loft was an apartment. The transformation began with turning the former center aisle of the horse barn into an indoor-outdoor room for family gatherings or entertaining. The remainder of the floor included a new staircase to the upper floor and two bedrooms and baths. The great thing about main floor bedrooms is that the doors can be incorporated into the design, instead of egress windows for emergency evacuation. The loft floor became a large kitchen and living room. After this HGTV segment, barndomania took off. Now there are both single story and two-story barndominiums all over the country.

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One of them is a recently completed barndominium for Bohl Architects clients in the Hudson River Valley who caught the wave. They asked for our help in achieving their mother’s vision of a barndominium for herself on their property. The barndominium is sited at the crest of a hill with spectacular panoramic views of rolling hills against a backdrop of the Catskill Mountains, a landscape that has inspired painters since the Hudson River School American Art Movement began in the mid-19th century.

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The existing barn was a story and a half barn with a pitched roof with a one-story single slope shed roofed addition. The barndominium was reclad in corten steel that will weather over time.

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At the elevation overlooking the valley and the mountains, Bohl Architects added an outdoor room that spans the full length of the house, with both open and screened areas. Fir tree trunks have a new life as columns for the porches, rooting the barndominium to its site.

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The rectangular floor plan is divided into two bays. One is a free-span bay that is an open plan living-dining-kitchen area with panoramic views from the side full height window walls through the open and screened porches.

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For total transparency and maximum views of the surrounding landscape, the framing of the exterior windows and doors echoes the framing of the porches. The sills of the windows rest on low walls, with a stained wood cap-perfect for art, sculpture, potted plants, books, or a perch for the family pet.

The other bay contains the entry hall with closets on one side and doors to the core area of bathroom, laundry and walk-in closet for the bedroom and one wall of the kitchen cabinetry.

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The bedroom and a library are located at each side exterior wall, with full height windows and transoms. The library’s tall grid of millwork has a rail to accommodate a ladder to access upper shelves. Sliding doors that stretch in height to just under the ceiling plane connect each room to the open plan living-dining -kitchen area. Off the entry hall is a one-car garage and a carport.

The low maintenance interior design features stained concrete floors with radiant heat, wall and ceiling planes of drywall, simple baseboard and trimless doors.

Whether you are building your first home, planning a vacation space, or downsizing your family home, the barndominium concept has great appeal. With its main floor bedrooms and bath and second floor open plan living-dining-kitchen area, the design maximizes the views of your site’s unique features. Barndominums are one of the quickest growing trends in home styles across the United States. We hope our barndominium design inspires you to think about collaborating with Bohl Architects!

Doors – Your Home’s First Impression

Your Home’s First Impression

Of all the elements of a building, doors and other openings we walk through are the most important and symbolic of the structures we encounter in our daily lives. The door’s concept and application are simple, with ambivalent meanings since doors are used to either enter or exit a space and to provide safety or freedom.

Doors or other openings in walls are transition points leading to other rooms. A closed door signifies privacy or a dead end. An open door encourages entry and provides a vista to another space. Metaphorically, the door has long symbolized the entrance to the afterlife.

Doors first appeared in Ancient Egypt and temples in Pompeii as early as 79 AD. Throughout history, doors have been made from leaves, hides, paper, stone, metal, wood, glass, or a combination of materials and their functions ranged from swinging, sliding, folding, pivoting to rolling. Famous examples of carved bronze doors were the doors designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti for the Baptistery in Florence and the 24 foot tall doors of the Pantheon in Rome.

During the Renaissance, door design combined classical Greek motifs with realism. In the 17th century, a door design appeared that remains popular to this day; this Georgian style door had raised panels, usually six per door, with stiles and rails as the centerpiece of a symmetrical facade. Glazed doors also appeared in the 17th century. In the 20th century, sliding doors became popular and today we now have “smart glass” that can switch from transparent to translucent by clicking a switch.

At Bohl architects, we understand that entrance doors are an important part of your home for the choice of a front door’s style, design, texture, materials and color combine to make your home’s first impression. Red doors say “welcome”; in an early American tradition, tired travelers would understand a home with a red door would take them in for a night’s rest. White doors are universally associated with cleanliness. Black doors convey the authority and power of the Owner. Blue or teal doors exude a feeling of calm and serenity that evoke the pristine water of the Caribbean. Green doors symbolize ambition, since it is the color of money, or echoes the color of a surrounding landscape. If none of these colors appeal to you, the warmth and stability of stained wood is always a great choice.

Through the years, we have specified front doors for our modern art houses, historic preservation houses, renovations and new houses in a variety of styles. Here are some of our favorites from our website portfolio of houses:


Our “Storybook Getaway” house began its life as a three-bay Victorian cottage. The original two-paneled door has a top rectangular panel with chamfered edges and a bottom square panel with chamfered edges. The green door takes its cue from the surrounding landscape of green.

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The “Magothy Modern” house has a modernist touch of a wood door fabricated from horizontal lengths, flanked by full height sidelights. We especially like the juxtaposition of the solid door with transparent sidelights. The mullions and other framing are stained a lighter color than the door for contrast and the sleek vertical hardware complete the look.

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The “Bembe Beach” door is fabricated from dark metal with slender top and bottom rails and side stiles to maximize the glass area. The discrete lever hardware disappears into the side stiles to give a visitor a clear vista to the Chesapeake Bay beyond.

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The “Severn River View” house has a front porch with a wooden door and threshold. The door is detailed with a top panel of three glass panes, two middle raised panels and an oversize bottom rail. The door is centered into a half stone wall in warm earth tones below windows painted white. The craftsman detailing begins with the post and beam framing, side benches instead of handrails and exposed rafters and decking, all in white to focus your eye on the door

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The “Waterfront Shingle Style” house has the entry door at the side of the front porch. The door is next to two long windows and has a top glass panel above two recessed panels framed by wide rails and stiles. Period hardware, including the lockset, complete the period look.

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The “Wye River House” has a wood front door detailed in three horizontal panels, with the two middle panels being the same height and the top panels one third the height. The door’s stained wood is a focal point for the foyer’s interior of white, with an accent of back in the pendant light fixture that resembles a Calder mobile.

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The “Whitehall Creek Modern” entry foyer is part of a “hyphen” connecting two parts of the modern house. The foyer is detailed in grey brown mullions and framing with slim rails and stiles. As an accent, a vertical panel of wood is both an accent and the backdrop for the sleek modern hardware.

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Whatever style, material or color you prefer, we can help you select the front door that is the perfect introduction to your home!

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