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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
April 2013
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: A Farmhouse Expansion

Architectural Firm of the Month: Judy Coutts, AIA, Architect

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone paving stones Welcome to the April issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. If you are chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter, and highlight your firm as well. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.
Architectural Firm of the Month: Judy Coutts, AIA, Architect
Judy Coutts 1
Photo courtesy Jo Budd Photography

Judy Coutts, AIA, Architect, has over 30 years of experience on a wide variety of projects including
commercial architecture, institutional architecture, historic preservation, and residential design. The firm is based in Central Pennsylvania and is the first woman-owned architectural design firm in Blair County.

The firm's architectural design services include physical feasibility studies, master planning, programming, tenant space planning, architectural/engineering design, specialty equipment coordination, construction administration, forensic architecture, "Green"/LEED Design, historic preservation, building code compliance and interior design.
For more Information:

Judy Coutts 2
Photo courtesy Jo Budd Photography

When owners of a circa 1790 brick farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania decided to renovate the rear addition to the house which dated back to around 1830, they hired architect Judy Coutts for the project. Through a combination of Coutts' sensitivity to the homeowner's needs, attention to detail and flexibility in design style, the renovation to the addition of the house ended up providing much more spacious and light-filled areas for the family to enjoy.

The original intent was to keep the ca. 1830 frame addition and renovate it, but when Kenawell's General Contracting was brought in to assess the job, it was clear that the old addition needed to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. This worked out for the best, as the old structure with its sloping roof did not allow for much livable, usable space. Coutts explains, "On the first floor there was a small office area off of the kitchen along with an outdoor porch. On the second floor there was a sleeping porch and a chopped up bathroom. The roof on the second floor came way down, so head room was really cramped."

The newly rebuilt expansion provided Coutts with much more interior space where she added a new powder room on the first floor, a house bath on the second floor and expanded the master bath.

"The homeowners were pretty definite about what they wanted," explains Coutts. "I told them I just had to stay out of their way and give them what they want."

"We knew we were going to keep with the same footprint, so the concept was clear from the beginning. In general we knew there was going to be a powder room, a house bath and a master bath and we knew basically where everything would go. But then, for example, on the second floor there was a boundary between the master bath and the house bath. We worked on that through several iterations trying to decide just how big or small the house bath was going to be. There was a doorway for the master bathroom that we were trying to connect with, so the house bath had to be pretty small. After that it was a matter of making the house bath as comfortable and as gracious as possible given the small footprint. Actually, I think the house bath turned out pretty nice, you wouldn't think it is very small. You don't even think about it, you just think what a pretty bathroom it is. Then the powder room would really only fit in one place, so we had to decide where the door would be and how to make the best use of the space. So there were a few iterations on that, but not as many."

"This project was a real focus on the details," explains Coutts. "The owner worked with a local supply house, picked out the preliminary fixtures and then asked me to comment on them, so I worked very closely with the owner on the details. In the master bathroom we created an island vanity with sinks at either end and I think that's very unusual. The island vanity looks as if it's an old antique, but it's actually fabricated by a local mill in this area. The other custom-built element is the mirror on the vanity, which is double-sided and is hung from the ceiling. We put lights on either side. It's just another example of the detail that we put into this. It's the kind of project that is an absolute pleasure and privilege to work on because of the quality of workmanship and the skill of all the people involved."

Coutts created bright, sun-filled spaces that have modern touches and yet are in perfect keeping with the design of the original farmhouse. She explains, "The real key to us was the proportion and the size of the windows that we chose. We based the window size on the windows of the existing house so it would be compatible. That was the first thing we did. We probably had six studies on the windows for the outside. It looks pretty simple, but we studied those windows pretty exhaustively. Then we got samples of the windows and waited until the homeowners felt very comfortable with the window selection."

"Another thing was the siding we used. We were trying to save as much of the siding as we could from the previous addition but we ended up keeping a wider siding at the owner's request. We based the scale of our materials and the scale of our windows on those from the existing house and the existing original addition."

Beadboard ceiling was used for the enclosed front porch and shades of white and pale blues were chosen for their association with porch architecture. One of the walls is exposed brick from the original farmhouse. Coutts explains, "We left the brick natural because there was no reason to cover it up, plus we honestly did not have the room to cover it up. So we left it there. There is also one brick wall in the powder room. There actually used to be an old doorway cut in there, so we just left the old stone threshold there. We just left everything because it's those kind of details that make the project interesting."

"Attention to detail is very important because when you see the finished project you say that's nice, and you don't really realize how much effort went into making it look so effortless. Between the design, the selection of all the items and then the contractor's attention to detail, everybody was just so superb at what they did. A lot of times my clients will say to me that it looks like it's always been there and that's a good thing because it means that we made things compatible with what was there."

The project began in November, 2011 and took a little over a year to complete. Coutts explains, "The owner was so eager to begin that they broke ground in November, which in Pennsylvania is something that you don't do. The owner also knew that they would be without a bathroom for about five months because the only bathroom in the house was being remodeled. We talked to the contractor and asked if they could put something together for them, but the owners decided to rent a portable toilet and went to the gym to take showers. They were just going to roll with it. They're farmers so they decided to do this over the winter because by the time Spring rolled around they would be very busy with the farm. Luckily that winter was very mild. Altogether it took a little over a year and construction took about five months." Coutts credits Kenawell's General Contracting for their craftsmanship and attention to detail on the project.

"When I was younger it was all about the architecture. But now what I love most about my job is the people that I get to meet and work with. The clients here were just so superb and then when we got into construction we found the perfect contractor. It was such a privilege to work with the various people on this project." 
Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: 


Architectural Record Continuing Education Center

Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture 

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: 

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.





Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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