Creative inspiration is part of every design and as a veteran in the industry I’ve had my share of moments incorporating elements from various sources.  Travel is one of my greatest inspirations, whether in Italy, Spain, France, the Islands or the United States.  Visiting historical buildings that have stood the test of time is an inspiration not only from a design perspective but in the engineering of the structure.

I often mention that there are many talented craftsmen who bring the design to life but first you need to create a design that combines not only unique visual elements but what I call “good bones for construction.”

We have recently become members of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art because I’ve reached a point in my career where I’m looking to expand my resources for inspiration. With a membership office in New York City, educational seminars and trips abroad these practical benefits appeal to my sense of inspiration.  I am looking forward to meeting some of my contemporaries who have inspired me over the years as part of the creative process.

I was recently interviewed on the topic of mentorship and inspirational mentors. From my perspective, membership and mentorship go hand in hand.  After 45 years in business, I now have the practical knowledge to pass along to technologists, craftsman and builders on the execution of the “pretty pictures.”

I’m often called to job sites to trouble shoot on projects where the language of good design has been lost between the designer and practical building techniques.  My experience as a developer, contractor and architectural designer combine all of the talents required for seamless execution.

At this stage in my career, mentorship aligns with a responsibility to mentor others in the industry who are willing to learn the techniques that I’ve acquired throughout a lifetime of experience. As we all know, the basics are found in books, but industry experience rounds out our knowledge.

I’m looking forward to my continued journey as both a Mentor and Mentee and meeting those who share my enthusiasm found within the membership of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. 

Here’s to a new inspiration!

John Williams
Architectural Designer
Williams Residential Design

Im sure we’ve all heard that the “devil is in the details.” That is very true when hiring an architect. Its not only about good design, curb appeal and translating your dreams into reality it is all about proportion, scale, texture and aesthetics.

Trigonometry, geometry, calculus and algebra are used throughout the design process as well as the Pythagorean Theorem which combines many mathematical theories taking into consideration size, shape, mass and repetition of proportion.

I’m sure no one has totalled the number of calculations……… It’s like taking a puzzle and combining all of the pieces to create a design that families will enjoy for generations.

How about the “Golden Proportion?” This is used to create universal beauty in both natural and build environments. It is a complicated theory that was first discovered and used in antiquity during the Golden Age of Greece and is still used today. The symbol is found on our business card. Just think of all the historical buildings that are thousands of years old and we visit each year that have become a part of history.

Let’s remember, your house is no different. You may renovate, alter or change its appearance but unless its torn down it will be found at your address for years to come.

Here are a few places that math is used:
roof lines
ceiling heights
room dimensions
windows and doors
structural elements such as beams, trusses and joists
visual details like porches, shutters, dormers, brackets
lot coverage and square footage are all mathematically coordinated to fit together and become your unique design.

The next time you see a house that has been around for a number of years consider all the thought, care, love and attention that goes into the details.

John Williams


Did you know… there are a few rules to consider when using Shutters

Historically, shutters were used to provide security, privacy and protection from the weather. Today, shutters are used aesthetically as an ornamentation on outside windows.

Here are a few tips to consider:

• shutters should be used on single windows
• each panel should meet and cover the window
• align the top of the shutter with the top of the upper sash and the bottom edge with the base of the lower sash
• if your windows are arched, the shutters need to be arched to follow the profile of the opening (avoid square headed shutters on an arched opening)

• use specific hardware for shutters to enhance the authenticity
• shutter dogs and latches are available in many designs and can be located on the sides or bottom of the windows
• the design should complement the building

• always install adjacent to the window as if they were operational
• NEVER cover the shutters with a railing or balcony so that by its appearance it could not possibly function

• many stock designs are available: solid, cutout, panels, louvers
• materials may include wood, metal or composite
• solid panels will provide a visual eighteenth century detail
• ground floor shutters are paneled and give an appearance of additional security
• first floor shutters are often rectangular with a decorative cutout often to symbolize something important to the occupant
• upper floor shutters are often louvered to catch breezes

The use of shutters add visual appeal to outside windows and should be in keeping with the overall architectural details for the house. The size, hardware, placement and styles used should look as though the shutter is operational and in proportion to the window.

When used correctly this detail adds visual appeal and complements good design.

 John @ Williams Residential Design

The use of a portico is to not only provide protection from the elements but to transition between the exterior and interior of your home.

Visual appeal depends not only on the functional elements but overall measurements, roof pitch, materials and proportion.

Below you will find a few diagrams that best describe how to use:

“Trabeated Porticos”


The correct proportions and materials provide both curb and visual appeal to the home and surrounding neighbourhood.

John@Williams Residential Design!

On a recent trip to the historical city of Boston it occurred to me that one of the most important components with any design project is “light.”

The shape and form of the architecture is of course important but how people feel when they visit the building will be remembered for years to come.

The symphony begins when we marry light with form.

Some of the musical notes before a pencil hits the paper:

Where does the sun shine on the lot?
Where will the family spend most of its time?
How is light reflected inside the house?
Will this family have a garden; do we need to include a pool; will they enjoy a hot tub and where will the sun need to shine?
What type of lighting will be required to enjoy the outdoor space?

This usually requires a site visit so that the designer can become familiar with the surroundings and look beyond the lot size to things like neighbourhood, street scape, and orientation within the community. This footprint will determine key design elements and sing for many years to come.

Communication is critical with members of the family to ensure that the house they share will meet their needs now and into the future.

A questionnaire will most often be used to assist our design team with the practical elements combine this with over 2,000 mathematical equations that are required before we begin to lay the bricks and mortar provides the notes for success.

A symphony of details that with experience, result in a custom designed home that will be enjoyed for generations.

Let the music begin!

John Williams @ Williams Residential Design

Looking at a new design project for your home? In our instantaneous technology world it is quite common for people to ask: What is a concept design? How long will it take?

There are many components that fall into a good design and most often it will take more than one solution for each client and project. We need to remember that designs are hand drawn and every designer will have his/her own questionnaire that will assist with the selection process. For example square footage, lot size and number of rooms is part of the basic questions asked during the interview process.

Our approach consumes great amounts of time and the results always justify the effort.

There are 5 basic elements included in every design project:

Order: the scope of the project, where it will be located and how the family typically uses their space

Proportion: room sizes, and location of rooms are all part of the overall proportion used in both the interior and exterior of your home

Hierarchy: which rooms take precedence to your family and will be used most often and where would you like them to be in the layout? ie. Main floor master bedrooms are now considered a selling feature in any new custom home

Balance: relates to the feeling and distribution of square footage on each level so that it is naturally pleasing not only to the eye but as you walk from room to room

Scale: should not be mistaken for size; rooms of completely different size can share the same scale when completed within a floor plan

Sound like a lot to consider? This is the “tip of the iceberg” so finding a designer that has the skills, expertise and passion for his/her work will assist with ensuring that your wish list comes to life and that your home will be one that stands the test of time.

How long does this take? Our reply: “Until it’s perfect!”

John Williams – Williams Residential Design

Have you ever walked into a room and something just doesn’t look right? It could be height of the baseboard which will skew your eye and line of sight to both the ambience and décor.

Did you know that there is a formula for your baseboards based on ceiling height? Bigger is not necessarily better with baseboards.

Here is a quick reference when determining the size of your baseboards:


Ceiling Height
11 Feet
10 Feet
8-9 Feet
8 inches
6-3/4 inches
5-1/2 inches

Here are a few other helpful hints:

1) bases with flattened profiles
2) chunky projecting caps

Use a shoe mold to conceal the crack between the floor and the baseboard and paint the mould to match the baseboard or stain to match the floor. This is an easy solution when the flooring isn’t exactly square to the wall.

Now when you walk into a room you will have confidence and notice the details.


John @ Williams Residential Design