Category Archives: Posts By Me

Visualizing a contemporary home remodel

A CRISP, CLEAN, CONTEMPORARY HOME REMODEL DESIGN

Recently, CastleView 3D worked with a couple in Florida who were undertaking a major remodel to the townhome they had purchased.   They had a few preliminary 3D views done by someone working in Sketchup, but they weren’t really satisfied with the level of detail they were able to see, plus they felt the process was taking too long.  That’s when the wife did a web search and found CastleView 3D.  After a brief phone conversation and a couple of emails, a wonderful working relationship was born.

We spent a great deal of time visualizing numerous versions of the kitchen and master bath designs, tweaking the details to get them exactly right.  The couple wanted a sleek, clean, contemporary design — no fuss, no frills, and no curves or rounded edges.  The color scheme was light and neutral — taupe, ivory, palest green, and white, with natural limestone, bleached wood floors, glossy lacquered cabinetry, and some dark wenge wood accents.  Below are photorealistic renderings of these two room designs.

The kitchen design features glossy white lacquer European-style frameless cabinets, frosted glass pantry doors, white quartz countertops, a large island with serving area, and a backlit backsplash behind the stove.

[click images to open full-size]
Contemporary home remodel - kitchen design rendering

Kitchen, island, and dining area

The master bath has limestone counters and tile, white wenge wood floating cabinets, a steam shower enclosure, a skylight, and pale green walls.

Contemporary home remodel - master bath design rendering

Master bath

Over a period of several months, the clients and I also explored various options for the great room, the office, the home theater, the exercise room, and the master and guest bedrooms, to help with finish material choices, lighting, and space planning.  We also worked on visualizing the patio, pool with decorative water wall, and landscape design.  It took over 9 months for the couple to get everything designed to their satisfaction and subsequently approved by their homeowners board.  Below are a few of the renderings done for this project, out of more than 200 total.

Great Room design rendering

Great Room design rendering

Office and home theater rendering

Office and home theater rendering

Home theater design rendering

Home theater design rendering

Landscaping for front entry

Landscaping for front entry

Patio, pool with water wall, and rear landscaping

Patio, pool with water wall, and rear landscaping

These clients were very enthusiastic about the value of their work with CastleView 3D in visualizing their contemporary home remodel.  They say it was extremely helpful in their design planning to be able to see detailed renderings of their ideas.  Some things they originally thought they wanted, such as stainless steel cabinets and a dark marble counter in the kitchen, were eliminated once they saw how they would actually look.

The wife says that the 3D renderings helped her to communicate with her husband and get him excited about her ideas for their home.  The renderings also helped the couple communicate with their contractors about exactly what they want.

“Working with CastleView 3D has been a real gift for us and has made an incredible difference.  Saved us many, many mistakes in our build.  I had no idea how incapable I was of visualizing things from blueprints and plans. We tell people about you all the time!”

NOTE:  All modeling was done in Chief Architect X5.  Renderings were done in CAX5 or in Thea.

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3D renderings of vacation homes

THREE WATERFRONT HOME VISUALIZATIONS

Over the summer, CastleView 3D worked on three visualization projects for clients who were building or remodeling waterfront vacation homes. Rochester, New York (where our world headquarters is located) is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and in the midst of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.  So lake homes and waterfront cottages are definitely on a lot of people’s minds around here.

Each project was very different, in terms of the starting point and what the clients needed to see in their 3D renderings.  These projects demonstrate some of the many ways that 3D visualization can be useful when building or remodeling a vacation home.

1.  Canandaigua Lake Cottage:  The Front Porch Addition

[click any image to open full-size]
Canandaigua Lake Cottage: "Before" photo

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: “Before” photo

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: Rendering with porch and dormers

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: Rendering with porch and dormers

This couple had just bought a small fixer-upper cottage on Canandaigua Lake.  They were planning to enclose the original front porch to enlarge the great room, replace most of the windows, and add a new full-length front porch to take better advantage of the view.  The series of visualizations done for them from their photos and hand-drawn sketch of the floorplan allowed them to evaluate various porch options.  It also helped them decide on the shape and placement of dormer windows in the attic to bring more light into the kitchen and great room areas.

2.  Sodus Bay House:  The Siding Question

Sodus Bay House: Front "before" photo

Sodus Bay House: Front “before” photo

Sodus Bay House: Front rendering with pergola

Sodus Bay House: Front rendering with pergola

Sodus Bay House: Rear "before" photo

Sodus Bay House: Rear “before” photo

Sodus Bay House: Rear rendering with siding and transom windows

Sodus Bay House: Rear rendering with siding and transom windows

This client was in the process of building his own vacation home on Sodus Bay, but couldn’t decide on exterior finishes.  Using our renderings created from his photos and hand-drawn floorplan, he was able to experiment with different colors and types of siding, stone, brick, and wood finishes for the exterior, plus various shutter styles for the windows.  We also tried out two different treatments for the front entry, a shed roof porch and a pergola, and suggested the addition of transom windows on the back side of the house to bring in even more light.

3.  Canandaigua Lake House:  Visualizing the Interior

Canandaigua Lake House: Main floor plan

Canandaigua Lake House: Main floor plan

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward kitchen

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward kitchen

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward main entry

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward main entry

When these clients first contacted us, they were still in the planning and design stages for the lake house they were building on their large lakefront lot at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake.  The new lake house was being built as a lovely year-round retreat, to augment the small summer cottage already on their property.  They had blueprints and elevations drawn up by their architect, but they needed detailed visualizations of the interior spaces to help them choose finishes and determine furniture, kitchen, and bath layouts.

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I love being able to use 3D rendering to help people visualize their building and remodeling ideas, especially for fun spaces like cottages and vacation homes.  Making big decisions about the construction and decor of your home is scary — you know you’ll have to live with a wrong decision for a long time, or else pay big bucks to have it made right.  So much easier to experiment and try things out when only pixels are at stake!

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NOTE:  All modeling was done in Chief Architect X5.  Renderings were done in CAX5 or in Thea Render Studio.

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The value of Houzz for remodeling projects

DO YOU HOUZZ?

I find Houzz.com to be an extremely valuable resource for both my own and my clients’ remodeling and redecorating projects.  In case you’ve been on another planet for the past couple of years, here’s what Houzz is all about (in their own words):

Houzz is the leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts, and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality.

Houzz is like Facebook, Pinterest, Wikipedia, Architectural Digest, and House Beautiful all rolled into one.  So it probably goes without saying that it can be very addictive.

On Houzz, you can search a huge database of images for architecture and decor ideas, using just about any style or design or color keywords you can think of.  When you see something you like, you can add that image to a personal Ideabook.  You can also add notes about why you like that image or what specific aspect or item in it appealed to you.  Your Ideabook becomes a montage of features you’d like to include in your room or home.

Houzz Ideabooks are particularly useful to me in my work with clients.  The Ideabook my client puts together tells me a story about what they want to see in their renderings. And because pictures speak louder than words, I don’t have to spend a lot of time guessing about what exactly they meant by “I want a French country living room.”  The images they choose to include in their “French County Living Room Design Ideas” Ideabook can communicate very clearly the specific look they have in mind, especially if they’ve annotated the images with comments about particular features.

As an example of how this works, I put together an Ideabook of my own with images of beautiful bedrooms that I liked, including notes about what appealed to me about each image.  You can see it here.  Then I modeled and rendered this luxurious, serene, bed-sitting room using the elements I liked best from each image.

3D rendering of a beautiful bedroom created by CastleView 3D based on Houzz.com images

3D rendering of a beautiful bedroom created by CastleView 3D
(click to view full-size)

I started with the rug and general layout of this room, which was my favorite, and then added in various other elements from some of the other rooms. I love the muted color scheme of taupes and blues with white trim and natural wood floors — so relaxing.  Actually, I love everything about this space because I designed it just for me!  

There are many other useful features on Houzz.  You can search out a variety of home design professionals, find information about specific products, engage in topical discussions, or get your home design problems solved by the Houzz community.  You can follow others (and be followed in return), read and write reviews of professionals, see before-and-after examples, and much more.  Houzz is pretty indispensable these days for anyone interested in home design, decor, and remodeling.

Ready to get started?  Follow CastleView 3D on Houzz!


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Rehabbing an old house – virtually!

HELPING A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION BY REHABBING AN OLD HOUSE IN 3D

CastleView 3D recently completed a very interesting project.  A remodeler in Illinois contacted me on behalf of his client, a non-profit organization.  The organization was interested in rehabbing an old, run-down house.  They wanted 3D renderings showing the house as it might look AFTER the rehab was finished, to share with their stakeholders and members.

All I was given to work from was two not-especially-clear photos of the current property, which they had affectionately dubbed “Big Blue” — no floor plan, dimensions, or roof plan.  My task was to try to recreate Big Blue as accurately as possible from these two photos, adding foundation landscaping, raised garden beds in the side yard, and some kids on bikes playing outside.  In other words, I needed to make a derelict house look safe and inviting.

Photograph of Big Blue house from front

Photograph of Big Blue from front

Photograph of Big Blue house from side

Photograph of Big Blue from side

It’s obvious from these photos that the house has “good bones” and was once a grand home, but is in desperate need of both cosmetic and structural rehab work.

Here’s the virtual transformation (click image to see full-size):

3D Rendering of Big Blue house from front

3D Rendering of Big Blue from front

3D Rendering of Big Blue house from side

3D Rendering of Big Blue from side

I found out a bit more about the non-profit organization and their plans for Big Blue after the virtual rehab project was complete:

  • The organization is called Beacon Place, and is based in Waukegan, Illinois.  Beacon Place was started by a group of volunteers who had worked in that part of Waukegan for years running a food pantry, among other programs. Last October they decided to move some programs that were piloted at the pantry into a new and larger facility.
  • Once rehabbed, the house will be used by people from the surrounding community, in particular — but not limited to — the children.  There will be a technology room for use by children after school and for their parents; once a child spends enough time learning about the computer, they will be given one to take home (how cool is that?).  Volunteers will help them sign up with Comcast for the $10/month fee that they qualify for due to their income status.  
    There will be a teaching kitchen, gardens for the children, and a summer lunch and backpack program. They plan to listen to the community and provide them with space for ideas they bring to the table.
  • The location of Big Blue is perfect for what the group wants to do. The east side of the house is open space  owned by the park district.  Beyond this open space is a park and beyond that is Lake Michigan.
  • The organization will be relying extensively on volunteers and community members to rehab Big Blue.  It is currently uninhabitable since there is no electricity or water (the pipes have all been stolen).  Please contact them if you live in the area and can help out with this worthwhile project, or would like to support it with a donation.
  • Visit Beacon Place’s website for more information about their programs.

This is the kind of project that is a pleasure to complete.  In some ways, it reminded me of the “roof with a view” project I did a couple of years back, where I added a virtual second story and deck to help sell a home with a fantastic view of San Francisco Bay — but, inconveniently, you had to stand on the roof to see it.  Both projects involved recreating existing buildings from photos rather than from blueprints or plans.  And both involved showing the potential of a house beyond its current state or condition.

I love what I do, and I never get tired of saying how passionate I am about the power of 3D modeling and rendering to help people visualize the future and watch their dreams take shape!


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“Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5”

 Posted by Kathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook
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New Chief Architect X5 training book

I just received word from author Terry Munson that his newest Chief Architect book, “Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5,” is now available.  Here’s Terry’s description of the book:


image of chief architect X5 book cover

This much-awaited book is finally available. Why did it take so long? Because it has been rewritten and revamped.  

At the request of readers, the book now includes a comprehensive index. A new Quick Start chapter has been added, which quickly shows the power of Chief Architect X5 while the reader creates a vacation cabin plan. A Workbook is included where you can practice and enhance the skills taught throughout the book. All the new features added to version X5 are highlighted throughout the book.

The biggest feature, however, is the beautiful and modern 2-story with basement residence that the reader will design/draw from start to finish throughout the book. Anyone would be proud to own such a home. You will see how easy it is to make your dream a possibility using Chief Architect X5’s 3D home design software.  

Coverage Includes: 

  • Finding your way around the Chief Architect X5 interface
  • Managing your drawing projects
  • Creating the building shell
  • Developing and working with stairs, roofs, decks, and cabinets
  • Adding a stepped foundation and applying a monolithic slab to the garage
  • Adding electrical and lighting
  • Creating a site plan and developing the terrain
  • Creating working drawings
  • Creating color renderings for design presentations
  • Exploring your model in real time using walkthroughs and orbiting tools
  • Learn how to effectively use layers, layer sets, annotation sets, and text styles
  • Developing schedules
  • Dimensioning and text
  • Learn the new functions added to X5, including roof ridge caps, progressive ray tracing, running dimensions, walkthrough path, auto NKBA elevation dimensions, and much more

The book, which includes a DVD containing a color PDF of the entire book (great for searching on your computer), the Workbook, and all of the necessary working files, sells for $49.95.

If you’ve seen any of Terry’s previous books (this is his FIFTH!), you know how clear, detailed, and easy to follow his writing style is.  Even a seasoned Chief Architect user like me learned many new and helpful things from Terry’s  X4 book — I keep it next to my desk as a handy reference.


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One home plan, two styles

By Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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graphic demonstration of a home plan’s flexibility

CastleView 3D recently completed a fun and interesting project.  I was contacted by Alex Schenkar of Schenkar Construction, a design/build firm in the Seattle area.  Alex was preparing for an upcoming home show and wanted some renderings to show off his new home plan. He sent me the plans for a lovely mid-size home designed in a traditional Craftsman style.  His goal was to show people how his firm could customize the basic plan to suit their style preferences.

Alex requested an exterior rendering of the Craftsman style home, but he also asked me to change up the roof lines and finish materials to create another version of the exterior that was more modern or contemporary in style.  He emailed a couple of photos as examples of the style he was looking for, and specified that he wanted the roof to be either flat or no greater than 1/12 or 2/12 pitch (versus the 8/12 pitch on the original plan).  Other than that, he invited me to use my own judgment and creativity.

Below is a comparison of the two very different looks created from Alex’s home plan.

Two 3D renderings of a house, one Craftsman and one Modern, modeled from the same home plan

Two different looks from the same home plan
(click image to see full-size details)

When Alex saw these exterior renderings, he told me that I had “hit it out of the park” and decided he also wanted to showcase two versions of the kitchen and master bathroom in this house.  So, following some basic specifications from Alex about materials to be used, I created Craftsman versions of the kitchen and bath using warm colors and traditional Craftsman details, while making the Contemporary versions cool and sleek, with European-style cabinets and a minimalist color scheme.

3D renderings of two different interior styles applied to the same kitchen and bath layout

Two different interior styles applied to the same kitchen and bath layout
(click image to see details)

I really commend this builder’s creative idea about how to highlight his firm’s flexibility and ability to customize their work to suit a homeowner’s tastes and preferences.  I hope these renderings help draw a lot of traffic to their booth at the home show!

Which of these two styles, Craftsman vs. Contemporary, do you find more appealing?


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Living vicariously

By Kathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook
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one fringe benefit of a career in 3D rendering

Lately, the short winter days have me missing the long twilight hours of summer. So I put together this 3D rendering of a patio and reflecting pool at dusk to remind myself how great it feels to sit out on the deck with friends on a summer evening, drinking wine, talking, and laughing as the light slowly disappears from the sky.

CastleView 3D rendering of a waterlily pond at dusk

[click to view full-size image]

And it started me thinking about one of the reasons that my work in architectural modeling and rendering is so rewarding:  I get to live vicariously.  When I create a 3D model of your new home or remodeled space, I get to know it very intimately.  I live in it during the time I spend creating it.  I explore all its nooks and crannies.  In some ways, I may know your home better than you ever will.  So many details about a home that the homeowner never thinks about, I have to think about in order to make it look convincingly realistic.

And when I’m working, I also get the vicarious thrill of watching someone’s dreams take shape.  It’s really very exciting when something that previously only existed inside a client’s mind — or perhaps as a 2D blueprint, if they’ve gotten that far — suddenly comes to life in full color on the screen, looking almost as real as a photograph.  It’s magical.

I may be blessed with a particularly vivid imagination, but when I’m adding new granite countertops to a 3D rendering of someone’s kitchen remodel, for example, I can almost feel the glassy smoothness and rounded edges as the image develops on the screen.  I find myself trying to picture the lives that will unfold in that space.

Same with the rendering of the summer evening on the patio above:  I can imagine myself sitting on the warm flagstones, dangling my bare feet in the cool water, smelling the slight tang of chlorine and citronella in the air, feeling the breeze lifting my hair, and hearing the cries of the birds as they head for their nighttime roosts in the surrounding trees.  Perhaps creating something in such fine visual detail necessarily engages the other senses as well?

Because of this vicarious existence, I know that when I finally walk through the doors of the Clubhouse at The Reserve (the rendering project I posted about the other day) and see it for the first time, I’ll have an eerie sense of recognition and deja vu.

Because I’ve already spent many, many hours there.


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