A new modern home design in the Water Hill neighborhood in Ann Arbor is getting some attention and was recently on the September 2019 Remodelers Home Tour. The home was designed by Stamps lecturer and alum Patricia Ferrer Beals (MFA ’98) and her husband, U‑M Art & Design alum, Joel Beals (MFA ’97), and converts the small 760 square footprint of the original home into a more functional and modern design for a family of five.
“I bought the house in 2001 and lived there until 2007 when Joel and I decided to rent it out and move into a home that could better accommodate our growing family,” Patricia said. The design process began a couple of years ago as Patricia and her husband decided that they wanted to downsize, move back into the Water Hill home, and live more simply with an attention to sustainability.
“The vision for the house really came out of a ton of research and thinking hard about what we appreciate in a home and what we really needed and wanted,” Patricia said. “We envisioned an open floor plan and space to hang out as a family, an abundance of windows, operable skylights in the third floor studio space, small reading nooks throughout for privacy, and the use of naturally finished wood to bring color and warmth to the space.” The couple also realized things they were not interested in, including a formal dining room, glossy surfaces, and walk-in closets.
Joel and Patricia also paid close attention to how to maximize space. “We looked at lots of inspiration from tiny homes and modern designs on Instagram, always with an eye toward simplicity and usability.”
The home features a creative use of space, natural materials, a metal roof, and the use of large windows to bring in lots of natural light and to bring the outdoors in. In addition to a wide array of repurposed fixtures, the Beals home incorporates many environmentally sustainable features including utility-grade wide-plank oak flooring (a cost effective option with beautiful knots), large southern-facing windows for solar-gain in winter, knotty cedar deck and porch (sealed with natural oil), ceiling fans in all of the rooms, insulation made from recycled newspaper, a rain garden, and a standing-seam metal roof with wiring for future solar panels. They also considered age-in-place principles such as seamless shower entries, pocket doors, and wider than required hallways.
Giraffe Design Build was vital in making the Beals’ design come to life. View more of their work on their website.