The Motorcycle House

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The owners of the beautiful house below wanted to work with a personal architect (us) to complete their expansion project because they really wanted to maintain the integrity of their property and the look of the original home (an 100 year-old English Tudor).

“From the outside we wanted the home to have a very tradition look,” one of the owners said. “But I also wanted a place to display my collection of motorcycles.”

You can see below how we were able to keep the traditional look of the home and create a display area in the garage for the owners toys (motorcycles) which were made between the 1930’s and 1970’s.

A high arched hallway.

A 1947 Indian Chief.

A 1937 Harley Davidson Knucklehead (the second year for this particular engine).

Prop used in the television series, Touched by an Angel. It hangs above the motorcycles.

One of the owners said his fascination with motorcylces lies in their craftsmanship. “They are more hardwork than hardware,” he said.

He does not have a favorite motorcycle because they each have a special story and design to share. During the summer, you can find him taking each bike out for a long ride.

The owners' dog sitting on top of one of the motorcycles with his Harley Davidson t-shirt on.









Personal Architect vs Builder

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Recently, we were asked why someone looking to build a home should hire a personal architect rather than a builder. This question made us laugh out loud because although we both build, there are several differences between what we do and what they do. Ultimately though, we feel it comes down to this: builders build houses while architects build homes.

Let us explain. When a client goes to meet with a builder, the builder will show the client what they have built before and say we can do this for you. This is excellent because the client knows exactly what they are going to get and that it “works” because it has been done before. However, that house was designed for someone else. It was not specifically designed for that individual client; it was not customized to meet that individual client’s needs, wants and preferences. In otherwords, it was not designed to be their home.

Personal architects on the other hand, specialize in and seek the needs and wants of the client. When a client meets with an architect (meaning us), the architect will ask that client a series of questions to get a feeling for their wants and needs. They will ask about the feeling the client wants to have present in each of the rooms of their home and what kind of landscaping they are looking to have.  After this, materials are suggested and discussed so that feeling can be achieved in each room of their home. Then any special projects and/or design work are planned, and the house plans are drawn up. This process takes longer than picking out a premade house plan, but the end result is a beautiful home rather than a beautiful house.

It’s just like chocolate chip cookies; all chocolate chip cookies are good. BUT, homemade are better (more satisfying and delicious) than their premade dough counterparts because more time, thought, energy and quality products go into them.

For pictures of the homes and other projects we have personally designed and been a part of, please check out our photo gallery.

Altitude Design Summit: A Deep Well of Creativity

Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake this year was incredible!

It was our second time in attendance and let’s just say it won’t be our last (and not just because the food was delicious and (GASP) we may be speaking at the conference next year). The presenters and the people we talked with were passionate, REALLY PASSIONATE. In addition, they were creative, hard working and had taken their creativity to market via blogging and social media.

It was amazing to see how social media allowed the people we conversed with to market and share their passions. We met Jasmine Star, who had attended law school and then decided her real passion was wedding photography. She is now one of the top 10 photographers in the United States. Check out her website and blog. Her success came in large part because of her use of social media. We also talked with Whitney, who started a blog about career life coaching and told us how important it is to find victory in the small things.

We heard from the founder of Pinterest, Ben Silverman. As we listened to him and heard the social media success stories of those around us, we were inspired, deeply uplifted and rejuvenated. We felt as if we were drinking from a deep well of creativity and that our eyes were being opened to a new world, a world where business success is the direct result of imagination, passion, hard work and social media.

We were reminded during the conference that there are no limits to creativity, that if you have a passion for something you can make a positive impact on the world around you by sharing it and that by sharing passions you can inspire others to unleash their own.

The conference helped us to realize that creative ability can take the form of many end results: beautiful hand-painted cards, exquisite cakes and elaborate embroidery. It can even take the form of a beautiful, custom-designed home (what we do). We may use different materials to express our creativity than those around us at the conference but we still are creating masterpieces. We just work with concrete, glass, stone and wood rather than paint and canvas, flour and sugar, or needle and thread.

We feel that this quote from William Blake sums up what we experienced at The Altitude Summit Conference, “Imagination is evidence of the divine, and the divine is the imagination of evidence.”

Thank you, Altitude Summit Conference, for allowing us to witness the divine and to be part of the energy, enthusiasm and creative thinking that went on at the conference. We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and drinking deeply from the well again.

My Architectural Beginning: Kevin Watts’ First Experience with Architecture

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

“I grew up in Punchbowl, Australia, a small suburb outside of Sydney,” Kevin Watts, President of Watts Architects said. “As a young boy, I was very curious about the world around me and one day discovered in a closet a roll of drawings. I pulled them out on the dining room table and discovered the drawings were of a house. As I looked more closely I noticed an address and I was surprised to see that it was my house, number six, Christian Road.”

Kevin asked his mother about the house drawings and she explained they were the drawings for the house they lived in and were prepared by an architect.

“I had never heard the word ‘architect’ before,” Kevin said. “I found some old tissue paper and with band aids I found in a closet, I held the tissue paper down over the drawings. There were about six sheets. Hour after hour, day after day, I carefully drew every line that had been prepared by that architect and ended up with a set of drawings reproduced by hand on tissue paper. The drawings weren’t nearly as good as the originals but that was my introduction to the exhilarating world of architecture.”

To see his work today, check out the photo gallery.

Jou Jou toy store at The Grand America Hotel: A whimsical wonder

Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Jou Jou, a brand new toy store at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, is a place where the imagination can be set free. This architectural wonder is filled with several imaginative firsts, like a musical candy organ with seventeen candy-filled pipes, a seven-foot long cardboard fire-breathing dragon, an all-steel framed 8-foot robot, and a dressing room enclosed inside a tree where a raccoon, owl and giraffe live.



The inspiration behind Jou Jou came from StruckAxiom, a digital-forward, creative agency led by executive creative director Brent Watts.


“We wanted to create more than just a toy store,” Brent said. “We wanted to create a whimsical haven for childlike curiosity where all generations could come to explore, feel wonder, connect to one another and leave feeling happier.”


In order to create this whimsical haven, we considered how each small design element would function as a whole.


“We connected all the pieces of the project and directed the work of all the talented craftsmen,” Kevin said. “We are pleased with every element, craftsman and artist. Jou Jou is definitely a place where ideas become reality and the imagination can be set free.”



For more information about Jou Jou and visiting hours, click here.


For more information about projects done by StruckAxiom, click here.


Check out our photo gallery here to view more photos of Jou Jou.

Adding a Home Theater or Media Room

Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

A home theater, often called a media room, should be a warm space for family entertainment, as well as a secluded area that enhances a viewer’s experience. Home theater designs should extend beyond quality screens and excellent audio. An entertainment room has transformed into an interior design mainstay. Whether you desire a media room in your custom home or looking to add to a remodeling project; visual congruency between your home theater and the rest of your home is vital to maintaining design harmony throughout your space. We believe theater systems and media rooms should look good, even when the TV is not turned on.


Customizing a theater
The exciting part of adding a theater room to your home is the plethora of customizable options. Thanks to advanced technology and our extensive theater design experience, every aspect of your media room can be tailored to your individual needs. We work with each client to make their own individual integration of the movie theater experience into their own home.

The first step is to consider the viewing preferences of your family. What television system will best fit your needs? Will you need to be able to seat more than just your family? Will you be installing game consoles? Consult with your family members to discuss the purpose of the media room in your home. With your needs in mind, the home theater’s aesthetic design will carry out the practical function of this room.


The quality design of a home theater
The home theater has experienced an evolution of quality and design in great part to advances in entertainment technology. Television screens now align seamlessly with walls and speakers are now concealed in ceilings and even furniture. No longer do clients have to choose function over design, and we are thrilled.

Incorporating the system to suit your home’s look and feel can mean the difference between an eyesore of a room and an enjoyable space for gathering with friends and family. Comfortable chairs or sofas that recline, swivel, and allow the viewer to adjust are a few of the many popular seating options. Eco-friendly dimmers on the lighting systems, attractive wall designs or curtains for sound quality, and warm, non-distracting colors can help make your room design a success.


The cost of a home theater room
As with any addition to a home design, families should consult with one another about the budget regarding their home projects. We are happy to report that advances in technology have driven down prices of theater components–this has led to a constantly changing landscape when it comes to the expectations surrounding home theater pricing. It is important that clients research the brands they prefer; there are some inexpensive and mid-range options that provide exceptional value and performance. We will work with you in constructing a design and price point that reflects your expectations of this fun and exciting addition to your home.

Pictured: The home theater room of our Limekiln Gulch custom home in Salt Lake City, Utah. See more photos here.

Remodeling vs. Building New

Posted by on Sep 7, 2011 in Blog | 1 comment

Before beginning any project, we like to sit down with you for extensive talks about your home design. These important conversations usually revolve around meeting family needs that are not being met in a current home.

As a homeowner, you are faced with an important question: should you remodel or build new?

An architect can help you determine the right decision for your needs. An architect can identify the benefits of remodeling your kitchen versus digging a basement on your new lot. We can take the following steps with you when deciding to renovate or build new:

1. Identify what needs work.
We love to list out possible options for updating your current home, as well as talk about added features we could incorporate in a new home. Homeowners should take a look at their current surroundings and make a clear list of what needs to be changed. Is your house simply out of style? Or are their problems such as proximity to work or yard size that have more complicated resolutions? The answers we can provide for your problems vary in scope and price, but knowing what needs to be resolved is the first step in creating the perfect home for you–redesigned or new.

2. Compare costs.
Experienced architects understand the different, and often times hidden, costs of remodeling vs. building a new home. General contractors, zoning requirements, wiring replacement and permit costs are just a few of the budget items we can help assess and control in any kind of design. We will help you in your comparison with different local contracting firms before you choose one you want to work with. Picking affordable materials, creating a sound timeline, and working with honest builders are all ways we can help you save money when building or remodeling.

3. Weigh inconveniences of remodeling vs. moving.
Depending on the project, remodels can leave you out of certain parts of your home for weeks or months, and buying new most likely means selling your current residence–both of which are stressful. We like to discuss what the best option is for your family. Consider the updates necessary in order to sell your current home; we are happy to design a pleasing update for any home looking to be sold. Also, consider the financing of your new home purchase: must you sell your current home in order to move? Will the selling price of your current home affect the design budget of your home? We can fit designs to meet your budget for renovating, buying new, or both.

Whatever you choose, we are happy to offer our professional opinion to help with your decision making. Creating a new living space is one of life’s most exciting experiences. As with any housing decision, you should weigh the financial ramifications along with the emotional costs of each option. With the right architect and the right design, your dream home can come to fruition.


The following photos are from a recent remodel of a home in the San Mateo, Calif. area.
Before photos are on the left, the finished product on the right:







Your [DREAM] House

Posted by on Jul 13, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.
— Winston Churchill

A day in the life of an architect is never the same, yet, it’s always the same. An architect is continuously working with different clients on different projects, but the process is quite similar from job to job.
Kevin had long recognized the similar cycle each job takes and decided there was an opportunity to educate people who were building homes or may build in the future. In the mid-nineties, Kevin wrote a book which taught it’s readers to plan and visualize their home in a way that was conducive to their way of life. While shuffling through some old boxes in our Salt Lake City office, the manuscript of the unpublished book was uncovered. Sixteen years after it was originally written, the foundation of the book is still relevant.
From time to time you will find exerpts of “Your House: Your Home and How You Live In It,” shared on the blog. Hope you find it interesting and helpful as you create your own home–whether it helps you with a remodeling project or a completely new start.
Each of us, no matter what our financial status, have fantasized about our dream house. Each of us bring the dynamics of tastes, needs, and background to the creative process of planning a dream house. The most exciting adventure begins when you have combined your personal dynamics with a home site and journey down the road to creating your dream house.
salt lake city architect utah architect remodeling kevin watts architecture new home house design redecorating interior decorator drafting plans architecture book

Water Features that Flow

Posted by on Jun 3, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

The beauty, relaxation, and tranquility of flowing water is a great addition to the landscape of any home. Waterfalls or other water features can be used in a variety of ways. The Limekiln Gulch home, in Salt Lake City, has two great examples of water features that really liven up the whole aesthetic of the home.



In the hillside facing the front door, Distinctive Design of Salt Lake City built a beautiful creek which flows down the mountain side and pools next to the entry to the home.  Distinctive also built a walking path through the creek, complete with large boulder bridges and other natural elements.



At the back of the home, next to the swimming pool, there is a very different style of water feature.  A series of pools of black granite, full of black stones, add a beautiful touch to the custom home design. The water glistens as it cascades from pool to pool over the roughened granite edges.  At the edge of the pool, water gushes from a stainless steel edge, into the swimming pool.  In the evening hours, the stainless steel lip is lit with fluorescent LED lights.



What makes these two very different styles work in the same home? The architect Kevin Watts says the key is choosing a design that fits with the surroundings. The creek-like feature takes on the natural mountain surroundings: boulders, brush, logs, and a meandering path.   The swimming pool feature draws on the horizontal lines and clean polished look of the pool and home.

No matter the size or design, the right water feature could be a great addition to the feel of any home or yard.



Mormon Battalion Monument – This is the Place

Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

Despite the cool temperatures, threatening clouds, and snow flurries in Salt Lake City, summer is less than six weeks away. With the coming of the warmer months, Utah residents have the opportunity to visit This Is The Place Heritage Park. The park offers a variety of family-friendly activities during the summer. At the top of that list is the Mormon Battalion Monument, where you’ll see more of the work of architect Kevin Watts.



In January 2010, Watts Architects was given the opportunity to be involved with housing two sculptures depicting the story of the Mormon Battalion: Duty Calls and Duty Triumphs. The larger-than-life sculptures were created by Dr. Steven Neal and took seven years to complete.



Kevin Watts developed a design that would showcase both of the monuments in a wide, open plaza.  Three relief sculptures were added near the two main sculptures to tell more of the Mormon Battalion story.  Once the design was finalized, Watts Architects worked with Struck Axiom to perfect the relief sculptures. Benches and flagpoles were included as well. We also worked with Colonial Flag, who hand-made the Mormon Battalion Flag.  When the planning was complete, we transitioned the work to Watts Enterprises, who built the monument.  Construction was completed in July 2010.





The beautiful Salt Lake valley acts as a backdrop to the two large sculptures and three bas-relief sculptures and, in the evening light, the silhouettes stand out against the colored sky.  The relief sculptures tell the story of the Mormons who were on the Ship Brooklyn and the wives of the men in the Mormon Battalion.



The monument was dedicated the end of last summer by Elder M. Russell Ballard, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This powerful dedication was reported throughout local media. The details of the monument’s construction, dedication and historical significance was reported by the Deseret News. You may read the article  here.

This was a unique project, full of historical significance. It was incredible to learn more about the Mormon Battalion and what they did for their country and for their religion. Providing a place for the battalion to be recognized and for the incredible works of art to be enjoyed was a pleasure.