Sorting the Puzzle Pieces of Design with Your Naples Architect

Remember putting together jigsaw puzzles from the time you were just a child? These puzzles may contain as few as 25 pieces, or reach to over 1,000 pieces or more. Planning a new home, remodel, addition, or a commercial project has many similarities to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, these building projects range from comparatively simple to highly complex. In both cases we need to sort all the pieces before we can begin planning and assembly. However, architectural projects will contain far more pieces than a jigsaw puzzle, and the shapes of those pieces can change along the way. For now, this blog will address the sorting process. Later blogs will address the planning and assembly process.

Zentangle Creation by Architect Bruce A. Cutler

Zentangle Creation by Architect Bruce A. Cutler

First, the client (that’s you!) and your architect who is familiar with the Naples and Southwest Florida area will work with you sorting all the pieces. Below, is a brief review of the major parts of the building puzzle.

Early in the sorting and design process, the SITE must be determined. The site survey and elevation certificate are a must. Your local architect from Southwest Florida (Naples) must have this information. Then the required building setbacks and easements can be established. The site requirements must comply with zoning, sub-division, city, county, and FEMA codes and regulations. A big question is, “Will the house be one or two stories?” How many vehicles will be parked in the garage? Of course, the site configuration will be a factor in the size of your home. As a home owner you will want to experience the best views possible. Which direction will the sun come from? How do we get the right amount privacy without feeling closed in? What is the landscaping for the outdoor spaces?

A major part of the puzzle includes the BUDGET. How much can you or are willing to spend? The budget influences pretty much the whole nine yards! To a large extent it will be a factor in the overall square footage (or square meters), the number of rooms and their sizes. Also ceilings heights and shapes are affected. The budget will also help to determine indoor and outdoor building materials and finishes. Appliances, equipment, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing contribute to the bottom line.

O.K., now let’s consider the INTERIOR ROOMS & SPACES that you want to have. So; you have some furniture, paintings, artwork, collection(s) and antiques to include. Well, they have to be parked somewhere. Do in-laws and/or children live with you? Do the grown-up children and grandchildren come down to visit? Do you live alone? These are some issues that help to determine the type, number, and size of spaces to consider. Do you prefer a great room or a separate living room and family room?  Most likely there will be a dedicated dining room. How about a casual dining area near the kitchen and family room? How elaborate will the kitchen be? How many bedrooms and bathrooms are needed? Will one of them be a cabana? Then there is the master bedroom and bath maybe with an exercise or sitting area nearby. A study or office is not uncommon. Will that be over the garage or near the master bedroom? Will two work areas be needed? Let’s not forget about the closets in all the bedrooms and cabana, and maybe the study/office. The laundry room near the garage and kitchen is a space that will most likely be included. But, will it be for more than just for a washer, dryer, and laundry sink. Some clients like to include a hobby area in this space. These are most but not limited to the indoor spaces which you might want to include. Work with your Naples Florida architect to help you with the right fit.

The OUTDOOR SPACES are just as important as the indoor spaces. After all, this is Southwest Florida. You’re not in Kansas anymore! You and your guests will spend a lot of time out there. By outdoor spaces, we are talking about the covered screened in lanai (mosquitoes not welcome!), pool area which also may be screen enclosed, summer kitchen (outdoor cooking area), pool bath, trellis, and maybe even a gazebo.

Now, what is all of this going to look like? What are your AESTHETICS preferences? Will you seek a Mediterranean, Modern, an Old Florida style, or some other design? The Mediterranean type is often a formal design with barrel tile roofs, semi-circular arches over doors and windows, round columns at the covered entry or between windows, and stucco exterior wall finishes with stucco and/or keystone banding and trim work.

Architect Naples Mediterranean House

A Modern type of home will likely feature a flat or low pitched roof, often one or a few box-like projections, rectangular windows, and a smooth stucco finish with limited or no banding. The Modern look is likely to show limited or no ornamentation. This look is normally based on the idea that form follows function. The Old Florida type of home is characteristic of its typically metal roofs, wood or Hardiplank horizontal siding, mostly rectangular windows, sometimes with Bermuda shutters especially over the top part of the windows. Sweeping verandas with railings are a common feature. An Old Florida home has an informal beachy cottage-like feel. These are just a few samples of the types of exteriors that are commonly seen here in the Naples area. Your local Naples architect will help you sort out these ideas and to fit them with your needs and wishes.


How you want your home to look and the FINISHES you select, will be influenced by what type of style that you are leaning toward. Roof materials, roof shapes (mostly hip, gable, or flat), wall siding, trim, accents, and zingers, columns, window shapes and types, doors types, are a few of the exterior “puzzle pieces” to consider. For the interiors, we’re looking at ceiling heights and shapes such as flat, trays, vaults, cathedral, and flat. Trim, and molding will often accompany the ceiling shapes. Walls will be finished with paint (you choose the color and level of gloss), wallpaper, tile, marble, wainscots, chair rails, door and window casings etc. etc. etc. Oh, one more thing, we need to choose the floor finishes. These are mostly wood, tile, marble, and carpet, often depending on the function of the rooms to which they are applied. The appropriate floor base must be compatible with the flooring material.

OTHER PARTS of this puzzle include kitchen cabinetry, countertops, bath vanities, built-ins (shelving, entertainment, custom closets) appliances, custom showers, plumbing fixtures, electrical (switches, receptacles, cable television, telephone, internet access, and lighting), heating and air conditioning, safety, and security.

All of the above are most of the “PUZZLE PIECES” to be sorted out. Many of these must be sorted out first before we can proceed to the planning and design/assembly process. So let’s get started, make a list of what you are looking for in that dream home of yours Call, or e-mail your architect who is familiar with Naples, Florida living.