We are excited to announce that Ian Butcher, AIA, Founding Partner of Best Practice Architecture is one of three judges for Your Modern Cottage’s 2024 Design Awards, which recognizes the best custom residential designs. His firm is no stranger to the awards program, having won in the Small Modern Cottage category in 2022 for Cloud Ranch and in the Additions and Renovations category in 2023 for Phinney Mini.

Butcher received his Master of Architecture from the University of Washington and has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from North Carolina State University. Prior to establishing Best Practice, he was a Senior Architect at Domestic Architecture, and an associate at E. Cobb Architects. He has taught design studios in the Interior Design department at Cornish College of the Arts, and served as a board member for ARCADE Magazine.

What is the process for getting all of the pertinent info out of your clients in order to get design on the right path?

Every project and client is unique so it’s hard to standardize this process. We do our best to ask many questions and provide options for submitting information, from written descriptions to photos of projects they like. That said, the most important aspect for us is getting to know our clients and having a sense of their personality. We do this as much as possible before diving deep into design. 

Is there an underlying philosophy/design approach with each of your residential projects?

Generally speaking, our projects are more modern than traditional, however, we never have any preconceived ideas for how a project will look. We feel that all of our projects should be a reflection of our client’s personality and represent a contemporary idea of the design solution. This is coupled with an intense effort to make the flow and function of the spaces seem effortless.

How do you define design excellence?

When a space just feels right, but it’s hard to articulate why, that’s success. We strive for our spaces to feel super intuitive as if you just know how everything works without thinking about it.

Do you believe there’s power in design?

Of course! Thoughtful spaces that feel comfortable and are easy to use enhance our quality of life.

What info should potential clients have at the ready before meeting with you?

We are fortunate that most of the people who consider us for projects nowadays have seen and liked our work. So, as a baseline, it’s helpful for our clients to know what our firm does. Beyond that, we like our clients to consider their basic needs and an idea of their hopes and dreams for a home. While we don’t often get to do everything, knowing their ultimate goal helps us strategize how to realize as much as possible given the inevitable realities of building codes, budgets, and timelines.

Your Modern Cottage Design Awards Winner

What’s your favorite room in your own house?

I live in a 1920s craftsman with my partner and we have made many modest improvements over the years, but my favorite room is our bedroom and ensuite. We tucked a simple but smart bathroom into the attic and worked with an artist friend to create a handpainted wallpaper pattern that wraps our cozy bed which has room for our whole family of two humans and two adorable pups.

Photography: Rafael Soldi

To submit your project in the 2024 YMC Design Awards competition, click here.