Get to know the co-founder of Your Modern Cottage, Rick Staub. While I’m fortunate to work alongside him and hear his reflections, and ramblings, on the modern home, YOU need to hear what he has to say. Sure, we post beautiful images of the interior and exterior of houses, but there’s so much more to it. And in 2022, we, here at Your Modern Cottage, and our audience, need to remember Why

I’m not sure if our readers know that you’re an architect and that you also teach architecture classes. Was the blending of these two roles behind Your Modern Cottage?

I’ve always enjoyed sharing my passions with people. Architecture is a passion of mine, and residential design is a main focus. I’ve been teaching architecture classes, yet not so much residential based. Your Modern Cottage was a way for me to share my passion on how good residential design has a power to change how people live. Because where people live affects how they feel.

When I meet with residential clients, I think it’s important to say that if you change the space you’re living in, you’re going to feel happier. They don’t quite understand why they’re going to feel happier about a space, but when we talk with them, we explain why. Your Modern Cottage is an extension of that. This idea of explaining the power of good design and how it affects our lives.

Finding a place for YOU within your home is an important component of modern design. Oftentimes the simplest design moves have the greatest impact. This cozy window seat by Butler Armsden Architects and Leverone Design is the perfect place to get away from the stresses of daily life.

What does Your Modern Cottage mean to you?

So, Your Modern Cottage is really tied to this idea that homes should be designed around three major principles. And these are built into the name of our company — Your Modern Cottage.

The Your is that every home should be designed for YOU. It doesn’t mean that it must be designed from the bottom up. We can always take parts of our house and design spaces for us that make sense for how we live and how our family lives. But every home should be customized to what makes you feel happy, whether that’s painting the walls a new color to designing a whole house.

The second principle is Modern. I believe that all houses should be designed to how we live today. The whole idea where we buy houses and then we have to often fit into the way the house works…well, that doesn’t make our lives any better. It can frustrate us if we’re trying to live our lives based on what the house is telling us to do. I think your home should be built around how you live today. The home needs to reflect a modern lifestyle. Plus, it needs to reflect the modern materials and technologies that bring us the comfort of today, from a smart heating system to bigger windows that allow more light into our space.

And finally — Cottage — is about having a space that acts as a retreat. The cottage has always been this promise of a place to escape and get away from the chaos of the world around us. And I think everyone’s home these days needs to be that place. When you come home, you need to feel like you’re recharging your batteries and reconnecting with those things that are most important to you: your family, your friends, yourself. It’s all about getting back in touch and, to be honest, just readying yourself for the next day. These really are the three principles.

With the chaos of the world around us, our homes need to be our retreat, our sanctuaries. Design can help create settings and spaces that reinforce this feeling of escape. Imagine coming home to this serene home designed by Barlis Wedlick Architects. The simple composition helps lower our blood pressure by just looking at it. The home just feels right.

Have you applied these principles in your own home?

It goes back to My Kitchen Sucks episodes. (Click here for first episode) Our kitchen didn’t work for us. So, if you can get down to the root cause of why it’s not working for you, you can solve problems. I’m not saying that you will come home and there’s a switch that goes off and all problems are solved, and life is all better now. But if the home that you live in provides that place of retreat and comfort, at least it doesn’t add to the stress level.

I’ll be honest, before we renovated our kitchen, sometimes it added stress to my day. It didn’t look right. It didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to stay there. It was cold. And I think a lot of people have places in their houses that cause more stress than they should.

By creating spaces that work uniquely for our situations, like this awesome children’s play zone under a stair by Loro Design, our homes start to work for us.

Did your kitchen renovation make you happier?

Most definitely. I’m in there all the time now. And I do that because I love it. I like it because the view is nice. The windows are bright and open. I like it because the finishes make me happy to look at and touch. And I also don’t mind cooking because I can cook better. I know where stuff is. Organization is huge. Part of the stress in people’s lives is not having that organization. And that’s a design thing, which is part of the education process.

What if a reader loves the beautiful images found on the site’s pages, but thinks, that’s inspiring, but I could never achieve that?

When someone gets inspired by an image, it’s good. They find it attractive, but if they don’t understand the reasons why they find it attractive, they can never take that and transform it into something that they can use in their own space. But, if they actually look at it and connect why that makes them happy, they can then incorporate that idea into their own space. Even though it may not be anywhere near the imagery they’ve seen, at least they are understanding the concepts of why they enjoy that image.

If you can get to the why, you can start implementing that into your own home designs, from very simple color choices all the way up to new homes and renovations. But until you understand what’s making you happy, and why it’s making you happy, it’s just a pretty picture.

It’s identifying the starting point of what’s going to make us happy in our own space. Until you get to that starting point, you don’t know where to go. That’s our job in residential architecture — get to why our clients find something attractive. And Your Modern Cottage is a way to help share that rationale.

a modern cottage

Most of us live in homes that were not designed for us. We adjust our lives to fit what our homes allow. But we deserve better. We all should strive to live in homes that are tailored and customized to how our family lives and to what we find beautiful. Our lives can be improved with a little design help. Design by Specht Architects.

Who should visit YMC? And why?

The goal here isn’t to create new designers. It’s to give people the power to understand and articulate the things that make them happy so that when they do want to make those transformations, they can either do it themselves. Or, when they talk to a design professional, have the toolbox in their hand to say, “Hey, this is what I want. These are the things I’m looking for,” and they can start to speak on the same level with them. Your Modern Cottage is for anyone who thinks their home is frustrating in some way or is curious about how their home’s design can affect how they live.

Featured image designed by Carney Logan Burke Architects