Small Space and Budget Ideas from Mark Odom Studio!

Small Space and Budget Ideas from Mark Odom Studio!

Adrienne Breaux
Oct 2, 2009

We're big fans of modern designers who work on affordable and sustainable projects, so when we came across Mark Odom Studio's work we had to share. Full of suggestions for homes of all sizes, we asked Mark Odom about his firm, his favorite small space design solutions and his favorite design tips...

Covering a range of residential and commercial projects of all scales, we first fell in love with Mark Odom Studio's architecture and design work for its sleek modern aesthetic, but stayed for the great small space and affordable material ideas. Using unexpected materials and experimenting with forms and light, Mark Odom Studios seeks "a balanced consideration of the client's needs, materials, site amenities, kinetics of environment, social consciousness, and budget requirements." The photos from the studio's projects are gorgeous and inspiring, too!

How long has your studio been open/what's your design background?
My studio has been open for 5 years. I had a partner for the first 3 years then decided it was best to go our separate ways. My design background is broad; ranging from retail interior boutique in Dallas and Hawaii to high-rise mixed-use and urban infill in California. My background in retail architecture developed a balance for elements such as materials, colors, furniture design and lighting design; whereas my background in urban infill with larger scale mixed-use projects developed by being sensitive toward site specific connections and social behavior. I have a passion for art which at an early age lead me to architecture--trying to combine the two has always been a common thread of my past and I'm sure will continue into the long road ahead.

How do you approach the relationship between a structure's interior and exterior? Do you design the interiors of all your projects?
As we work through the design process interior and exterior are considered simultaneously whether we're hired for interior services or not. When awarded a project our desire is to be able to think through the entire project as one unit working together--exterior, interior, landscaping, as well as construction--thus helping create a more balanced palette of form, materials, and detailing. Construction of the project is just as important as conceptual design; we prefer to build the project when the opportunity presents itself. Construction almost always presents changes not foreseen on paper so being heavily involved with construction allows us to resolve and development problematic circumstances.

What are some of your favorite solutions for designing small spaces, from organization, to space planning to furniture arrangements?
I think a successful space, no matter how big or small, should have a hierarchy of layered elements (paint color, wall texture, or ceiling/floor changes) coupled with a sense of transparency between space (suspended panels, open bookshelves, or zoned seating arrangements) with these two simple ideas you can still have an open floor plan with a sense of intimacy per zone. Images of these moves can be found on our website under HURD Loft, Duval, & Rosewood.

If you could, share your favorite tips/advice/ideas for homeowners and apartment dwellers out there who are struggling to decorate their small homes as affordable as possible.
Think about space in all 3 dimensions; color, texture, flooring and lighting are crucial considerations in small space. Small spaces should have a few primary zones as focal points of interest and should be balanced with a common thread such as complementary colors or transparent partitions. As Mies Van Der Rohe so eloquently put it "Less is More"; this statement could not be more true in dealing with small spaces. The redesign of small homes should be site specific; find the most appealing factors about the home or space and use that as a basic building block.

Finally, are you ever constrained by a project's budget and forced to discover clever and affordable design solutions?
I have yet to work on a project where budget is of no concern; most of the time we're working with a very tight budget which is no excuse for less creative design. We first established the studio based on the idea of using standard materials (items found at your local home depot) in a non-standard application. For example: window screen as a light diffuser, OSB plywood as a finished floor, glulam beams as stair tread, or graffiti art as a high impact graphic element. Rosewood (also known as the Graffiti house) is a perfect example of creative design on a budget. We did this project as a design build and managed to create a final product very close to the original concept. With budget conscious projects I like using locally made or common (home depot) materials in an uncommon manner. We try to create space using the construction material as our finished surface; such as plywood or OSB (a layered laminated plywood) as our flooring/wall material, waxed concrete as our finished ground floor and being very selective with windows and doors. The idea of using construction material as your finished surface also creates a more efficient environmental model due to its elimination of extra materials and labor. Rosewood house was listed as a 5 star green building home under the city of Austin green builder program and was also design/built under 150K. Images of budget conscious projects can be found on our website under Marble Falls House, Rosewood, & Underground Games.

(Images: Jett Butler for FÖDA Studio)

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