Design + Decor CT/NJ/NY Vol. 17 Issue 6

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orm follows function.” Architect Ralph Mackin embraces this quote by the 19th-century architect Louis Sullivan, and has evolved with it through his nearly 30 years in the building industry. “We express ourselves through our architecture,” says Ralph, owner of the boutique firm Mackin Architects. “It’s my art form you’re going to live in, so I have to make it beautiful. But it also must be completely functional. There has to be a balance.” Mackin Architects specializes in high-end residential architecture, but the firm also integrates seamlessly with the community by creating its churches and clubs. “It’s a natural extension of our firm,” he says. “If you design residential architecture, you’re learning how people live. You’re bringing those thoughts into the other buildings—it makes people feel like they belong in those buildings.” When COVID-19 hit, Ralph and his family, including extended fam-


ily, were prepared for planned growth, which helped considerably during the pandemic. They finished the basement and a third-floor room, which gave them that much-needed extra space. By adding flexibility into the original design of his own home, Ralph was able to expand when needed. And this is exactly what he and his team strive to do for their clients. Having that flexible space is a boon these days with the call for bigger rooms and even more open space for family to gather. But it’s now just as important to have additional “away” spaces, where family members can work, study, play, make phone calls or read without interruption. “We need main gathering spaces, but we also need ‘away’ spaces,” says Ralph. “As we’ve adapted to making houses more open, fun-filled and sun-filled, we’ve learned that you also you need quiet rooms, not just one big space.” With people now spending so much time at home, says Ralph, exterior spaces have become just as important as interior ones. Screened porches, pool houses, outbuildings and other outdoor features are

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