A B O U T U S
E X P E R I E N C E
VanBrouck & Associates has designed an extensive and impressive body of work with projects across the country. For over 35 years, owners and principals John and Donna VanBrouck (husband & wife) have forged lasting partnerships with clients in the design of more that 1,500 luxury homes. They have received over 190 top design awards, and continue to create some of the most unique and spectacular homes throughout Michigan and across the country. They have achieved a high level of client satisfaction due to their fresh perspectives on creative residential design and unmatched artistic and technical abilities.
P A S S I O N F O R D E S I G N
What sets VanBrouck & Associates apart is their passion for design, and their ability to listen to and understand their clients. Each home they design is a unique expression of the owners' dreams and lifestyle.
Their strength is their passion for designing in a diversity of architectural styles from French Chateau, French Country, English Manor, Shingle Style, Craftsman, Prairie Style, and Mountain Modern. Their unique talent lies in their ability to bring many different design styles to fruition, and to elevate each home to a work of art.
John and Donna VanBrouck have traveled extensively throughout Europe and the States, and have researched, photographed and sketched the castles, chateaux, palaces and villas, cottages and great houses of France, Italy, England, Spain, and North America. This first-hand experience of authentic, historical design and detailing inspires many of their creations.
They continuously study and research historical architectural antecedents and incorporate them into their designs with their own unique fresh modern interpretation. This creates homes that are firmly rooted in tradition and are equally in the 21st century.
C O M M I T M E N T T O C L I E N T S
VanBrouck & Associates have successfully designed some of the most beautiful award-winning custom homes for their clients. Their commitment to complete client satisfaction is evident right from the very first meeting. Frequent and open communication with clients throughout the design process ensures that objectives and expectations are outlined and met; and creativity and a passion for detail are incorporated into each and every project.
A DIALOGUE WITH DONNA AND JOHN VANBROUCK
What sets VanBrouck & Associates apart?
One of our unique strengths is our creative and personalized approach to each and every project. We combine our passion and knowledge of architecture with the information we gather as we develop a relationship with our clients - as we get to know them throughout the project - integrating all of the aspects of the project into a cohesive whole - the client's lifestyle, needs and desires, budget, and the land - creating a thoughtful and artful design that is beautiful, functional, and inspiring.
Elaborate on what you describe as your passion and knowledge of architecture.
We are inspired by and have a passion for studying the masterpieces of our shared architectural history; from the Villas of Andrea Palladio, to the French Classical Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt, the Shingle Style Homes of McKim, Mead and White, and the organic Prairie Style architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. We also derive inspiration from the great buildings and residences of lesser known and contemporary architectural designers.
We have traveled extensively throughout France, Italy, England, Spain, and the States; researching, photographing, and sketching the castles, chateaux, palaces and villas, cottages and great houses. Embracing the beauty of these great works of art enriches our design vocabulary and strengthens our work as we discover the richness of meaning behind the great architectural buildings that have come before us.
How do you incorporate this knowledge into your design process?
We start each design project with research - going back to our archives of past projects, sketches, photographs, and notes on the relevant style of architecture that our client has expressed an interest in. We pour through books in our library - yes, we still love "old-school" books, as well as the technical wonder of the limitless internet that connects us to everything imaginable in the world.
We have conversations with our clients and we contemplate and have seemingly endless conversations between ourselves and our design team as we begin the preliminary design process. This is my favorite part of the design process - an empty canvas and limitless possibilities!
Our life experiences and academic research enables a true understanding of classical design elements and creates a solid foundation upon which our designs are rooted.
What is your favorite architectural style?
There are so many "favorites" that it is difficult to select just one favorite architectural style. We embrace the charm and livability of French Country, English Cottage, and Shingle Style....the beautiful strong lines of Prairie Style and Mountain Modern....the stately beauty of French Chateau and English Manor....and the strong sculptural form of Moderne. And that is actually another one of our unique strengths....we truly are passionate about many diverse styles and find it exciting and rewarding to design in such diverse languages.
It is also very rewarding to incorporate past historical antecedents into our designs - uniquely reinterpreted for the 21st century.
Describe your client relationship as it relates to the creative design process.
We listen to our clients....really getting to know them and their dreams, needs and desires, financial goals, and how they see themselves living in their home - interacting in it, raising their families, entertaining, and finding respite in quiet moments. It is truly a collaborative approach to the creative design process as we begin this exciting journey together - to design a home that truly reflects their lifestyle, creating a sanctuary which embraces them and a place that inspires them and enriches their lives.
Forming a strong client relationship, with mutual respect and open communication, is paramount in creating the "best" home for our clients....it is also a truly fun process and one of the most rewarding aspects of our careers - getting to know so many interesting, accomplished, and wonderful people.
What other considerations are paramount in creating a successful design?
There are many....certainly balancing design aesthetics and functionality is paramount. In good design, you must have both - you must continuously explore exciting new design solutions and constantly strive for the most beautiful design aesthetic, but without compromising function.
The land is also another important consideration. We contemplate the land upon which the house will interact - whether it commands views of a magnificent ocean or tranquil lake, is nestled in the woods, sits quietly in a meadow, or is surrounded by manicured gardens. We consider if the house will be placed on acreage or with close proximity to neighbors and how the client wishes to interact with the surrounding environment.
If the house is sited on acreage, we will consider the topography of the land and place it to take advantage of the most desirable view lines; and we will create an "approach" from the road so that the house can be pleasantly "discovered" each time you come upon it.
If the house is sited on a relatively small "in-town" lot, the design solution may vary widely from embracing a friendly neighborhood atmosphere by creating wide front porches to interact with passersby or to create privacy with courtyard walls and private gardens.
We also consider how the natural sunlight will dapple into the interior spaces throughout the day - changing the character of the spaces - and how the personality of the home will change with the changing seasons. The integration of interior and exterior spaces plays a major role in creating a beautifully aesthetic and livable home, as outdoor living is such a significant component of our 21st century lifestyles.
How do you approach the design process?
We take an artistic approach to every project....considering multiple facets of the design simultaneously - we are cognizant of how the interior spaces, exterior form, and their relationship to each other and the surrounding land can most creatively and successfully be brought together to create a beautiful composition.
We research, contemplate, discuss, and sketch....and sketch....and sketch....dozens of iterations until we arrive at a design solution that satisfies the requirements of the project and excites and enthralls us - as we anticipate presenting our design concept to the client for the first time. Amazingly, our initial design concepts are typically a very close representation of the house that will actually be built....with refinements, elaborations, and details incorporated into the drawings as they evolve and we prepare complete construction documents.
We strive for design excellence in every project - to elevate the design of every home to a work of art....an artful backdrop to enrich our clients lives. Although most people are not consciously aware of what it takes to achieve "good design" - when it is achieved, it just "feels right" - balanced, thoughtful, inspired - even soulful and spiritual. This is our role - to create this experience for our clients.
G R E A T P E O P L E M A K E G R E A T C O M P A N I E S