"Since then, I have designed over a hundred new homes and renovations..."

I have been designing and building since completing my first structure, a geodesic dome, at age 14.  After spending ten years working and learning at a variety of excellent architect-led design/build firms, I launched Light House Design in 1985.  Since then, I have designed over a hundred new homes and renovations and built many of them.  While I no longer build, my skills and building knowledge inform every aspect of my design practice.  In fact, I can’t imagine designing houses without having had the hands-on experience of building them.


I was an early and enthusiastic adopter of computer design for architecture.  I finally sold my drafting table in 2008, but it had gotten very little use since 1992 when I began using Chief Architect software.  While I’m glad I began my career in the age of hand drawing, I believe that 3D computer design enables me to offer more creative, collaborative, and cost effective design services.  I used to enjoy creating models out of wood and foam, and clients marveled at them, but if we wanted to move a wall six inches it meant starting over and constructing a new model.  Collaborating with clients over a 3D computer model that can be rotated, zoomed, and viewed from inside and out, makes iterating and perfecting the design fast and fun.  In fact, I’m a sole practitioner because technology has eliminated the need for office staff.  Because most designs end up being a complex integration of many components, it’s more efficient for one person to manage and understand the entire project, rather than risk communication errors between multiple designers.  I don’t believe in sending “junior” architects to do site supervision, as this is where the most design knowledge is needed to solve problems quickly and in accordance with the overall design intention.


I have designed houses and additions in every style, and have extensive knowledge of the details and proportions of each architectural style.  Whether it’s designing the exact taper of a Craftsman column, detailing the spring point of a Classical arch, or specifying the connectors for a Contemporary cable railing, I sweat the details.  I find a bad detail as jarring as a misspelled word, and I make sure the drawings are clear to ensure that the builder gets them right.  I love to try new things, but have been around long enough to know that new does not always equal better.


I love architecture because each new project begins a new relationship with a client, and a new set of challenges. I enjoy the continuity of working with old clients whose needs change over the years (I’m on my fourth house for one client, the first was thirty years ago), but I also enjoy new clients and the fresh perspectives they bring.

 "I asked David to design a kitchen addition. My primary requests were that it have a lot of natural light and provide a view of my gardens. I’m glad I gave him a lot of freedom 


The design he came up with was far beyond anything I could have imagined. It met my requirements – it’s bright, cheerful, and feels almost like I’m outside in the garden. Yet it’s practical, cozy, fits in nicely with the rest of the house, and is stunningly beautiful. It made my otherwise very average home worthy of a 4-page cover story in Home Magazine!"


Michael Dornbrook