Reflections On What We Love

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This February, we’re taking inspiration from Valentine’s Day and ideas of love, to reflect on what brings us joy in this time of year. Perhaps you are enjoying the same things we are, we would love to know.


Our Drafter, Lia Sommer, is loving spending time watercoloring with friends.

This winter I am loving spending time watercoloring with friends. One of our friends, who is a water coloring artist and teacher, shares her knowledge with everybody during our creative gatherings. We sit around a big table with our brushes, paints, and water cups, while café style music plays in the background. It’s a relaxing and fun way to reconnect with my Chinese community and gives us a chance to discuss our lives in the U.S. using both English and our native tongue. Fun things always happen here!

Our Project Architect, Troy Howe, is loving experiencing all the mountains have to offer.

I love being in the mountains this time of year. Standing on top of a snowy mountain ridge on a sunny day and looking across the Cascades is almost magical. Skiing at local Crystal Mountain resort recently on a crystal-clear day we could see the beauty of the distant snow-capped Olympic mountains and Puget Sound, a rare pleasure. Mt. Rainier stood just one valley away from us. The sight was simply breathtaking. The natural beauty of the Cascades brings a profound sense of peace and joy.


Our Project Designer, Roy Stark McGarrah, loves to plan adventures to warm places during the winter.

The quiet and dark of winter often leads me to start imagining the places I’d like to visit and people I’d like to see. This year, I’ve loved planning a trip with my partner to visit family in Turkey. Thinking about the warm Mediterranean weather and delicious food gives me respite from the cold and rain of the Seattle winter. I love coming up with different itineraries and thinking about how each might feel and who I could share the time with. Should we fly back to the U.S. from Istanbul directly or should we stop in Sarajevo to experience the Bosnian cultural melting pot? These thoughts warm me in this dark season.


Our Principal Architect, Terry Phelan, loves the creative process of planning and preparing shared meals.

I love the creative process of preparing special meals to share with friends and family. One recent winter weekend a visiting friend and I spent the afternoon at Pike Place Market. While there we gathered ingredients for making 3 different meals, sampling and selecting fresh seafood and produce as we built our menu. Once home we set to brining, chopping, and stirring, sipping red wine and tasting sauces as they developed. Late afternoon dark settled outside, and we were warm and happy sharing stories and appetizers in the kitchen and welcoming other friends to join us.

Not so surprisingly, each one of our “things we love” relates back to the work we do at Living Shelter Architects and how we each contribute to achieving our mission. We each bring a connection to community, a connection to the natural world, adventurous and innovative perspectives on healthy and resilient design, and a love of the creative process.

Do you want to work with people passionate about sustainable living? Are you wondering how to incorporate sustainable practices into your home or community? We’d love for you to get in touch, contact us.