Real transformation is the goal when you decide to move forward with professional design services to
better your home, functionally and aesthetically. True collaboration is what you hope your experience
will be with your designer, as you go through this process.
I opened my practice to help navigate clients through the many choices and decisions that are involved
in both the design and construction of any project and to elevate their experience. With over twenty-
five years of professional practice, I bring a mature, disciplined and inventive approach to problem
solving, focusing on innovative solutions project by project.
"Transitional Architecture" most closely describes our practice as we refer to and interpret the traditions of style and design in unique and authentic ways. Through this synthesis and process, we arrive at unique solutions in plan, section & elevation for our clients, blending the pragmatics and aesthetics that make up an architectural composition into a seamless whole. We are not done until the design is complete, inside to out, from space making to the trim, paint colors, lighting... all the details must balance with the overall composition for an authentic sense of place and home.
Unlike many firms where you are assigned to an associate, I will remain your contact and source
throughout the entire process. The core strategy is that this personal attention to making your dreams a
built reality should be a cost and time effective process.
The initial consultation typically takes place at your home where we review what you want to
accomplish and go over ideas about how to achieve this. I will then generate a design proposal that will
specifically outline a detailed descriptive scope of work and the associated fee. For many prospective
clients, this may be their first time collaborating with a design professional, so I encourage you to
contact me with any questions about the process and services. My goal for every project and client is to
consistently move forward as a coordinated team, understanding that clear simple communication is the
key to success at every stage.
At LHS Residential Design, our mission statement is simple, to bring handcrafted design back into the 21st century. This is not a journey backwards into time but a reaffirmation of architecture as the timeless tradition of thoughtful design that it should be. As our profession has expanded, the work has become overly simplified and homogenous with most residential projects looking like bland contemporary commercial buildings or overly classicized with too much needless detail. While computer aided design can be very effective, developing a project on it has typically created a shortcut approach where impersonal designs are rushed from a bare bones schematic phase through into construction documentation, ready to build... but to build what?
The results are typically anonymous cookie cutter plans, elevations and sections, a place that has no personality or sophistication.
Our goal is to not only create a house for you, but a home where every detail from large to small is carefully and expeditiously considered... both in three dimensions and down to materials, finishes, details, we leave no stone unturned while meeting your deadlines. The result is a final design that speaks to you and also to the next buyer of accessible sophistication and, most importantly, of an authentic sense of home. The phrase that beautiful aesthetics compounds into maximum property value is not lost on us. At LHS Residential Design, it is what drives us on each and every project.
The process for achieving this has become codified and is surprisingly simple... never cut back on that all important middle phase where the project's details, both large and small, coalesce and harmonize into a seamless design. This middle phase is called Design Development and this is what is typically missing today. It is the true difference between ubiquitous bland buildings and personalized designs that are balanced from the outside to the interior.
We invite you to contact us so we can start a discussion with you about your needs and desires for your next residential project and any questions you might have. Our process is simple, find out what works for the client, lead them down the road to the best design possible and get it built.
The collection of albums below show a few of the projects that I have designed and that have been built over the years. In choosing a designer for your project, I believe it is best to meet with me personally so I can see the site itself, understand your taste and aesthetics and, especially, hear in this context what your plans are for interior fit-out, renovations, additions, brand new construction from the ground up, landscaping or possibly a combination of some or all of these improvements. This will be the start of us moving together as a coordinated team with identifiable & reachable goals.
Not only should the aesthetics of the final design end up meeting or exceeding your expectations,
the technical quality of the construction documentation should be held to the same level so that
prospective contractors bid equally, permits are easily approved and your contractor of choice can build easily with few, if any, questions.
An important note about the variety of my projects is the diversity of styles: We live in a region, local and extending multi-state, where a given building's age can be anywhere from last year to the founding of our country, or even earlier; where the building's site, massing, style, method of construction can all vary drastically. This is where the experience of your designer becomes so important, in their education, skill sets, ability to listen well and to formulate solutions where none seem to exist. I am equally well versed in Classic Modern vernacular, Beaux Arts and Classical, Secessionist, Arts & Crafts and any of the other styles that have lived beyond a trend. The beauty of a given design well done is that it responds to its client's needs and budget, its place and has an aesthetic that is truly authentic. I look forward to creating this possibility with you.
"It has been our absolute pleasure to work with Lars Schless. His patience, perseverance is only surpassed by his knowledge and creativity. His designs and suggestions addressed a great deal of the details which made the construction go very smoothly. We embarked on a very complex garage and deck with a lot of features and demands and Lars was able to include them all. We recommend Lars Schless to anyone who is seeking, creativity, knowledge, patience and attention to detail."
Louis Castelli, Ph.D.
Creative Director / Principal ARK MEDIA
"Laurits collaborated with us in the rethinking of our townhouse first floor, developed a project design and budget for us, worked out structural and construction issues, provided construction drawings, and guided us in the selection of good contractors with whom we enjoyed working. We now have a new backyard, kitchen, and bathroom that we love. And rear exterior walls and windows that are maintenance free and energy efficient. We enjoyed working with Laurits and plan to use him on future projects."
Johnathan and Sandra Ericson
"We have worked with Lars for a number of years and have found him to be an excellent partner; sympathetic to our ideas & objectives and able to bring to bring a creative approach that has produced wonderful results in our home"
Judy Boreham & Stuart Wing
"Lars Schless was a pleasure to work with. He helped us design our kitchen & transition into our Dining room. He was incredibly punctual, efficient and detail oriented. He has a mastery for designing a space and was very successful at leveraging his vast experience and broad range of knowledge to consider all elements of the project. He worked easily with us and our contractor to ensure a precise and timely completion of our renovation."
KC & Adam Gentzel
"We asked Lars to review the plans, before starting construction, of a twenty townhouse development originally designed by a major architectural firm. Lars focused on several awkward design issues and offered creative solutions that greatly improved the project. We were lucky to have found him and thankful for his input. Subsequently we have used Lars to work on several other projects. Lars has excellent design instincts and we highly recommend him."
Phil Harvey & Larry Wind
"Lars was a perfect fit for us. He was tuned into our thoughts, desires and needs for our home remodeling project. He did not try to impose his personal biases, but rather was able to reach inside our brains to come up with a plan exactly as we had been visualizing. As well, he was always punctual, pleasant and budget conscious."
My standard design proposal includes all survey, design and construction documentation services that you will need for contractor bid/build purposes and permit acquisition, all done for a lump sum fee. If the services of a structural engineer, land surveyor or other professional are needed, I will inform you at the beginning of the project or as early as possible. Clients also have the option of hiring me on an hourly basis if desired. The idea for the coordinated/ extended services below is to expand the team as needed for the client's specific needs on a project by project basis.
Some clients may choose to go beyond typical zoning conformance in their desire to add to their existing home, rather than sell & leave their current property. In many instances, in coordination with a zoning attorney colleague of mine, we can win variances both at the neighborhood association & zoning board levels to make their desire for living space a built reality. This is a service we try to define as early on in the project as possible.
While I usually work with clients for complete interior design services, items/areas such as fabrics, blinds, draperies & other decorative elements and details are usually handled by an interior decorator colleague (either the client's or an associate of mine depending on need).
On many of my projects, I design the landscaping as it is often so integral to the building spaces. Once the plan is blocked out, I counsel clients to work with a professional landscape designer for plant selections, details & installations.
Most of my previous commercial work has been in restaurant & coffee shop design, coordinated with the services of a commercial architect colleague who typically confirms final code related issues, construction and installation details and any stamp/seal as needed. I am now currently involved in office & condominium common space designs & layouts.
While contractors competitively bidding on a project provide the most realistic picture of the budget, clients may want more than a general price range before launching into the construction documentation phase and/or have a dollar amount to judge these final bids. For this financial peace of mind, I can coordinate the services of a professional residential cost estimator colleague for price checking by having a tightened budget estimate prepared for the overall budget and/or specific scopes and areas.
Professional Stamp and Seal
Projects, depending on scope/size/budget, may require the services of a professional engineer's and/or architect's stamp and seal for the final construction documentation we prepare, typically for zoning/building permit acquisition. If this service is needed, our clients are notified as soon as the local township/borough/municipality confirms and one of our colleagues is then brought onto the team.
Once the construction documentation is done and we enter the bid phase, I assist my clients by taking the contractors thru walkthroughs of the project itself & then review all bids/subcontractors that come after. Along with a day of shopping for budget items (such as stone/tile/plumbing fixtures & hardware, for example), this service is typically part of my core services/design contract.
After final contractor selection, I stay involved, coordinating with the builders during the construction process itself, providing continuity for my clients during this critical time. This is also typical part of my core services/design contract.
I often work with builders and developers fine tuning design from plan layout, building sections & elevations to framing/structure, material choices and finishes and even overall design/build strategies & efficiencies. Typical upfront fees for these services can often be handled in future profit sharing.
My great-grandfather was an engineer, designer and builder and my
mother was an architectural historian. My grandfather, Harry Halverson, was an architect in the Hudson
Valley for over fifty years with a successful multi-discipline practice.
I was educated at Columbia College
(BA degree), studied painting, printmaking and drawing at the PA Academy of Fine Arts & then received
my Professional/Master's degree in Architecture at Drexel University.
My work experience consists of
more than twenty years of professional training under some of our area's architects such as Gray Smith,
John PA Todd and Brian Brady, including twelve years at a well known design/build firm (Gardner/Fox
I am equally at home in the worlds of both architecture & construction, giving my clients
realistic guidance & assurance. During my career, I have designed & had built hundreds of commissions,
from Rittenhouse Square to the Main Line and beyond. I also have a repeated track record of success
in dealing with zoning boards and variances, neighborhood associations and historical commissions in
order to gain approvals for my clients into the zoning/building phases.
The goal is to work well with all
components/parties of the design and build process for the common good of my clients.
Traveling with my family from a young age on and then later by myself through the Americas & Europe
allowed me to see architecture and places of many different cultures, periods, styles… all of them were
& remain inspirational.
From Le Corbusier Ronchamps Cathedral, to Gothic, Romanesque, Classical
& Classical Revival (Greek & Roman), Beaux Arts, Baroque, to Vienna Werkstatte & Classic Modern
masterpieces including Art Moderne/Noveau/Deco, everything that I saw became a real living reference.
They also became start points for me to develop my own vocabulary, language & eventually, style. But
designing in a vacuum was not my goal, nor was it my grandfather's… it was his ethic of always being
in communication with his clients & realizing their visions that made him both truly humble and so
successful for many years.
A few years after my grandfather passed away, a retired electrician (whose
contractor father had worked with him on many projects), bought his house in Kingston NY that he had
originally designed for himself & my grandmother. The gentlemen had always loved this home which
was basically unchanged since it was first constructed by my great-grandfather, and was overjoyed to
be the new owner. The recipe for this enduring architectural & built legacy remains with me always... understand the design process as a collaborative team effort with the designer & client that expands and incorporates the contractor team as we go into the build phase.
From experience, I know this is the only way to truly have my clients'
dreams become a built reality.
"Lars Schless Residential Design, LLC" is registered in the state of Pennsylvania & carries professional insurance coverage.