Orla Studios Guide to the Top 10 Exterior White Paints

We are finishing up two houses in Marin County, California: one Modern Classical on the Belvedere lagoon with a fantastic amount of blue/green water surrounding it and one Rustic Farmhouse in Larkspur on a gorgeous Marin greenery filled site. Both our clients are now on a quest!!! The Mission: find the perfect white to paint their exteriors:

How we help:

It really does matter where your house is located, the quality of light, how much shade on site. Critical also is the landscape surrounding you and your latitude as the light varies so be prepared to do lots of samples outside and look at them at all times of the day. Too bright a white can be glaring at some latitudes so paint a large test area on your home exterior and look at it in full sun. You neighbors should be able to admire it without sunglasses😁.

We decided to put together our top go to exterior Whites list!

No. 1. BM Simply White

Office favorite (was Benjamin Moore’s color of the year in 2016): very happy white with a hint of yellow. Better in Northern hemispheres like Europe.

white on white — MFAMB :: My Favorite And My Best. metal roof.

No 2. C2 Pearl

Image result for cloud white

On the cooler side, while still being a soft white.

No. 3. Farrow and Ball All White

Ok…. The British Farrow and Ball crew say this is “A totally pure white: All White is exactly what it says! Unusually, it contains no other pigment except for white”

No 4. Whisper Dunn Edwards

best white paints

Warm neutral with vanilla undertones: gorgeous….

No. 5. C2 Coconut

For cool white lovers:

Image result for white dove bm

No 6. C2 Vellum

Warm off white beige, very elegant on houses with classical proportions. Also word on the street: C2 exterior is a very durable paint but more expensive than BM

Image result for modern white  beach house

No 7. Benjamin Moore Linen White

Warning: you have got to really, really love cream to love this white but what can we say: it is Benjamin Moore’s top selling white of all time and looks wonderful on more classically styled houses

Image result for benjamin moore linen white

No 8. Dunn Edwards Milk Glass

Image result for milk glass dunn edwards

Warm milky white perfect near the water……

Image result for modern white house south africa

No. 9 Farrow and Ball Wimbourne White

shade on the warmer side of pure white with a hint of taupe for urban lovers!

No.10 Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee

Not a true white, creamy grey undertones with hints of green and yellow-favorite with interior designers

Benjamin Moore - Swiss Coffee


#farrowandball #farrow&ball #c2 #exteriorwhites #benjaminmoorelinenwhite #benjaminmooresimplywhite #simplywhite #linenwhite #bestexteriorwhitepaints

#vellum #paintcolor #paintcolours

Orla Regan Huq

Orla Studios Top 10 Window Seat Designs

Whether working on a new home design or a renovation, window seats are one of our client’s most frequent requests, in all styles of architecture, modern, contemporary, classical! Window seats can create the perfect space to enjoy a dramatic view from your site or a comfy reading, homework and laptop work area.

Here are some of our favorites:



yes please

chalet c7

Le Petitchouchou

Finde moderne Esszimmer Designs in Beige: Objekt 336. Entdecke die schönsten Bilder zur Inspiration für die Gestaltung deines Traumhauses.

Nu architectuuratalier

Now this is a library nook I would want! Natural lighting from a bay window, cozy pillows & cushions, & of course lots & lots of books! What could be better?

Oak framed picture window..

Roseville House | Sam Crawford Architects

Sam Crawford

Upholstered window seat

Narrow window seat

Dit droomhuis staat in de buurt van Malmö in Zweden. Het interieur lijkt bijna vlekkeloos over te...

Ship Channel House in Maine designed by Banks Design Associates

70 Teen Girl Bedroom Ideas 7

Orla Regan Huq

Orla Studios Guide to Flood Resilient Design and Architecture

Orla Huq

The Big U – BIG Teams Vision for Rebuild by Design from BIG on Vimeo.
Designing for Flood Risk focuses on preparing buildings to withstand the threat of coastal flooding, while ensuring that they support everyday livability and quality of life. The devastation wrought in waterfront communities from recent Hurricanes and storm surge has brought a new level of urgency to this work. Flood tolerance is the capacity to remain undamaged and functional when flooded, which requires adapting the built environment to floods.

For a diagram of the Sea Level Rise impact to your community see maps below prepared by Union of Concerned Scientists: (all of maps referenced here are continuously being updated as new data comes in)

The USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:


How can we ensure that buildings meet higher flood protection standards while preserving the vitality of our neighborhoods?

BASE FLOOD ELEVATION (BFE) the computed elevation in feet to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood, is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures. A building’s flood insurance premium is determined by the relationship between the BFE and a structure’s elevation.

“In the coastal velocity zone (“V zone”), where hurricane storm surge is the risk and wave action is the driving force, you need an open foundation on pilings, which allows waves to pass below the home’s occupied space. Waves pack an enormous punch—because water is so much more massive than air, a 2-foot or 3-foot wave is far more destructive than the hurricane winds that are pushing it. That’s why a 30-foot surge with high battering waves, like Hurricane Katrina brought in 2005, is able to scrape shorelines clean of buildings” Ted Cushman, Building mag.

We need to develop a flood-tolerant lifestyle based on flood adaptation at the property level:

Image result for modern architecture on stilts flood

Image result for modern architecture on stilts flood

Parday House near Wargrave: a completed home is raised up on a steel frame, above ground level

  • allows the site to flood, protecting from potential damage
  • flood water flows freely underneath the building- development does not adversely impact the flood plain as a whole and excess water isn’t pushed elsewhere

Beach House Landscape by Dirtwork NJ

Learning lessons from Hurricane Sandy in 2012,

  • critical wet-flood proofing measures were incorporated in the design to mitigate heavy flooding, property damage and disruption of vital services
  • The flood resilient landscape is built outside the sea wall to prevent soil erosion and to stabilize the natural shoreline
  • Native plants, establishing a dense network of root systems, surround the site to help the fragile dunes and create a sustainable, flexible approach to long-term maintenance
  • Bioswales are strategically planted to help prevent overwash from flowing directly back to the sea
  • They also trap stormwater runoff until it can be safely drained into the soil. Wood decking can temporarily capture runoff and maximize groundwater recharge, a defense against coastal subsidence
  • Rising 14 feet above sea level, the residence is accessed through a flood vent that allows for the equalization of pressure from unexpected and rapid surges and flooding

Image result for flood resilient design residential building

Image result for combined dry and wet flood proofed ares building mixed use ny

RIBA competition entry above: flood solution

Permeable paving use in mitigating flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall:

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Image result

  • permeable paving can drain into swales and retention ponds
  • reduces the risk of flash flooding by slowing down the flow of rainwater to help to discharge it back to the ground at a reduced flow rate

Drainage swales to prevent and ease flash flooding from heavy rainfall:

Image result for drainage swales

Swales can be part of an area’s natural landscaping, or they can be created to help ensure proper drainage, minimize runoff or capture storm water. In simple terms, they are generally shallow ditches that have gently sloping sides.

  • swales are a cost effective and more natural solution to traditional drainage construction
  • provide an opportunity to introduce more native species to a site
  • the swales can be seeded with a mix containing species suitable for seasonally wet soils

Green corridors/temporary holding ponds for flood waters:

Water Boulevards, a concept developed in England, creates a network of green corridors to manage and passively reduce flooding, integrating Green Infrastructure and Water Sensitive Urban Design into City streets. It can be applied as a network of green corridors to any city at risk of flooding. Water Boulevards is a project by Baharash Architecture.

Water Boulevards from Baharash on Vimeo.

Parks as water holding areas:

Parks can be designed to double as a water holding area during a flood event. Parks, designed like this one in Copenhagen, allow recreational areas like skate parks to become temporary holding ponds for flood waters:

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Mechanical and electrical equipment protection during flood events:
Image result for flood resilient design residential building
  • Mechanical and electrical equipment such as HVAC, boilers, and water heaters should also be relocated above BFE whenever possible. It is important not only to protect the equipment from flood damage, but also to prevent gas and oil from mixing with flood water contributing to other environmental risks.
  • In flood prone areas the main lines should be run through the ceiling or upper wall then down to switches and outlets set at mid-wall height. Any wiring installed below the BFE must be water-resistant

Two approaches to floodproofing buildings: Wet and Dry:

Wet floodproofing:
  • allows buildings in the flood zone to be designed to allow floodwaters to enter and leave the structure without the use of any mechanical equipment.
  • Spaces that are below grade on all sides are prohibited, and the lowest occupiable floor is required to be elevated above the BFE
  • To prevent the collapse of building walls, a wet-floodproofed building allows for the equalization of hydrostatic forces on both sides of the wall during a flood event. This is achieved with openings at the ground level called flood vents see Orla Studios Guide to Flood Vents
  • All emergency exit stairwells and corridors shall be wet floodproofed and designed with hydrostatic openings (flood vents) to maintain the operation of the exit door. Emergency exits must open at grade. Evacuation points from elevated
    floors are not acceptable as emergency exits.

Dry floodproofing:

  • Dry floodproofing makes a structure watertight up to at least the level of the BFE through the implementation of sealants, flood shields, aquarium glass and strengthening structural components to resist hydrostatic forces from floodwaters, and protecting utilities from flood damage
  • Unlike wet floodproofing, the first floor of a dry-floodproofed structure can be at
    an elevation below grade or below the base flood elevation.
  • Through dry floodproofing, building access can be maintained at grade with no apparent differences from a non-floodproofed condition
  • Any of these conditions will generally entail higher construction
    costs. Dry floodproofing can present safety hazards during a flood event by blocking egress, so it is not allowed in entirely residential buildings

Image result for flood resilient design residential building
As a fairly common practice in New York City, new mixed-use buildings
in A zones have combined wet and dry floodproofed areas at the ground
floor. With this solution, portions of the building are sealed at the ground floor
to keep floodwaters out, while lobbies and entryways are designed to accommodate flooding
Image result for new york sea level rise

Flood and Hurricane proof skyscraper in NYC:

Image result for american copper building

Image result for american copper building

“In American Copper Apartments, (above) developers decided to fortify the two towers with features that would mitigate the effects of a hurricane, including a flood resilient basement and lobby and a park that doubles as a bioswale.

Mechanical equipment that would typically be found in the basement — such as generators, electrical switchgear, and pumps — is on the second floor, above the flood line” writes Lauren Young of Science Friday,

Image result for american copper building

Nearly 2 million people were left without power during the Sandy storm in NYC, and some were living in buildings for no power for a week, the developer of these apartments elected to put things like water pumps, elevators, lights, electrical charging outlets and people’s refrigerators on emergency power generators.

Full article about American Copper:

Helping neighborhood vibrancy when first floors need to be elevated above base flood plain:

  • A planting buffer with shrubs or trees, combined with other façade treatments such as vertical articulation, can mitigate limited ground-floor activity
  • Architectural elements like turns in an entry stair, porches or decks for one and two family buildings can mitigate the distance between grade and the first occupied floor of a building, introduce an additional horizontal visual feature that gives the façade more of a pedestrian scale, and bring “eyes on the street” with a semi-private space closer to the sidewalk

Image result for modern flood elevated homes

Image result for modern flood elevated homes

Image result for modern flood elevated homes

  • Access elements such as stairs and ramps can be integrated into the landscaping to make a more seamless transition from sidewalk to building. Grading should be designed that does not create drainage problems for adjacent properties

Coastal community planning and development codes need to be updated immediately:

  • Planning and zoning could be modified allowing for additional flexibility to raise yards and building heights to resolve the difference between existing grade and BFE, making it possible to resolve the height differential between them


San Francisco has a Model for Grant Assistance for Flood Preparation:

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)’s Floodwater Grant Program (“Grant Program”) helps property owners in San Francisco minimize the risk of property damage due to flooding. They encourage Residents to take advantage of the Grant Program which reimburses flood victims who want to install improvements like doorway seals, flood gates or plumbing upgrades to lessen or prevent future flood damage. More info here:

New Jersey Excellent Guide to Resilient Building Design:

For Cities trying to protect Utilities and Wastewater plants, excellent guide from US Environmental Protection Agency:
New York Cities Video about their flood resilience strategies:


#flood #floodplanning #floodvent #resilientarchitecture #greendesign #sustainable #resilientbuildings #flooddesign #retentionponds #flooding #wetproofing #dryproofing

Orla Huq Orla Studios Guide to Flood Resilient Design

Orla Huq

Orla Studios Guide to Flood Vents

Image result for flood resilient modern architecture

Baca’s Flood Resilient Home, Oxfordshire, England
  • Protecting buildings that are constructed in special flood hazard areas (SFHAs) from damage caused by flood force is an important priority
  • The base flood is the flood that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year (commonly called the “100-year” flood)
  • NFIP regulations require that residential buildings constructed in A zones like the Belvedere Lagoon in California have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated to or above the base flood elevation (BFE)
  • Enclosed areas (enclosures) are permitted under elevated
    buildings provided the enclosed areas meet certain use restrictions and construction requirements related to flood resistance, including use of flood damage-resistant materials and installation of openings to allow for automatic entry and exit of floodwaters: flood vents
  • If enclosure walls are not designed with openings to relieve the
    pressure of standing or slow-moving water against them (called
    hydrostatic loads), the walls can be damaged or fail during a
  • These openings allow floodwaters to reach equal levels on both sides
    of the walls, thereby lessening the potential for damage caused
    by a difference in hydrostatic loads on opposite sides of the
  • One type of flood vents is the smart vent which can be used for a home with a crawlspace or any enclosed area that desires both natural air ventilation and flood protection Clay Goodrich Contact.

Image result for smart vent

  • Flood Protection: The vent door is latched closed until it comes in contact with flood water. Entering flood water lifts the internal floats which unlatch and allow the door to rotate open. This allows the flood water to automatically enter and exit through the frame opening, relieving the pressure from the foundation walls. Certified flood debris clearance is demonstrated with a 3” diameter opening when the flood door is activated
  • Ventilation: A bimetal coil automatically opens and closes the ventilation louvers as temperature changes. No electricity is required. The louvers will be fully closed at 35F and fully open at 75F. In the event of a flood the internal floats lift to release the flood door to rotate open and relieve the hydrostatic pressure regardless of the louvers’ position, open or closed. Made of marine grade stainless steel they are perfect for salt water environmentsSMART VENT
  • openings are required in solid perimeter foundation walls that surround
    crawlspaces and openings are required in the walls of fully enclosed areas that meet the use limitations (parking of vehicles, building access, or storage). The requirement applies to new construction and to buildings that are undergoing substantial improvement, including repair of substantial damage

For a full guide to engineering the openings, height and required flood vent calculations consult this FEMA document

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Orla Regan Huq