Once a vital part of the working farm decades ago, the stone springhouse was mostly hidden by overgrown brush and occupied by wild critters when Sheri Scott purchased the rural Clear Creek Township property a few years back. Yet Sheri didn’t see a tarnished relic from a bygone era. She envisioned an inspiring space that would spark creativity and serve as the heart of her growing architectural design firm.
“It was a two-story building. The lower level is where the spring ran through,” Sheri explained. “We removed the upper floor, covered the lower level with a slab and replaced the front stone wall with glass.
“It was the perfect place for our first office,” Sheri added. “At the time, I was the only employee, and I was as excited about breathing life into the spring house as I was about renovating the farmhouse.”
The project was so meaningful that Sheri changed the name of her firm from Scott Architecture to Springhouse Architects. Though her business has evolved from one person in a refurbished home-based office to a flourishing six-person team located in a new space along State Rte. 741 in Springboro, the vision that transformed the dilapidated historic structure into a conversation piece illustrates what drives Sheri and her firm’s capabilities.
Springhouse Architects manages, on average, 12 to 15 residential projects in various stages across Dayton and southwest Ohio. The firm is expanding into commercial work, including an office condo complex in Springboro where it will locate its headquarters upon completion. Residential architecture remains Sheri’s passion because of the personal connection.
“When people build a custom home, it is often something they have saved for, strived for and worked hard for all of their lives,” Sheri said. “In most cases, you build your dream home just once, so it should reflect your preferences and enhance every aspect of your daily life.”
A 1988 graduate of Miamisburg High School, Sheri earned a degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati. She honed her skills over several years in a part-time role with Atelier Design in Centerville while raising a family. In 2008, just before the recession that saw a downturn in business for residential builders and architectural companies, Sheri decided to launch her own business. She was inspired to become an entrepreneur by her parents, who operated a manufacturing company.
“Custom home design is different than buying a newly constructed home,” Sheri said. “There are beautiful production homes, but there are many versions of each model. A custom home is built once and fine-tuned to exactly how your family lives. All of the details of structure, aesthetics and personality are unique.”
Sheri wrote a book titled “Dream, Inspire, Design: What a Residential Architect Wants to Tell You about the Custom Home Process,” to thoroughly prepare new clients for their initial meeting.
Technology and a rapidly increasing interest in home-centric television shows have made first-time clients better prepared for initial meetings.
“They bring photos from outlets like Houzz, Pinterest and HGTV of what they like, from the kitchen and front door to the staircase and mud room among other features,” she said. “We review the images, determine common interests and find consistent themes and preferences.”
Hiring an architect provides flexibility that clients do not get from directly working with a builder.
“When you work with an architect, you own the plans and can take them to multiple builders,” Sheri explained. “You have control of the project because the contract is with the architect and not the builder. You will get a better price when builders are bidding against each other, and you have a one-on-one relationship with the architect from start to finish.”
Springhouse Architects continues to grow, and as Sheri expands the firm into commercial projects to complement the residential design, she brings aboard more project managers, interior designers and support staff. Photos of the restored spring house adorn the walls of the office, and Sheri still gets creative motivation when she steps into the realization of her vision.
“Listening to clients’ ideas about what defines their ideal house is inspiring, and watching their reaction when they see those ideas brought to life is fulfilling,” Sheri said. “Architectural design is like an artist with a blank canvas, only you listen to what clients want and then transform it into a destination where they will live their dreams.”