Trends, styles, fashion, “what’s in and what’s out” in architectural landscaping for the year 2016?

Your own judgment in style and taste, and how you want to use your backyard, is what matters most in preparing to design a functional backyard landscape, yet checking out the latest trends, styles and fashions is a good idea. By exploring the richness of creativity and artistic imagination shared by others, literally available at our fingertips, we can discover, be inspired and feel more empowered, to create our own unique outdoor environments, to our own personal taste, in ways we may never have thought of before.

The human spirit has always enjoyed the unique, the surprising, something new to delight and awaken the mind to the beauty of this world. 21st Century technology has paved the way for free-spirited architects to be unbound by the rules of style or vernacular architecture allowing them to design “No-Style” styles, that stand alone.

The newest novelty, the latest look, current crazes come and go. In this wonderful industrial age of disposable convenience, where the next big gadget and a smarter device is always around the corner, it is easy to expect you will be purchasing something else to replace it eventually. Maybe buying a new “in-style” lawn chair today and discarding it in 5-10 years isn’t so much to budget out but it obviously does not constitute the makings of a true heirloom landscaping masterpiece. Classics actualized in architecture have enduring interest, quality or style and will not need to be replaced within just a few short years. Classic Architecture is architecture that has withstood the test-of-time, clearly shown to be masterpieces built upon the foundations of engineering principles that allow it to have continued usefulness, passing from one generation to another.

An example of an Architectural Classic could be a building design and/or a building element such as the hundred-year-old slate quarried in Vermont and used as roofing on buildings throughout Vermont and Pennsylvania that has outlasted the fasteners that have held it in place. Recycled and reinstalled it is said to be expected to last still another hundred years. Looking back at historical structures you can find true Classic Architecture dating back hundred of years where people still are enjoying the benefit of its use.

It is fascinating to take a glimpse into the architectural world of insects and recognize some of the design elements within our own engineering. Amazingly, even the smallest brained creatures are equipped and encoded with detailed architectural blue prints giving rise to complex and sophisticated structures using the simplest principles of organization. Temnothorax ants for example, will build their home with sand and stones, placing the larger objects on the bottom and the smaller ones on top for maximum stability in their walls. Ant architects fashion hallways, nurseries, royal chambers, and even fungus gardens, garbage chambers and chimneys with heating and cooling systems.  Another marvelous example of expert insect engineering is found in the honeycomb with its beautiful hexagonal shape. The hexagonal formation not only has greater strength but it is also brilliantly economical.  This magnificent six-sided framework uses less wax than a square or triangular shaped section with the same amount of volume would.

Thinking “outside of the box” or “square”, beyond a triangle to what could be, is the catalyst throughout the history of architecture for such great Architectural Classics, still in use today. Inspired with the concept of a smarter shaped design, timber-wright, Hyrum Thompson originated a Classic architectural masterwork design he called The Dovetail Difference™, an award winning mortised interlocking dovetail joint system.

pooliside pergola
kitchen under an attached pergola
light pergola

Hyrum, during the beginnings of Western Timber Frame™.

Hyrum Thompson very much admired the old world craftsmanship of timber frame without the use of nails or glue. The dovetailed design is renown for its time-proven durability and beauty that still stands throughout many regions of the world as architectonic monuments, a testimony to the skill of these ancestral artisans. Understanding load paths and design properties, allowing for wipe open spaces, Hyrum enjoyed modeling their methods in construction.


Driven with a vision to provide a way to make it affordable for everybody to have a functional and aesthetically pleasing outdoor living space in their own backyard, Hyrum founded Western Timber Frame™ specializing in solid timber structures such as pergolas, pavilions, gazebos, arbors, trellises, post and beam, trusses, pool houses, sheds and more.

dovetail difference tight joints 18 months

After a few months to a year or two, even with a “perfect” cut that fit tight, the conventionally cut dovetail in some cases, begins to have gaps caused from the natural expanding and contracting of the wood with the seasons. As a perfectionist with an extreme obsessiveness for attention to details, Hyrum was driven to come up with a better way to cut a dovetail that still held as faithfully and strong as the masterworks of old world craftsmanship had. He believed he had a greater advantage than his ancestors through the use and availability to him of modern technology. He meditated upon how he could improve upon this remarkable design, studying it out in his mind, even dreaming of it in his sleep. As each obstacle presented itself to his mind, his thoughts were clear, believing there also had to be a way to keep the structural integrity of the post. Hyrum’s persistence was rewarded as he originated a complex and yet simple, mortised dovetail joint connection system: The Dovetail Difference™.

diagram of dovetail difference

The Dovetail Difference™ easily slides down, locking into place.

This precision-cut, patent pending The Dovetail Difference™ features a beveled mortise with a trapezoidal angled shape that interlocks with a reversely mirrored, beveled and tapered tenon. When it slides into place it has a snug fit that hides the cuts almost mystical, behind the wood. The Dovetail Difference™ gives the timbers an even greater power to perform with woods inherent ability to dampen resonate frequencies while maintaining its beautiful aesthetic appearance. This innovative design makes installation faster and more convenient, and creates very strong rigid tighter corners. Even a 20-foot beam can easily slide in and lock. It’s like child’s play.

The Dovetail Difference™ is not only faster and easier to install than conventional timber frame but it allows for shrinkage and weather variations maintaining its beautiful aesthetic appearance while remaining secure and snug.

With the conventional timber frame joint system, as pictured on the right, the integrity of the post is weakened by cutting away the center of the beam post leaving the tenons with less mass and that can over time be more apt to break off.

The conventional dovetail chainsaw cut.

timber frame pergola with people
rafter notched

The Dovetail Difference™ design was only the beginning of Hyrum’s inventiveness and innovative ideas. He continued to design for a construction process that would allow a homeowner with minimal woodworking skills to be able to install a timber frame architectural shade structure “kit” that was shipped out on a semi-truck and weighing several thousand pounds, to be easily installed, even easier some say, than to install the average hardware store kit.

The Slotted Drop-in Rafter Layout™ made installation even easier!  The timber beam that supports the rafters is already marked and slotted which is fantastic, the hard work is already been done by experienced timberwright craftsman. This means no measuring or trying to figure the proper spacing of the rafters. However, the primary benefit of the Slotted Drop-in Rafter Layout™ is that it helps prevent warping and twisting of the rafters year after year.


Western Timber Frame™ has combined old world timber craftsmanship, with the latest in state-of-the-art technology with The Dovetail Difference™ mortise and tenon connection system specializing architectural landscaping with solid timber structures such as pergolas, pavilions, gazebos, arbors, trellises, post and beam, trusses, pool houses, bed sheds and more. Each and every single piece of an architectural landscaping shade structure is test fit before it is shipped out to ensure that the installation will be easy and fun.

At Western Timber Frame™, we believe in accessing the “smallest” details of perfection to build structures that will last for generations, which is why we are passionate about the mortise and tenon The Dovetail Difference™ Connection System. Responsible timber framing with the mortise and tenon and The Dovetail Difference™ Connection System creates safer, durable structures more resistant to powerful coastal storms, high winds, heavy snows of high mountainous regions and seismic shifting, maintaining structural integrity.

With superior construction techniques, properly engineered designs and expert craftsmanship a timber frame pergola can be expected to last even longer than timber structures of ages past, a responsible sound investment for future generations to enjoy, too.

How is the year 2067 looking for you? Barbecue parties are also a classic. Plan a barbecue party to celebrate the last 50 years you have enjoyed together with your family beneath a gorgeous timber frame Architectural Classic: a Western Timber Frame™ pergola.  ◙


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