design contest

Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Kitchen Design, Student

Alexis McDaniel places 2nd with her contemporary kitchen

Interior rendering of a contemporary kitchen with a waterfall island and white cabinetry.

By Kendra Dorosh

Alexis places 2nd in the Chief Architect Kitchen, Bath, and Interior Design Contest! She is a Chief Architect Certified Apprentice who has found her passion in interior design.

Alexis McDaniel, Chief Architect Certified Apprentice

Alexis McDaniel, Chief Architect Certified Apprentice

“I’m a senior at Klein Collins High School in Spring Texas, who at a young age fell in love with interior design. My high school has a class where we can design living and commercial spaces using Chief Architect software. It has truly ignited the flame in me to design. I gain so much joy and pleasure from what I do. I have been using Chief Architect for around 3 years, and plan to continue using it. I prefer Chief Architect over other software products because it’s easy to use, and the renderings make a design really come to life.

“I, along with my fellow classmates Mary and Krystina, became a Chief Architect Certified Apprentice last year, which is a huge accomplishment to me. I would also like to mention my teacher Mrs. Mock, who has pushed us to be our best in what we do and has helped in my realization that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”


Winning Design

Exterior rendering of a house built on piers. Interior living room overview rendering with a L-shaped couch.

Exterior Rendering and Living Room Overview

We want to congratulate Alexis on finding her passion in life and look forward to seeing where it takes her!

Did you know that you too can become certified in Chief Architect Software? Learn more about the process for both students and professionals here.

Leave a comment
Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Kitchen Design, Professional

Paul Machado Wins 3rd with His Open Concept Kitchen Design!

I had free reigns on this design. Done with a few hours of Ray Trace.

By Emily Black

Paul placed third in the Chief Architect Kitchen/Bath & Interiors Design Contest. He has been using CAD programs since his architectural drafting shop days at the local vocational school.


Chief Architect customer, Paul Machado., standing in front of his finished kitchen design

Paul Machado, Design Manager at Southcoast Kitchen Designs

“I have been in the kitchen industry for just over six years using the same software all my other competitors were using. I started my career in 2012 at a big box store as a kitchen design salesperson, then got more into the technical end of it in the more recent years.

“I currently transitioned to a team with similar long-term aspirations to become a premier Massachusetts Design Build Firm. I knew that making the switch of software to Chief Architect would be essential for our growth. Not just because the scope of the work we were about to take on required much more detailed plans to achieve smooth project flow, but also to separate ourselves from any competitors.

“I’ve been using the software full time now for about five months. Chief Architect seemed to be quite the hybrid of the other software (i.e. 2020 design and Auto-CAD) from my professional experience. Along with a greater ease of use.

“I watched a few Chief Architect webinars that have been very helpful and started using it a lot sooner than I thought thanks to the ease of use of the program in general.”


Winning Design


Congratulations to Paul for his success in our Kitchen, Bath & Interiors Design Contest! We enjoyed hearing about your kitchen design journey and learning about the role Chief Architect has played in your latest designs.

Connect with Paul at Southcoast Kitchen Designs and view the full winning design below.


Layout page including a rendering of an open kitchen with an eat at island, white cabinets and hardwood floors.


If you’d like to learn more about how Chief Architect can help you streamline your kitchen design process and separate you from the competition, download a trial version and attend one of our webinars.

Leave a comment
Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Residential Home Design

Thomas Kretz Wins Second Place with His Custom Home Design, BrückenHaus, Featuring Bridges and Cantilevers.

By Jake Murray

Thomas placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest! After retiring as a Production Art Manager, Thomas continues to showcase his design abilities through a remodel and custom home design.

Thomas pictured on his recent wedding day.

“I grew up on the farm my family settled in 1852 in the small town of Cedar Lake, Indiana. I had always gravitated towards art and drafting in high-school, but it was a field trip to Chicago that truly inspired my fascination with architecture. So much so, I broke with family tradition and spent the summers of my Junior and Senior year working as an artist for a graphics company. I then attended Ball State University for the first year of their Architecture program.

“Financial difficulty led me to a transitional job with an upstart graphics firm that had been founded by two salesmen also from that same previous employer. That “short-term” position turned into a 30-year career as their Production Art Manager. Over the years, I discovered that even though the design capabilities were limited, the CAD systems I had procured for cutting large-format graphics could be adapted for drawing scale floor plans. More so just a hobby at this point, I would spend my downtime (and occasionally work time) searching for challenging properties for sale and then designing spec-houses for them.

“I finally got my chance to prove myself in 2002 after purchasing a one-acre hill-side lot, there I designed and built my first residence. After about a year of design work, I took my CAD floor plans to a local architect, who was able to download them and convert them to blueprinted construction drawings. Another year and a half (February 2004) of construction produced a 5,700sqft, Contemporary Prairie, constructed 75 feet up off the main road, into the side of a 19-degree slope. I loved every minute of it.

“Fast forward to July 2017. Early retirement at 49 and a new girlfriend I had met on a property scouting trip to Lake Tahoe, brought me to Indianapolis.  I had long been researching architecture software, looking for that perfect blend of technical features, professional work-product appearance, and a manageable learning curve. Chief Architect Premier highly complemented all of those requirements and has far exceeded my expectations. So in August, I purchased X9, as a 50th birthday present to myself. After reading through the reference manual and watching about 50 or so of the online training videos, (I now find Scott Harris’s voice extremely soothing), my first “trial” project was a remodel/addition to my fiancée’s home.

BrückenHaus is a complicated structure that features bridges, cantilevers, and many custom design elements.

“We had purchased the property at 1945 Northwood through an estate sale a few months earlier, but I was still sketching and developing the concept at this point. Once I felt I had the conceptual work where it needed to be, and the topography survey was completed, I began the design process for BrückenHaus. I added a second monitor so that I could properly utilize the 3D applications. Having the ability to prove spacial requirements in real-time, and render conceptual ideas to others from a 2D environment is absolutely brilliant.  Chief Architect X10 is the tool that brought my concept to life. I have begun the process of exporting the plans to layout, and will then submit them for engineering approval. We are hoping to break ground in the summer of 2019, with its completion in the fall of 2020.”

Winning Design

Thank you, Thomas, for sharing your custom home design with us!  We want to wish you the best of luck on the next steps of your project and can’t wait to see the final product. To see more renderings of BrückenHaus, check out the design gallery below.



Leave a comment
Contest Winners

November’s Kitchen/Bath & Interior Design Contest Winners

Chief Architect Kitchen, Bath and Interiors design contest

Congratulations to our three Chief Architect Kitchen/Bath and Interior Design Contest winners!

Thank you all for sharing your designs with us and our community.


1st Place

Tahani Share of Landis Architects/Builders using Chief Architect X8.



2nd Place

Alexis McDaniel of Klein Collins High School using Chief Architect X9.



3rd Place

Paul Machado of Southcoast Kitchen Designs using Chief Architect X10.



December’s Contest is Design of the Year contest!

Leave a comment
Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Dave Kangas Wins 3rd Place with his Period-Specific Addition to a 1890’s Queen Anne Cottage.

By: Jake Murray

Dave placed third in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest. His mission to design spaces that foster bonds between families has contributed to his success as a designer.

Dave, his wife Deanna, and their two daughters

“I’ve been designing on-and-off in an official capacity since 2005 (the design office was using v9.5 at the time), but I started using Chief Architect in 2000 or 2001 using version 6. Before Chief Architect, I started with notebooks full of sketches from age 12 and up!

“For me, Chief checks all the boxes:  a powerful rendering engine for showing client concepts; CAD tools and conversion capabilities for interfacing with engineers; and document setup/layering for our production staff and subcontractors. We do everything on the design side of our company with one piece of software.

“The projects that come out of our office are our success stories. Design/Build is unique because designers are involved in the entire project. It’s great to be able to open a plan file for production staff and show them in three dimensions how to carry out our client’s wishes.

“My most rewarding design projects have been the ones that foster bonds between families. As my parents’ generation retires, I’ve seen a shift from leaving the nest to families reconnecting. Adaptive re-use (Accessory Dwelling Units, for example) not only helps to solve in-fill challenges, but also creates an environment for the family unit to establish itself. From childcare to elderly care, building communities starts inside our own front door.”

Winning Design


Patrick Martin, General Manager at A-1 Builders, shared that, “building strong families is a core value for Dave. In 2009, he and his extended family designed and built a custom multi-generational home just outside of Bellingham, incorporating Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) best practices to ensure maximum utilization for years to come. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for his daughters’ homeschool co-op.

“In what spare time he has, you’ll see him spinning multiple plates on the home front, implementing his native landscape plan, rescuing a neighbor’s storage shed destined for the landfill and converting it into a rock-star playhouse for his girls, or getting lost in the back-forty with Izzy, the family dog. In the winter, you’ll find him in the basement shop, upcycling another abandoned furniture piece for the family’s heirloom collection. If there’s time for travel, you’ll see Dave and Deanna on the other side of the mountains, finding respite from the rain or researching the newest cidery.”

We want to thank Dave for sharing his winning design with us and his thoughts on the importance of inclusive design! If you would like to learn more about creating accessible spaces using Chief Architect software, check out this blog post.

Leave a comment