Christopher Leerssen, President and Owner of Abode, has been immersed in construction and design for all of his life. Some of his very earliest (and fondest) memories are of building tree houses, lemonade stands, and various projects with his dad. Art classes and music training confirmed a right-brained way of thinking and a penchant for all things aesthetic. Internships under award-winning architects and years working under gifted builders around the southeast solidified his desire to pursue degrees in architecture from Georgia Tech. After years of honing his own design vision, Christopher established Abode and began designing homes for his Reynoldstown neighbors.
An adaptation of the word abide, Abode is an archaic word to most of our ears, but one this hurried world would do well to heed. It is our desire that our clients and homeowners feel a real sense of abiding as they live in and feel connected to their homes, streets and neighborhoods. We strive to design and build livable, lovable, durable homes that will truly stand the test of time.
Architecture, when in perfect balance, should keep in harmony both stylistic and practical needs; for instance beautiful facades must also be excellent at keeping the rain and summer sun out. We hope the sustainable and practical nature of our homes have a beauty and style of their own. Our company is not beholden to a certain style or look; our desire is to create modern interpretations and elaborations of the environments and contexts that surround. We find inspiration wherever it lies—often emulating the folk and vernacular designs found in older parts of our cities and countryside, embodying the perfect balance of simplicity and beauty.
Sometime over the past 60 years, our built environments began to lose touch with their surroundings. When you lead with a developer mindset, you lead with the bottom line. In this scenario, architects are brought in to help but they don’t have a prominent seat at the table—and design becomes an afterthought. As architect-builders, we’re always thinking about the end user and their wellbeing first. We lead with an intuitive set of design principles that result in contextual homes and communities that compliment that natural world as well as the authentic character of the neighborhoods that surround them.
Density is paramount to preserving the natural environment in and around cities. It’s a matter of simple math: two units per acre use up significantly more natural resources than 20. Higher density enables transit to make sense and walking and biking to be possible. It preserves green spaces and makes efficient administration of schools, police stations, fire stations and utilities. However, density without good design can look and feel crammed and oppressive, design is crucial.
Diversity is key to making cities and places work well. We are all different people with different gifts and personalities. It takes all of us: young & old, men & women, office workers & laborers working together for our states and neighborhoods to function properly. And with diversity in income, needs and desires, we need a variety of building types, styles and sizes to accommodate a healthy mix.
The cultivation of personality is a slow and organic process, and not something that’s fully tangible or easy to articulate. The personality of a neighborhood is more about the people and their particular tastes, but you can detect similar characteristics in buildings: some are loud and boisterous, some are quiet and shy, others make you smile for a reason you can’t quite pin down. When we design homes, we try to reflect the personalities of who’s going to live there—something that fits and feels right.
Community happens when a place flourishes; it is the tangible payoff that comes when design, diversity, density and personality are intentionally considered. It’s when yards, sidewalks, parks, schools, shops and streets are truly connected and cohesive and neighbors can come together and break bread. Doing it well is hard work, but it is fun too. We are convinced that the rewards from building true and rich community bring joy and peace to this generation and into the next.