Steve, thanks for doing this interview with us today and taking time to share some of your story with the LocalsGuide. Can you begin with telling us a little bit about your past. Where you grew up and some of the fundamentals that have shapedyour life and who you are today?
I was born in Los Angeles in the “Summer of Love” 1968 at St. Joseph’s hospital in Burbank. We lived in the valley in Encino until the age of 6. My dad got fed up with the drive into downtown Los Angeles and so we moved to Hancock Park in the city of Los Angeles.
The house my parents bought was a 1928 Mediterranean style home that had to be gutted because the plaster was coming off the walls on the inside. You literally could see the first floor from the second through gaping holes in the floor boards.
It was fun for me as a kid to witness the level of restoration that took place at the Hudson house. My parents were fortunate to hire Gerry Washington and his crew of fine craftsman who did everything from installing the hand hewn oak paneling to building hutches and other furniture in the house. I loved hanging out with the carpenters and watching them work. I think the smell of the wood after it was cut and observing the process of the raw wood being turned into a home was a powerful childhood memory that guided me into becoming a craftsman and home builder myself.
After all the carpentry was finished my parents commissioned my Uncle Hugh to paint the domes and the arcade around the entry hall with a scene of the Italian countryside. Every day after school and sometimes at lunch I would run home from 3rd Street School and enter the house to an aroma of oil paints with my uncle lying on his back on the scaffolding. It appeared as though he was swimming through a sea of color as he stroked the ceiling with hues of yellow ochre, splashes of blue azure and, array of magenta. I discovered that creating a scene through the medium of color was a process of layers.
I was always so happy when Uncle Hugh gave me a brush and let me lay down color. It is a powerful thing when a Master encourages young ones to create.
I had no idea as a kid how lucky I was to travel the Italian countryside to say goodnight to my parents down the hall. In as many years as we lived there I was constantly finding new creatures, trees, people and perspectives I had no idea were there before.
Detail, depth perception, and the discovery of beauty and art are the rewards for those who take the time to look.
After leaving home you began traveling and perfecting your craft on some interesting projects in Colorado. Can you share some of these adventures with us?
I went to Breckenridge Colorado to live in the Rockies, which was one of my life goals. There is a spirit and an energy in those mountains which is very life giving. I met my wife Lynda there and had our daughter Pyper.
The building that was going on was incredible. So many high end homes that were bigger than life. I got to work with some amazing builders that had the process down. Most of the roofs we built were cut in, which means each rafter is cut to fit as opposed to using trusses. Learning to cut in a roof is probably the funnest project to do on a home as a carpenter. When the foundation is laid out, the roof is considered. When the walls are framed, the roof is considered. Homes are built from the top down.
I have an image in my head of one roof we built that is still clear as day in my mind and gives me fortitude when I imagine it. I was looking out past the rafters on a home we were building at 11,000 feet. In the background was the range of 14,000 foot peaks. From my perspective the rafters looked like the Rockies began where the roof ended. It was a typical bluebird day with snow blanketing the world. Our buildings are structures built to last.
When did it first occur to you that what you might build could easily out live our own life and what did you decide to do about it?
That’s an interesting question and I think the easy answer would be that is has been a process. There are many examples of buildings built generations ago that are still here. I think a deeper question is what works about those older buildings and how can I improve upon the style or technique. Of course, each builder has had to deal with the economics and social environment of the day. I am in the same boat, and I have the added benefit of a society that has developed itself to provide its’ people with the freedom of choice, in regards to the products available to use.
If I am going to stay in this business I have to become a better builder every day. I have to constantly ask the question of whether what I am doing is the best way and the most efficient. What kind of an impact am I having on the environment. How will my grand children’s grandchildren feel about my structure and the imprint I have left. The latest wisdom I have found that I has really helped me a great deal is collaboration. Talk to my brothers and sisters out there that are also building and ask their advice, visit their projects, and invite them to mine. We are stronger together.
Tell us about your visit to the Old Country and what did you get out of it?
Ahhh Italia…For someone who is as visual and kinesthetic as I am Italy is a drug. There exists no strada, piazza, or grotto that is not full of experience. Real life energy built right into the ancient roads and walls that are still standing today providing structure as they did centuries ago.
The churches of Italy and the scale with which they were built is quite surreal. The only way to explain the level of detail and artisanry is that “the gods see everywhere”.
Every cut we make and every rock we turn makes a difference. Without the Pope’s budget we have to be uber efficient in our planning to achieve a high level of detail. The legacy from the past era that we can live in today is in the inspiration. We can create living walls that speak to people by imbuing them with our intention and have as our inspiration the love of what we do.
How do you take these qualities and add them to your own building and craftsmanship?
Focus. As my dad would always tell me, “the times may change, but the principles remain the same”. When I create structures I collaborate with the people commissioning the work, try to consider every detail about the function of the piece or place, and then imbue it with the form that will breathe balance, beauty, and structure.
Tell us a little bit about your own company and process behind building homes?
I started Walls of Time Builders, LLC in 1996 while living in Breckenridge, Colorado. I have since worked in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and in Ashland for the past 12 years. I started as a carpenter and worked my way through and have learned to become a builder and general contractor.
Staying a viable company in the building industry requires one to be flexible. The current economic situation, has shown that there are less new homes being built and the emphasis has been more on remodels. Whether it is a small or large remodel or a fence to enclose the yard, the process of building is the same. The form and function have to be addressed and the scale has to match those who commission the work.
A business axiom that my wise friend Steve explained to me recently was “to always leave something on the table at the end of the deal” and you will always create new business. When I build I try and do more than what is expected. My goal at the completion of a job is that the owner have equity from what we have created.
When I do my best I add value to the dollar. When I do my best and work with inspiration I leave something for future generations to enjoy. It will be interesting 500 years from now what people will say about our architecture and our society. I hope that if what I have built has meaning and value it will still be here.
Where can people learn more about your service and see some pictures of your beautiful home?
People can check out my website at: www.wallsoftimebuilders.com or they can reach me at
541 840 8625
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Just a blessing… May we all be blessed with an abundance of love, health and friendship. Thank you, Steve Sirianni