Article image for an interview with timber framing expert, Bert Sarkkinen

Timber Framing Expert Bert Sarkkinen Reveals How Your Personality Influences Choices in Home Design

The stay-at-home orders have enabled us to appreciate our spaces or even rethink our home design choices. Do you agree that our personality types influence the choices of home decor? Author and industry expert Bert Sarkkinen may have some good reasons for you to believe they do. He’s seen Hybrid Timber Framing make a massive comeback in modern architecture. In his book, The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing: 7 Unique Post & Beam Styles to Accentuate Any Design Theme, Bert combines a study on the craft of hybrid timber framing, inspiring photos, and his charming flair for writing. The book makes for a perfect coffee table book for your timber-framed home.

Timber Framing Expert Bert Sarkkinen shares his insights and inspirations behind writing the book.

How did you become an expert at Timber Framing?

Passion and persistence, with a good foundation in conventional stick framing, learned from my Father with carpentry, applied math, and thinking skills. I was introduced to Timber Framing at the behest of a client in 2002. From there I dove into every available book on the subject – learning as I went. Essentially self-taught, but using some excellent books, which inspired me to eventually pen one of my own.


As a leader in your profession, what leadership philosophies define you?

Continual growth, servant leadership, and the pursuit of emotional intelligence.


You wrote the book more for the consumer than the craftsperson, why is that? It also makes for a beautiful coffee table book, was that what you originally had in mind? Can you expand on why you believe timber framing is an art?

Headshot of Bert Serkkinen
Bert Serkkinen

As mentioned, I had consumed a lot of timber framing books that focused on technical aspects of timber framing but noticed a lack of books on how to get the right look and feel in timber design.

If you consider Stephen Covey’s principle of “Beginning with the End in Mind”, it is painfully obvious that the most important way to provide value is with the right ideas, the right decisions, and the right design. There is a lot of resources and effort that go into the building/remodeling process, “Getting Things Right” is not only the best for long-term satisfaction, but also for our environment.

Coming back to getting the right look and feel with timber design, Hybrid Timber Framing really allows many artistic brushes to be utilized, creating a personalized timber design. In my eyes, timber framing is more than just putting beams in the air, but is an opportunity to reflect or express your unique values and tastes.


What are your passions other than timber?

My passions include: Studying leadership, relationship psychology, culture and languages, economics, doing physical activities like hiking, biking, and working out. I enjoy community connection, family time, and reading/discussing the Word of God.


What are the top 3 reasons someone should consider using timber framing in their home?

Because there are 16 core drivers of human nature, it is hard to bring it down to just 3 reasons, but I counsel clients to consider their personal enjoyment as the biggest factor. This could be the appreciation for art, the “wow” factor, and subtle nuances. This could be a magnetic resonance, it just “feels good.” This could match a cozy place for family gatherings or morning musings with coffee. It really depends on people’s lifestyle and motivation drivers. I like to make sure that clients are involved in design ideas and decision making, and that their fingerprints/DNA are all over the completed project. The second major factor would be increased resale value if they choose to sell down the road. The third factor is how good aesthetics can also facilitate a fast sale, making clients’ investments as close to liquid cash as can be.


What is your favorite quote or passage from your book?

Book cover image of The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing
The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing

“Just as a tree must first expend energy growing roots before upward growth, you must do the same before building.”

You will use all four elements of the preparation stage in a somewhat messy, ever-tightening circle, to grow your “roots.” Time and/or money will need to be spent to get solid, relevant planning, and advice. This will keep you out of trouble in the upward growth stages of final design and actual construction.


Who or what inspires you?

The pursuit of giving and getting long-term happiness.


Do you have a favorite piece of architecture that uses timber framing? Do you have a picture to share?

The Timberline Lodge, located on Mt. Hood in Oregon, built during the Great Depression. I have actually had the opportunity to do some work there, and the architecture of heavy stones and big timbers is just phenomenal – there is great energy to it.


What do you want the world to know about you or your book?

Be the “Sworn Enemy of Ugly”. It is wasteful to spend your time and resources on a project that just doesn’t fit right. Avoiding ugly timber aesthetics is what this book is about, but the deeper message applies to thinking, attitudes, and relationships.


What is one little known fact about timber framing that would surprise us?

Timber Framing started in many different places all around the world roughly at the same time thousands of years, in other words, Timber Framing did not start in one place and spread out to the whole world, but evolved organically in many different cultures such as the Vikings, Chinese and European countries.

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