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We design homes for families in search of an exceptional life.

We are Alder James—an architecture and design firm based in Laguna Beach, California. We partner with individuals who have pioneering aspirations and believe that great design has the power to build healthy vibrant communities.


Who we are…

Founded in 2018 by husband and wife Matthew Gummow and Emily Rolfing, Alder James grew out of a desire to improve our communities through our own unique take on place-making. From the very beginning, we’ve been fortunate to partner with incredible clients on life-changing projects. As we grow, we continue to build vital relationships, improving our capacity for collaborative success.

We approach each new project, big or small, with the same enthusiasm and adherence to our core principles. If you've come to share your dreams with us in the hopes that we can help you get there, welcome. We would be honored to join you on one of the most exciting and rewarding journeys of your life.

Please reach out to begin our partnership.


+ Matthew Gummow, NCARB

Partner and Principal Architect
Matthew has worked in the architecture industry for nearly a decade on a wide range of projects including K-8 schools, community college buildings, municipal facilities, cinemas, hotels, and custom residences. Matthew believes strongly that architecture artfully connected with the landscape has elevates human experience. Licensed to practice Architecture in California, he has developed a reputation for delivering projects that exceed expectations. Matthew has a strong grasp of the entire design and construction process and prides being directly accessible throughout the life of the project.

+ Emily Rolfing

Partner and Designer
Emily, a Laguna Beach native with deep roots in the community, directs interior design and décor with inspired insight for materials, palettes, and furnishings along with her leadership in marketing and business operations. Above all else, Emily's love of authenticity and natural beauty provides the foundation for her design philosophy. Her attention to detail is rooted in a lifelong belief that true beauty is found in small and humble places. Emily offers a deeper view of her family-centered creativity through her popular lifestyle and design blog EMILY ALDER .

Core Principles


Design to Serve

We hold ourselves to the standard of servant designers, putting the health, safety, and welfare of our clients and their stakeholders above all else.

Design from the Inside Out

We craft our designs from the myriad of functional requirements discovered during careful study of our user’s living and working habits, lifestyles, and tastes.

Learn Something New

Creative thinking is about exploring the unknown and challenging the status quo. We strive to spend less time defending what we think we know, and more time exploring the vast field of what we do not know to make real progress.

Embrace Challenge

We know our best opportunities to impress come when we are put to the test. We don’t shy away from new challenges—we lean into them.

Add Value with Design

We believe great design creates delight and elevated experience, adding quantifiable value to any property. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must be effective.