Favorite houses

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Do you have a favorite house in your neighborhood? Maybe it's one you've never even been in but you always look at it longingly? This townhouse up the street has always intrigued me. I think I can honestly say it's my favorite house in Dupont Circle in this case. A bit quirky, the style doesn't really fit in with the stereotypical red brick Victorian rowhouses nor with the grand beaux arts mansions in this area. Instead -it combines the best features of both!The plaque near the door says that it was built in the early 20th century for a local architect -HIS dream house: No wonder I have such a connection with it! Grand but not large with a beautiful garden to welcome you, I can only imagine how beautiful the insides is! Sometimes the mystery is the best part -I can conjur up my dream interiors to match the exterior!
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Tintinhull House

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Tintinhull House is a beautiful house mostly known for its arts & crafts garden. Located in Somerset, England, the gardens surround a 17th century house which is built of the local stone, Ham stone. The house and property belonged to the Napper family until 1814 when it passed through the hands of numerous families before it was bought by Phyllis Reiss in 1933.

Phyllis designed the gardens in the Hidecote style and developed them before gifting them to the National Trust in 1955. She continued to live in the house, caring for the gardens, till her death in 1961. Since then the house has gone through a number of lucky residents. I suppose living in the middle of a tourist attraction wouldn't be so bad if it were so beautiful!
Plan your visit at the National Trust
More information from Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of an Australian friend who visited last month. Thanks! Look forward to some more of his beautiful photographs of English country houses!
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The Phillips Collection

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This past weekend I visited the Phillips Collection, a private museum here in Dupont Circle, DC which has an enviable collection of modern masters. Founded in 1921 by Duncan Phillips (a fellow Pittsburgher), the museum remains small but incredibly important. Works by Renoir (seen above), Paul Cezanne (also seen above) and Monet sit alongside very contemporary art. The museum was the first modern art museum in the United States which explains the incredible collection.I was drawn to the museum for the 'Paint made Flesh' exhibit which I highly recommend! Seen above is the new addition which houses the entrance. It quietly fits onto a small street, respecting the stately townhouses and embassies that are neighbors, just 3 blocks from the metro. Here you can see the original structure, a 1897 Georgian revival townhouse which was Duncan's home. After the deaths of his father & brother, Duncan and his mother dedicated the collection to their memory. In 1930 the collection was becoming so large that they moved out of the house and devoted it entirely to the museum.Above is a work by Paul Gaugin -I just love the colors and besides, the meal just looks delicious. At the top of the post is of course 'Luncheon of the boating party' by Pierre-Auguste Renoir(1880-1881) which Duncan purchased in 1923 -the museum's most well known painting to this day but surely not its finest.A painting by Chagall (my favorite artist).
The museum is known for its unusual approach to displaying the works. The collection is not shown in order by date or artist, but by similarities seen in the works themselves. This makes for a really enjoyable visit (as does the intimate scale of the space). I hope on your next visit to DC you visit the Phillips!
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With Habitually Chic 's and my trip to Paris fast approaching, I've been thinking about what to pack. Naturally, as an architect, my sketchbook is one of the first things I thought of. Now, warning -I am not a gifted sketch artist, I'm obviously no PVE! Rather, it's a way for me to work out what I'm seeing and take time to concentrate on the details - whether it be ideas in my head, something I'm seeing in my travels or sometimes even an image from a magazine.
I've used these Rhodia pads for years now,the 6"x8" size: this is my actual sketchbook scanned in! I love the Rhodia pads because they have graph paper, I love a straight line and need all the help I can get! This one is not too banged up yet but wait till after Paris. I typically fill up one a year but I may need a new one just for this trip! So here is a little tour of some of the highlights in my current sketchbook.
A 'modified' poolhouse from the book Tiffany's palm beach.A party pavilion idea that I got from a recent party by Mary sketchesan idea for a house sketched on the subwaya field survey with measurements
yet another house idea with quotes in my head that are jotted down at the bottom....A doorway in a house museum sketched quickly while I tried to walk along with the group!
a little seaside cottage ideaidealized sketch of garden & conservatory from a recent magazine.
Idea for a dressing room closet systemchair designs
House at the beach on Cape Cod last yearweird axonometric drawing of a neoclassical house - worms eye view I supposeplan of a NY penthouse apartment
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Steel windows

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Recently while reading a post about steel windows from one of my favorite blogs, Things that Inspire, I was reminded of Hopes Windows. Hopes has been making steel windows since 1912 and is known as the 'go-to' company for metal doors & windows with that slim profile everyone loves. Michael Graves used them in his own house, a convereted warehouse in NJ, seen above.
One of the local firms here in DC, McInturff Architects, has used Hopes in a number of projects. This rowhouse above is a nice surprise for traditional DC, modern!Another house in DC by the same architect had this beautiful black and white scheme, which the windows help along. The steel windows are beautiful, but they make the focus the views; one of the reasons architects love steel windows with slim profiles!Yet another McInturff project, this one in VA which features Hopes in this round bay - again, all about the view!The steel is sturdy enough to hold large panes of glass, this apt by Frederick Phillips and Associates in Tower House gives the room the outdoor /indoor quality that modernists love.The view from this project in Colorado was incredibly important. Look at that setting! The house is by Abramson Teiger Architects; you can see the kitchen above. I think the red frames help warm up the room in the snowy climate.
Not everything has to be modern though, in fact I normally think of a certain type of classical design popular in the early 20th century (well, that and warehouses!). The project above is in CA by Jesse Castaneda, a former employee of Michael Graves.Even more traditional are these french doors in a project by Grunsfeld Shafter Architects in Illinois.Steel windows work especially well with Mediterranean styles, as seen in this 1920s house in Palm Beach renovated by EBTA architects. I'll have steel windows in my dream house, how about you?
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The difference between good home design and average is all in the details. I was reminded of this recently by a book released by House Beautiful appropriately entitled 'It's all in the details'. The little bed nook seen at the top took a lot of care in detail drawings and planning -reminicent of the bed nooks seen in Europe so often in the 18th century. Don't you just want to curl up there, I do?! A detail like this is what probably made the home owners love their house!This beautiful staircase with a chippendale style banister, photographed by Grey Crawford, graces the cover and is what really drew me into the book. So much more interesting to a minimalist room like this than if the architect had chosen an equally simple railing.This room also features some beautifully minimal wood bookcases that match the craftsmanship of the staircase. (That is a mirrored fireplace screen in the lower right hand corner -I had to stare at it for about a minute to realize what it was!) The finishes in this house, designed by Barnes Vanze Architects, are the details that count here. The beautiful wood french doors and casements (from MQ windows) also are an important detail as all of their muntins align.
A modern day version of a french country house, the classic proportions are there, along with the wood and stone finishes but done in a more simple style that lets you appreciate the good bones.This graceful stair would not seem half as grand without the bronze railing. The space is further amplified through the traditional use of stone and classical furnishings. What details initially drew you to your home?
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Michael Smith's "stuff"

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In this month's issue of Vanity Fair magazine, the regular 'my stuff' column is from Michael Smith. I always love these little peaks into fascinating people's lives (probably why I read so many autobiographies) and especially into the life of our favorite designer!
Some of the highlights:
Outfit - Rolex or cartier with Levi's jeans and converse sneakers.
Scent - Santa Maria Novella Melograno
Hotel - In DC, the Hay-Adams of course, across the street from his most famous client!
Inspiration - friends, boyfriend, his dogs & Tina Fey ( I LOVE the Tina Fey reference!)
*HINT* - click the picture to open larger to read Michael's picks!
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Summer weekends

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I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! Is it the middle of summer already? I'll be enjoying the weekend in NY and hopefully will have fun and interesting things to post when I get back!
Picture of mosaic above my kitchen sink.
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Grimsthorpe house tour

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I think it's been too long since my last 'house tour' -so todays tour is courtesy of the July/August 1986 issue of 'The World of Interiors' magazine: Grimesthorpe Castle. Grimesthorpe is the last house worked on by the amateur architect, Sir John Vanbrugh although the roots of the house date back to the 13th century. Come on in!We start in 'Vanbrugh's Hall' which has always been used as the houses sitting room. Not exactly a cozy place to curl up with a book, but impressive, isn't it? The house's decoration, circa 1986, was by the Lady of the house starting in 1951, Lady Ancaster (cousin of Nancy Lancaster) and John Fowler.My favorite parts of these grand estates are always the hallways -odd, huh? I love how they are an impressive space to guide guests (and residents) from room to room through a gallery of sorts. Natural light is a big help too! The state drawing room is naturally meant to impress. Imagine taking tea here!
I'm sure the Chinese Drawing room will be your cup of tea. The furniture was brought from Florence to the house in 1844. John Fowler had wanted to paint the dado white, but Lady Ancaster insisted on keeping it black - I think it gives the room a more exotic feel. Isn't the wallpaper wonderful? The tea table is Chippendale.
The bay window of the room contains this wonderful gothic fretwork ceiling. Lady Ancaster and John Fowler added the side mirrors to visually enlarge the space.Another room with wonderful wallpaper is 'the bird cage room' - suitably named! Housed in a tower dating from the 13th century, Lady Ancaster insisted on covering the floor with rush matting. This became quite popular with country houses all over GB following this. The 'wallpaper' actually consists only of the birds and flowers, all seperate and pasted to the walls. The foliage was then painted in, connecting the scene. The birds on the ceiling were added by Lady Ancaster from a packet of 'spares' found on the estate. My favorite room though, is probably the Tapestry Room. The tapestries lining the room were all done by inhabitants of the house, mostly all men! Here again you see the rush matting.In this corner view of the tapestry room, you can see the latticework pilasters that surround the bay windows.The state dining room is incredibly large! I don't know enough people to seat here! The light fixtures come from the old House of Lords. The bedrooms are no less impressive. The bed in this room was a gift from King Charles I.
In another bedroom, seen below, the bed again has kingly associations -the canopy once hung over King George IV's throne. In a corner of the room is a very pretty dressing table set with items belonging to a former resident, Nancy, Lady Astor.I hope you enjoyed the tour!
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