March 29, 2007
March 28, 2007
I just got the Carolyne Roehm Presentations e-mail this morning, and she's now doing wedding accessories, such as favours and gifts, wrappings and other yummy things. Her colour combinations are brilliant and include Navy and White, Silver and White, Lilac and Green and my favourite, French Blue and White.
Carolyn Roehm's site had some beautiful Limoges plates, rimmed in gold, and with a white linen napkin. Think of how stunning this would be with loads of crystal and silver!
March 27, 2007
Several years after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, Captain Emerson built the Bromo Seltzer Tower, modeled after the Palazzo Vechio in Florence, Italy. This 15-story building, which stood next the the now-gone Bromo plant, once had a revolving blue bottle of Bromo Seltzer on top. The bottle was a guide to navigation for ships coming into the Baltimore harbour for many years. The clock faces spell out B-R-O-M-O-S-E-L-T-Z-E-R.
The Bromo building can easily be seen from Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. it is now used as city-owned studio space for visual and literary artists. The studios range from 100- to 600-square feet and are rented at below market rates.
March 26, 2007
March 25, 2007
We did the walkabout basically to see what's out there and to keep an eye out for houses for a friend who's looking. The housing stock where we live is mainly narrow (12-15 feet wide), all rowhouses and all about 100 to 120 years old. The houses were built for the railroad workers at the historic Mount Clare Yards of the B&O Railroad, so they're not posh townhouses by any stretch of the imagination.
We noticed some interesting trends that we had varying opinions on:
- Vessel sinks - I think that these are going to be dated very quickly. We saw some that were low sinks and some that looked like huge salad bowls plunked down. Some were clear plain glass and some were coloured glass. Vessel sinks and sinks in furniture can be very interesting, if done right. As I said before, you've got to work the keep the clear glass ones looking nice.
- Overdone bathrooms - In a house that is between 1,200 and 2,000 square feet, how much room should that bathroom take up? Do you really need a shower and a seperate tub? In one house, which all three of us HATED, there was something called the "Buddy Bathroom". It had two identical vessel sinks, two toilets, two doors and one tub/shower, which bisected the room. The areas on either side of the tub were mirror images of each other. At first, we thought there was a mirror, but when we couldn't see our reflections, we figured it out. Now, this room posed all sorts of problems, not the least of which was why would you have two toilets in the same room facing each other? Seriously, would you ever, ever, ever use it while looking across the ten-foot room at another person? Roomies, partners, spouses, lovers? Not me! (Here are C&D checking out one of the tubs! ...kidding)
- Kitchens - Some were beautiful and some seemed to have been planned by someone who'd never cooked before. Almost every kitchen seemed to have granite counters. I think that these can look spectacular, but in a dark colour, they can also look too heavy for a small kitchen. Lots of kitchens had brushed steel appliances, again something I can go either way on. We had one in my house in Wales (an American fridge!) and the children left fingerprints all over it. It never looked good. In a narrow rowhouse, a kitchen with dark granite and dark cabinets can just suck the light out of the room. We saw a bank of cabinets in another house that were about six inches short of the ceiling, which didn't leave enough room for much of anything. We also saw one kitchen that had school-bus yellow handles on the drawers and yellow and orange flowers for knobs. I thought I would gag!
- Space planning - The smallest house we looked at was 425 square feet and the largest was about 2,000, so clearly, good space planning is essential. One house had balconies overlooking the front wall, sort of bumped back about four feet, which resulted in odd open rooms. Others were configured so that they had closet space, but not much room for a queen-size bed. This was also the house where the bedroom door couldn't have been more than 20 inches wide. One thing that we saw a few times was a bathroom door that opened out onto a narrow hallway, so that if you were walking down the hall and someone opened the door, you'd get smashed in the face. Pocket doors are a little more expensive, but they sure solve that problem! My old house was 600 square feet and 9.5 feet wide, so I know how to make a lot out of a little bit of space.
- Oiled bronze fittings - Is it just me, or do you think that oiled bronze fixtures in the kitchen and bathrooms are going to look dated in about 15 minutes? In my mind, chrome is classic and wears well. This oiled bronze thing is going to blow over soon.
All in all, we had a great time checking out what's available in the neighbourhood, seeing what ideas other builders had, what worked and what didn't, and most of all, spending a fun afternoon walking around on this wonderful spring afternoon.
March 23, 2007
P.S. It was rainy and bleak most of the day, so I didn't feel too guilty about watching hours of HGTV and Style Network, and reading the new spring catalogues that came in today's mail!
March 22, 2007
March 20, 2007
I have found some of the most interesting books there, and when I stopped by this weekend, my luck continued. Here's a partial list of what I have found on this and other visits:
- Goodbye, Mr. Chippendale, by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings
- Several David Hicks first editions
- Dorothy Rodgers - The House in My Head
- Early issues of Martha Stewart from the 90's
- Early edition Eloise books
I read Goodbye Mr. Chippendale with great interest, for several reasons. First, Mr. R-G is very funny, with that dry British sense of humour. Secondly, the illustrations by Mary Petty are delightful and third, he speaks several times about William Randolph Hearst and his castle in Wales (see previous post). My copy has the disclaimer about being in compliance with using war materials because it was originally published in 1944. It also has an author's note as follows: The architecture and decoration mentioned in this book are real and no reference is intended to anything imaginary.
This little book is a spoof of antiques in modern design. Mr. R-G skewers everyone from Louis Sullivan to Elsie de Wolfe. He talks about Mr. Hearst having too many houses and when he had his great auction, many things had never even been unpacked from their boxes.
Mr. R-G also wrote Homes of the Brave, Mona Lisa's Moustache, A Dissection of Modern Art and Furniture of Classical Greece, probably a little more scholarly in its tone. When you look at examples of his work, you can certainly see echoes of classical Greece in them.Although they were made more than 50 years ago, they're still fresh today. I found this wonderful pair of chairs that were on sale for about $45,000, which puts them out of my price range! Mr. R-G created more than 200 pieces of furniture for a house in Bel Air, California in the early 50's. When the house was subsequently sold in the late 70's, all of the furniture was auctioned. Can you imagine that auction? WOW!
In a twist on Thomas Jefferson's quote on the right side of this blog, Mr. R-G says "The surroundings householders crave are glorified autobiographies ghostwritten by willing architects and interior designers who, like their clients, want to show off".
March 18, 2007
When I lived in Wales, I was lucky enough to work at the amazing St. Donat's Castle, home of Atlantic College, one of twelve United World Colleges. St. Donats dates from the 12th century and was purchased in 1928 by William Randolph Hearst. As was the case with Hearst, he plundered castles and chateaux across Europe and the UK to find rooms and wings for the Castle. He also brought electricity and phone service to that section of the coast of South Wales.
Castle with pool & barracks in foreground
Hearst used St. Donats as a place to keep his mistress, Marian Davies, when he was in Europe. He had seperate bedrooms for each of them, but there was an adjoining door for ease of use. Hearst had the lawn terraced down to the seafront, and at the bottom were the historic barracks that were used in defense of the castle (castles are fortresses and palaces are for living in). You can just see the barracks and seawall in the inlet.
Looking towards the Castle & Bay, Barracks to the right
The number of bathrooms in the castle went from three to 28 during the rebuilding. The bathroom we used was three flights down a circular staircase in a tower, and was located in the former dungeons! The dining room was from a chateau in France and could seat the entire 300+ member student body at one seating. One of the other rooms added was the Bradenstoke Hall, which is used as an auditorium. As long as I was at the castle, I never saw the entire thing, although one afternoon, one of the housekeepers took us on a long tour.
The tides along this stretch of coast were amazing...
March 14, 2007
At Housewerks this weekend, I found some patterns that would as fresh today as they did when they were printed 50+ years ago. The one I fell totally head-over-heels in love with is a striped pattern. The background is a pale dove grey, with stripes in greys and blues and even a pale rose. But what makes this pattern so special is two silver stripes down the sides of the other stripes. The silver is a metallic silver, clear and bright, that just pops with light. The paper is so fragile that I am not going to be able to paste it up anywhere. I am trying (unsuccessfully, thus far) to use it as borders on some wide picture frames. But trying to mitre it is so hard, probably because the paper is hand-printed and not entirely square.
What are your thoughts on using wallpapers?
March 13, 2007
March 12, 2007
March 9, 2007
Canvas Adversting Poster 4' x 8'
The Final Frontier
A Collection of Cast Iron Columns
A marble sink and mirror with inset fleur de lis tiles.
Sketch for a chandelier
Tracey & Ben, all of my very best wishes for many more years of success!