Sunday, July 31, 2011

On The Boards: A Courtyard Cottage

It has been a whirlwind and very busy few weeks, and I've barely had a moment to catch my breath, let alone put any thoughts together for a blog post. First, I traveled to the coast to take a look at a client's new oceanfront condo. Later that same week, I hopped a plane to West Virginia to oversee some final trim details on her almost-finished house there. The next week, I was off to High Point for a buying blitz to furnish two corporate condos. In between, I've been working on the design of a traditional southern house that will be built out of insulated concrete forms, designing a poolhouse, working on an ongoing collaboration on a 13,000 square foot beast of a mansion, making a few revisions to a house I designed for my aunt and uncle, and finalizing a set of plans for a courtyard cottage. Whew! I'm tired just listing it all.

But here's one of the projects that has been keeping me busy, a formalized lowcountry cottage that will be built in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. I started this project more than a year ago. The clients had purchased a ramshackle house on a prime downtown street, with plans to raze it. We got to work on the design, and the project was put on hold while the clients sold their previous home. The old home sold, and so it was full steam ahead to wrap up the plans. And here's what we ended up with:

A modest face is presented to the street--it looks much smaller than it's nearly 3,000 square feet.

The true size is more apparent from the side, as a series of masses unfold along the deep, narrow lot. Still, the house retains a comfortable, cottage like scale, due in part to some of the space being tucked into the roof.

The floor plan is organized around a central courtyard that the primary living spaces open to. A gallery style foyer opens to two bedrooms--one which the owners will use as their study. A large great room with a coffered ceiling opens to the courtyard and the kitchen and dining rooms. The master suite is located on the main floor, and has dual walk-in closets, and a luxury bath that shares a double fireplace with the bedroom. On the second floor, two more bedrooms share a bath, and a large bonus room will be finished later as a media space.

The clients had this kitchen photo in their inspiration file. They loved (and I do too) the L-shaped island that formed around a built in banquette. We incorporated this same element into the design of their house.

Not shown is an oversized garage that will be located at one corner of the property. It has a large storage loft above so there will be plenty of space for stowing "junk". We plan to pave much of the driveway with grass pavers so that the drive doubles as an extension of the courtyard and also as a patio for the master suite.

Grass pavers are a great solution in a situation like this, where large amounts of pavement are necessary but not really desirable. They are also a great "green" solution, as they permit rainwater to soak into the ground rather than runoff.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Two Million Dollars--for a Trailer??

For better or worse, mobile homes carry a certain stigma. They are where the  "people of Wal Mart" live, they are tornado magnets, and a sure sign to the world that the owners have definitely NOT "arrived." At the polar extreme of what one might imagine when thinking of a trailer park is Malibu, California--a star studded stretch of beach where homes routinely sell for several thousand dollars per square foot. Ironically, these two extremes exist together in the Paradise Cove and Point Dume mobile home parks overlooking the rarefied sands of Malibu.

That's right--ocean front trailer parks rubbing elbows with the beach houses of some of the best known names in the entertainment industry and the wealthiest businessmen in America. The two parks have (by Malibu standards) very low entry prices--homes can still be had for around $300,000. But current listings show dozens of trailers cresting the million dollar mark and a few over two million! Owners in Paradise Cove and Point Dume pay lot rents of up to $2,500 a month and have renovated and rebuilt their trailers so that hardly a trace of their metal sided and wood paneled beginnings remain. (photos taken from current listings)

$2.5 million will get you this renovated doublewide with an added two car garage.

The interior of a $2 million trailer. It's safe to say this mobile home didn't leave the factory looking like this.

Have an extra $700,000 lying around? Then this 1970's era doublewide could be yours!

And for a cool million, this doublewide enjoys great views.

A typical renovated trailer in Paradise Cove

One of the lower priced homes, this vintage single wide is still over $300,000.

The interior of this Point Dume home hardly looks like a trailer. 

This older unit has been given even more seaside appeal with shingle siding. The two million dollar plus price tag keeps out the riff raff.

It really does come down to location, location, location. Not the view you expect from a trailer park, is it?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dive In!

I've recently taken on a small job of designing a poolhouse as part of a backyard makeover, and anytime I get a new project I start digging through my files and trolling the internet for inspiration. Of course, poolhouses run the gamut from small sheds that might contain a spot to stow rafts and pool toys, to large and complex structures that outsize the average family residence.

If money were no object, my dream poolhouse would include two large bathrooms with plenty of space for dressing, an outdoor kitchen, and perhaps a gathering space where people could seek refuge from the heat and sun while others played in the water. It would need to have plenty of storage space to stow toys, tools, and perhaps some of the outdoor furniture. And it would, naturally, need to be beautiful...perhaps like one of these:

A very formal poolhouse. Gorgeous cast stone work and arched french doors.

Aerin Lauder's poolhouse is an open air pavilion with simple and graceful lines and proportions.

This charming little poolhouse has beautiful details that I imagine echo the ones on the house it accompanies.

I just love heavy timberwork, and this dramatic poolhouse would be a real showpiece at the right sort of home.

Gleason Architects designed this Greek Revival poolhouse. The detailing looks deceptively simple, but getting it right is a real art.

David Neff, a young architect that I adore, designed this incredible shingle style poolhouse for a Hamptons estate.

Tobi Fairley created this poolhouse with a wonderful outdoor living room. Love how the building reflects in the water.

Architectural Digest featured this Thomas Pheasant poolhouse. Like the Greek Revival one above, this one's beauty lies in the perfectly executed and appropriately edited details.

For a look at poolhouse plans available from Southgate Residential, CLICK HERE.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Fifth Wall

Today, in a few rare hours of downtime, we decided to take a tour of a model home that the builder of our house has on the other side of town. (In fairness, it wasn't REALLY downtime, as we were in that area to take a look at another house that I'm designing a poolhouse for.) The model, a 6,000 square foot beast of a house, used all of the usual model home tricks--most of the interior doors were removed, several rooms were clearly furnished for show and not function, a few pieces of furniture seemed just slightly under scaled. Overall, though, it was a beautifully decorated model, with window treatments to envy and a slew of trim details that I'm adding to my "wish list" for our house.

Most remarkable, at least to me, were the ceiling treatments in the house. Too often, a room's "fifth wall" is overlooked...painted white and forgotten. Now, I'm certainly not a fan of painting every ceiling a different color or throwing paint overhead just for the sake of doing it, but this model home had some very striking ceilings. Take a look:

In the dining room, simple flat moldings had been applied about a foot in from the crown to form a frame on the ceiling. They had then papered the ceiling with a shimmery geometric. (It didn't look as dark as the photo makes it appear, was more of a tone on tone) Wonderful, simple idea. Even doing the frame and then painting the center a slightly different tone would be a great idea.

In one of the guest rooms, they had created another frame around the space and then divided it with a large "X" of the same flat molding and painted the ceiling a contrasting color. (I would have loved to see a semi-flush light instead!) This could be done easily by most do-it-yourselfers in a day!

In another bedroom, they had used that same flat molding to create a "headboard" that ran up onto the ceiling. Painted this deep green, it really felt like a traditional bed canopy.

I really liked what they had done in the master bedroom. There was very little pattern, just varying golden hues. The three levels of picture frame molding on the walls was a great idea (and one I may very well be copying!) the only real pattern in the space was this great trellis paper at the top of the tray ceiling.

Nothing new about painting the insets of a coffer, but it worked particularly well to bring this soaring great room "down". Also love their answer to that age old question of how to decorate those big two story walls. Again, they just did some simple framing with stock moldings and paint to create a pretty striking graphic statement. I would think this is another project that could easily be done in a weekend.

So what do you think? Can you see yourself getting crazy with your ceilings? Or maybe tackling one of these molding projects? I think I see a miter saw in my future...

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On The Market--A Trove of Tudor Treasures

While browsing real estate listings in Charleston, West Virginia today, I came across these delicious pieces of eye candy. I have an insatiable lust for Tudor style houses, so seeing these really made my heart skip a  beat. Unfortunately, their interiors were unremarkable, but the curb appeal (and the relatively low asking prices) more than make up for it.

This estate, complete with indoor pool, is available for under $700,000. Love the timberwork and the massing of the rooflines.

Is this one not perfection?? The details are spot-on. Check out the chimney, the leaded diamond paned windows, and the patterned brick and timber gable. Swoon!

The parapet walls, the diamond paned windows, and the cast stone accents make for a restrained but very handsome facade.

The symmetrical arrangement here is somewhat unusual for a Tudor, but the massing, swooping rooflines on the one story wings, and beautiful entrance canopy make this one remarkable. The light colored paint doesn't do much for me, but that's an easy fix.

Multiple roof layers, nicely articulated chimney, and restrained use of materials make this one a classic. Would have loved to see it up close!

So which one is your favorite? Are you a fan of Tudor style houses, or did the bad examples that littered suburbia during the 1970's leave a bad taste in your mouth?

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