Monday, September 26, 2011

Drive By Shootings: A Picture Perfect Traditional

Forgive the poor quality, I had to go the wrong way around a cul-de-sac to snap a picture of this gorgeous traditional house. The first floor is stone, and the second floor is covered in gold clapboard. I just adore the broken pediment entrance and the dormers popping through the fascia. Looks like something from a movie set, doesn't it?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Conversation with Tina from "The Enchanted Home"

"The Enchanted Home" is one of my favorite design blogs, and I was very excited when the author, Tina, agreed to a little question and answer with me. Tina and I love many of the same things, and I have throroughly enjoyed watching the progress as she and her family have built their dream home. Tina's readers not only get to see the gorgeous details of her house unfold, but are treated to Tina's take on wonderful travel locations, products, and design. She serves up some of the very best "eye candy" there is on the web, and does it with grace and charm. If you haven't already, click over to The Enchanted'll be glad you did.

I believe our blogs started around the same time. I wanted a way to organize my inspiration photos and share my thoughts and projects. What prompted you to start "The Enchanted Home?"
I started my blog Jan.1st of this year...hard to believe its been eight fun, entertaining and educational months!  In building our home, I started looking for lots of various house related things both in pictures and articles online.  After going to a few blogs for months without honestly realizing they were even blogs (had no idea what one was) I started thinking "hey I can do this too". I enjoy writing and thought this would be a fun way to share my interests as well as the entire home building experience with other like minded people. Sure enough I soon discovered there are lots of them out there!  So I started one wintry morning, writing my very first post that maybe generated a single comment. But boy was that comment coveted and celebrated!!

I just love your blog, and judging by the number of comments others leave, I am far from alone. What is it about The Enchanted Home that you think gets people hooked? What advice would you give a new blogger on how to reach and keep  an audience?

Thank you Brandon! I think a lot of people like my take on design, and decor and I think a lot of people enjoy watching the progress of our home building. I follow a few blogs myself on people who are either building or renovating and I so anticipate their new posts on updates so I see it from the perspective of how fun it is to watch someone else's project in the works (I get a lot of emails telling me this so this is not an assumption). I think I do have a certain style which while not for everyone, appeals to a fairly broad group.  As far as keeping an audience, it is a mantra you hear often but its just so true...write about what you really love and what excites you. The rest will flow. I think the key is to keep it authentic, not to feel like you must play to your audience, as that will become a chore and  novelty which will wear off because you will undoubtedly lose interest if you lack the passion and conviction to write about what you love and believe in. I always say you cannot be all things to all people, just be yourself and the audience you gain will be a loyal one.

You and your family are nearing the end of a long building process. Is there a part of you that will be sad to have the house finished? What are you going to miss most about the building process?

NO NO AND NO,  there is no size font on this computer that could spell out a big enough "no" to get my point Its been over three and half years and I just "want off this ride".  Frankly I really won't miss anything about the building process other than at this point it IS fun to go to the house and get excited over something that has changed from one day to the next. But my patience is thin, and I am ready to move in, and not look back!

What is your favorite thing about your new house? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Oh boy, I really have so many. I love the style, French...its always been a dream of mine to have a home like this. I love my kitchen and breakfast room and family room. Love having my own bathroom FINALLY! I love the materials we used, there are too many to single out just one. Honestly at this point I am very very happy to say there is not a single thing I would have done differently!

A few months ago, a house I designed was featured in an article on a national news site.  It was around 4,000 square feet, and I was very surprised when several anonymous commenter's took the position that a house that size was went so far as to claim it was morally irresponsible. Have you faced anything similar, online or off, as you've chronicled building your house? What do you say (if you bother saying anything) to people with that attitude?

This is interesting. Once again you cannot be all things to all people and most certainly there are going to be those who just don't want to see the good in anything, and unfortunately even some "haters" out there. If anything, I feel sorry for anyone who cannot be happy for someone else fulfilling their dream. I on the other hand, am very inspired when I see something beautiful, it excites and inspires me, makes me want to aspire to do and be better. So that kind of attitude is very foreign to me, and I always think that person is likely a very unhappy individual or very dissatisfied with his/her life to have to tear someone else down. I live my life for me, and feel very blessed and just know in this world there will always be those naysayers, but I will not allow them to bring me down.  I try to focus on all the many positives and the goodness in 99.9% of the people I have met through blogging.

Designing and building a house is a sometimes overwhelming process that is filled with surprises. Do you have a particular method for staying organized and attacking all the decisions? What would you tell someone about to start the homebuilding process to be ready for?

Well I have a very large online photo album full of very inspirational pictures, when I didn't have so many it was well organized into categories and by rooms. Now that I have literally hundreds, the organizational system has fallen to the wayside but it is still a valuable resource that I use daily. I also have a very thick file folder a friend gave me many years ago (when we were building our old house ironically) that has different compartments and that's a great way to keep track of invoices and paperwork though somehow they don't always find their way there. Be prepared to spend 20-30% more than you think you will and add at least a few extra months to the time frame, that is given. I have yet to hear of a project be done on time or earlier, it is nearly almost always much later...sort of the the nature of the beast unfortunately. Be ready to spend A LOT of your waking hours (and many non waking too) mulling over decision after decision, it can be incredibly overwhelming so I think its important that both husband and wife be fully on board and committed to the building of a home.

Tell us about your family! How much have they been involved in creating your home? Does your husband share your passion for the details, or is he one of those guys who only cares about the garage?

I have a wonderful husband who I have been married to for 26 years. And he is VERY involved. In fact, our builder is so impressed with his knowledge and business savvy, they may go in on a project together! He is a huge asset to have in this process. This has been a project that we embarked on truly together, in every sense. I would never have been able to get through it if he wasn't as involved as he has been. We have had many twists and turns, highs and lows in this process but its been nice to have someone to share it with! We got married very young and started a family when I was 22 and he 27. We have been blessed with 3 wonderful sons, and a great dog, the infamous Teddy. (lots of people got to know Teddy when when I poured my heart out in a post when we thought we had lost him on Mothers day)!

You've written about some fabulous travel destinations. Practical concerns aside, tell us about your dream vacation.

THANK YOU! Its no secret I love to travel ….. I think my dream vacation would in terms of a place I have already been, lounging on a beach (preferably a private beach so the beach wrap could come off, lol) in Hawaii with a IV drip of Maitai's and Pina coladas with my biggest worry being what book to indulge in that day and what time our dinner reservation is (yea I know keep dreaming right?) In terms of a place I have yet to travel to, but high on my wish list, I  would love to visit Fiji and take an archaeological tour through Egypt and Turkey.

How would you describe your style?

Assuming you  mean with regard to decorating/dressing….definitely classic traditional with a slight twist. I find my taste is evolving and especially since I became an official member of blogland, there is so much beauty and inspiration, it has really opened my eyes. I love all European influences, particularly French.

If you could go back in time and offer a younger you some advice, what would it be?

Learn everything you can, knowledge is power.  You can never know enough, read read read, absorb it all like a sponge, commit yourself to continuously keep learning and evolving. Never stand still and think you have it covered. Open your mind to always being the best you can be.  And I have always loved "shoot for the moon and you will land on one of the stars". In other words think big, dream big and wish big, we are only limited by our imaginations.

A sneak peak at Tina's house...visit her blog The Enchanted Home to see more!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Drive By Shootings: Picture Perfect Southern Elegance

The graceful columns, beautifully detailed wings, and copper conductor heads caught my eye on this house, which not only exudes Southern charm, but appears to be for sale...any takers?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Formal Living Room Unveiled

The formal living room at our house has been a long time in the making. I've previously written about my finds for this space--a mirrored chest scored for $200 at Homegoods, a pair of mirrored tables snatched off of clearance at Pier One. But not until a few weeks ago did I finally feel like the room was finished. (A relative term, of course, since I would love to have hardwood floors in there, a different piano, and maybe even taller crown molding, but it is finished enough for now.)

Here's what the space looked like shortly after I moved in. We'd already painted the walls Sherwin Williams Pearl Gray. The sofa had recently been recovered--breathing new life into a piece I bought for my first college apartment. I originally thought my scheme would be brown, white, and blingy. But I kept finding better things in black, so the brown rug moved to the study, the brown pillows moved to the great room, and the antique side chair, covered in brown and blue tapestry, made its way to one of the guest rooms, and the walnut end tables got a makeover in black and silver.

And here is the after. The painting is one of my favorite pieces. Since the piano is in this room, I wanted an abstract with a subtly musical motif. I scored this one at a furniture consignment store in town. The coffee table is the old end tables--a weekend project that turned out beautifully. The pillows are custom made, and the lamps are another Homegoods find. (I just love black lampshades!)

The window treatments are off the rack from JC Penny. I took their roman shades and added the ribbon detail with a little stitch witch. I'll eventually add some sort of embellishment to the drapes--a Greek Key tape on the leading edge or some fringe. The scroll arm chair was a find on a trip to High Point, and the architectural prints over the mirrored chest once hung in my high school bedroom.

The view coming down the front stairs. The upright piano isn't as out of place as this picture would indicate, but when it was last tuned, the technician told us that it couldn't be tuned again--so it will be replaced in the not-to-distant future. The mirror-framed mirror is flanked by two mirrored sconces (another Homegoods steal) that are still waiting for the perfect objects to grace them.

As always, I am linking to the Metamorphosis Monday part at Between Naps on the Porch. Every week, BNOTP brings together some of the best before-and-afters on the web. Click over there to check out more!

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Let's Roll

There are few of us who can't remember exactly where we were this morning ten years ago. I was working at my first job out of college when a coworker sent me a message that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Even as another airliner slammed into the second tower, we struggled to find a more reasonable explanation as to what was happening. After what seemed an eternity, several of us broke for an early lunch and watched the news unfold on the TV screens of a nearby Applebee's. There was a collective numbness that day, and for weeks that followed.

A friend summed up her feelings on the anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy beautifully this morning:

"For all of the hurt & pain this day brought to us 10 yrs ago, it also brought perspective. For a short while, we lived in Unity, simply, as Americans. We flew our flags & were patriotic. We valued each other more & hugged loved ones a bit tighter. Our churches were packed with people praying for our country. We contacted long, lost friends & let them know we think of them often. We worried less about the small stuff & were thankful for our own tiniest blessings. Perspective...a gift out of tragedy!"

Never Forget!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two of a Kind: A Look at Twin Beds

When I was growing up, my grandmother's guest bedroom had two twin sized beds in it. I suppose that early connotation left a mark on me, because anytime I hear "guest room" my mind instantly conjures up an image of matching twin beds. Now, for the most part, I would say that offering your adult guests a twin bed is a sure way to guarantee they won't overstay their welcome, but if your guests often include children, couples who live as though they are in a 1950's sitcom, or several single folks, a guest room with twin beds might just make some sense. And if you're lucky enough to have more than one guest room, setting one of them up with twins will give you a lot of versatility.

While a child's room is where many people would put a twin bed, the following images show the more mature side of them. Which is your favorite?

A subtle color scheme, and restrained use of pattern makes this a very soothing room.

An absolute favorite of mine...the large bed canopy over both beds gives this room a unified look. And the Greek key  motif is perfectly done.

Here again, the two twins are unified by the use of upholstered panels above them. Great slightly overscaled chest in the center serves as a nightstand.

I love red with Tiffany-box blue, and the bold rug here really makes for a beautiful space.

A decidedly masculine room by Ashley Goforth. Not so sure about that deer, but I love the wall color and the overall simplicity here.

Matching bed canopies with suspended light fixtures make for a breathtaking room.

House Beautiful featured this guest room which has a wonderful patina about it.

Twin metal canopy beds turned heads at this year's Oakville showhouse.

Phoebe Howard put together this grown-up nautical bedroom. Wouldn't this be perfect at a beach house?

Southern Living featured this guest room several years ago, but it still looks fresh. Those upholstered headboards could be easily recreated by even novice DIY'ers.

So what do you think about twin beds, are they just for kids? Or do they still have a use outside of a child's room?

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Expandable Round Dining Tables

I spent much of this week tracking down an expandable round dining room table for a client. Round dining tables have grown in popularity the past few years, but there is certainly nothing new about them. A square, round, or octagonal dining room almost demands a round table, and in any space they are great for easy conversation among everyone enjoying the meal.

The space I was shopping for this week is ideally scaled for a six person dining room table, but gracious enough to handle 8-10. An expandable table was really what we needed for those special occasions when larger groups were getting together. And because the space was an octagon, we needed one that would expand in the round--a round table that turns into an oval with the addition of a leaf was not going to cut it. Luckily, there are a  host of tables that do just that, and most of them are absolute marvels of furniture engineering.

My client had her eye on the expanding round table from Theodore Alexander's "Althorp: Living History" collection. I love that collection of furniture--all reproductions of pieces found at Althorp House, the seat of Princess Diana's family. One store I was at this week had a console table from that collection at a tremendous price. If my client doesn't take it, I may. At any rate: here are some pictures of expanding round tables to drool over:

Theodore Alexander's Althorp table retails for around $15,000. Beautiful piece with flame mahogany, rosewood, and burl inlays.

From Top: The Althorp table closed. The expansion pieces fold out of the way under the table top when not in use. Opening the table to full size reveals the artistry and craftsmanship in the piece. Considering that it's a reproduction of a table originally made in the 1800's, is even more remarkable. At full size, the table will seat 8 to 10 guests.

Century Furniture carries a couple of expanding round tables by Oscar De LaRenta. The extension pieces do not appear to be stored within...but just take a look at the works inside!

The De LaRenta table, which retails for over $20,000, is a thing of beauty...gorgeous details.

And finally, you have to check out this one from Western Heritage furniture (which operates much like the Althorp table that's going to my client's new house)

Pretty impresive, isn't it?

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Drive By Shootings: Graceful Details and Proportions

Introducing a new recurring category here at Southgate: Drive-By Shootings. What house lover hasn't driven past a gorgeous home and been tempted to whip out their camera or cell phone and capture it for their idea file?

First up, a gracefully proportioned and perfectly detailed house that I pass every day on  my way to work:

The cast stone entry of this house is to die for! The subtle banding that dileniates the first and second floors, and the gracious dormers clad in the same slate as the roof make this house drool-worthy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ivy Covered Houses

I love the look of a house covered, at least partially, in ivy. It's a look of permanence and solidity and a house covered in ivy seems as though it has always been there and always will be. There is a school of thought that says allowing ivy to grow on a house is an invitation for trouble, and lots of it. Certain types of ivy can invade mortar, pry loose siding, and become so invasive that they can literally eat a house. Others say that if that were the case, the centuries old University buildings and homes dotting Europe would have long ago been reduced to piles of rubble.

From what I have learned, that charming look of ivy growing over a house can be safely done if certain care is taken. Using a type of ivy that climbs using "suckers" (little suction cups that allow it to cling to a surface) is relatively safe, whereas ivy that climbs with tendrils (little roots that dig in and wrap around whatever they can) can quickly turn into a sort of cancer.

In any case, care must be taken, and pruning must be done. I would not recommend any type of ivy for a house clad in siding. The ivy can too easily get behind the clapboards and cause real problems--water intrusion, loosening of the cladding, etc. Masonry is a much safer material to train ivy up. But it should always be pruned away from window and door openings, and stopped before it gets to any wood cornice work, downspouts, or chimney flues, where it can easily work it's way into places it should not be and result in expensive damage.

English Ivy, for these reasons, is best avoided, but a Boston Ivy that is properly cared for, can give the house that charming appearance. So weigh the issue of ivy carefully before you plant it, most ivys propegate very easily and can be quite difficult to get rid of.

At any rate, here are some wonderful ivy covered houses to inspire:

Notice how the ivy has been kept away from the windows and shutters here.

The facade of this house in Savannah is nearly completely covered in ivy, and feels as if it has been there for centuries.

A gorgeous ivy-covered Georgian.

A classically detailed cottage with ivy covered walls--is that wysteria or bouganville climbing over the portico?

Ivy lends a feeling of permanence to this Tudor, and has been carefully pruned to stay on masonry walls.

The first floor of this Dutch Colonial is anchored to the site with climbing ivy.

The stone walls of this house are softened with ivy. Love how the oval windows "pop" in the greenery. (via The Enchanted Home)

So, what is your take? Is ivy worth the risk?

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Here's The Story

Last week I showed the floorplans and elevation of a large Georgian style house and hinted that I would be writing more about it. Well, I wish the story behind it were more engaging, I would love to tell you that we were about to break ground on our dream  house, or even that a wonderful client was planning to call it home, but the truth is much less exciting.

I imagine anyone who works in design can relate to what I am about to say, particularly those who, like me, work in relatively small towns. My work comes in waves of "sameness"...a particular style takes hold of the collective public conscience, or the architectural guidelines of a new neighborhood dictate a certain "look." My career has seen waves of "Craftsman-ish" houses, "European-ish" houses, and what I like to call "High Mountain" style houses. These might be sprinkled with some unusual variants here and there--an infill lot in an established neighborhood, a large scale renovation of an older  home, or just a client with a very unique vision, but at times I have found myself screaming for something to design other than a stone and stucco house with a walkout basement and heavy timber accents (in the upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina, where many of the custom  homes I've worked on are--this is the expected look and palette for so many of the newer homes in resort communities.)

And so, every year or so, I force myself out of the box and do something different. A couple of years ago, I grew fascinated with Tudor style homes (a style I have never had a custom commission to do), then with the beautifully detailed but smaller homes of the 1920's-1940's. These studies are my way of doing some self-directed continuing education, and sometimes make it to my portfolio of pre-designed houses.

I recently re-read the book "Get Your House Right", I am working with a client on the design of a classically detailed low-country style house, and he had recently finished that book, along with several others on Federal, Greek Revival, and Georgian design elements. I have always loved a classic "Five Over Four and a Door" type house--to me, a properly designed one never loses it's appeal, and there is just a definite sense of "home" from them. So that was the defining idea for this house. I did NOT set out to design a house this large. In fact, I decided that my partner and I would be the fictional client for these plans, and we decided that the layout of our current house suits us just fine, but our wish list would add a few things...a music room for a grand piano, "wouldn't it be nice if all the guest rooms had their own bath?", "I've always wanted a huge library with those rolling ladders.", and "I would love a dedicated home theatre in the basement.", and after seeing dual staircases in a house online, someone just had to have them.

So, 14,000 square feet later, there it is. A little something to stretch my design muscles, and a springboard for exploring various topics in design. (Check here for a growing list of topics that have spun off from this plan.)

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