Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Do you decorate for Halloween? I've never been interested in the holiday other than the candy (and I don't even have much of a sweet tooth!) but I do enjoy seeing how people have fun decorating their houses. This house above in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington (recently renovated by BarnesVanze Architects) got into the spirit with this spooky ghost in the vestibule.
Georgetown is particularly spooky over Halloween with many houses decorating their front yards. Trick or treating in Georgetown is INSANE. I loved this corrugated plastic BOO! along O street in the East Village. Don't forget to brush your teeth!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Couch vs. sofa - a dialogue



I was thrilled to have lunch recently with one of my favorite bloggers, The Blue Remembered Hills, while he was traveling through DC. As so often happens when bloggers meet for the first time we began chatting at once like old friends and eventually the topic naturally veered towards design.
Both of us have 'pet peeves' with wordage, his being the incorrect use of the word couch instead of sofa (mine is the incorrect use of home vs. house). Above you see the famous couch of Madame Recamier.
The term sofa is what we normally are talking about, the article of furniture found in everyone's living room. It's not a 'formal' term or interchangeable with couch -they are DIFFERENT things. A couch is a specific term reserved for pieces of furniture on which one lies. I immediately thought of Madame Recamier, so well known for having been painted in repose by numerous artists.
While in the Louvre on my last visit I loved Madame Recamier's furniture made for her by Georges Jacob as well as 2 very well known paintings of her, in which she is lying on a couch.
 The rest of her furniture is really beautiful and I just had to have an excuse to post!
In the future think of Madame Recamier on her couch and the sofa you have at home; unless you have a fainting couch or daybed, well then that's another story!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Glamorgan Castle, Alliance Ohio

 image by don0626 on Flickr
One of my favorite parts of traveling, particularly in the northeast and midwest, is that you never know what you may stumble upon house-wise. Every city or town no matter the size has its area of inspiring houses.
Recently I was in Alliance, Ohio, and stumbled upon a castle. The castle seen here isn't in Wales or Scotland this is small town America!
Glamorgan Castle was built in 1904 by Cleveland architect Willard Hirsh for the Morgan family. Col. Morgan sent Hirsh to travel Wales and study medieval castles to come up with an original design for the family. I wish I could find a client like that!
I was recently reading about porte cocheres on Things that Inspire and this is an impressive example she could have added to her post!
I've never seen such a large porte cochere before, particularly one with a flight of steps up to the front door.
Don't let the scale fool you -this front door is massive.
This enormous ornate 'door knocker' actually isn't a knocker at all but merely decorative. I suppose with a butler in residence a knocker wasn't necessary.
The walls are built of a Vermont marble and the tiles appear to be Ludowici clay tiles which are still manufactured in nearby Ohio.
The upkeep on the property is phenomenal. For the past 20 years the castle has been home to the local Alliance school district. Tours are given on Fridays but unfortunately I just missed it.
The details were all astounding. Not only for their quality (and that they still exist) but also for shear scale.
 These large marble scuppers are found all over the house; probably a copy of medieval originals.
I imagine that the master bedroom is high in the main tower;  Thats where I'd want mine!
 The front door leads one through an enclosed loggia with a crest of the family over the entrance.
These large patinated bronze light posts may be missing their original globes (and sport much too small replacements) but are still impressive.
Based on what I could find online the interior is sadly un-inspired if grand and well preserved. No quirky 'castle' influence mars the period 1905 interiors unlike at Doylestown PA at Mercer and Fonthill.
As an example of the good job that Alliance is doing on preservation the worn marble steps on the kitchen side entrance have been replaced with identical new white marble slabs; Heart warming attention to detail! According to their website they are trying to raise money for the rewiring of original light fixtures. This is the kind of preservation I like to see!
If you find yourself passing through Ohio don't forget to schedule a trip to Glamorgan Castle!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Elizabeth Hamilton and Peter Fasano at John Rosselli, DC

I had the pleasure earlier this week of attending a presentation by husband & wife fabric designers Elizabeth Hamilton and Peter Fasano at the beautiful John Rosselli showroom here in Washington earlier this week. I had first heard of the design duo on everyone's favorite design blog Style Court who frequently references their work. Events like this aren't only great learning experiences but a fun chance to catch up with friends.
Due to some unfortunate weather the crew was small but vivacious.  The ever lovely Sally Steponkus, Josh Hildreth, Frank Babb Randolph (who doesn't have a website but then again is a self-professed NON-reader of blogs), and Atlanta's notable blogger 'The Blue Remembered Hills' (amongst others) were on hand to learn about hand printed and hand painted fabrics.
The banter between Elizabeth and Peter was almost as interesting as the discussion of how they produce their fabrics; both those readily available (at John Rosselli) and their custom projects. You probably saw in last month's issue of House Beautiful magazine an article of 4 designers working with them on completely different custom fabric designs.
Naturally the fabric swatches of the husband and wife team are mounted side by side in the showroom.
Peter specialized in hand painted fabrics while they lived in NYC and after their move they've been concentrating more on silk screening. For all the pattern they are known for professionally Peter said in their own house they prefer more texture and no pattern!
As always the showroom was filled with goodies that I wanted to take home. I also loved that the store is scented with delicious candles. It's more like visiting a stylish friend's home instead of a showroom!  I particularly loved the lounge chairs below with the cute drinks table, available in wood or metal. Stop into John Rosselli in Georgetown to see whats new and prepare to be inspired by visiting all of the links I've included in this posting!
Many thanks to the staff at John Rosselli for making me quite at home and all of my dear friends who were in attendance making for such a fun mid-day treat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ICAA tour in DC, Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office

Join the ICAA next week (Wednesday, Oct 22 2014 from 6:15-8:30 PM) for an exciting tour of the newly restored Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office in Washington's recently gentrified Gallery Place / Chinatown.
 image by Pepper Watkins
The tour will include the museum director relating the history of Clara Barton followed by how the research was conducted to fulfill the 16 year conservation and restoration of this forgotten gem from the Civil War era. 2 AIA learning units are available for those who need them and fun will be had by all. Join me there!
image from OLBN architects
The cost is $10 for ICAA members and $25 to the general public. To reserve your spot please email Susan Sapiro at susan.sapiro@classicist-washington.org.  The Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office is located at 437 7th Street NW.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Michael Hampton Design: Architectural Watercolors -gallery opening

I'm so proud of my good friend Michael Hampton.  Not only is he a talented designer but did you know he is an accomplished artist as well? Next Friday evening, October 17th, from 6-8 is the opening of a show of his Architectural Watercolors (some pictured here) at Susan Calloway Fine Arts here in Georgetown.
I recently purchased one of his architectural watercolors myself and the amount of time and research he spends on their execution is really impressive. Michael continually hones his watercolor skills through the many recent classes he has taken including ones offered by the ICAA. One can always learn and grow!
If you're in Washington I hope you will take the time to visit Michael's exhibit (on view until November 15) even if you can't make it to the opening at Susan Calloway Fine Arts (October 17, 2014 from 6-8pm).  Also be sure to check out his website for more of his watercolors as well as his design portfolio; prepare to be impressed!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shopping at Foxfire antiques, Middleburg

This past weekend I visited charming Middleburg, Virginia, the heart of Washington equestrian life. While there I shopped -  naturally! One of my favorite finds was the antique & design shop Foxfire.
Located in the heart of town Foxfire features a number of continental antiques, primarily French, but a few in particular caught my eye.
 These French metal armchairs would be great sanded and painted a deep forest green or even black.
I spent a lot of time lounging in these 1930s club chairs with original leather. I love that the seat has been reupholstered in a brown velvet so your legs won't stick or slip on the leather cushion, depending on the time of year.
These artistic mirrors were my favorite piece in the store, though clearly not real antiques. An artist takes a number of different minerals to the backs of regular mirror to create very colorful versions of 'antiqued' mirror (the stylish smoky glass you so often see).
Some versions of this were imprinted with designs but I loved this matching pair of smoky versions (much like traditional antiqued mirror with the addition of color) in warm sunset colors.
The marble top of this antique table was so patterned that at first I thought it was faux-painted. This would make a great kitchen table and remain cool to the touch for baking.
The sides of these upholstered chairs were beautifully detailed with a natural oak finish. Be sure not to miss Foxfire Antiques when you visit Middleburg!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Turkish Pavilion at Schwetzingen

 Located in the gardens of the Schwetzingen Palace complex (along with the Bathing Pavilion and the Temple of Apollo of which I've blogged) is an unusual structure referred to as the Turkish Pavilion.
Designed by French architect Nicolas de Pigage in 1779, the Pavilion was completed two years later and has recently been totally restored and opened to the public.
Designed primarily as a backdrop to the gardens where concerts were held, the building was later sometimes used by the Islamic community as a Mosque.
A large walled loggia surrounds the concert lawn with interesting Turkish inspired detailing.
The building is strictly European with many sort of "Turkish" bits glued on and the end result is totally of its' time. Think of this as Turkish Chinoiserie; not quite a copy but a European version of the original.
 The details such as the arches look almost Gothic in parts.
 The gardens are in the beautiful English style.
 Notice the brick floor patterns of the loggia.
 The Pavilion does have a small interior and again no detail was over looked.
 Beautiful carved stone is classically European with nods to the Turkish style.
The centerpiece is a large room rising up through the room with a gorgeous domed ceiling allowing light to flood inside.
 The polychromed work is playful without being too over the top.
 Many thanks as always to Neil for providing these luscious photographs to inspire us!