Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Filoli: part 1

The greatest surprise of my trip to California was my visit to breath-taking Filoli. While renowned for its' appearances on screen (most notably the movie 'Heaven can wait' and the Dynasty series) and gardens, I was most taken with the house itself.Filoli was built as a country estate 25 miles south of San Francisco between 1915 and 1917 for William Bowers Bourn II and his wife Agnes Moody. Designed by Willis Polk in a Neo-Georgian style, the house normally fades discretely into the background for most guests, shown up by its' spectacular gardens.However, in a lot of ways, this is the perfect house in my mind: Elegant with a nice rational flow, generously sized rooms which are not too large, open to the beautiful outdoors and most important of all, comfortable to be in. It's a large mansion that feels like a home. The house doesn't bowl you over with showiness but rather impresses you with intelligence and simplicity.You can see the floorplan of the first floor HERE. I'll share some of the house and gardens in the next few posts as there is much to see. Trust me when I say the house deserves a visit in person and I'm only showing a tiny fraction of its charms!
We begin in the reception room, just inside the house from the small entry hall. Probably the most formal room in the house, special details such as this overdoor below would impress any guest who made the trek from the city. Only a few of the furnishings are original to the Bourns, such as the tapestry above the fireplace. Others were part of the Roths' collection (the 2nd and last private owners of the estate who gifted it in 1975 to the National Trust) but primariliy the furnishings you see were only put into place 10 years ago by a very generous collector, Melvin Martin; Previously the house was shown nearly bare.
2 barrel vaulted hallways move off of the central reception room which are wide enough to be partially furnished. The tall ceilings throughout the house help to naturally cool the space, as do the 4 feet thick exterior walls.
The most disappointing part of the visit is that guests are not allowed to see the upstairs! Wouldn't you love to walk up this staircase? I couldn't get enough.
More interiors later this week, but I thought I would share the back which opens up to the italianate gardens. The house forms a U in plan with the entry centered on the heavily planted courtyard.
If I were to build my dream house, it would be very similar to Filoli, albeit on a less grand scale! I love the elegant Georgian simplicity and rational with a touch of California breeziness. Look for more interiors here soon!

31 comments:

Will @ Bright.Bazaar said...

That staircase and those AMAZINGLY green lawns are so lovely. Thanks for sharing - an interesting read for sure.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks, Will. The area is still fed by a natural stream that the original owner bottled. The gardens are spectacular!

little augury said...

I can see why you are smitten and I do remember the Carringtons. Look forward to more and hope your birthday was celebratory in every way. pgt

ArchitectDesign™ said...

was that filmed at filoli too, Gaye?
I had an amazing birthday WEEK!! So much to share :-)

little augury said...

Crystal and Blake that is and Alexis, oh and Fallon, Stephen, Sammi Jo- Yes it was in my dynasty days. Shall I go on? pgt

ArchitectDesign™ said...

oh, LOL -i thought you were referring to the MOVIE the carringtons! I've actually never seen Dynasty (*gasp*) but have always wanted to. My friend Ed is obsessed with it (and Dallas) and has all of the episodes on DVD. I need to watch!

Woody said...

That mansion is gorgeous! If I were you I would have made a distraction and run up those stairs anyway. Haha, once in a lifetime...

little augury said...

eek! showing my age am I? yes, Die Nasty was a phenom in my college years. You would love it,especially the first year or two.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Gaye, I think I'm showing mine! I'll have to add it to my netflix queue - i'm so intrigued! Drama AND a great house.
Woody, I wish I had the gall to do that! I'm afraid I'd probably be disappointed though. Maybe next time I can arrange something.....

David said...

It's spectacular, I'm really looking forward to seeing more. Brett and I plan to be in SF in October, this is definitely on my list.

So glad you had a good birthday week!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I hope you can make it to Filoli, David. I am not sure what the gardens are like that time of year though, unfortunately. The house really is the backdrop to the garden for most people. We're not 'most' people though! HA

Janet said...

Welcome back my dear! It certainly looks like you celelbrated your birthday in style. I feel some post-vaca bubbily coming on....

Kwana said...

Oh it's just dreamy and now I have the theme from Dynasty playing in my head.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Janet -it was a very decadent week! I'm still recovering!
Kwana - I really need to see dynasty!!!

The Down East Dilettante said...

What? Didn't you tell them it was your birthday and that you just HAD to see upstairs, that it was the only present you really wanted?

I can see you had a marvelous trip---and isn't Filoli just superb?

I remember a very fancy Long Island friend of my parents getting upset while watching a party scene at Dynasty. Seems the maids were all dressed in short skirts and high heels, and "everyone" "knows" that maid NEVER wear heels, for heaven's sake! "Who costumes these silly shows anyway?"

ArchitectDesign™ said...

DED, you're right, I should have asked! I could alwys pull the 'I'm an architect and a blogger' AND it's my birthday card! ha
My friend had had enough 'architecture' though I think so we went through VERY quickly! I doubt any of the volunteer guides even got to go upstairs though either.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

actually -the day I was there was my ACTUAL birthday too!

ChipSF said...

Stefan -
Glad you got to Filol; I knew you would love it! You actually didn't miss much upstairs, it's basically a long hallway with bedroom doors. Great pics - can't wait for more - you always find great details!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks, Chip! I figured I probably wasn't missing much upstairs but you know how curiosity killed the cat!

Rose C'est La Vie said...

That to me looks an unusual shrub climbing over the entrance to this superb house. Any idea what it is?

Anonymous said...

You can watch the first few seasons online at hulu! I've spent many a "sick day" watching them myself. I think only the first few were actually shot in Filoli and after that they used a set which always annoyed me. That house was a character in itself...like New York to Sex and the City! Love it.

karimcintoshdesign said...

Love your post! Great minds think alike. I just blogged about Filoli last week...2 parts as well. I am a native Californian and I've lived in the Bay Area for 10+ years and I never knew about Filoli until I went over Memorial Day weekend. I feel silly but so glad that I finally experienced it. I love your photos and you have a unique point of view of your visit. I enjoyed experiencing my visit all over in your pictures.

Best,

Kari

Blue said...

I would have liked to have toured the house when it was empty of furniture - it is such a beautiful place. Some houses when empty are magical in the way they respond to light and shade. Still, on the next trip to the west coast Filoli will be on the list, furniture or not.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Anon, it's on my netflix queue as I type!
Kari, thanks so much :-) I loved your indepth post with so many of the special details!
Blue, an empty house IS magical. I think it may be because it's all about the space and also possibilities. For those of us with an over-active imagination -it's a wonderous thing!

sophiedahydesigns said...

What a perfectly beautiful house! I absolutely hate it when there are rooms I can't see!!

victoria thorne said...

Great delight to see how beautifully you've presented the house...here, we always do hear about the gardens...and your sweet coverage makes it quite clear that there's lots more to see. The light in the photos, the overdoor, the barrel vaults, everything: your eye brings out the open, quiet beauty of the place... (p.s. happy, happy belated birthday!)

COCOandEMMA said...

Welcome back. This place is spectacular inside and out! I have never made the journey here despite all of my treks to San Francisco. Thanks for the inspiration to head up north with a new agenda! Can't wait to see and hear more about your travels! J.

Anonymous said...

Heaven Can Wait and of course Dynasty were filmed there!--Joe

Filoli Center said...

The vine over the front of the house is Wisteria - old and perfectly pruned and stunning in the spring. There are many wisteria varieties and colors throughout the property. Any time of the year is great to visit us especially if architecture is your passion. Mine is the garden but over the years I have come to appreciate the magic of the changing gardens at every time of the year. Pay attention to the architecture of the gardens and how it is an extension of the house or you will miss an important aspect of what makes Filoli so interesting and special. By the way, if you become a member, you can go upstairs. If you DM me on Twitter @FiloliCenter next time you're in the SF area, I'll show you around. Thanks so much for blogging about us and for sharing the beauty of Filoli through your photos.

FIght for what you believe in.
LOve your fellow man, and
LIve a good life!

All the best!

Kathy Appel, ASID said...

Love the Coromandel Screen in the reception room.

Summer is a Verb said...

Ahhh, to be rich...XXOO