Friday, July 24, 2009


With Habitually Chic 's and my trip to Paris fast approaching, I've been thinking about what to pack. Naturally, as an architect, my sketchbook is one of the first things I thought of. Now, warning -I am not a gifted sketch artist, I'm obviously no PVE! Rather, it's a way for me to work out what I'm seeing and take time to concentrate on the details - whether it be ideas in my head, something I'm seeing in my travels or sometimes even an image from a magazine.
I've used these Rhodia pads for years now,the 6"x8" size: this is my actual sketchbook scanned in! I love the Rhodia pads because they have graph paper, I love a straight line and need all the help I can get! This one is not too banged up yet but wait till after Paris. I typically fill up one a year but I may need a new one just for this trip! So here is a little tour of some of the highlights in my current sketchbook.
A 'modified' poolhouse from the book Tiffany's palm beach.A party pavilion idea that I got from a recent party by Mary sketchesan idea for a house sketched on the subwaya field survey with measurements
yet another house idea with quotes in my head that are jotted down at the bottom....A doorway in a house museum sketched quickly while I tried to walk along with the group!
a little seaside cottage ideaidealized sketch of garden & conservatory from a recent magazine.
Idea for a dressing room closet systemchair designs
House at the beach on Cape Cod last yearweird axonometric drawing of a neoclassical house - worms eye view I supposeplan of a NY penthouse apartment

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Steel windows

Recently while reading a post about steel windows from one of my favorite blogs, Things that Inspire, I was reminded of Hopes Windows. Hopes has been making steel windows since 1912 and is known as the 'go-to' company for metal doors & windows with that slim profile everyone loves. Michael Graves used them in his own house, a convereted warehouse in NJ, seen above.
One of the local firms here in DC, McInturff Architects, has used Hopes in a number of projects. This rowhouse above is a nice surprise for traditional DC, modern!Another house in DC by the same architect had this beautiful black and white scheme, which the windows help along. The steel windows are beautiful, but they make the focus the views; one of the reasons architects love steel windows with slim profiles!Yet another McInturff project, this one in VA which features Hopes in this round bay - again, all about the view!The steel is sturdy enough to hold large panes of glass, this apt by Frederick Phillips and Associates in Tower House gives the room the outdoor /indoor quality that modernists love.The view from this project in Colorado was incredibly important. Look at that setting! The house is by Abramson Teiger Architects; you can see the kitchen above. I think the red frames help warm up the room in the snowy climate.
Not everything has to be modern though, in fact I normally think of a certain type of classical design popular in the early 20th century (well, that and warehouses!). The project above is in CA by Jesse Castaneda, a former employee of Michael Graves.Even more traditional are these french doors in a project by Grunsfeld Shafter Architects in Illinois.Steel windows work especially well with Mediterranean styles, as seen in this 1920s house in Palm Beach renovated by EBTA architects. I'll have steel windows in my dream house, how about you?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The difference between good home design and average is all in the details. I was reminded of this recently by a book released by House Beautiful appropriately entitled 'It's all in the details'. The little bed nook seen at the top took a lot of care in detail drawings and planning -reminicent of the bed nooks seen in Europe so often in the 18th century. Don't you just want to curl up there, I do?! A detail like this is what probably made the home owners love their house!This beautiful staircase with a chippendale style banister, photographed by Grey Crawford, graces the cover and is what really drew me into the book. So much more interesting to a minimalist room like this than if the architect had chosen an equally simple railing.This room also features some beautifully minimal wood bookcases that match the craftsmanship of the staircase. (That is a mirrored fireplace screen in the lower right hand corner -I had to stare at it for about a minute to realize what it was!) The finishes in this house, designed by Barnes Vanze Architects, are the details that count here. The beautiful wood french doors and casements (from MQ windows) also are an important detail as all of their muntins align.
A modern day version of a french country house, the classic proportions are there, along with the wood and stone finishes but done in a more simple style that lets you appreciate the good bones.This graceful stair would not seem half as grand without the bronze railing. The space is further amplified through the traditional use of stone and classical furnishings. What details initially drew you to your home?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael Smith's "stuff"

In this month's issue of Vanity Fair magazine, the regular 'my stuff' column is from Michael Smith. I always love these little peaks into fascinating people's lives (probably why I read so many autobiographies) and especially into the life of our favorite designer!
Some of the highlights:
Outfit - Rolex or cartier with Levi's jeans and converse sneakers.
Scent - Santa Maria Novella Melograno
Hotel - In DC, the Hay-Adams of course, across the street from his most famous client!
Inspiration - friends, boyfriend, his dogs & Tina Fey ( I LOVE the Tina Fey reference!)
*HINT* - click the picture to open larger to read Michael's picks!