Thursday, March 10, 2011


One of my favorite local projects is an addition to a 1920s tudor house here in the city.The original house, as many tudors are, was rather dark with a small original kitchen. The architects, BarnesVanze, came up with the solution of adding a sunroom onto the back of the house housing a kitchen above other needed spaces along a stone terrace.The interior of the kitchen is made even lighter by eliminating overhead cabinets and instead going with open glass shelving.Who wouldn't want to spend time in this bright and cheery Sunroom?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vizcaya: The pool

Last week, in my post on Vizcaya's bayside facade, I mentioned the pool which ingeniusly slips into the house for access and shelter.The Swan was kind enough to remind us that the pool's grotto has a ceiling which was painted by the artist Robert Winthrop Chanler.Chanler, like others involved with the project, received his education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Deering hired him to work on an 'under sea' fantasy fresco to decorate the interior of the pool grotto.
The exterior access to the pool is via flanking coral limestone staircases that matches the rest of the house's stone.
Interior access to the pool was via the lower level through 2 sets of french stained glass doors. These doors are adjacent to held Deering's smoking room (soon to be a giftshop) as well as a bowling alley (soon to be cafe)!
The ceiling was first sculpted of Gesso and painted while still wet to result in the fresco we see today. The floors are marble and echo others seen throughout the house. Notice the lovely bronze guardrails.Moulded seashells and other sea life decorate the scenes.The painting has not weathered the humidity nor the occasional hurricane damage well but the effect is still lovely. Imagine how lucky Deering's guests felt to be taking a dip here!

Vizcaya: the Casino

Located on top of the 'Mound', the Casino provides a focal point to the view from the house as well as provide the typical garden folly; a place to enjoy the view of the gardens and the house.Located in a heavily wooded garden on the map(#12), the Casino (#13) overlooks what would have been the original water park behind the estate, which was sold in the 1940s to the Catholic Diocese who developed the site.The structure is part of the retaining wall system of the mound and is 1 story facing the garden and main house and 2 stories on the rear. It should be noted that the trees were planted full growth so as to provide instant shade!I loved these garden benches in front of the 2 rooms of the Casino.Salvaged marble composite capitals decorate the steps up to the loggia of the Casino.The ceiling of the loggia is painted in the Italian Renaissance style. The center panel (painted by Paul Thevanez) was infilled into an older found painting from the studio of none other than Gianbattista Tiepolo.You can see where it has been pieced together and also (I believe) a recent and ongoing restoration.The interiors of the 2 rooms flanking the loggia are decorated in 18th century italian style.
Grand chandeliers for the smallest of rooms and don't forget the fireplaces!Imagine taking tea here in the gardens; I would never leave!Notice the patterned marble floors.Each room is slightly different, but each is furnished with a seating area in front of a fireplace.The painted finish on the interior is really gorgeous.On the sides of the Casino are these statues decorating the front of where the chimneys are hidden.The views down to the rear garden lawn are now lush and green, although back in Deering's time they faced acres of canals where guests could ride gondolas; sort of a private amusement park or ultra-chic lazy river!The canals were infilled for development and a screen of trees was planted, changing the view forever.The steps snake down the sides of the casino and down to what would have been a gondola launch.The underside of the casino had restrooms flanking a loggia, similar to upstairs, which are now mechanical rooms. I loved these little round windows looking into these rooms below.The little Casino doesn't look so small from behind!The photoshoot seemed to be following me around the gardens.Notice the delicate ironwork.The rusticated coral limestone is really spectacular at this lower level.The lower loggia has fountains in line with the openings and a barrel vaulted ceiling.The overdoors to the entry to the bathrooms have these great faces!It's not Italianaite without some statuary!The launch for the long-gone gondolas still exists, albeit it a little overgrown. A charming reminder of what once was.