Friday, March 9, 2012

Angel in the Dunes

While in Seaside, as I mentioned, I stayed in a guest cottage on one of the pedestrian path 'alleys' that was a lesson in small living, the Angel in the Dunes.
Measuring in at a total of under 450 sf spread over two floors, the small house read larger than my apartment in the city which is even slightly larger.I loved the cheerful yellow siding which matched the main house (seen to the left). As you can see, the dense plantings made the exterior hard to photograph!The houses in Seaside are all raised off the ground to allow for venilation to help with natural cooling in the hot summers (don't worry, there was an AC too!).The 2nd floor had a balcony with operable shutters which was a lovely place to have my morning tea.Even though I didn't use it, the grill on the front deck was a nice addition.The bay window in the living room contained a built-in banquette that was comfy and a great use of space. The barley twist dining table with hanging leaves was a good selection for the small room.Opposite the dining nook was the couch and lounge rocker-chair with stools/coffee table with matching barley twist legs. If this was my little beach cottage I would probably add narrow bookcases on this entire wall for storage behind the couch (beach reading material!).Opposite the entry wall was the tv (rather inartfully done as you can see) as well as entry to the kitchen and the stairs to the bedroom above. The kitchen was very smartly and efficiently laid out. The undercounter microwave and small fridge are all you need for such a small house with room for dishes on the open shelves above. You could replicate such a smart kitchen at home with a LG refrigerator.Opposite was tons of storage and a full pantry (doors cut off to the right) along with a side by side washer dryer.Under the stairs was the small mechanical/storage room with a bump out for the back of the washer dryer so they fit neatly under the cabinets. This also provided a shelf for additional storage. Up the stairs was a surprisingly spacious bathroom and large bedroom with vaulted ceiling (which I forgot to photograph!). I highly recommend the Angel in the Dunes for 1 or 2 guests. The main house was much larger and sleeps up to 10 with the option of combining the guest cottage for additional space.

The Chapel at Seaside

No small town is complete without a church. Seaside has an adorable white board-and-batten chapel built in the tradition of such churches but with a modern edge.The non-denominational chapel was designed by Scott Merrill of Merrill and Pastor Architects on land donated by the founders of Seaside, Robert and Daryl Davis.Designed to be the tallest building in town, the chapel is given extra prominence by being the end point of the center line of town; a true focal point.My father being a minister, I have very definite ideas about churches of course, and this one hits the mark on every item. I love the old fashioned pews and the paneled Apse or Altar front. Tall ceilings and fans help in the hot summer weather.Adjacent to the main building is a charming outdoor chapel formed by an allee of trees and breezeway off the front of the church. Read more about the chapel and see some great photos at the blog Life of an Architect.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fabric advice needed!

This past weekend, I stopped into my favorite local shop, Ms Pixies, and picked up this small gilt chair.
I believe the chair dates from the 1920s but the upholstery job is unfortunately brand new.Can I be honest? I'm really not feeling it. I'm generally not a fan of animal prints and besides, I feel the heft of the fabric and the double welting are a bit heavy for the small chair. I want to reupholster the chair (correction, I want to have the chair reupholstered, I'm not doing the hard work!). Details such as this are hidden by the heavy welt and the print is very distracting.However, I'm not TOTALLY boring and thought maybe I could use a pattern or contrasting fabric here on the back -what do you think?I actually have enough fabric left over from reupholstering my dining room chairs (Ralph Lauren cotton velvet in peacock blue) to reupholster the chair front AND back. I thought this way the chair could be pulled into service when needed at the table. Plus, being honest, I would like to not spend more money than I have to and I already have the fabric!I also have a few remnants that I thought MIGHT work for the back. Do you hear the hesitancy in my voice? Option one, which I'm thinking might not work, is a striped blue silk. I'm not sure the color is perfect with the velvet plus stripes with such a delicate carved chair?My 2nd option which I already have is this embroidered blue silk. I think this color works better and it definitely suits the chair. Is it a tad too feminine? I'm totally lost here and need your help and opinions! Should I upholster the back in the same velvet as the front or go with a contrasting fabric? Do either of my 2 remnants work or should I buy something new, a plain linen perhaps? Your comments are much appreciated!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alys Beach

Located just west of Rosemary Beach is the 3rd development planned by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, Alys Beach. Founded in 2003, the development is even larger than the previous projects at 158 acres which includes 20 acres of wetland preserve. Alys Beach has an important component the other projects do not. It is designed with sustainability in mind; in particular resistance to hurricanes and strong storms. White stucco over concrete walls, strong wind-resistant windows and sheltered outdoor living spaces are all major players in the architectural vocabulary.The architectural style is inspired by Bermuda and courtyard architecture. Alys beach is planned to be an upscale community and while far from finished, it really is impressive and feels LUXE.While many building sites remain, much of the infrastructure and amenities are in place.I loved this beach pavilion with the flowing curtains overlooking the gulf.I had a delicious latte at the Fontville Press coffee shop.As there are wetlands, a canal of sorts runs through the project, connecting even the further-most properties to the water. This bridge connects 2 sides of the development over the canal and has this charming tower. Along the canal are a number of really impressive houses.This house has a rare front porch. Unlike Seaside and Rosemary Beach, front porches are not a requirement and most houses instead have an interior courtyard.This house, south of 30A had an impressive front facade and a deep lot, containing a courtyard which was almost like a secret garden.A lot of construction is happening along the waterfront with interesting houses shaping up. I loved this house with the moorish arches and shapes. Many of the construction signs were from prestigious architects such as McAlpine Tankersley.This beautiful house was entered through a courtyard.These courtyard houses are a style I can get on board with as I've always been obsessed with secret gardens. I think residents are far more likely to use private outdoor spaces such as these as opposed to the front porches of Seaside.Again, water features are an important design element and you cannot get very far without hearing the tinkling of water.My favorite portion of the development is the center portion of townhouses (I'm a devoted urbanist!)Taking the planning from Rosemary Beach a step forward, the fronts of the houses face a common green with proper pedestrian walkways; these FEEL like the front entrance as opposed to the small boardwalks provided at Rosemary Beach at the 'front doors'.The white stucco is beautiful in the Florida sun and allows the different colored trim of each house to really stand out.This was another of my favorite houses, I loved the rooftop trellis which reminded me of ancient Roman dwellings.The alleys aren't unattractive either and have a beautiful cobblestone surface and planted trees (sad looking in winter without their leaves).Each development seems to improve as the design team alters the things that don't work from their previous schemes and I applaud the learning process. Yes, as you can tell, even though far from complete, I think Alys Beach is shaping up to be the best new urbanist town in Florida yet.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rosemary Beach

A mere 8 miles east of Seaside, is another resort town developed under the rules of new urbanism, Rosemary Beach. Developed 10 years later than Seaside, the same team got together to develop a town which would not be a copy of Seaside, but rather a reaction to it and its faults. Named for the wild rosemary which naturally grows here, Rosemary beach was planned as an urban village in the style of a European colony. Originally planned to be about the same size as neighboring Seaside, just south of the 30A towards the beach, acreage became available during planning north of the highway which was quickly acquired and integrated into the scheme.

Funding was easier the 2nd time around due to the success of Seaside and the popularity and market demanded a more upscale venue.The style is very different than Seaside, as you can see. Water features abound in the town tying you to the beach even in the heart of the village.The first buildings to be completed were the post office and town hall, seen above and below, which became style markers for future development.The center strip is quite dense, with apartments and townhouses above shops and restaurants. This isn't a sleepy little village.Some of the most well known houses below, which you may recognize by Bobby McAlpine, lie close to the white sandy beaches. These flank the main common green area which faces the gulf.The houses along the beachfront are magnificent; more than mere seaside cottages here. Wood construction on masonry bases with wood porches are the requirements by the town code, which allows for a number of different styles to be used architecturally.I loved this house set back behind a gravel courtyard.This white stucco house was another of my favorites.These very similar houses stand out from one another by color treatments. Paint is not allowed here, rather the wood is stained. As in Seaside natural, honest materials are a requirement.Not everything is traditional, a good bit of the architecture has modern detailing. The streets have sidewalks, unlike Seaside, putting focus on the pedestrian. Alleys lie behind each house for use by cars, with guest cottages above garages.

These were some of my favorite views of Rosemary beach, the charming alleys. Strange, no?

I could very happily settle into one of these apartments with wide porches.

More on Seaside and a magnificent new development, Alys Beach, is upcoming!