Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Modern Gothic: Astley Castle

Ever wondered what it would be like to stay overnight in a castle? The Landmark Trust in Britain allows you just that pleasure. One of many properties they offer was recently the center of much debate and an ingenius renovation: Astley Castle.
Featured in the January 2013 issue of House and Garden magazine, the castle was a ruined shell since 1978 when the hotel it housed burned to the ground. However it held a storied past dating to the 12th century despite its rather forlorn existence throughout the 20th century.
Finally in 2005 a competition was held on how best to utilize the ruined castle.  Architects Witherford Watson Mann were chosen who preserved the damaged shell and ingeniusly inserted a modern house - utilizing the ruins to their best advantage.
Those of you who read this blog and/or know me realize I am not a modernist (duh!). However, I love the respectful nature of the new work within the charmingly derelict shell. The texture of the carefully chosen new brick within the original stone walls is beautiful.
The best feature was actually created from the most damaged part of the castle: the al fresco dining room which retains the original fireplace. Imagine dining under the stars fireside, at once inside and outside of the castle!
The emphasis here is of course on the architecture and not the interiors but I love the whimsy of the Gothic dining chairs seen above and the beautiful green curtains.  Would you stay here over a vacation?
 All photos by Jefferson Smith for House and Garden magazine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A clever custom door

Lately, I've been sadly disappointed with most US shelter magazines (haven't you? with the exception of Architectural Digest I suppose). I've resorted to enlarging my subscription pile and now get House & Garden (British); Can I tell you how fantastic each issue of this magazine has been? Well worth the extra import cost.
In the January 2013 issue, the townhouse of designer Michela Imperiali Klemos is featured in a short article thats long on style. I adored the custom door she created between her dining room and kitchen; covered in antique mirrored tiles with hidden Euro hinges and no hardware so it virtually disappears. She even used the tiles vertically to hide the seam where the door opens - brilliant! What do you think of this detail?
Photos by Tom Parker