Friday, May 10, 2019

Highlights from the Kips Bay showhouse 2019

This past week I had the pleasure of touring this year's Kips Bay Showhouse,  the most venerated of showhouses, where the best of the best get together to raise funds for after-school programs in New York City through what may best be described as a celebration of design. I toured the house from the top down, always a good idea, and so these pictures are in that order.
The first room I visited was that of talented designer Matthew Monroe Bees who created a sitting room straight out of Charleston which spoke to my classicist collector. This is a cozy room for LIVING and I could spend all day here.
The most fun room of the house had to be that of designer Young Huh where she created a lively and exuberant artist's loft. While I hadn't fully appreciated the room in photographs before my visit, in person it really blew me away with its witty details and lovely scents (most designers spend as much time on fragrance in these rooms as they do on the look!).
On the other end of the color spectrum was the room of Sarah Bartholomew. Her quiet room whispered elegance and fine detailing with a lot less color than we have come to expect from her. This was hands down the most beautiful room in the house I think, but one that has to be seen in person to fully appreciate.  The ribbed plaster walls were show stopping.
This mirror from Cox London would have come home with me had I been prone to stealing; I'm rather obsessed with it now.  Readers may remember her more colorful but no-less-sophisticated room from the 2017 Atlanta Showhouse which I covered HERE.
 The painted floors warmed my heart - casual yet elegant in shades of warm grey.
While not technically a room, one of the vast improvements (to the rather rough house) had to be the stair decorated by Brian Gluckstein. His sophisticated treatment of the lovely round stair made traversing the crowded showhouse a pleasure.
The cherry blossom mobile was an inspired addition that tied all of the floors together. The lovely architectural molding you see on the walls is actually painted onto grasscloth with the punches of gallery-wall art featuring paintings by artist Jeremiah Goodman.
Robert Passal has created a stunning sitting room with modern details that is pure comfort with an edge. I was a bit obsessed with the rock crystal box on the coffee table above (and it wasn't even the only one in the house!). 
Very much following my own maxim of taking what you have and making it better, the team at Pappas Miron inherited a room with amazing terrazzo floors and fireplace and used them as the basis for a room rich in detail. This dark and stylish room is straight out of Milan.
However it was the marble vanity and mirror in the adjoining bathroom that took my breathe away. Stunning! Quick design house question though - why so few bedrooms, designers?  Are sitting rooms inherently more interesting or easier than bedrooms? When I think back to prior showhouses it is always the bedrooms which stick out in my mind. Remember Mark Sikes room at last year's Kips Bay (Video HERE)? Probably my favorite Kips Bay room of all time.  Just a thought....
Lovely designer J Cohler Mason won for best wall covering in the small vestibule leading to her exquisite space. The handpainted wallpaper covering the walls and ceiling appeared to be cast bronze - and the painted bees swarming the ceiling stole my heart.
I'm not sure if designer Eve Robinson installed this amazing mid-century glass doorknob outside of her fun room or elected to keep it -but either way it was a winning decision!
One room getting the most buzz has to be the room done for Peter Pennoyer architects by their designer Alice Engel. I wanted each and every item in this room. While the pieces themselves are exquisite they were tied together by the upholstered walls and bed.  Just google her name to see myriad detailed images of the Greek key tape on the retro blinds (which I adore).
Details matter - doorknobs, electrical outlets, mechanical covers. Don't believe me? How special is this light switch? Every night one would appreciate the brass switch on a glass cover....rather than the standard gross plastic.  Details matter and this room is full of them. Don't get me started on ugly mechanical vents you see in projects littering magazines, straight out of home depot.
 The yellow lining to the canopy bed is a surprise and makes the room.
Seriously good guys - congrats to Alice Engel.  Why do I repeat her name? Well I always feel when one works for a firm ones name can get lost in the mix. I know. But teamwork and identity is a good thing.
Moving on - the dining room by Cullman & Kravis was as stunning as one would expect from this team that continually knocks projects out of the park. The mix of modern and antique is very real world, if your world is picture perfect!
The depth to these walls was impossible to photograph and the gilt specs and then applied gilt plaster medallions are just stunning. Also notice the unlaquered brass light switches.
Kitchens and built-ins always interest me most and Christopher Peacock is known for the best kitchens around. The details here did not disappoint.  I loved the brass detailing around the walnut shelves.
The inset door's sticking was a little chunky but obviously intentional.  Notice the fascinating marble backsplash and the shiplap walnut hood cover:2 thumbs up. Stained wood interiors to a painted glass front cabinet is going into my mental idea book.
These are not a comprehensive look at the entire showhouse but rather what caught my eye  (it is my blog afterall!).  Everyone involved put forth tremendous effort and every single designer is to be applauded; talk to me privately about my more negative feedback! KIDDING (mostly) although I admittedly had a few "WHAT" moments! Visit the house for yourself now, daily through May 30, 2019.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Single-Handedly, Contemporary Architects Draw by Hand

In this age of computer-aided everything (CAD, sketch-up, photoshop, etc) it's refreshing to know there are those in the architectural community who still draw by hand. No computer model, no matter how realistic, can ever replace the warmth and depth of information imparted by hand rendering. More than just an art form, it's a communication technique!
New from the Princetown Press, Nalina Moses brings us a collection of more than 40 architects, designers, and artists, who are still proud to produce by hand without aide of a computer in 'Single-Handedly, Contemporary Architects Draw by Hand'.
Architect David Barrett McTyre, whose proposed chicken coop for Esther's farm in Olive Branch, Mississippi, seen above, is proof that even the most informative construction drawings don't need to be boring. McTyre states that "hand drawings are much more enjoyable and descriptive than Autocad drawings". You know that these drawings are later cherished and probably framed by the owners, not thrown in the trash like most construction sets.
Architect Robert Mellin, in his drawing of the Lane house, seen above, shows how the analytique can impart more information on a project than an entire stack of drawings. As stated about his work in the book, these drawings straddle the line between the ordinary and the extraordinary. 
In her book Moses allows the drawings to mostly speak for themselves, imparting a short blurb on each architect or designer, and speak they do.  Never forget that a picture is worth ten thousand words!  Let's revive the art of hand drafting and be sure to check out Single-Handedly!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Summer Houses by the Sea: The Shingle Style

Just in time for summer Rizzoli has a new, soon-to-be-released book about the ubiquitous beach house: Summer Houses by the Sea: The Shingle Style by Bret Morgan.  Of course I have to lead this post with the most famous house featured in the book, Grey Gardens, which recently sold.
What makes this book different from others on the same subject is not only the never-before-published, full-page photographs to drool over but FLOORPLANS for many of the houses! I know that will draw some attention from ArchitectDesign readers!
Not all of the houses featured are turn of the last century either, with many new builds and even some modern projects such as this sinuous house built for a scientist, seen above, in Seal Harbor by architect Peter Forbes. I love the little 'labs' on the roof.
 My favorite of the featured houses though has to be the gambrel roofed Mallinckrodt Cottage from 1898, seen above, in Jamestown, RI. Notice the charming views from the living room windows below.  If one has to be indoors at a beach house you may as well have water views (including views of other houses!) and a fireplace.
The sweeping screened porch of Rosserne, below, in Northeast Harbor isn't so bad either! Nap time on that chaise longue perhaps?
I think Summer Houses by the Sea: The Shingle Style is the perfect addition to any design library as the definitive grouping of the style: definitely check this one out!
All images © Bret Morgan

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Before & After: Modern renovation by Tim Brown Architecture

I think most bloggers get an annoying amount of junk email from publicists, but every once in awhile one sees something so special it speaks to you and you want to share it with your readers.  This was the case when this renovation project by architect Tim Brown from Austin Texas landed in my inbox.
While this may not necessarily be the type of thing I normally feature here on ArchitectDesign, I think good design comes in all shapes and sizes. It's not all classical all the time but rather architecture is a formula to fix all problems and appropriateness is key.  The most surprising thing about this project is just how little it took to take a really awful suburban house and turn it into something special.
When the clients found the house it was the most unfriendly looking facade you could ever find.  However using the good bones hidden under poor decisions the architect was able to make this nothing-burger of a house really shine through minor re-organization of spaces and new finishes.  That's what a good architect can do for you, particularly in a renovation like this, make what you already have work and work well!
We always tell clients to look beyond what is there now and think about what it can be. Maybe the golden rule of real estate (location location location) is the motivating factor or perhaps other fundamental qualities of the house are appealing. In this case the mid-century design translated well into a friendlier contemporary  home.
Stepping inside right way the changes are drastic but minimal.  Changing out the private courtyard which obscured the front door into an open and friendly entry is welcoming.  Re-configuring the stair still allows for the rest of the house to feel private (and points you closer to the kitchen for midnight snacks!)
In this before shot you can see how the stairs previously dumped you into the entry landing -and the home depot doors did not fit the style of the house.
I imagine furring in the ceiling beams not only created a clean aesthetic for the double height living room but allowed for insulation.
The reconfiguration continued with the flipping of the kitchen and former dining room space off the living room. Now the dining table enjoys views of the pool deck (more on that later) while the kitchen stays central to the space. Yes, this is the same room!
The new contemporary stair railing fits nicely with the mid-century vibe while the Ann Sacks tiles lining the stair stringer are also a fun nod to the past.
A wall of storage separates the dining from the living room; the verticals are another mid-century design detail. Now the house is full of light and views of the backyard.
I believe most families today live at their kitchen island and this one has center stage in the new kitchen.
 The den tucked behind the dining room allows for privacy during game day or movie night.
The existing mid-century clerestory windows work well in the new contemporary bathrooms. I'm always intrigued by these 'wet rooms' within bathrooms. Here you see the tub inside the shower enclosure; it feels so convenient and easy to use.
While the front of the house was nicely cleaned up, the back of the house really shines now with a new cantilevered roof  which expands the living footprint of the house. I can imagine spending a lot of time back here!
 Previously the back of the house was a design afterthought - who would want to spend time there?
You can take or leave the swimming pool (ok, actually take!) but the cute dog stays for sure. Save the best for last!
Many thanks to Tim Brown architecture for sharing this lovely renovation with us; if you don't like what you have, you can always get what you like with the imagination of an architect or designer!
All photos courtesy of Leonid Frumanski and Tim Brown architecture