Monday, March 29, 2010

HB kitchen of the month: the rest of the house

Several years ago, I became a fan of Los Angeles based architect William Hefner. His work is incredibly beautiful; rooted in classic design, but with a fresh and contemporary interpretation. I looked back over my blog archives to see when I first posted about him, and July 2008 seems to be the first time, although his work has been a constant presence on my blog ever since!


I included the picture above in my post about ‘Steel Windows and Doors’, from June of 2009 - one of my all time favorite posts. I noticed right away that William Hefner has a love for steel windows; in fact, I had never really seen or noticed steel windows until I saw all of the beautiful examples on his website. Steel windows have such beauty and grace, perhaps because the elegant and narrow sightlines that enable more of the outside to be seen.


Imagine my surprise when I turned to the House Beautiful kitchen of the month in the April 2010 issue, and saw this very kitchen! With my newfound love of kitchen design, and my deeper understanding of some of the flow and process decisions that need to be made when designing a kitchen, I have become a huge fan of the House Beautiful kitchen of the month. I never really paid much attention to this feature before, but now I analyze every single detail of the kitchens featured.

I love this view of the kitchen - contemporary art in a kitchen is a fantastic touch, and it is interesting that the door leading out the back is more of a traditional French door (mixed with the steel windows leading out the side). The House Beautiful issue this month features many great pictures of this spectacular kitchen (you'll have to buy a copy of the magazine to see them), but it got me wondering – what does the rest of the house look like?


Fortunately, a trip to William Hefner’s website was fruitful, as the entire house is featured in his portfolio. Here is the outside of the house, which is located in Los Angeles. Hefner calls it a ‘1920’s French provincial house’.


A closer view of the front courtyard, which features a fountain and a pea gravel path. The landscaping is very natural and unstructured – I love the lavender that is planted in the front. I wish lavender would grow in Atlanta!


The back yard emphasizes the efficient use of space; the back of the house has a wing and a courtyard, as well as a long elegant lap pool which is oriented to the guest house. The kitchen is in the wing; the door in the back is the French door, and I assume that the doors leading to the patio (which can't be seen) are the steel doors. I like and appreciate the simplicity of the landscape design; there is an art to understanding how to do simplicity well.

Look at that niche under the stairs to the guest house - what a clever way to create a shaded outdoor seating area!


A view of the guest house.


Here is a glimpse into the interiors of the house . Hefner always seems to emphasize light and windows in his designs, and this room has both light on two sides as well as the indoor-outdoor connection with the French doors opening to the back patio.


The dining room connects to both the living room and the entry hall. Based on an analysis of the back of the house, both of these rooms open to the yard, reinforcing the indoor-outdoor connection that was designed into the architecture of the house.


And the final picture from the Hefner portfolio – a charming zinc tub that seems to blend in so well with the feel of the house. The stone on the floor has a great look, and the marble on the wall is a great idea a decorative way to wall mount the tub faucet.

One more gratuitous picture of the steel doors leading out to the patio…I showed this picture to my husband, and was shocked at how much he liked the look of the steel windows. What do you think of these windows? I don’t think the kitchen would be the same without them – they really define the look of the room. After seeing the rest of the house, I am particularly charmed by the fact that the steel windows are just in this one area of the house - it is a special and memorable touch.

All images via www.williamhefner.com

To see more pictures of this beautiful kitchen, and an interview with the architect, please see the House Beautiful Kitchen of the Month feature, April 2010 (page 130).

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Painted brick houses

I have written another painted brick post with 15 real life examples of painted brick houses and the colors used on the trim and paint, please see link at the bottom of this post.

For many years, I dreamed about building a brick Georgian house. In fact, this is the picture of the ‘dream house’ that I posted in January of 2008:

I love the symmetry and order of a classic Georgian house. This house still speaks to me…the windows, chimneys, palladian windows – all elements that I find to be quite beautiful. Architecture by Harrison Design Associates.

Working on a home from scratch, somehow I knew that I wanted to go more French in style. Perhaps more accurately, a home that combines some aspects of the Georgian that I love, but which is inspired by French architecture but does not slavishly emulate it. In some ways, what I like seems to combine aspects of both French design with perhaps a little English influence.

When I saw this magnificent DC house on the blog of Architect Design (above), I was immediately struck by its beauty. However, what struck me even more was Stefan’s description: the house (designed by Paul Cret, a French architect), was built between a Louis XV house and a Georgian style house. The house in this picture was meant to compliment the French house on one side, but make an easy transition to the Georgian house on the other side. It is stucco, which is very commonly found on French style houses in Europe (and America). I seriously considered using using real stucco on the exterior of my new house. There are countless spectacular examples of masonry stucco houses in Atlanta that are extraordinarily beautiful. (Photo credit: Architect Design)

However, I keep coming back to brick. It is my favorite material for the exterior of a house, and it is definitely a favorite in Atlanta. Red brick does not seem to go well together with a French style house, so I researched painted brick. I love this picture from Apartment Therapy DC – although the picture splices together two different houses, it shows the transformative effect of paint on a Federal or Georgian style house. (Photo credit: Apartment Therapy)

In Atlanta, it is very common to see what was formerly a red brick house updated to make it look more European. Case in point: this house in Atlanta started its life as a 1930s Federal style house, but in recent years it was totally renovated (taken down to the studs) and transformed into a Neoclassical masterpiece. Architectural design by William T. Baker, landscape architecture Alec Michaelides of LandPlus. (Photo credit: Things That Inspire)

Another home whose architectural appearance and color palette has immense appeal to me is the personal home of designer (and attorney) Ty Larkins, whose home appeared in the December issue of House Beautiful. Although I marveled at the interiors of this home, what really stood out to me was the exterior, as this is on my mind these days. I contacted Mr. Larkins to ask about the exterior of his home, which looks like it is an older house even though it is newly built (a ‘new old house). (Photo credit: http://www.tylarkins.com/)

Mr. Larkins told me that he used old brick on the exterior of his new house, then had it painted with latex paint (not too flat, not too glossy). I think the result is beautiful! Painting brick is a great way to get the monolithic appearance of stucco, or achieve a certain uniform look as an alternative to stucco. (Photo credit: http://www.tylarkins.com/)

The painted brick look is clearly one that has great appeal to me. Last spring, I had the pleasure of touring the home of designer Lori Tippins. I recently emailed Lori, and asked about the exterior of her home. Lori told me that many people think that her home is old even though it is newly built – and she partially attributes that to the fact that she used hand made bricks in the construction of her home (as opposed to machine made). They are not old, but they have interesting shape and character. I love the texture that they give to the exterior of Lori’s home. (Photo credit: Things That Inspire)

This beautiful new house in the Brookhaven area of Atlanta was designed by architect Rodolfo Castro, who worked for Summerour Architects before establishing his own firm Castro Design Studio (website, and Facebook page). I often walk my dog in this area, and was shocked one day to see what had been a red brick house was suddenly painted white (Benjamin Moore Ballet White –OC 9; the shutters are Benjamin Moore 977 Brandon beige – the colors were selected by Rodolfo and interior designer Jessica Bradley).

 According to Rodolfo, the owners loved the durability of brick, but wanted a more delicate look, and from the first day of design knew that they wanted painted brick. I think the result is spectacular, and the slate roof is the perfect touch for this timeless house. I had the privilege of a private tour of this house by Rodolfo himself (at the tail end of construction), and it is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. (Photo Credit: Rodolfo Castro)

I love this new home in Charlotte, designed by Pursley Architecture. When this house was designed, the goal was to make it look like an old house – like it had always been there, and had a story to it. Although the article in Beautiful Homes magazine does not note why the owners or the architect chose painted brick, I think it is beautiful and charming and does lend a sense of age to the home. Image via Beautiful Homes, photography by Michael Partenio.

Architect Stan Dixon’s award winning renovation of a 50s ranch home is painted brick.

So is this charming new house, also designed by Stan Dixon. I love this house; I drive on this street at least once a week just to see it. The house is so beautifully designed and grounded to its environment, people often comment that it looks like it has been there for decades. The lovely landscape architecture certainly contributes to this effect - landscape architect was Alec Michaelides from LandPlus.

This beautiful new Georgian home in the Brookhaven area of Atlanta, also designed by Stan Dixon, is painted brick. This is very common in Atlanta homes, old or new – Atlanta seems to like its painted brick homes!

This beautiful home, designed by Louisiana architect A. Hays Town (1903-2005), was one of the first house that I saved into my architecture inspiration files. I included the house on my post on green doors, and was delighted when an architect who had apprenticed to Mr. Town emailed me and said that he had worked on this home. He said that the house has a brick exterior, and had a ‘mortar wash’ technique in which the bricks are loosely set, then the mortar is rubbed into the exterior creating a unique and beautiful layer. The reader also noted that his clients will often purchase old brick to attain a certain look in a new house.

When looking into the mortarwash technique a bit further, I came across a product made by Boral Brick called ‘Pastelcote’. This home, in a lovely enclave in the heart of Buckhead, was the Southern Accents Showhouse in the early 2000s, and was designed by Greg Palmer of Harrison Design Associates (website, Facebook page). I spoke with Greg about the house, which he describes as Normandy inspired. Boral Pastelcote was used on the exterior – the house is bricked with Boral bricks, and Pastelcote is a special finish applied to the exterior to give it texture and and solid color. Greg told me that Pastelcote was inspired by a brick treatment in Australia that is very similar to mortarwash. He also noted that he has used it on homes where the clients want the monolithic look and appearance of stucco, but prefer to use brick.


The Glen Parsonage, designed by Philip Trammel Shutze, has an interesting finish on the brick (here is a link to a larger view). You can see the forms of the bricks quite clearly, but there seems to be something smooth over the bricks. I am not sure if this is a result of years of painting, or whether it is a special treatment – perhaps the mortar was spread over the surface of the bricks to give a smooth appearance. Any Shutze experts out there who could answer this for us? Photo credit: Architecture Tourist.

Another type of brick treatment that I see in Atlanta is a whitewash or limewash treatment; it is achieved by using a thinner, more translucent mixture that allows the natural color of the brick to show through. Whitewashing brick is lower maintenance, as it is supposed to age with exposure to the elements, achieving a certain patina that is beautiful and elegant.

This magnificent house was selected by Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles as one of the most beautiful examples of classic architecture in Atlanta. When it was renovated several years ago, the architecture firm Spitzmiller and Norris did a masterful job both inside and out in making this extraordinary house even more special. I spoke with Rick Spitzmiller about his work on the house, in particular on the front exterior of the home. Rick said that the beautiful whitewashed brick makes this grand home much more approachable and less imposing despite its elegant facade and grand face to the street. The result is a house that is truly grounded to its beautiful environment, and very welcoming. I thought this was a fascinating observation.

A close up of the front door of the home. I had the pleasure of seeing this house on a tour of historic homes, and it was by far my favorite home on the tour. The house sits on almost 5 acres, and the grounds are simply magnificent. The landscape design is by Graham Pittman.

Here is another house in Atlanta that was recently renovated by architect Stan Dixon. This house was designed by James Means (1904-1979), an architect whose work is much loved in Atlanta. Means trained under the great Neel Reid, and his houses are known for their beautiful scale and proportion. This house was originally constructed in 1970, in a Virginia Tidewater style. However, the brick used on the house lacked the character typical of Means houses, so the original brick was limewashed to soften the appearance of the brick while still maintaining the character of the original house. Landscape design by Howard Design Studio. (Photo credit: Things That Inspire)

Here is a close up of the limewashed brick. Architect Stan Dixon had the limewash applied to reflect natural weather patterns – so, for example, in the area where the rain would pound down on a surface, the limewash is lighter. This gives the limewash a patina right away.

Another treasured painted brick house in the Druid Hills area of Atlanta was designed by Neel Reid (1885-1926)– discovered through the Architecture Tourist.

Finally, a picture I saw on a post this weekend from the wonderful new Atlanta blog, Whitehaven. The author went on a tour of homes by Neel Reid, and took a picture of this charming house. The brick intrigued me. Is it painted – or is the color integrated? Helen, one of the authors of Whitehaven, said that the tour guide identified the brick as ‘buff colored brick’ that has never been painted. Given that the house was designed in 1909-1910, I found this to be fascinating. Painted or not, it shows that this look has been a distinct style in Atlanta for at least a century! (Photo credit: Whitehaven)

I could literally include at least 50 more pictures in this post, as a painted brick house can be found on virtually every street in Buckhead, but I think I can rest my case. Painted brick seems to be a classic choice for Atlanta houses, and unless something radically changes, it is more than likely what I will have on my new house. Readers, I am curious; do you see painted brick much in your neck of the woods?

I have written a new blog post on painted brick houses, please visit to see 15 more examples of actual painted brick houses and the colors that the architects, designers, and homeowners selected for the brick and trim.  http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2014/03/painted-brick-houses-what-color-to.html

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Tudor Beauty in Atlanta

Every year, Atlanta design aficionados eagerly anticipate the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Kitchen issue, which contains the winners of the annual kitchen design contest. The 2010 kitchen winners were were particularly spectacular; in the words of AH&L’s Kate Abney, “whether your style is traditional, modern or somewhere in between, this year’s kitchen winners prove that, above all, a pared-down approach prevails”. (Click here to see the 2010 winners).
One kitchen in particular caught my eye (seen above, with photography by Erica George Dines); the colors are serene, the design is beautiful, yet the kitchen also looks exceptionally well thought out and very functional. The article introduced me to a (new to me) Atlanta designer: Jo Rabaut of Rabaut Design Associates. The home's architecture is by William T. Baker and Associates, whose work I have featured numerous times on my blog.

Another picture of the kitchen – this time with the ‘hidden’ pantry doors open. One of Bill Baker's earlier designs showed the pantry doors on the left, in the area that is now the butler's pantry. Designer Jo Rabaut redesigned the pantry to be accessed from its current location, and the butler's pantry was outfitted with custom cabinetry to house the owners' collection of china and silver.
The new 'hidden' pantry is one of my favorite features of the kitchen; when closed, the doors look like cabinetry. When open, they cleverly mirror the size of the door opening to the butler's pantry, creating a lovely bit of symmetry. Note how the inside of the pantry is styled in this picture, from AH&L, photography by Erica George Dines.

Note how differently the kitchen is styled for the pictures that are part of Jo Rabaut’s portfolio (I am loving that cake), with photography by Chris Little. The pantry is much more filled in, and the Kitchenaid mixer is out on the counter, with a tea set ready for serving on the right.

Another view of the kitchen; the countertop on the island is made of soapstone. AH&L noted that the objective of the kitchen was to be understated, with no ‘statement pieces’ such as a prominent hood or dramatic chandelier. The kitchen is elegantly simple and retreating – all of the appliances are concealed behind cabinetry - which is perhaps why I like it so much! (Photo credit: Chris Little)

One of the most interesting features of the kitchen is the double trough sink – designed so that both sides of the kitchen can have access to a prep sink. I am curious why the faucets are installed on the edge of the island. Perhaps this is so the cook can prep to the right of the space and easily sweep the debris into the sink?
The main cleanup sink is under the window; this is where the dishwashers are located. Note how the island is painted in a similar color to the shade on the window. When House of Turquoise profiled this kitchen in January, she noted that the wall color is Sherwin Williams SW 6211 Rainwashed; this color was selected to coordinate with the color palette of the first floor of the house. (Photo credit: Erica George Dines for AH&L).

The laundry room, with its vintage style sink, is an airy space and also has the same Sherwin Williams rainwashed paint color on the walls. I love those drying racks! (Photo credit: Chris Little)

The Rabaut Design Associates had numerous photos of additional rooms in this beautiful house, which is was particularly gratifying as the house has the same peaceful and elegant feel. This is the living room; note the beautiful pointed Tudor arch shape of the door opening, a design element that is seen in the built in cabinetry that flanks the fireplace. The striking painting above the fireplace is by Kenson Pound, an Atlanta based artist who is represented by the Bennett Street Gallery. This room is a perfect case in point for the transformative effect that original art can have in a room. (Photo credit: Chris Little)

A close up shot of the room, this time with an upholstered bench in front of the fireplace. (Photo credit: Chris Little)

I always love a formal dining room that combines my favorite design elements, such as the custom colored DeGournay wallpaper and one of a kind chandelier, contrasted with the slipcovers with dressmaker details that gives the room a youthful touch. (Photo credit: Chris Little)

A bathroom this beautiful, with its spectacular mosaic tile floor, chandelier, and standalone tub, has got to be the master bathroom; this is actually 'her' bathroom, as the master is designed with his and hers bathrooms and closets. I have seen this floor at a local tile store, and the beauty is not only in the design, but also the variety of colors that enable it to coordinate with many different color schemes. (Photo credit: Chris Little)

The master bedroom is seen in this picture, with a small glimpse into 'his' bathroom (designed in richer, more masculine tones than 'her' bathroom, yet all beautifully coordinated with the colors in the master bedroom). (Photo credit: Chris Little)

The master bedroom has a tranquil seating area with its own fireplace, and built in bookcases. The bookcases have one of my favorite design elements: the back is painted to match the colors of the walls. Note the pointed Tudor arch in the bookcases, a repeated element that is found throughout the house. Neither the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles article or the designer’s website contained an image of the exterior of the home; given the architectural details in the home, I imagined a classic Atlanta Tudor. (Photo credit: Chris Little)

It is rare to get a peek into the master closet, and this one does not disappoint with its statement chandelier and marble surfaced island cabinetry, and glass front closet doors. Just as there are separate his and hers bathrooms, there are also separate his and hers closets. This little jewel box of a room is 'her' closet. (Photo credit: Chris Little)

After a bit of investigation, and a connection made through the architectural designer of the home, Bill Baker (a friend of the blog), the homeowners graciously allowed me to complete the story with a picture of the exterior of this beautiful home. It was designed in the Tudor style that both the architect and the homeowners admire, and was strongly influenced by the golden days of 1920s architecture in Atlanta. The house was built in a neighborhood filled with charming old Atlanta homes, so care was taken to use techniques and craftmanship characteristic of older homes. Of particular note is the Flemish bond pattern in the bricks, which is the most decorative and beautiful of brick patterns, created by alternating the wide side and short side of the brick. Also of note are the lovely leaded windows, created with restoration glass in a pattern characteristic of Tudor style homes. Note how the door surround introduces the Tudor arch design found in doors and architectural elements throughout the home. Finally, the pattern in the limestone in the bay window above the front door was custom designed by Bill Baker based on historical references. (Photo by homeowner)
I hope you enjoyed this tour of another beautiful Atlanta home! It was an interesting way for me to experience a home – first through its kitchen, then its interiors, and finally through seeing the exterior. For more information on the designer, please visit Rabaut Design Associates - http://rabautdesign.com/; for more information on the home’s architectural design firm, please visit William T. Baker - http://www.wtbaker.com/


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