Friday, September 16, 2011

An update

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Lest you think I have fallen off the face of the earth, I wanted to write a brief update.  Thank you for the emails and inquiries - I am still here, just trying to regain some semblance of control over my life!

The past month has been incredibly exciting, stressful, and busy - we sold our old house, packed up the old house, and moved into the new house.  On top of this, add all of the back to school activities at two different schools, and I have barely had a moment to even sit down.

After 14 years in our old house, it was a monumental effort to sort through and pack all of our belongings. When I did the final walk through of the house before leaving the keys for the new owners, I was amazed that we were able to pack up our lives (and our attic, which had been stuffed to the brim) and move on.

It still doesn't feel as if the new house is really ours.  It is strange being in this familiar but also different environment.  I am learning new routines, finding new places to put familiar furniture and accessories, adapting to new furniture and appliances and fixtures.  Figuring out all of the light switches has been a learning effort in and of itself (we are wired for a sophisticated lighting system, but chose to do simple flip switches initially).

I am working all day, every day to get us settled - unpacking boxes, figuring out where to place things, making Bed, Bath, & Beyond runs to get all of the little items needed to stock up a house.   It is driving me crazy not being able to find many of my familiar day to day items, which is spurring me on to get everything unpacked.  I still have a long way to go, but my kitchen designer (the amazing Cynthia Ziegler) and I completely unpacked the kitchen this week, which was a big psychological milestone.

My designers, Suzanne and Keith, came to the house late last week to place the furniture and rugs that we bought.  They brought along their expert hanging guy, who hung all of my favorite artwork and mirrors, which immediately helped make the new house feel more like home!  Some of the window treatments are up, more are being installed today. Although we still need more furniture (that will come in time), we purchased most of the foundational items - rugs and window treatments - to warm up the house and make it feel cozier.  We also have all of the lighting fixtures with the exception of the dining room chandelier (we are looking for an antique, and have not found the right one yet) and one small fixture for the groin vault hall, which needs to be special but also functional.

Over the past two years, I have worked through many decisions on this blog, and truly appreciate the input and insight of my blog readers! I will be showing many of the end results over the next few months. I also have a stockpile of posts that I began, but never finished, and I am looking forward to reworking the posts with the result in mind.

I am thrilled with the house - the architecture, landscape, and design are all very reflective of my husband and me, and we are looking forward to living here for many, many years.

More to come, so stay tuned!

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Front doors

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I love the idea of a prominent front door, carefully considered as a key element of the design of a house.  One of my favorite architectural design books, A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, has some interesting notes on the front door or main entrance:

Place the main entrance of the building at a point where it can be seen immediately from the main avenues of approach and give it a bold, visible shape which stands out in front of the building.

I like giving a front door a bold, visible color.  Some of the most memorable doors to me are the ones where the homeowner has made a statement.  The perfect example – the door of Miles Redd, which is a custom color that took many color combinations to derive:

This door is so highly custom – it looks like the hardware was selected first, then the door was designed to frame the hardware.  Image source.

There is something so endearing about this image (Miles Redd’s door again) with the iconic front door seen in the context of the entire building. The door is placed to the side – characteristic of the brownstone style – with 8 windows and the door as the ninth opening, it’s interesting to note that the third floor windows are not quite as wide as the first and second floor windows, making the shutters a bit more narrow.  Also interesting to note how the shutters on different windows seem to have a latch that connects them.  Image source.

House Beautiful has a great feature on picking the right color for your front door, with thoughts and advice from a dozen designers.  House Beautiful deems changing the color of your front door “the easiest of makeovers” and encourages readers to go bold in order to make a great first impression. (Image above is folly green by Farrow & Ball, selected by Kathryn Ireland).

We have spent months testing out colors for our new front door; as soon as the front door went in back in March, we had samples up there (initially we had Farrow & Ball vert de terre and French gray as our two samples).  We all feel that green would be a great choice for the door, but green is a tricky shade.  An additional challenge is that the door gets no sun until mid afternoon, so it looks entirely different in the morning and the afternoon.  Most shades of green we have tested look good either in the morning or the afternoon, but not both.

The upper right is SW Privilege green, which is a great shade but looks very dark and dull unless it has light shining on it.  The upper part of the left is a Benjamin Moore color that I can’t recall, and the lower part of the upper section is Farrow & Ball Chappell green, a vibrant green-blue.  The middle of the left is Farrow & Ball blue gray, which actually translates as a green blue.  There are four F&B colors across the bottom – pigeon, lichen, blue gray, and vert de terre.

We are going to try a full coat of Chappell green, simply because we think that the door needs the deeper value of the upper right sample, but a color that will pop a bit.   Although we had previously rejected F&B vert de terre, now I am wondering whether it might be a shade to try if Chappell green ends up being too much. Vert de terre is more subtle.  As far as colors go, F&Bl blue gray is perhaps my favorite color, but it might be too soft and subdued in this application and look too similar to the trim.  My builder finds it amusing that out of all of the thousands of decisions that have gone into this house, it is the front door color that has stumped me – but the good news is that it is only paint, so we can try something and change it if the color doesn’t work.

While writing this post, I came across a wonderful blog post on ‘The Language of Doors, Part I’, by the blog Heirloom Philosophy.  The post is full of inspiring images and quotes on doors and their place in interior and exterior design . (Part II is a great read too, all about interior doors). 

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