Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mixing metal finishes–what are your thoughts?

This vignette caught my eye when I saw it on the HGTV Remodels Facebook page.  The beautiful brass lamp, the artwork casually leaning against the wall, the burst of purple from the unusual flowers, the interesting metal medallion made into art – it’s a beautifully composed scene. Image source.

I really love the lamp (does anyone know who makes it?).  It is quite sculptural, and the aged brass finish is one that has really grown on me over the past few years.

The image was featured in a Facebook post from HGTV Remodels about whether all lighting fixtures need to be the same finish in a room, and how this question applies to an open concept house.    Click here for the blog post by ‘The House Counselor’ Laurie March to see a video on her thoughts on the topic.  Although the initial question was about light fixtures, I got the impression that she discussed more broadly the concept of metal finishes rooms in general, not just light fixtures – two finishes can be friends, but three is a crowd when it comes to finishes in a room.  The general conclusion, though, is that mixing finishes is definitely fine and is very common in European design.

When I was working with my designer and architect on some of the finishes in the house, we had a lot of discussions on finishes, although I was quite surprised at the overall low level of concern about ‘matching’ finishes with cabinet knobs, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and door knobs.  One of the first ‘finish’ decisions, and one that was important to my architect,was on what to select for the door hardware.  My architect wanted the door hardware be consistent throughout the house, and we decided to do an unlaquered brass lever from Baldwin, which has attained a nice mellow look now that we have had it installed for over a year.  That set a tone for the house, and the other metal finishes that were selected, particularly with the installed lighting (chandeliers and sconces and such) were made after the lever color was selected.

The plumbing finish decisions seemed to be more standalone – we decided to use either polished nickel or chrome for the plumbing fixtures, and the knobs that are in rooms with these fixtures are the same finish as the plumbing fixtures.  I have several rooms in my house where the plumbing and knobs are polished nickel or chrome and the lighting is brass.  I even have one room – the master bathroom – where the sconces are polished nickel, and the bell jar light is unlaquered brass.  Since all of the levers on the doors throughout the house are unlaquered brass, that is a common finish found in every room and allows flexibility in deciding which finish for the fixture. 

I would have to say that we definitely use at least two metal finishes in most of the rooms of the house.  In the kitchen we have three – the plumbing and cabinet knobs are polished nickel, there is a polished nickel sconce, the chandelier is a dark metal finish, and the door levers are brass. Perhaps because the door levers do not dominate, I never really thought about the fact that the kitchen has three metal finishes until writing this post!

I would be interested in hearing your experience.  What are your rules of thumb for selecting the finish for door knobs, cabinet knobs, plumbing fixtures, and lighting?  Do you think two finishes can be friends, but three is a crowd?  I would also be interested to hear what finishes you are working with these days. 

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New on the Market: The Blind Side house

For full post with large scale pictures, please visit

Georgia has been a hot spot of movie and TV production over the past few years; in fact, Georgia is one of the top five states in the country for film production.  Georgia’s many scenic urban and rural settings are a draw, as well as its mild climate, however the biggest factor is probably the generous tax incentives for filming in Georgia. 

It is a fairly common to see production crews in Buckhead, and a small cottage industry has sprung up – renting your house to be used as a filming location (or even as a temporary abode for a famous movie star).

Several years ago, the movie The Blind Side was filmed in Atlanta.  After Hooked on Houses did a post on the house used in the movie, I kept my eye out for the house, but it did not look familiar and I did not ever find it.  Photo source.

After inquiring with a real estate friend, I learned where the house was located that was used in the film – however, only the interiors were used.  The exterior shot seen in the film is a different house.
Here is the exterior of the house that was used for the interior shots in the film – and it has just been listed for sale (see listing here), which offers an interesting peek into how the house looks and is used on a day to day basis versus on a film set.  The house is located in a prime area of Buckhead, a prestigious area of Atlanta just minutes from shops and restaurants, and is on a large piece of land with an expansive and private yard.  According to the listing, the house has over 11,000 square feet on three finished levels.
The rear elevation of the house, from the real estate listing.  Given Atlanta’s sloped and hilly topography, it is quite common for the rear elevation to show three levels. I think the architects, Spitzmiller & Norris  handled the rear elevation beautifully – it is an interesting and charming view of the house. 

It was fun to compare the pictures of the movie set (from the Hooked on Houses post) to the real estate listing.  Initially I was a bit disoriented when trying to figure out which room was which.  Apparently the set designers used some of the rooms for different purposes than the homeowners. I ended up used the trim and moldings to figure out which room was which.

The set designers changed the function of some of the rooms, perhaps because of better filming angles.   For example, the above picture shows the dining room in the movie. Photo source.
In the real estate listing, the same room is actually used as a living room.  The homeowners’ décor is much more streamlined than the set décor (and I love the pop of purple from the pillows), which highlights the architectural details of the rooms.  It is also important to note that real estate photography emphasizes the volume and character of the spaces, which was not the focus of the movie.  By the way, I think this is particularly nice real estate photography – the pictures are beautiful.

The movie living room is the place where a lot of the important family meetings take place.  Note the heavy curtains, and the window to the right of the fireplace.  There is a bay window seen to the right. Photo source.
Here is the same room, in the real estate listing.  This room is actually the dining room in the house.  Note how a mirrored ‘window’ is placed on the other side of the fireplace to give a symmetrical and balanced feel to the room.  I wonder if there is a door on the other side of the large chest, perhaps leading to a bar.

A picture from from the real estate listing shows the view from the front door to the back. Note the detail on the stairs….

Seen in the movie picture, with the view from back to front. Photo source.

A view from the movie set ‘living room’ to the front hall. I suspect that the hall seen through the arched opening leads to the master bedroom (the real estate listing says master on main), although in the movie the master bedroom is depicted as being upstairs. Photo source.

Here is a picture of the arch door hall, as seen in the real estate listing.  This is a lovely picture, and a great axial view.

Hooked on Houses noted that there were not many good movie views of the kitchen or the family room, as the scenes were shot rather close up. Here is a picture of the kitchen from the movie.  Source.

From the movie set, a view from the kitchen to the family room. Photo source
Here is a real estate picture of the kitchen.  What a beautiful space!
A view from the kitchen into the family rooms shows the dramatic difference in how the movie set was decorated, versus how the homeowners decorate in real life (I wonder who the designer is?). The pictures are beautiful quality, but this really shows the beauty of the architecture and how light-filled the spaces are.

A picture of the family room from the movie – there are multiple TVs that enable them to watch multiple sports games at once. The sectional sofa makes for a great place to watch TV, but it closes off the room.  Photo source.
It’s hard to believe this is even the same room. I understand that the movie was about the family and the characters, and not the house – and the house décor was supposed to reflect that of Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose story was the basis for the movie.  Still, it’s interesting to see how different the space looks when the furniture arrangement opens up and the emphasis is on the décor and architecture. I really like the absence of window treatments in this room; they make the space very airy and light. Note the cabinet doors on the right side of the picture – so pretty.  The southern light exposure is ideal in this space.

After writing this post, I received an email from the design firm who created the lovely interiors of the 'real life house' - T. Duffy & Associates.  They have a wonderful website, full of an incredible portfolio of work.

There aren’t great views of the master bedroom in the movie, but these images show the dark and fabric filled décor scheme used on the movie set.  Photo source.

The fabric conceals the fact that there is a niche of sorts where the desk is placed. Photo source.
The master bedroom, from the real estate listing.  The contours of the room can be seen much better, and it is interesting to see the rich brown and blue color scheme used in the space.

That’s it for the house comparisons, but there were some interesting pictures in the real estate listing worth checking out.
A casual basement sitting room.  Many houses in the area where this house is located have a full basement (which is often called ‘the terrace level’), which is often used for rec rooms, guest bedrooms, wine cellars, exercise rooms, and/or media rooms. These spaces add a lot of square footage to a house, and are common features in large Buckhead homes.  I am not a big fan of basements, but people in Atlanta seem to love them and they are highly desirable. Some people won’t even look at a house without a basement.
From the real estate listing – this is on the terrace level, and opens directly to the back yard.
From the real estate listing, a media room that is probably in the basement of the house. Clever to have a scene from The Blind Side on the screen!

So, what do you think?  I think it is a great house both inside and out.  It can be yours - the house is on the market, and the full listing can be seen here.  The architects who designed the house, Spitzmiller & Norris, are two of the top architects in the Southeast, and many of their houses have been published in national magazines. They are known for the beauty and quality of their designs, and the casually elegant nature of the houses that they create.

The beautiful interiors of the 'real life house' seen in the real estate listing were designed by T. Duffy & Associates.  

Things That Inspire Favorites: Cape Cod Metal Polishing Cloths

Things That Inspire Favorites: Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum

Things That Inspire Favorites: Thera Breath Oral Rinse

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To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.


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