Showing posts with label lutyens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lutyens. Show all posts

Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden benches

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In our backyard, we have a spot that is ideal for a garden bench, but with all of the other higher priority items involved in finishing the house and getting it furnished, the garden bench took low priority.  However, we ended up having to replant some trees, and it became apparent that we needed to go ahead and find a bench so that the trees could be placed in their final position based on the size and scale of the bench.

I have been collecting some images of benches over the years, as I love the charming element that a classic bench adds to a garden. Many of the benches that I have seen and admired have been in the beautiful parks that can be found all over London.  This image shows a bench in Kew gardens (source).

As I was looking for inspiration photos, Cote de Texas’s most recent post had a beautiful picture of a curved garden bench.  I really like this style, but I need at least a 6 foot bench, and this style only comes in 4’ and 5’.

I have long admired the custom benches in this garden designed by John Howard. These benches were custom designed for the space.

A custom colored bench is a feature in this back yard from a house that was on a tour a few years ago.

A simple and classic garden bench, flanked by magnificent trees, makes a wonderful visual feature in this garden. Image from Southern Accents.

This is one of my favorite style benches, and is not too hard to find in the 4’ size (as seen here).  However, it is much more difficult to find in the larger 6’ size (and can be quite expensive). Image from old real estate listing.

Here is the larger version – there is something about the straight lines of the bench and the curves of the design that really appeals to me. Source unknown.

Richardson Allen makes a 6’ version of this bench.  It comes in natural teak, or any custom color painted in marine grade boat paint (so it is very hardy and won’t rot).  I do love this bench – this particular version is over my budget, though!  Also, as the bench is custom made for the customer, I could not wait for the standard lead time as we needed to move a tree that was incorrectly placed, and we need to do it while the tree is still dormant.

The Lutyens style bench is a classic (this one is made by Kingsley-Bate), and I kept visiting it in a local teak store as I thought it would look beautiful as a featured landscape design element in my backyard. 

According to what I could find on the internet, what we know as the Lutyens bench was designed by famed English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) for the garden at Little Thakeham, and is officially called the Thakeham seat.  When researching the origins of the bench, I stumbled across a company called Lutyens Furniture and Lighting, which was started by Lutyens granddaughter and sells furniture based on Lutyens’ designs.  According to the Lutyens Furniture site, not only was Sir Edwin Lutyens a prolific architect, but he also had a passion for and expertise in furniture design. Image source.

After much thought and consideration,  I purchased a Lutyens bench for the spot (seen above, in my back yard), and I am very happy with the decision.  The Lutyens bench has such a distinctive and classic style, and the size (6’ 5”) works very well for the space.  The bench is teak, so it will weather with exposure to the elements, and ultimately achieve a beautiful silvery gray color. Already the color of the teak is starting to mellow.

The bench can be seen from most of the rooms on the main floor, and it such a pleasure to catch a glimpse of it!  Landscape design by Alec Michaelides of Land Plus – now that spring is here, and the back yard is starting to bloom, I am simply awed by the beauty of the landscaping – Alec created a truly beautiful design for us.  I am such a big advocate of carefully considering the landscape when designing a house.  It is an essential design element, and makes our house feel as if it has been here for years.

When I was contemplating the garden bench decision, I pulled out a lovely book that I received for Christmas:  Gertude Jekyll and the Country House Garden.  Ms. Jekyll was known for her collaboration with Edwin Lutyens, and the book highlights several beautiful gardens that were a result of this collaboration (as well as many more).  In this book, I saw pictures of some of the original benches that Lutyens designed for the gardens that they worked on. (Click here to purchase on Amazon)

One of the original Lutyens designed benches, in a garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

A Lutyens bench found in an image on the internet (source unknown), at a house in France.

QD collage

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

A magnificent Lutyens design

I lived in Washington, DC as a child, both in Georgetown and near the National Cathedral, and was surrounded by beautiful and interesting architecture; when visiting as an adult, I have a newfound appreciation for all of the character filled houses, striking embassies, and inspirational buildings (the National Cathedral in particular) that were part of my old neighborhoods. Perhaps being surrounded by such architectural inspiration at such a young age had a formative impact on my love for architecture as an adult.


My sister recently moved to Cleveland Park, a fantastic area of DC that is a stone’s throw from the Washington National Cathedral. I took a very brief and last minute trip to DC last week, and loved the location of my sister’s ‘new’ house (it was built in the 1920s, so new to her). Houses and buildings that I had previously only driven by are now easily accessible on foot; during my visit, I spent hours walking, grateful for my iphone, which makes it so easy to take surreptitious pictures of the houses on the walking route. On one of these walks I finally saw a landmark building that has been on my list of things to see: the British Ambassador’s residence, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944). The house was built in the late 1920s, and it is the only building designed by Lutyens in the United States.


Apparently the building was originally designed to be both the Ambassador’s residence as well as office space for the British Embassy. The height of the wings in front was increased by two stories during the design stage as there was a need for more staff quarters. However, in the late 1950s the need for additional space was pressing, so a new building (quite block like, not seen in this picture) was built for the office space.


The chimney stacks on the front of the wings are a design Lutyens used to employ in many of the country houses he designed. According to the British Embassy site, “the present building on Massachusetts Avenue, built of red brick with stone dressings and high roofs crowned with tall chimneys, suggests an English country house of the Queen Anne period”.


The limestone carvings on the chimney caught my eye. The limitation of an iphone is that detail from a distance is not easy to capture, so I might need to go back on my next trip in order to get a better picture.


Beautiful designs abound, even from the street: the unicorn and lion atop limestone pillars were particularly interesting.


The South side of the residence can be seen here – this is the private side not seen from the street (Source). According to the British Embassy site, Lutyens always insisted on materials of the highest quality. The bricks are a custom size and were hand made in Pennsylvania to Lutyens exact specifications; they were designed to look like bricks used during Tudor times. Indiana limestone was used for contrast.


I also had the chance to see a house that I admired ever since seeing a picture on Architect Design’s blog last year. It was designed in the late 1930s by Paul Cret (1876-1945), a French-American architect. The house is so beautiful in person – the colors of the house, the slate roof, the interesting shapes of the windows – all have great appeal to me. Seeing the house within its neighborhood, I was surprised at the small lot! The house is in a prime area of DC, so there is a trade off between land and location.

It is always a thrill to get to see buildings designed by some of the greats of architecture!


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