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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Southern Stars

Clearly I am really in need of a vacation--just a short trip to a warmer climate!  If Monday's post weren't enough of an indication, then coupled with today's posting it is quite obvious.  Thinking about architecture and warm climates today, I came across a wonderful book in the library, Deco Delights by Barbara Baer Capitman, about South Beach art deco architecture. This book is full of gorgeous pictures of South Beach's art deco gems, mostly hotels, that really put me in the mood for warm weather and bikinis! 

I don't know what it is about these buildings, but I feel as though a classic Hollywood screen siren is going to stroll out wearing a chic floppy hat and sunglasses to lounge on the beach, cocktail in hand.  Although classically vintage, the buildings' clean lines and bold color choices make them feel current and hip. They are the epitome of cool. 

Although I have only been to Miami once, Ocean Drive and its famous deco hotels was my first stop.  For a warm weather vacation with a prevalence of historic hotels, South Beach might just be the place for you!

photos courtesy of Barbara Baer Capitman and Steven Brooke in Deco Delights 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mid-Century Preserved

One of my favorite misconceptions about historic preservation is that it is reserved for colonial-esque things from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. This is just not true! One of the many criteria for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places is that a building be over 50 years old. If you do the math, that means that anything built before 1960 is considered "old." This does not mean that every building built before 1960 is eligible for the National Register or a local register though, there are many additional criteria, however, this one illustrates what "old" means to a preservationist.

This restoration of a 1957 house designed by Arthur Witthoefft, then an architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; was undertaken by Todd Goddard and Andrew Mandolene, who relocated from California just for the house. This project is featured in the February issue of Dwell Magazine, and documents a few of the issues that the pair were confronted with in the restoration and preservation of a mid-century marvel.  

The concrete slab "foundation" of the house was in dire need of restoration, and its failure had resulted in some rusting of the steel underneath. 

When the heating system failed, instead of fixing it, previous owners had inserted an aluminum cylindrical radiator, which obstructed the view as well as diminishing the home's intended design.


As in the case of many restoration projects, the majority of the sliding glass panes were replaced. Deterioration of the seals around the windows often leads to the need for window replacement in a mid-century project. Additionally, window technology has come far since 1957, and a more modern window would be more energy efficient and therefore more cost effective.

Although Goddard and Mandolene were determined to preserve as much as possible, even going so far as to salvage details such as door handles, light fixtures and light switches, obviously the kitchen needed some work. Additionally, Goddard and Mandolene did not repair the original tile floor, instead they chose to cover the concrete slab foundation with a white resin. 

And the finished product? ... absolutely fabulous.

Clearly, Goddard and Mandolene have a passion for mid-century! In fact, almost every piece of furniture in the house is an antique--the only new piece?--their bed! I love how the living room seems to float within the trees.  And I just love the resin floor.

The travertine and steel multi-sided fireplace divides the living and dining spaces, it's almost a piece of architecture in itself. 

The only new piece of furniture in the house, this bed from Bo Concepts--again their bedroom feels like a treehouse. 

The most extensive changes to the house were probably made in the kitchen, where wood cabinetry was eliminated in favor of the sleek, ultra modern hood vent.

I can't say enough good things about this house, or the project that the owners undertook.  What a great example of saving an architectural treasure!  I urge you to go to the newsstands or and check out the full article.  This is what preserving significant buildings is all about! 

photos courtesy of and Dwell Magazine

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Blues ... & Turquoises

Its been raining here in Philadelphia, and although I should be excited that its rain and not snow, I just can't seem to shake these winter blues.  Sure, winter weather is exciting when it arrives in late fall, however, by the time end-of-January/beginning-of-February rolls around, I have about had it.  

I would much rather be here, or anywhere that even closely resembled here.  This time of year gets me daydreaming about tropical locales quite regularly, and longing for that tropical feeling of hot sun, warm sand, and bright bright blues. 

China Seas
China Seas for Quadrille has many beautiful fabrics that really put me in the island spirit when I am feeling that winter chill.  This is Aga, in turquoise. 

China Seas
Lyford Background in Dark Turquoise on White.

China Seas
Finally, this is New Batik in Turquoise New Navy.

Sea Cloth
Sea Cloth at Lee Jofa also makes prints that seem to require a tan!  This one is Jungle, in Sky, from the Splash On collection

Sea Cloth
Lattice, in Sky, from the Splash On collection

Sea Cloth
Palm, in Sky, from the Splash On collection.

John Robshaw
I also love so many of John Robshaw's fabrics, they have such an exotic, faraway place quality.  This one is Shali Lapis.  

If I were to visit a beautiful island, I would most certainly bring one of these chic, ruched one-piece suits from JCrew, in a beautiful turquoise color. 

Roberta Roller Rabbit
And one of my favorite pareos from Roberta Roller Rabbit--there are so many beautiful blue patterns to choose from! 

House Beautiful
If you can't take a vacation, I would advise going to, and looking at Tom Scheerer's blue and white Caribbean design for a new Florida home.  Although you might only get a little color from the glow of your computer screen, these tropical photos will warm you right up. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teacher Knows Best

John Chads House Chads Ford, PA
John Milner is a principal at John Milner Architects, Inc., which is based in Chadds Ford and Philadelphia, PA. To all you loves of Gil Schafer out there, Milner is a restoration architect and conservationist who specializes in historic building restoration and expansion. The firm's work is absolutely phenomenal--and I get to take a class with John Milner himself (!) wherein we will be studying and dissecting a ruinous 17th century building with the intention of discovering its original configuration and exact date of construction! 

Nantucket House circa 1890
An 1890 waterfront home in Nantucket, restored and expanded by Milner's firm--sure makes me miss the summer! Just look at those porches! 

Nantucket House, kitchen
Modern kitchen inside the historic Nantucket home. What Milner's work showcases is that it is possible to expand an historic home and adapt it to modern living without compromising the historic integrity of the property.  

Nantucket House, living room
The goal in a restoration/expansion is the seamless transition between new and old sections of the home, and this house is a great example. 

Nantucket House, porch
And the porches ... look at that view! 

London Purchase Farm, New Hope, PA circa 1735
This is the London Purchase farm, built in 1735 in New Hope, Pennsylvania. This was another restoration/expansion project. Although I'm not sure, I would guess that the central part of the house as well as the small extension to the right were original, and the addition to the left hand side is the modern portion. That is the beauty of Milner's designs--they fit right in! 

London Purchase Farm
The original front door of the house. Notice the beautiful architectural details above the transom. 

London Purchase Farm, rear elevation

London Purchase Farm, living room
These two photos are more helpful in understanding that we were correct in assuming that the left side of the house was the modern addition, but what a stunning job--look at the modillions in the coiffered ceiling!

Keepsake Farm, Chester County, PA
This is the idyllic Keepsake Farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania. I love the ivy growing on the main part of the house. 

Keepsake Farm
In this photo you can see the transition from the original building to the addition. The transition is the clapboard section, and to the right is the modern addition. 

Keepsake Farm
Although I don't love the decorating, the double parlors with matching fireplaces are fantastic. 

Keepsake Farm, interior
Old or new? Who knows, it honestly could be either.  

New Residence
Milner also designs gorgeous new residences in the classical style. These buildings fit into the landscape as if they were always there. I love the floor to ceiling windows in the top picture above.  

New Residence, interior
And then on the interior, look at the ceilings, presumably made from reclaimed wood, and the wide plank floors. The materials are so magnificent, you know that they will stand the test of time. 

Nantucket guest house
This little guest house was built on the property of the 1890 home on Nantucket, ill be your guest anytime! 

Nantucket guest house
The ceiling is absolutely beautiful, I love how they kept the simple wood frame construction exposed. 

Nantucket guest house
Doesn't this just look like someplace you would like to visit? Since we can't all fit in this guest house in Nantucket, visit and look through the project gallery. There are many other residences I haven't included, as well as commercial and ecclesiastical buildings. I can't wait until my next class!--jealous? 

photos courtesy of
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