I had the blessing of a quiet evening the other day and took advantage of the situation by catching up on the fourth season of Downton Abby. It's the little vices in life that can make things worth it, right?
The sponsor of PBS' Masterpiece is Ralph Lauren which, of course, means a prominent commercial. It is a steady stream of models set against fabulous surroundings, reminiscent of the post-Edwardian era of the show. The voice over is Ralph Lauren explaining how design is a creative journey which starts with a feeling and evolves with the influences of the world around him. He creates a world for his heroine, his muse. It's a well crafted narrative which left me with an incredible sense of jealousy.
How indulgent it must be to create something which must only satisfy you. Now I'm sure his fashion house has critics to please and there is money to be made and a reputation to be upheld. What I'm really speaking to is the fact that in designing a line of clothing, in the most simplest way, one is simply creating what they think is best. There is no board or committee to dictate your direction. There are no codes to follow- no one's life will be at risk. There is no governing body to impose an ordinance outlining how one must carry out their creative process.
Now certainly I sound like I'm complaining. I'm really not--it's just a bit difficult to remember that those boundaries within which an architect must work within to actually 'create the world around themselves' can be just as inspiring if not simply challenging. Blah blah blah. So, to cheer myself up, I Googled "Sexiest Buildings". It seems curves are in these days.
The search revealed Calatrava's Milwauke has been declared the sexiest building. Not bad though I can't say I've been to Milwaukee. As of late, I prefer Aqua which is in Chicago...one of the sexiest towns when it comes to architecture. I love the curves but there is so much else--from the modern, to Art Deco, to historic.
Here's Bart and I at The Bean in 2012? That seems so long ago. I hope this year brings more opportunities to seek out sexy buildings. With any luck, it will also bring the opportunity to design just such buildings with the gleeful abandon of a fashion designer!
Since moving into our home almost three years ago, there has been one room which you just have to kind of ignore...to put it politely. Bart had to tear apart the ceiling and walls prior to moving in so the floor above would be properly supported. Since then, it's been in an eternal state of disarray. Not exactly a showcase.
So each time Bart starts a cabinet job I look on with excitement and envy. When will we finally be able to create the kitchen I will actually want to cook in? It better happen soon...my son deserves a home cooked meal! In just three years, we've designed six different options for our kitchen. I imagine there will be six more before we finally cut the first piece of wood. Luckily, we know a few things about what you just got to have.
Here is a must-have list I've devised so far...illustrated with Bart's latest project.
The list can go on and on, encompassing lighting, appliances, and flooring. There are so many things I hope to do differently this time. If, in fact, this time ever comes. Until then, I'll continue to work on design number seven. And eight. And nine.
And for you...in the meantime...please go and vote for Thrasher Works in the Mission Main Street Grant contest.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more about Thrasher Works and how we hope to expand and improve our business with just such a grant. Watch for details here and on Facebook.
Seriously, you must go vote. For Thrasher Works. Go!
the point at which a plan or project is realized.
So this is obviously crazy to post...why purposefully jinx yourself? But then you must ask, 'can you jinx an person that isn't superstitious?' I. Think. Not.
Thrasher Works has been asked to look further into our Folly designs so it may serve as a multifunctional backyard structure for a local couple here in Dallas. The proposed program is to provide a porch for backyard enjoyment, a shop, and a small garage for lawn equipment and motorcycles. Super exciting, right?
Design approach: represent the three program elements by featuring three distinct structures uncoiling.
At first, this tried to take on an vertical uncoiling effect which really just threw the whole thing off into a over powering mess. We came to the conclusion that the follies needed to be offset horizontally offering additional inlets for light and circulation.
Of course, I'm partial and tend to think it's perfect. But even I realize it's all a process...one step at a time, right? This is definitely a project I look forward to working on and getting right.
Next up, Folly-Turned-Weekend Home. Minimal and sleek. I wonder how well Bart can pull off concrete that is as smooth as butter?
Looking to do some further development on the Box with a Ribbon home design. It's getting raised and doubled!
Is it me or does this sketch kind of remind you of the Star Wars Walker?
So, I present the Backyard Folly + Porch. This, of course, was Bart's suggestion though we worked out the details together. Brilliant, isn't it? I can't believe the design didn't present itself sooner. Of course one needs a covered porch. How else can you enjoy the outdoors? In Texas. In the summer, no less!
So that is it. The Backyard Folly is finally out of my system. Well, unless there is someone out there who would like us to build one! And why not? Just think how jealous the Jones' will be to see your fantastically unique, comfortably modern, backyard studio?....or workshop, or yoga room, or cabana....Compare that to their boring old shed. Brilliant.
Did you read that? That second definition..."a costly ornamental building with no purpose". Ouch. I suppose my definition of a folly is much more forgiving and broad. I've always seen a folly as a hidden jewel of a structure. Something obviously foreign in its environment but something that enhances its surroundings just the same. When done right, it offers refuge and peace.
In college, I was fortunate enough to spend a year in Stuttgart, Germany on a year-long study abroad trip. Different than my husband's own experience where he traveled with his UTA professors and classmates, I was shipped off with a handful of other KU students from all different studies. I was one of just a handful of architectural students. The abundant weekends and vacations allowed for numerous trips around Europe, though without a professor, it was up to me to discover the architectural wonders, both modern and historic.
The photos above are from my trip to Paris. Forgive the quality...these are actually photos of prints -imagine the day before digital cameras or even mobile phones. This is Parc de la Villette in NE Paris. It was designed by Bernard Tschumi, one of my favorite architects back in the day. There are thirty-five follies throughout the park, placed on a grid, offering organization and points of reference. Over the years, I've referenced this park and its red buildings set against the greenery of the gardens...not to mention all the cultural buildings and pedestrian bridges.
Here is my idea of a folly: a functional yet flexible space using simple materials. Though alien looking set in this natural setting, the shape is actually derived from nature: the coil of the snail's shell. The small scale of the two-room footprint lends itself to simple functions: a studio, an afternoon retreat, or an isolated band room. The beauty is realized by its placement among a lush forest or perhaps the exact opposite, a rolling prairie.
My first experience of a 'master suite' was at a friend's house I visited in high school. As I recall, his parents' bedroom was on the ground floor with access off the living room. The room had its own bathroom which backed up to the main family bath accessed around the corner from the kitchen. This was groundbreaking to me. Absolutely eye-opening.
I grew up in a house much like my own: two story, American Four Square with a single hall bath upstairs. However, my house had been outfitted with what I have to assume is a former closet made to be a 'master bath'...if I may use the term loosely. It is a far cry from what one would expect: tub, sink and toilet squeezed within forty-two square feet (the size of a standard office cubicle). Oh, and no electrical outlets, so don't go washing your hair or anything! It goes without saying, there is great opportunity to make something great. Make something coveted. Make the Carrie Bradshaw closet.
By removing the closet in the Study, we can regain a window now boarded over, not to mention extra space within the room. Furthermore, by closing off the opening between the study and the vestibule, floor space is gained back. Now, the only way into the Study is via the Master Bedroom. This change frees up the vestibule to become practical space. By simply closing off the entry into the vestibule from the hall, the space is reclaimed for the coveted master suite. Now, with a new opening from the bedroom into the vestibule, you have the beginnings of a Carrie Bradshaw Closet in route to an enlarged master bath.
Though there would be more space if I could convince my husband to demolish the kitchen chimney, there is just enough room for multi-tier closet rods to the left and built-in drawers and shoe cubbies to the right. I hope to repurpose the old closet doors as pocket doors between the bedroom and the bath.
The bath will be outfitted with two pedestal sinks with a custom cabinet between to hide all the essentials...including the hairdryer! The tub concept is abandoned to accommodate a spacious shower enclosed with glass. The toilet will remain where it is though I hope to upgrade to something more water friendly.
My sister recently came to me with a challenging design problem: design a kitchen that will easily accommodate entertaining (read, I want an island) and open it up to the living room. No big deal, right?
Oh, by the way, the kitchen is long and narrow and there's a STAIR between the kitchen and the living room. Challenge accepted.
Below are some crude Sketch Up shots of the existing kitchen. You'll see by the little green arrows that it is situated in a corner of the house but in the heart of the circulation. From the kitchen, you may access the garage, basement, deck and back yard, as well as the living room. Its a busy place.
The layout of the kitchen has the tradition 'work triangle' that works well. At just under ten feet wide, the kitchen is too narrow to drop even the tiniest of islands. When you include the dining area, it is about twenty feet long. Narrow and long.
The simple fix is to replace the cabinets. Replace the uppers with boxes at least 42" tall in order to gain storage space. Lower cabinets could also be redone for better storage capability--I'm a big fan of deep drawers as opposed to doors. Additionally, the major pinch point is at the fridge--it's so close to the pantries and directly in the way of the path to the basement and garage. No more than one person can be in the area at a time without doing a little dance shuffle.
Solution: The wall comes down. Obviously, the main wall between the kitchen and living room is a load-bearing wall. However, we can open it up with an I-beam spanning the almost twenty feet.
The walls around the stair become counter height with an island that spans the area. Circulation is opened up on each side so getting to the garage or the top of the stair is no longer a pinch point. The cabinets reach to the ceiling for extra storage. Finally, the fridge, pantry and range are moved so they are not all concentrated in one area. The bigger triangle is sacrificed but the island creates a long, continuous prep area and landing space for items coming in and out of the fridge and stove.
My favorite part is the built-in bookcase on the living room side of the island. It acts as a good transition from lounge space to utility space. Now...if I can just convince my sister to go through with it! Who doesn't love renovations?