Architectural Flair In Denver

December 30, 2009 | 11 comments

While in Colorado for a ski trip earlier this year I had a bit of serendipitous luck in discovering this house. Regular readers of this blog will know that I make it a point to do some architectural touring when I travel. On this trip, however, I wasn't actually out hunting for this house, it found me.

My last day in Colorado was spent in Denver and I stayed with my Atlanta friends at their cousin's house. The cousin lives on a quiet street lined with small bungalows. As we arrived at the cousin's house I was pleasantly surprised to see this architectural beauty perched at the end of the street. It lies in such stark contrast to the other homes in its proximity.

The house reminds me of one I'd see in a book about English manors or country homes. The late winter / early spring timeframe's impact on the color of the landscape heightened that feeling. As did the pea gravel driveway and the use of architecturally correct materials for the house's facade.

This house has so many interesting embellishments. There's the copious use of stone for the quoins, the balcony railings, and the window and door surrounds that seems like it would be limestone. I don't believe it is though. Typically limestone reveals age by darkening up over the years from the elements such as acidic rain. And I can imagine that Denver's climate would easily instill the patina of age to limestone. That said, I suspect the stone is something else like corral stone or perhaps even marble.

This close up photo highlights the intricate details in the stone and the iron railing. If you look closely, you will also see some unique touches below the eaves of the 2nd floor balcony.

Along with the Juliet balconies, iron was used to embellish each of the chimneys. The roof is a bit of a mystery to me. It looks like slate, but has the texture of aged cedar. Unfortunately, I don't recall which it was from when I saw it in person. I'm sure I would have been able to distinguish it then.

The diminutive window adjacent to the large chimney is a curious element. I wonder if that is a loft area in a 2nd floor room. It certainly seems the window was purposefully added where the roof would have otherwise continued to the the edge of the chimney.

In closing I'll leave you with this photo of one of the house's two gated entrances. The stone urns stood out to me as I have an affinity for architectural urns.

I tried to research the history of this home for this post but was unsuccessful in finding any details. Surely it has a storied tale. If anyone has any details about it, I'd enjoy learning of them.

A Mediterranean Masterpiece

December 21, 2009 | 19 comments

Lately I've had houses of the 1920s on my mind and have been discussing such with my friend Things That Inspire. What makes them so desirable? How have they been able to stand the test of time? Why are architects talking about referencing these homes for inspiration in these modest times?

Given the popular response to my More Cleverly Conceived post (a circa 1929 house), I thought I'd cover another beautiful Atlanta home from the same time period. It will be clear after seeing this house what makes the 1920s such a special time in architecture. By the way, this home also happens to have been featured in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles in the December 2008 issue. The article focused on the interior, styled specifically for Christmas. Here you'll see a more complete view of the home, both interior and exterior.

This is one of my absolute favorite homes in Atlanta. I've been mesmerized by its every detail since discovering it last summer when it was on the market. I got to explore it a couple times in person and have even had the fortune of discussing specific details with project architect Rodolfo Castro, a Summerour & Associates alum and rising talent in Atlanta (if you don't know of him, you will).

The home was actually a renovation. The owners purchased it and enlisted Summerour & Associates for the makeover with Rodolfo Castro heading the architecture and Yvonne R. McFadden and Ed Belding sharing responsibility for the interiors. Seeing the photos above will give you an idea of how dramatic of an effect the Summerour team imparted.

This home takes your breath away the moment you drive up to it. The first thing you notice is the impeccable landscaping that is matched so deftly to the style of the home. You also notice the luxurious use of limestone for the walkway and door and window surrounds. How about that Greek pithari urn and copper lantern as well?

As you walk in through the front door, the judge paneled room is to the left, the stairs leading to the home's four bedrooms upstairs is straight ahead and to the right is the formal living room. The home elegantly showcases a neutral palette (my favorite). Linen was used copiously to soften the transitional interior. You can see the linen in several places including on the custom sconce shades, the furniture slip covers, and the curtains.

This house is a marble lover's dream. Calcutta Gold and Carrera marble are spread throughout. A detail you'll notice here is the dark stained windows and doors. Every exterior and interior door in the home is made of solid mahogany and stained a dark Jacobean color to match the floors. No expense was spared in crafting this masterpiece.

From the back of the kitchen you can go 3 ways, all of which will leave you utterly satisfied. To the left is the screened in porch. Those in Atlanta might recognize the picture of the porch as it graced the cover of the venerable Beacham Series real estate magazine a few issues back.

Make a right out of the back of the kitchen and you'll end up in the great room. And great it is. This is an entertainer's seventh heaven. The paneled wall reveals a glamorous bar with very thin mirrored tile backsplash. Above the contemporary Chesney's fireplace the wall opens to expose the large flat screen television. Notice the speakers in the ceiling too. The whole house is wired for sound.

Straight back from the kitchen through the French doors leads you to the lush backyard complete with an infinity edge pool and outdoor fireplace.

Just as you were about to catch your breath, here we go again. I know, this is a long post, but a house this amazing is a rare find and justifies the length. Above is the stairway leading to the 2nd story with four bedrooms. The judge's paneling on the walls is carried up the stairs from the entry. Above the stairs a sky light was added to shower light into the area. The subtle, yet captivating, detail in the iron railing is a testament to Rodolfo Castro's genius.

Above is the master bedroom with it's French doors flanking the rear of the house. Outside the doors is a Juliette balcony affording a view of the pool. If  you enlarge the picture, you'll notice some architectural wizardry. The ceilings in the 2nd floor bedrooms were cleverly raised by adding gradual vaulting. The ceilings are covered in shiplap-style paneling to give the room added texture. A unique rounded molding was used on the ceilings, windows and doors.

Here is a quick glance of the master bathroom. Every bathroom and the kitchen were furnished with Waterworks fixtures. And of course, my favorite tub, also is from Waterworks.

To end our journey I'll leave you with the recently completed basement. When I viewed the home the basement was still under renovation so I was quite pleased when I saw these photos. The steel window, the limed wood, the faucet out of the wall. I'm speechless.

I hope you enjoyed this most special house. Believe it or not, I didn't show you everything this house has to offer. On top of that it's only roughly 4,000 square feet in size. I think this is a perfect example of 1920s grandeur and what so many are striving to recreate today.

I encourage you to enlarge each of the photos in this post by clicking on them and soak in all the beauty.

A special thank you goes out to Blayne Beacham, the talented photographer responsible for capturing this home's beauty. She was generous enough to share her photos with me so I could share them with you. If  you haven't already, I recommend visiting her new blog:  This Photographer's Life.

One last thing - this amazing home is back on the market. If you've fallen in love with it like me, it could be yours. The home is listed with Nancy Meister at Beacham & Company.

Great Balls Of Fire

December 18, 2009 | 18 comments
I'm marveling over fire balls, and I don't mean the kind that leave your tongue red. I'm referring to the ones you see in fireplaces. I've noticed these recurring in the interiors by a group of my favorite architects and designers. They're perfect for adding a subtle modern touch in otherwise classic interiors.

The nice thing about fire balls is that they are practical. You can actually have a gas fire with them. My other favored fireplace filler, birch logs, aren't so practical. They're typically used just for display.

Fire balls are made of ceramic, consistent with their more traditional log cousins, and are available in various sizes and colors. My preference is for each of the balls to share the same color and diameter and to be stacked pyramid-style, as seen in the following photos.

The stunning office of uber-talented architect Ruard Veltman, a McAlpine Tankersley alum. The office warrants a post of its own, but for now enjoy this most inspiring picture of the lobby area.

Here is another Ruard Veltman design. The room reminds me of one I'd see in the Belgian Beta-Plus books. It's not over decorated, leaving the architecture to stand on its own.

The fire balls are difficult to see in this picture of an interior by Susan Ferrier, but if you click the picture and enlarge it, you can see them. As usual, the beauty of Susan's design speaks for itself.

A transitional interior from Bobby McAlpine veiled by traditional decorating elements.

Yet another McAlpine interior. If you look closely, you'll notice the room has a pecky cypress ceiling, another favored design element of mine that I recently covered.

A beautiful inglenook fireplace by Tracery Interiors. Thanks go to Things That Inspire for educating me about these fireplaces and bringing my attention to another amazing Tracery interior.

The fireplace from the Rosemary Beach home of Stan Benecki and Melanie Turner. Of course it's a favorite - Bobby McAlpine was in charge of architecture and Melanie handled the interiors.

Another Melanie Turner design in a renovated home near Chastain Park in Atlanta.

These interiors illustrate the masterful juxtaposition of the contemporary and the classic by which I'm so enraptured. Fire balls just happen to be a common thread amongst them.

Given that most of the architects and designers featured here have worked together in the past, I wonder who is responsible for introducing and popularizing this design feature. My guess is Bobby McAlpine or Ruard Veltman.

Ride-by Architecture

December 13, 2009 | 19 comments
Unfortunately, due to Mother Nature's overcompensation for the drought in Atlanta, I won't be riding my bike today. But all is not lost, I have an exciting announcement related to riding.

I'm a competitive cyclist and many of the routes I use for training just happen to take me through Atlanta's most architecturally-rich neighborhoods. Awhile back I started taking my camera along on my "easy" days when I'm just out to stretch the legs and not worried about how fast or hard I'm riding. On these days I take pictures of the houses with the most inspiring architecture and landscaping. I also scout out  interesting new construction.

I've collected a wealth of pictures and am going to start sharing these photos (and any details about who the architect, etc. were) in a series named: Ride-by Architecture. Specific addresses are ommited for privacy's sake unless it's a home that's for sale where the owner might benefit from some additional exposure.

The first home is in Brookhaven and completed construction in the summer of 2008 I believe. The home was designed by Neely Design Associates, a bit of an "under the radar" Atlanta firm that doesn't get mentioned much but consistently churns out beautitful architecture.

The house immediately stood out to me because of it's beautiful steel window and slate roof. If you look closely (click the picture to enlarge it), you will notice several interesting details. First, there is the unique inlaid pattern in the slate roof between the gables. I think this is the first and only time I've seen such a detail. It really gives the house a subtle hint of character. Of course, I like the limestone accents on the stone work. And the steel window facing the street is pure perfection. A close look will reveal the added detail of diagonal lines in the solid section below the glass panes of the window. The mullions in the windows and round window in the front door are also an excellent touch.

The interesting thing about this home is that its size is deceiving from the street. The front elevation gives the impression that it's a smaller, older home. However, in person you can see that the home extends back into the lot and is large enough to accommodate all of the modern conveniences. If you look closely, behind the basketball goal you will see that the driveway dips down and goes below the left side of the house in what appears to be a port o'cochere. Behind that is the garage with presumably finished space above it.

I hope you enjoyed this first intallment of Ride-by Architecture. An expert (or anything close to one) I am not at photography. I've been trying to glean what I can from my new friend Blayne's blog. Perhaps I'll learn a thing or two and future photos will better capture the beauty of the homes I'm finding.

More Cleverly Conceived

December 10, 2009 | 13 comments

More pictures, that is, of the Cleverly Conceived house featured in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles' May 2009 issue. Kay Douglass' English Tudor-style home became an instant favorite the moment I laid eyes on it. So you can imagine how satisfied I was when I discovered several more pictures of the home on a lighting manufacturer's website. Apparently the house was commissioned for the company's catalog and promotional materials. What a great backdrop!

The company's lighting products are decidedly less unique than Kay's personal lighting choices sourced from her South of Market stores in Atlanta & Charleston, yet the home's stunning architecture and interior design shows through just as it did in the photographs presented in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.

One of the prominent architectural features of the home is it's use of steel windows throughout. I'm quite fond of steel doors and windows and reveled in seeing them in the various rooms, especially these off of the kitchen.

Steel windows also make a dramatic statement in the upstairs office overlooking the home's lush landscaping and nearby duck pond. How about that view?!

The all-white stairs certainly stand out. I enjoyed seeing this alternative perspective of them from the one shown in the magazine.

A covered walkway illustrates more of the home's aged-to-perfection exterior.

An alluring new loggia with fireplace was added to the home during its renovation by Kay. That's where I'd spend a great deal of time if I lived in the house. It's perfect for Atlanta's amazing Fall and Spring seasons.

You never know where you're going to find some amazing pictures. I'm sure glad I stumbled upon these.

Pecky Cypress - A Gift From Nature

December 8, 2009 | 6 comments
When I started seeing pecky cypress in some of my favorite houses, I didn't know much about it, just that I liked it. After some research on the Internet and talking to a few architects, I have become even more intrigued by it. Pecky cypress is one of those amazing products of nature that has enduring appeal.

Pecky cypress gets its name from the porous hollowing of Bald Cypress trees by a wood-decaying fungus - Stereum taxodi. The fungus attacks the core of the trees leaving "pecky" vertical cavities over time. Interestingly, you can't tell that a particular tree has the pecky cavities until it has been cut down. The cavities are not visible from the exterior of the tree.

Pecky cypress has become an endangered species unfortunately. The demand for it far outstrips the supply of it. What's left today mostly comes from harvesting fallen logs at the bottom of rivers and swamp areas as well as from reclaiming boards from a previous use.

Pecky cypress gives a room great texture. It's organic and rustic, yet it has an air of glamor to it when done in a modern context. The following pictures showcase just that.

This enclosed side porch is perfect in so many ways, one of which being the limed (or is it milk paint) pecky cypress ceiling. Design by Betty Burgess, architecture by Chip Murrah.

This Rosemary Beach home designed by Bobby McAlpine puts a creative spin on the coffered ceiling with the use of pecky cypress. It complements the white walls perfectly, providing just the right amount of texture and warmth to the room.

This study, from one of my favorite homes in Atlanta, highlights an alternative to dark stained walls via the airy look of limed pecky cypress. Designed by Melanie Turner and built by Benecki Fine Homes.

Wow! The color and sheer volume of the pecky cypress used for the walls and ceilings in a home designed by Tracery Interiors are simply amazing.