Hearth and Home

Eight months and not a lick of paint has graced the walls of my new home. Unless you count the swatches, samples and unframed art work, patiently awaiting a day when they will be “complete”. I have taped them up in various locations, but am beginning to suspect that the young gal in the photograph’s expression has turned from whimsical to WTF, get on with it already. I have been stymied, stumped, so far from the sublime inspiration that settles into your cells and demands execution.

I blame the fireplace for this creative block. It’s just that – an enormous block that’s been tacked onto the front of a long ago decommissioned fireplace that they made use of as a chase for the buildings infrastructure. I am a fan of infrastructure and fireplaces but not in this particular fashion. It’s the Jolly Green Giant and the rest of the apartment is his sidekick Sprout, which is to say when you are in the room with him, he demands all of the attention, and his fashion sense doesn’t lend itself to my sensibilities.

These are the challenges that you face when you approach situations with fear of getting it wrong, of making an expensive mistake, of hating it after all the time you dedicated and investment you made. I wouldn’t think of deceiving you dear reader by telling you that one, or all of those things might happen. I know it’s happened to me, but I usually consider the choices and the lesson, tuck it away in one of my suitcases or card board boxes, and move on to the next project. The stakes are higher here. I plan to stay awhile.

Wall paneling with a wide fluting which isn’t boxed in by a framed border lends a modern feel at Hotel Eden Roc. It’s paired with areas that are reeded, and surrounded by a clean unadorned casement.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the sharp clean lines of the soffit. With all due respect to clean lines I like adornment as an architectural feature, and modern furnishings to balance it. My new home came with no adornment and by golly when I leave her, she’ll be properly dressed.

Wearstler at her finest. BG Restaurant . NYC

Everything fell in place from there. The cabinet that would house the TV and serve to hide the depth of the mass, the removal of the stone and its replacement with a custom wood fireplace surround, and bookshelves on either side, stepped back as if to suggest that its spreading its arms out wide in welcome to you.

I’m still working on what the style of the molding will be. That will be carried through on the paneling of the doors and detailed within the fireplace surround giving you a much better reason to stare. I feel better. Do you? Thoughts always welcome.

Finding the Light: Mid-Century Architecture on the Upper Cape

The Hatch House . Wellfleet

One thing has been true of artists throughout the centuries, they are drawn to nature, to light that possesses an exceptional clarity, to settings cloaked in serenity. Free from the distractions of a modern world, tucked away in hard to access locals they are left to commune, create, and improve the human condition. Lofty goals perhaps, but one need look no further than nature for inspiration on just about everything. From a seemingly simple blade of grass springs a ecosystem of ingenuity, and so it is no surprise that a group of exiled refugees from Eastern Europe found their way to the Outer Cape.

Three Bedrooms located at the back of the house. Note the panels above the doors open to let in fresh air while maintaining privacy for the occupants.

Marcel Brueuer, Serge Chermayeff and Olav Hammarstrom and engineer Paul Weidlinger all built homes here. Walter Gropius, Xanti Schwinski, Konrad Wachsmann, Constantino Nivola, the Saarinen Family and Florence and Hans Knoll rented summer cottages or were frequent guests.

Note the pulley system which lifts the panels to open the living room to the outdoors and maximize the waterview.

While it may not be a surprise that they found it among the hilly pine woods, of Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown, the houses that they built with the same simplicity found in nature were indeed a surprise to me.

Panels UP!

Dotted with Kettle Ponds and Glacier Lakes, the ruddy Pine woods make way to dunes and sandy beach that overlook the Bay where on a clear day you can see from Provincetown Light to the Plymouth Monument. I had just such a day as I stood on the deck of The Hatch House, lovingly restored to its original glory by the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, through National Historic Grants, and the community of craftspeople that call upper Cape home. The Hatch Family kindly donated all the original furniture and art work so that it is truly and lovingly restored.

No A/C but the breeze from the Bay is allowed to circulate through transom windows seen over the sofa.

What I wouldn’t give to have sat among those titans of architecture as they sipped cocktails on the deck and discussed form and function, sustainability and the course work they were preparing for the students at Wentworth and Harvard GSD. They shaped a movement that will forever leave its mark on history.

By the way – The Hatch House can be rented. No heat, no internet, no laundry, no dishwasher, and no distraction from its intended purpose.

Green with Envy: Spring in New England

1970’s Jolly Fiat . A little bounce in your bandy around town.

There is something so hopeful about spring and all things vernal. The first day that you wake to the sound of small birds chirping transports you to a state of child-like wonder. Possibility and excitement combine giving you a burst of energy that makes you pop out of bed smiling. Not my normal state in the morning.

Care more about the color than the content? Booth & Williams sells them by the foot.

A thread of memory pokes it head out of hibernation. White knit ponchos, the delicate robin’s egg blue of a tiny fragile shell whose promise ended before it started and yet beauty is found there. A daffodil, a flowering tree, and the reality that Mother Nature will’s will only go so far north. She turns her back on NE and blows a gentle breath of life into the likes of DC, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia.

Blue Star might be the brand, but I’m green with envy over this range.

What we have done to deserve this cold shoulder is a mystery to me. She likes to keep us on our toes. We are as likely to experience a sixty degree day followed by a late Spring snow in April as we are to submit our tax returns or post an extension.

I long for a bare shouldered walk in the warm breeze, but instead must contend with a warm winter cap and a brisk trot. While I may be denied a true spring, I am happy to shine a light on all the new releases that designers bring in this season of renewal. The happy grassy greens, linens, canvas cottons, velvet cottons, and cotton tailed innocence and sophistication that they manage with aplomb.

I hope you enjoy my selections. I am off in search of a Cherry Blossom branch or two. The sun is shining and I plan to put my imagination to work.