Posts Tagged ‘modern’

hardening our hardscape

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

So we haven’t talked hardscape in a while. Let’s. Remember how I like to dream big? No? Maybe this will refresh your memory…

d-crain corten steps | d-crain.com

d-crain corten steps | d-crain.com

Not so long ago, I confessed an unrequited love for Corten steel in the garden, like those steps backfilled with gravel. Gawgeous. Minimal. Streamlined. Perfect in a modern landscape. [Shot from above and many more examples on D-Crain’s site. And Andrea Cochran’s site. And Lutsko Associates’ site.]

With visions of steel in my head, I did a little research and learned that Corten lasts a long time in a Mediterranean climate — like in sunny California. Less so in New England with its damp, cold winters. The patina from the corrosion is what makes it appealing. But the rust can bleed onto other surfaces, including our brand-new concrete retaining walls. And burying the steel in the ground speeds up corrosion. So is there a way to make steel last longer, considering the investment?

The answer is hot dip galvanized steel. Hot dip? what the heck is that, you say? The steel is “… immersed in a kettle or vat of molten zinc, resulting in a metallurgically bonded alloy coating that protects the steel from corrosion.”

Zinc. Hmm. The American Galvanizers Association claims it’s sustainable — the zinc itself is 100% recyclable and the hot dip process protects steel for 50 years. 50 years! That’s a long time! That pretty much convinced me hot dip galvanized over Corten. So this is where we’ll be using it:

For steel planter boxes in the veggie garden area at the top of the retaining wall that runs along our front driveway…

veggie garden area

The layout (click to biggify)…

raised beds layout and dimensions

For risers on the steps up to the veggie garden that currently look like this…

concrete stair disaster

Ugh. The concrete crew just could not get them right. We talked about repouring them ourselves. But then we decided the raised beds would be made of steel and it just seemed easier to make the risers out of the same material and backfill with gravel. So that’s the plan…

dimensions for steel risers for the veggie garden stairs

Which is perfect, because out back we want a full set of steel stairs at the end of the other retaining wall. Remember when I drew that?…

layout for stairs next to wall out back

Now imagine the chalklines in steel and backfilled with gravel. Looks nice, doesn’t it?

So the drawings went over to Rhode Island Welding a few weeks ago. They constructed the boxes and the stairs and then sent them off to a galvanizer in Massachusetts.

Expect to see the result — soon!

hmm… not so floored

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Went to look at terrazzo tile from Fritz Tile because it just sounds so frickin’ cool. But alas, it’s not quite as cool as I’d hoped. The guys at State Rug in Cranston were nice enough to hand over all their Fritz samples so we could check them out at home. Take a look…

lots of samples

A whole spectrum of colors to choose from but up against our cork flooring selection only the neutrals and possibly black looked like they might work… (click to biggify)

terrazzo possibilities against our cork floor choice

One of the boxes of samples featured terrazzo with bits of mother of pearl worked in. The sparkly bits were a nice touch on a tile that mostly comes across as kind of meh in person…

not too awful

The substrate for most of their tiles is this weird clear stuff that makes these look like headcheese. From a distance the Fritz looks like terrazzo but has the sheen of a vinyl. Blech…

grey terrazzo headcheese

How Barney is this?

how barney is this?

I’m a big fan of terrazzo, don’t get me wrong. Definitely an awesome modern choice. But these just don’t come across as authentic. So I’m glad we took a look but the Angela Adams Argyle is looking more and more like the winner.

assuredly

field trip to henrybuilt soho

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Another droolfest in New York City: this time, a visit to HenryBuilt. Stopping by their Soho showroom gave us a chance to imagine custom modern cabinetry in our own space. *sigh*

The quartersawn walnut, solid bamboo, veneer rift-cut oak and quartersawn teak cabinets are all handcrafted in Seattle using primarily FSC-certified woods for sustainability. Lots of lovely details, like minimal stainless steel pulls perfectly mortised into the wood. Here they’ve worked in a Corian countertop but we also saw stainless steel…

henrybuilt kitchen cabinet

Love the subtle shades of the laminate. And there are plenty of options to choose from, as you can see…

wood and laminate samples

Drawers and cabinets can be outfitted as you see fit…

drawer detail

They can even work in a fridge and freezer drawers, ovens, yadayada…

fridge cabinet

I’m particularly enamored with the warmth of the walnut, given that our floor, ceiling and walls will be very light…

walnut kitchen

A very helpful chap talked us through the HenryBuilt process, which is basically that they’ll work with you and your architect (if you have one) to make sure everything suits your plans and footprint, and take advantage of the space you have. Because our tiny kitchen space is essentially in our living space, it’s important that all the cabinetry tie together seamlessly and be multifunctional — this is the kind of thing they take into account.

It was nice to see their Viola Park line represented. It’s a bit more affordable than the HenryBuilt pieces as these are “off the shelf” components you configure yourself as opposed to having them customized. Laminate below but they offer wood options as well…

viola park

The Paperstone countertop just begs to be touched. Very tactile…

sink and counter

They’ve extended their line into other areas of the home now. This teak wardrobe features leather pulls and lots of little storage nooks…

wardrobe cabinet

The craftsmanship is pretty impeccable…

detail on hooks

The interior was fitted with industrial felt pockets and shoe shelves. Who wouldn’t love that?

interior cabinet

Also drooled over an oak entry piece with storage below…

entry bench

… and storage cabinets up above. I love how they cut in openings below the doors instead of on the doors to keep the look super minimal…

door cutouts

To die for. Our friends Laura and Ben commissioned a HenryBuilt kitchen just a few years ago — so jealous. Maybe Laura will let me drop by and see how it’s holding up. Laura? Whaddya say?

and yet another tile idea

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Just got the April Anthropologie catalog in the mail and of the many wonders it contains, the one that makes my heart flutter the most is something they don’t sell…

anthropologie, page 5, april 2010 catalog

The tile! It just reminded us that to trim costs, we could always create our own unique mosaic tile pattern in the two entryways rather than buy something readymade. Would be fun to take one of Irving Haynes’ paintings, for instance, and turn it into 8′x5′ and 4′x2′ tile “rugs.”

tile closeup

I know, I’m clearly obsessed. I made that obvious here and here. Just wait ’til we get to the bathrooms. Consider yourself warned.

reaching entry entropy

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Outside: moving. Inside: going nowhere until we settle on finishes. We finally agree on the flooring. Except that we’d both like to see something different than cork in the entryways. What we’re loving: concrete tile.

It’s gorgeous, ridiculously durable and generally an eco-friendly choice. Thus far, I’ve come across three styles of concrete tile:

  • something monolithic that resembles poured — these range from plain to colored to terrazzo
  • patterned
  • and dimensional or relief, meaning it has raised bits — doesn’t make sense in a high-traffic area

Whatever we choose, we’re not going to need much. The front entry is roughly 8′x5′. The back entry maybe 4′x2′. The tile has to go with the cork flooring we think we’re going to use…

edipo cork tile in bleach white | duro-design.com

edipo cork tile in bleach white | duro-design.com

So considering that, I’ve found a few options that catch my eye…

_________________________________

Monolithic

In a modern house, you can never go wrong with terrazzo. The drawback to polished terrazzo in an entryway, of course, is that when it gets wet it may get slippery. But it is a modern staple and who knew you could get it in tile?

marble mosaic in honey onyx | fritztile.com

marble mosaic in honey onyx | fritztile.com

custom marble in twilight white | fritztile.com

custom marble in twilight white | fritztile.com

Both of those from Fritz Tile and use marble in the aggregate. Pretty. We’d need an inside doormat no matter what kind of tile we choose, so maybe slippery won’t matter? Hmmm.

Fritz also offers two lines of LEED-certified recycled glass terrazzo tiles set in aggregate, but I’m not as fond of their look. For glass terrazzo, I prefer this…

recycled glass tile in riviera | wausautile.com

recycled glass tile in riviera | wausautile.com

or this…

recycled glass tile in swiss alps | wausautile.com

recycled glass tile in swiss alps | wausautile.com

from Wausau Tile, which also uses an aggregate base. Some recycled glass terrazzos are set in resin rather than aggregate (like countertop materials) — Enviroglas is a popular, environmentally friendly source. If we order samples, I’ll share.

Patterned

Here’s a tile from Ann Sacks that’s not only concrete with a pattern but terrazzo as well…

neoterrazo by andy fleishman | annsacks.com

neoterrazo by andy fleishman | annsacks.com

Less glossy than the all-terrazzo choices above. I’m not one to shy away from pattern but I’d have to see it next to the cork to know if it would work. Maybe too… traditional?

Just to funk things up, Angela Adams has a few subtle but very modern patterned concrete tiles at Ann Sacks…

argyle by angela adams | annsacks.com

argyle by angela adams | annsacks.com

manfred by angela adams | annsacks.com

manfred by angela adams | annsacks.com

Nice matte finish. A hint of the ’70s there, am I right? Might be good in a circa ’72 house. Anything by Angela is a class act.

In case my design aesthetic isn’t all over the place enough for you, how about these Paccha concrete tiles, also at Ann Sacks…

zigzag by paccha | annsacks.com

zigzag by paccha | annsacks.com

Would the pattern overwhelm the rest of the room? Maybe. Popham Design who makes Zigzag also makes lots of other styles not carried by Ann Sacks — some that might go better. Although Zigzag doesn’t have to look like a quilt. Their website shows you how you can change things up in layout…

zigzag, zigging | pophamdesign.com

zigzag, zigging | pophamdesign.com

zigzag, zagging | pophamdesign.com

zigzag, zagging | pophamdesign.com

Does crazy things to your eyes after a while, doesn’t it?

Here’s another Popham style completely covered in awesome sauce…

popham squarish | pophamdesign.com

popham squarish | pophamdesign.com

Called Squarish. Simple yet arty. Probably my favorite by Popham for our entryway. Just love that so much.

Another configuration of Squarish, more vintage looking…

squarish, yet againish | pophamdesign.com

squarish, yet againish | pophamdesign.com

I emailed back and forth with Popham not long after we moved in. At the time they were only in Morocco and had no U.S. dealer. Not sure if the ordering deets have changed since ’08 (may well have and if we decide to pursue, I’ll double-check), but this is what Popham shared with me about ordering through them at the time:

We sell the tiles for $15/square foot and can ship via air or sea. For air, which takes about a week once the tiles are dry, you’ll add about $12/square foot, for groupage (marine), which takes about a month, the cost is about $5/square foot. Or, if you want a container’s worth :), about 6,000 square feet, the shipping cost drops to about $1/square foot. Our production lead time is 2-3 weeks depending on the size of the orders.

So maybe $20 a square footish. Not cheap but also not out of the realm of possibility given the small footprint. Not very “green” ordering from Marrakech, I know. On the other hand, it does employ local artisans in a very low-tech process. Conundrum. Nice video, btw.

_________________________________

I dream of a statement-making entry floor but my gut tells me this house wants something sleek and simple. We’ll see. For me, tile is a must-touch, must-ogle item. This means a visit to Ann Sacks, for sure. And I located Fritz Tile’s terrazzo at a few shops in MA and RI. Field trip!

total yard-on for hardscape

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Name a category for our remodel, inside or out, and I’ll show you a stash of dreamy ideas dug up online or shot in my daily travels. Trying to show you all my inspiration for outside is ha! fuhgeddaboudit. Let’s just talk hardscape. I’ve culled some of the bazillion images I have so you can see how a few themes for the look of our future yard rise to the top. Ready to take a dive?

DRIVEWAY

Major theme here: Strips of concrete set into gravel or grass. These could be squares, rectangles, angles — all shapes Irving Haynes, the architect of our house, used again and again in his work and his art. Linear strips would complement the modern architecture of the house (more so than the stupid blacktop there now) and  reduce runoff into the street (and that slippery sheet of ice across our sloped driveway in winter).

The Black House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

The Black House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Waterfall House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Waterfall House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Frick Residence, KRBD | contemporist.com

Frick Residence, KRBD | contemporist.com

Below, not exactly a driveway but definitely a style we could duplicate for a driveway…

Canyonhouse, X Ten Architecture | xtenarchitecture.com

Canyonhouse, X Ten Architecture | xtenarchitecture.com

PATIO

The look we settle on for the driveway we definitely want to carry into our two patio areas — to simplify, surfaces will be done at the same time. That likely means repeating strips or squares of concrete. Additional themes I see in the images I’m most drawn to: irregularity as a part of the pattern, grids and intersecting planes, plantings set into the patio surface, strong delineation of grass or moss/gravel/river rock areas, the interplay of different kinds of surface materials, softening of hard edges by plantings.

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

shot at The Farmer's Daughter, S.Kingstown, RI

shot at The Farmer's Daughter, S.Kingstown, RI

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

Marin Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Marin Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

John Maniscalo Cole Street Residence | remodelista.com

John Maniscalo Cole Street Residence | remodelista.com

Summer House Vestfold 2, JVA | archdaily.com

Summer House Vestfold 2, JVA | archdaily.com

Bellevue City Hall, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

Bellevue City Hall, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

searching for attribution — will add asap! :(

searching for attribution — will add asap! :(

Rosen House | eichlernetwork.com

Rosen House | eichlernetwork.com

From the Ground Up | blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/newhouse

From the Ground Up | blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/newhouse

livingetc.com

livingetc.com

San Damian House, Daw | archdaily.com

San Damian House, Daw | archdaily.com

Seattle Dream Gardens | sunset.com

Seattle Dream Gardens | sunset.com

Brookvale Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects | acochran.com

Brookvale Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects | acochran.com

Adams Fleming House, Levitt Goodman Architects | levittgoodmanarchitects.com

Adams Fleming House, Levitt Goodman Architects | levittgoodmanarchitects.com

Johnson House, Pierre Koenig | eichlernetwork.com

Johnson House, Pierre Koenig | eichlernetwork.com

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

Tepper Residence, Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture | houzz.com

Tepper Residence, Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture | houzz.com

Adding the image below because we might consider a more textured surface…

latimes.com home tours

latimes.com home tours

PATIO COVER

We’re being very conscious about not adding structures that will detract from the original architecture of the house. The patio cover should be functional, not a focal point. Minimal but large enough to keep driving rain and snow from the north off the windows (plus we like to leave the windows open to let the air circulate in season). Preferably not light blocking as it’s on the shady side of the house. The overriding theme: simplicity.

Ridgeview (after) | designspongeonline.com

Ridgeview (after) | designspongeonline.com

Kidosaki Achitects | contemporist.com

Kidosaki Achitects | contemporist.com

POOL

Still debating whether we have fish or not, but we absolutely must have water — no room for a swimming pool, unfortunately. Major theme in these images: a long, rectangular water feature either raised or set into the ground, frequently set off by rectangles or squares of concrete, sometimes grass or gravel. Especially loving floating steps across a pool.

archdaily.com

archdaily.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

stylehive.com

stylehive.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

Fox Residence, Lutsko Associates | lutskoassociates.com

Fox Residence, Lutsko Associates | lutskoassociates.com

Alexander's Crown, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Alexander's Crown, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Blue Mountain, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

Blue Mountain, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

Singleton Residence, Richard Neutra | lacurbed.com

Singleton Residence, Richard Neutra | lacurbed.com

Ohara Residence, Richard Neutra | mcarch.wordpress.com

Ohara Residence, Richard Neutra | mcarch.wordpress.com

Stone Edge Farm, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Stone Edge Farm, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

contemporist.com

contemporist.com

GARDEN

I’m talking hardscape, not plants… Repetitive themes: corten steel steps backfilled with gravel, concrete (or granite) block steps, rogue plants interrupting the steps — there to make you linger, raised beds of corten, variety in the levels of plantings, plants no longer banished to a border but set apart in the landscape for drama, zones of grass amidst the plantings, the satisfying crunch of pea gravel.

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

Cow Hollow Garden, Veverka Architects | houzz.com

Cow Hollow Garden, Veverka Architects | houzz.com

Lake House, Hutchison & Maul Architecture | archdaily.com

Lake House, Hutchison & Maul Architecture | archdaily.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

I’ll get to lighting someday, but isn’t this shot of light canisters hanging from the oaks absolutely dreamy?

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

I want to go to there.

That brings an end to How Green Is My Brain Week. Except that I’m currently in the garden planning stage so my brain will likely be green for months to come. You’ve been warned.

*    *    *    *    *

Bookmarks for this post:

acochran.com The land and sustainability are key to her incredible modern gardens. Genius landscapes. Also worth noting that Andrea Cochran published an amazing book last October.

archdaily.com So many projects from around the world. Great, great stuff here.

contemporist.com I’m absolutely in awe of the architecture this site covers.

d-crain.com Austin, you’re so lucky to have such a progressive landscaping firm. *sigh*

designspongeonline.com My daily virtual commute must. Great inspiration for everything.

eichlernetwork.com A constant source of inspiration for an MCM remodel, even if you don’t live in an Eichler.

houzz.com Home design images from architects, designers and landscapers searchable by style and keyword. Consider it a gateway drug.

levittgoodmanarchitects.com Just really beautiful work, inside and out.

la.curbed.com For the inside scoop on LA’s drooliest real estate.

latimes.com Luuuuuurve their Homes of the Times section. Great style, lots of innovative use of materials and sustainability in action in L.A.

livingetc.com A modern mag with great ideas in their photo gallery.

lutskoassociates.com Landscapes that combine ecology and modernism. Gorgeous.

mcarch.wordpress.com An enviable collection of midcentury architecture photos.

pfs.bc.ca So happy to have stumbled across Vancouver’s Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg landscape architecture. Modern, thoughtful landscapes.

remodelista.com Who doesn’t use this as a style resource? Big fan from the beginning.

sunset.com I don’t live out West but I get the magazine like I do. Love all the home and garden ideas with a green focus.

xtenarchitecture.com Rad L.A. architecture firm. They know modern and sustainable.

garden bones: the design

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Our yard yearns to be a garden. Sadly, it’s more like a ski jump. Without walls to tame the slope, nothing can get planted and the yard is basically unusable. The hardscaping really is the skeleton for any landscaping to come. Here’s the down-and-dirty decision-making for retaining walls.

What to build them out of?

We briefly entertained the idea of replacing our rotting timber retaining walls with stone. True to New England, yes…

traditional stone wall | earthandstonecapecod.com

traditional stone wall | earthandstonecapecod.com

But not in keeping with the style of the house. And because of the height we need, we’d still require concrete and rebar and whatnot to keep them from toppling over.

We talked to contractors about keyed block…

keyed block retaining wall | allanblock.com

keyed block retaining wall | allanblock.com

Absolutely the fastest, easiest, cheapest alternative. You see keyed block used in Lowe’s and Home Depot parking lots — a lot. Maybe that’s why it’s just not for us.

Those two choices eliminated, we took a closer look at what we have to work with. Both retaining walls actually touch the house’s concrete foundation… they’re kind of an extension of the house out into the landscape. When you think of it that way, it just makes sense to go with concrete as the wall material. Easy choice.

How should they look?

We want to echo a few design details from the house to tie the walls in visually…

angled walls

Angle. We want the driveway wall to pick up on the walls of our front steps.

wall detail

Beveled edges. We want this detail everywhere.

We want to build some function into the concrete walls — why not, right? In front, that means wood storage. Out back, small tool storage. We also wanted easy access to the yard from the front, which means adding steps…

step detail

Any new concrete steps need to look like the original ones.

Who’s perfect to help?

In the hunt for help on the interior remodel, I was lucky to come across Markus Berger, president of Inside Out Design and assistant professor of interior architecture at RISD. He’s daring. Talented. Loves our funky house. Understands our passion for modern. Great reasons for him to work with us on plans for the inside — and outside, on the retaining walls. Naomi Clare is his able assistant. Love her.

Both walls are well over 4′ tall. In Providence, that means you need an engineer to cover structural requirements and get your project approved by the city. Markus hooked us up with Erik Anders Nelson — an extremely clever engineer working at Structures Workshop, also an adjunct professor at RISD.

Got plans?

Heck yeah, we got plans! I’ll cut to the chase, since we’re playing catch-up anyway… Click the images to biggify.

Design for the front wall:

front retaining wall | Inside Out Design

Design for the back wall:

back retaining wal | Inside Out Design

Engineering plans:

engineering detail, both walls

engineering plan, back wall details

Actual walls up next! Bear with me, we’re almost caught up.

old-modern i’d put my butt on

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Old vs. modern. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive — especially since modernism took root in the 1920s if not earlier. Old can be very modern, at least in principle. An example…

Last October, David, Bix and I spent a few days in Denver — loving that city a little more every time we go. In search of great sushi, we stumbled onto the amazing REI Flagship store, which rubs elbows with the Greenway Trail, South Platte River and Confluence Park. REI is located in a drop-dead gorgeous Tramway Power Company Building built in 1901. It’s an excellent example of sustainable development, in which historic preservation, adaptive reuse and social responsibility combine to create something the city can take pride in.

Take a quick peek at the inside — it’s mind-blowing.

Enough background. Outside the REI building, I saw a few of these:

bench at Denver REI Flagship

Ancient. Rustic. Beautiful. Not modernist per se and yet in my eyes modern. An example of reuse that’s completely in keeping with its sustainably inspired environment. I think the simplicity of the steel and the bolts works well… Nothing fancy here.

detail on bench

So would a super organic bench hewn from an old log work in the context of a “modern” house like ours? I say yes. Maybe not inside as we’re really taxed for space, but outside, absolutely.

When I see the word modern, I think of an aesthetic that embraces not just the past — not just modernist icons like Le Corbusier and the Eameses, among many — but what also makes sense now. Beyond simplicity of form and a focus on function, modernism has always celebrated a connection to nature. That deep respect for the environment makes more sense than ever.

Then there’s this, which I just came across today…

1838 Bench 2 by BILT

1838 Bench 2 by BILT

Similar to the bench outside REI but a more refined interpretation. Instead of a log, the wood was taken from 19th century wooden beams. Imperfectly gorgeous and another great example of reuse. The steel that holds it off the floor is more stylized but still simple, unadorned, absolutely modern.

steel detail on 1838 bench by BILT

steel detail on 1838 bench by BILT

Turns out BILT, the designers of this bench and other drool-worthy furniture, is from Providence. You’ll find more about BILT’s work here and here. They take commissions. Uh-oh.

*   *   *   *   *

UPDATE 02/16 | It’s been less than a week since I posted this and suddenly their website and their etsy shop are empty. What up?!

godzilla ravages juvie modern

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I should just get this out of the way: I’m a breeder. There, I said it. Whew! That explains the 5-year-old in the background yelling, “I want to play Godzilla ravages Tokyo NOW, please!”

Bix reflected, CB2 Soho

Bix, meet reader. Reader, meet Bix. Now that the introductions are out of the way, I’d like to mention his role in 
this house remodel. I have a short list of mandatories for any changes we make to our house with him in mind…

1. Modern, yes, but livable modern. I don’t believe in living in a museum and I don’t believe in the constant anxiety that comes with accommodating the preciousness of things. Instead, the design and the material have to accommodate us. If we can’t touch it, breathe on it or get a little peanut butter on it, then it shouldn’t be in our house.

2. Life is messy. Design so the mess is easy to eliminate or even avoid. I’m a realist… we have a child. Children have toys. Children like to play with toys. Some tripping over toys is inevitable. To avoid a contentious relationship with my child and his beloved toys, he needs his own place for his own things. In a small house, storage is akin to happiness.

3. Green is for inside, not just outside. Just because we can buy it in bulk at Home Depot ridiculously cheap doesn’t mean we should. What’s in it? Where did it come from? We intend to be extremely conscious in our material decisions — because what you don’t know can kill you or make you very sick, and because tiny metabolisms make children more susceptible to the effects of chemical exposure. And gosh darnit, isn’t the planet having a hard enough time as it is without us making things worse?

4. Outside is not just for looking at through a window. This house was built with an almost-full second lot that has NEVER been taken advantage of. The lot has been a rock-strewn slope unfit for entertaining adults, much less children. This may be the biggest thing to change. We’ll be using our yard year-round, which means we’re going to need easy access, a safer play area… and let’s not forget a little something for our bird, bee and butterfly friends.

5. It has to grow with us. We’re only 10 years way from Bix’s 15th birthday. I know that sounds like fuh-evah away but when remodeling this is something to keep in mind. We want to think ahead and make this evolution easier on all of us.

6. It has to be creative. This means being resourceful in order to accomplish 1 through 5. And it also means that we want to build an environment that encourages imagination, where a kid (and his grownups) can flourish.

I’ll be checking in from time to time to see how closely we’ve been able to stick to our goals. Yeah, uh-huh. Good luck with that.

zilla says hi

a note about irving

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

The house was buried in the Providence Craigslist real estate postings under the standard fare of colonials, capes and Victorians. I remember pulling up to the house for the first time. After more than 30 disappointing property viewings, we’d finally found it: our bold, sunny modern.

The real estate agent told us the house was built by a Rhode Island School of Design architecture school grad student — a woman no less. We liked the sound of that. But a trip to the city records revealed that  the architect of our house was actually a well-seasoned New England native by the name of Irving B. Haynes. A little online sleuthing told us more… and then we really got psyched.

Born in Waterville, Maine, in 1927, Irving became an architect, a long-time RISD professor, historic preservationist, jazz musician and an accomplished painter. He was a busy, busy man that Irving. His art would look completely at home in this house.

Just a few of my favorites from his website, which you should really visit if you’re into this kind of thing:

haynes_work1

1969 | Untitled, watercolor on paper 15"x20"

haynes_work2

1974 | Untitled, watercolor on paper 18"x24"

haynes_work3

1988 | Untitled, acrylic on paper 14"x17"

haynes_work4

1988 | Untitled, acrylic on paper 44"x30"

haynes_work5

1988 | Untitled, acrylic on paper 44"x30"

haynes_work6

1998 | Johnny's Boogie, acrylic on paper 44"x30"

haynes_work7

2003 | Blue Roof, acrylic on paper 30"x22"

haynes_work8

2004 | Well-Braced, acrylic on paper 14"x17"

Writer Joe Leduc in the art journal Big, Red and Shiny shares this bit of history about Irving:

Born in Maine, Haynes came to Rhode Island in 1948 as a transfer student to RISD from Colby College.  After earning degrees in painting and architecture, he spent the 1950s working for a variety of architectural firms by day and playing jazz by nights in area nightclubs. By 1968… Haynes had his own architectural practice, Haynes and Associates, in Providence. Another career began in 1973, when he started teaching Foundation Studies at his alma mater, assuming an Assistant Professorship in 1980.  Haynes’ association with RISD would continue, as he retired from architectural practice in 1990 to concentrate on painting and teaching, becoming a Full Professor in 1997 before retiring in 2005.

There’s not a ton of information online about Irving. Someday I may make a trip to the RISD Library to see what else I can find out. In the meantime, here are a few more links for anyone who stumbles across this post and is so inclined:

  • A writeup of the man and his art for a posthumous show of his work in 2005 at RISD’s Industrial Design Department Gallery in the Brown Daily Herald.

Thank you, Irving, for designing a house we absolutely love. We promise to keep any updates true to the spirit of the house. And put some Brubeck on the turntable every now and then.