Does the Collar Match the Cuffs?

drjoannDecember 5, 2008

Well, as long as we are going for "saucy" subject lines, I thought I would pose this question:

Should the interior design/decoration of a house be consistent with the exterior design? (ie. - should the "collar" match the "cuffs"?)

When we first started looking for house pictures to take to an architect, DH (and, to a lesser extent, I) favored some examples which were definitely on the rustic side - Garrell's Amicalola and Gardner's Cedar Court (original pix, not what in now on the site). My major concern was that the outside might have some appeal, but there was no way I could sustain a lodge look for the interior, because that just isn't my personal style. Somehow Belleek and Waterford and Lunt don't jibe with a moosehead on the wall and an antler chandelier over the dining room table.

Please, no one take offense. I think the lodge look is great if that is what one wants and can attain. It simply is not me and I would not be in a comfortable place with that as my "forever home".

One of the reasons that we didn't go for a Craftsman/Bungalow style house is that I have such reverence for the style that I would feel obligated to carry it througout the house. I know that I'm not up to the task, and am in awe those who achieve so beautifully.

I asked the architect, if it would be discordant if the house had a rustic exterior and then a formal dining room, etc. on the interior. He said that in Upstate (NC/SC) that doesn't bother anyone, but is just doesn't seem right to me. Shouldn't there be some harmonizing vision for interior and exterior even if it is "Sophisticated Eclectic" or some such thing that I came out with from an online quiz?

So this is to provoke some discussion, and then I have some questions about how to hone in on our own style.

Thanks - Jo Ann

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Ewwww! Truly, girl, if it doesn't look like all
the identical makeovers we do, it won't fly better
than a mosquito in a blizzard."

I prefer the AD philosophy of co-ordinating the inside with the outside. Really high end architects design the furniture too.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Nice visual Worthy!

I think the outside and inside absolutely should be of the same style. The overall style of a home should be consistent. I would be completely confused and disappointed if I walked into a home expecting a certain style based on the exterior to see something different on the inside.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 10:39PM
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Yup, I think we should have expected that we were in for "interesting times" when the architect gave the response he did.

DH really liked the style of the house in the picture posted below:

Although it is obviously a lake house, I didn't think it would have to be completely rustic on the inside. But, when you get around to the rear, I begin to have problems:

There is just something about this that makes me uneasy. From the back, it really gives me the feeling of a vacation home rather than my forever home. At the same time, I'd like my home to be warm and inviting.

So, we're still looking for a style that will blend well with a wooded lot without looking like a fishing lodge.

Thanks for the responses, even the "kooky" ones.

Jo Ann

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 11:05PM
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If that's a fishing lodge, it's a pretty high-end one! In my native CT, there was a period when many people were taking beautiful old colonials, and modernizing the interior. I always found it jarring to walk into a 200 y/o house, and find a stark, minimalist interior. Actually, I hope our future home does end up looking like a vacation home. Our style is rather informal, and the antiques we have are decidedly rustic compared to finer pieces. The house in the picture has a rustic look, but it is detailed enough to have a slightly formal interior. It would be stunning in a wooded environment. Bear in mind that the back of a home with a walk-out basement is often a design challenge, and a conventional home will just look like a huge, towering wall in the back. In the house in the pictures, they've done a good job of breaking that up to maintain architectural interest.

We even considered a log cabin (!) but ultimately decided it was too rustic for day-to-day living. These decisions aren't easy to make when you're considering a custom home, and ultimately, it comes down to what you are comfortable with. Luckily (I think) my wife isn't nearly as fussy as I am about design, her main criteria being that it's comfortable and affordable. When we vacation, we tend to stay in B&B's, houses, cottages, and cabins, and we can usually visual ourselves living in any of the above. Our house here in FL is a boring tract home from the early 80's, so nearly anything else is more inspiring!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 7:21AM
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I've always liked the rear elevation of the house posted above more than the front. The front is so dominated by the garage that the "house" seems like an afterthought. Anyway, I'd take that for my fishing lodge anyday! :)

To answer your question, I too believe that the interior should be, at the very least, complementary to the exterior. If there is a question about how to coordinate your desires for the two into a cohesive mix, then you should really be working with both an architect and an interior designer (decorator) now. You might not have chosen the best house picture to use as an example of a rustic lodge look...that house has enough detail on the exterior to permit a rather formal look on the interior without any problems.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 8:27AM
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It's not as simple as collars and cuffs. It takes great skill to combine seemingly contradictory ideas in a house because it is not a matter as simple as matching ... it is a matter of proportion, scale, texture, light, comfort, space, and, of course, personal taste. In general, the difficulty of such a task generally puts it into the realm of professionals.

Here is a link that might be useful: pretty good pros

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 9:38AM
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Here is a link that might be useful: pretty good pros

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 9:39AM
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Here is a link that might be useful: pretty good pros

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 9:43AM
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As dixie said, I think they should, at the very least compliment each other. Just the other day I saw a house on Rate My Space. The lady showed the pictures of her interior first and it was done beautifully in a shabby chic style that was absolutely beautiful. Then at the end she showed the exterior. I wrote and told her that no one would ever dream her interior would look the way it did judging by the outside of her house. The outside was a simple ranch type house with absolutely no hint of what was inside. It was a nice surprise to see the inside compared to the outside, but I also found it unsettling for some reason. I didn't tell her that however.

The house we're building is a Southern Acadian and we are trying to portray some of that feel on the inside as well as other Southern styles. I think people will see what they expect when they enter my home. The foyer, kitchen, great room, guest bedroom and bath are more of an old traditional Southern style and the office and master bed and bath are more of a modern Southern style.

About the house photo you posted, looking at the front I could see a nice traditional style inside, not necessarily having to be too rustic because I think the front of the house is fancy enough to carry a fancier style inside. However, the back of the house is down right ugly. Sorry. It looks like a mixture of different styles that someone threw together when they couldn't make up their minds on just one.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Oooh! I love the CT group's work. All have harmonious designs, but their gallery is more my taste.

When we built I wanted to try to get some of the look of places we'd stayed during a self-catering visit in the south of England -- where odd buildings had been made into dwellings. One former coach house w/stables on an estate outside Melksham, Wilts. had a wonderful big arched window over the kitchen sink -- much like the one I now enjoy in our home. Often rooms in these made-over places were not symetrically positioned; our foyer and LR are 'off' just a little too. I added some 'reeds & ribbons' to the crown mouldings at our house. (I didn't furnish with 4-piece matching chintz suites!)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 12:05PM
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I think the interiors of many British and European homes absolutely do not match their exteriors!. Modern kitchen and bath styles are much preferred at least to my family and friends.
The interior of my parents home, also in many of their friends homes, they were definitely deceptively modern, compared to the exteriors.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 4:23PM
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I think they shouldn't be 'glaringly different' but also that they shouldn't look 'too coordinated' either. A strongly 'Old World European' kitchen would look very wrong in a strongly Craftsman house; but I think a modern kitchen, rustic kitchen, or 'urban masculine' could work.

From your front elevations, I'd think you could have a lot of lattitude. Your elevation is elegantly simple, fairly traditional -- but I'm guessing hints at rustic and wooded locale? If that's the case, I'd keep the interior architectural elements fairly consistent with the exterior -- things like staircase, fireplace, flooring, wall surfaces -- and let your furnishings and accessories 'tilt' the house more in the direction you prefer.

To get a slightly more 'formal' but still rustic vibe, you could use things like smooth limestone instead of rustic split stone, honed and guaged slate or stone instead of split slate or flagstone, cherry cabinetry (knotty?) instead of hickory. There is such a thing as 'elegant rustic', and if you can find a few photos that accurately show the kind of 'feeling' you want, that'll really help.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 6:07PM
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I'm with Sweeby. I don't think this house is all that rustic at all, really. It definitely does NOT say mooseheads or antler chandeliers to me at all. It says quality natural and real materials to me. I don't think the back is ugly at all, either, quite the opposite, I think it is magnificent.

Anyway, yes, the bones--floors, moldings, etc. in keeping with the outside by using natural materials and echoing the shapes of the moldings and details. Sweeby's suggestions on flooring are point on, too, I think--some slates are actually beige or bone in color, look similar to Jerusalem stone.

Then your decor fits in with a twist I think they call "fusion." Your websites came up with sophisticated eclectic. It's a style I really like because it lets you mix in things you like because you like them, not because they are matchy-matchy. Matchy-matchy looks great in some people's homes, but I get bored living day-to-day in a house with no pleasing visual surprises.

But that's me. If you prefer seamless, then this isn't the house for you....

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 8:51AM
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Seamless and matchy-matchy -- Good terms.
To me, if the entire house and everything in it is too consistent, it can end up looking like a stage set or furniture showroom or worse, like the people living there have no personality and just asked the decorater to "furnish me a house and everything in it." IMO, you simply gotta have a few quirks!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 4:35PM
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Thank you, so much, for all of the time y'all have put into your responses. I've spent the weekend looking at pictures, reading and thinking, so here goes ....

Below is a picture of our current house in a (Galveston) Bay Area subdivision in Houston taken as we were about to evacuate for Hurricane Ike:

Its a nice house in a nice subdivision, but it looks like every other nice house in this nice subdivision and most of the surrounding ones of the same era (mid-80's to mid-90's). DH & I want something different; at times we feel like we are in that Monty Python sketch where the chartered account goes in for career counseling saying he wants to be a lion tamer, but John Cleese shoots him down by saying that he is so deadly boring & dull that the only thing the poor fellow is suited for is chartered accountancy. This is a lovely, wonderful place to raise a family, but I've served my 20 years & I'm up for parole. GGG!!! OK, glad to have that off my chest!

BTW - I'm a real urban Jersey girl who spent summers in the country. If its a Hoboken brownstone, I "get" it. If it is rural, I kinda "get" it. This suburban stuff puts me in the the position of an "anthropologist on Mars" (see Temple Grandin's description of herself in Oliver Sachs book of essays.)

I agree that I was off base in describing the house previously posted as a "fishing lodge". I think it is because the row of flat windows on the sunroom extension look just like my aunt's "cabin" in Quebec which is a fishing lodge. Also, I misremembered how the inside was decorated and conflated it with Garrell's Tranquility Lodge which does have extremely rustic decor on the website pictures. OTOH - my pre-Texas Hoboken friends would definitely expect mooseheads, etc. if they came to visit me in a house that looks like the previous post. However, they were the ones who wanted to know if I had to brush the tumbleweed out of the way when I came back from my first summer tour in Houston. I had to explain that it was more like the Jersey Shore with all of the boating than High Noon.

So, we've established that DH & I want something that is not another brick Neo-Traditional house and I have fears of it looking too rustic. This led us down the path of looking at "old world" type architecture and the elevation produced by our architect which no one on the forum liked.

Last week, I followed a link from the "what color is my house?" thread for the Boston Design guide. The link from there to CBT Architects came up with this:

and these:

My heart skipped a beat. This house is absolutely stunning!!!! It just melds with the wooded setting, but I can see it being elegant, yet warm and inviting, inside.

But, DH wants to know why, if I like this stone & shingle house, I was so hesitant about the other one. I don't know, but there is a difference.

I have to boogie, now, but will come back to answer questions about what my style is for the interior. It is defintely not matchy-matchy which is why an exterior that has a very strong statement in a certain direction concerns me.

Latah - Jo Ann

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 6:44PM
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Personal style - here is a picture of a partially finished dining in a house that a builder walked us through:

I know that the crown molding shouldn't be that deep because it is awkward with the arch, but this is the sort of style I would be happy with for our dining and living rooms. Even that room would be eclectic with DH's traditional DR table & chairs and my server with hutch which is probably from the 1930's.

Here is an example of the type of kitchen I like:

I would probably like the island to be painted dusty blue and distressed with slate or terra cotta on the floor, but this is the general feel.

But the keeping room will be comfy & we'll probably reuse our mission style tables. I had an antique mahogany bedroom set that DH bought a 4 poster bed to go with. We're thinking of taking our bedroom in a West Indies plantation direction as a sort of romantic retreat. Sprinkled throughout all of this will be my matrioshka dolls and other objects from Russia and other places. Plenty of patterned area rugs - traditional & transitional, but I'd like at least one contemporary just to shake things up. Something like this since it makes me think of the Klimt artwork I saw in Vienna:

So, eclectic but more on the traditional side rather than rustic. I want a house which is not the same old brick, but not too overdone on the outside which is reflective of the above style. If DH clicks to the style of the Living Concepts Portsmouth style exterior (my incorrectly named "fishing lodge", above) is that consistent with the interior I've described? Also, we love to use color on the walls. If a Shingle Style house needs to be very white on the inside as I've seen in many of the pictures on the architectural sites, then that's not really us.

Anyway, this probably sounds like mishmash and nonsense, but its us and we need to find and exterior that fits us.

Thanks for "listening" - Jo Ann

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 12:51AM
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@ mightyanvil - we've been working with a local Greenville architect for 7 months, now. What other professional(s) should we be dealing with?

We bought the land about a year ago & immediately began studying all kinds of stock plans. We could tell that none of those were going to work because we really needed a house with all of our everyday living spaces on one floor and then provisions for the walkout basement to be eventually finished to accommodate guests.

As I've mentioned, we put together a pitch which described the functionality of the house, but not how it was to be designed. This is what I call the OpsCon that we gave to the architect.

I know that the forum was not thrilled with the 1st elevation I posted. I just thought that in order to have an informed discussion with the architect, we needed to understand what to look for in an elevation which is why we put a few together including the "improvement" that I posted.

We're not professionals & don't pretend to be. But, I don't know how to get our ideas across to the architect without having something to talk to. I know from experience in my own profession that "Bring me a rock. Nope, sorry, that was the wrong rock. Now, bring me another rock." is not the best way to collaborate with someone.

I'd love to do this better if I could figure out how. I don't know what to do besides look at pictures, read design books, ask questions on the forum, etc. (I know that going to look at other houses should be on that list, be we're a little short on relevant architect around where I live.)

The saving grace it that we are not really schedule-driven, at this point. Again, from my experience as a project manager for flight hardware, I know that if most of the time is spent upfront on requirements and the SOW, things are more likely to go smoothly when it comes to the hardware build and certification.

So, I'd love to hear some suggestions for what we can do better. We know we are floundering, a bit, and are all ears for improvements.

Thanks - Jo Ann

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:18AM
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Jo Ann

The house by CBT is basically a Shingle Style where the 1 1/2 story design puts the eaves a bit lower than usual for more of a "cottage" scale and the height of the stonework at the entrance (usually confined to the first floor) has a more dramatic medieval/northern European English/French quality.

The ability to combine such elements in a well balanced cohesive design is what you pay an architect for. The entrance arch is called "segmental" or "Syrian" (less than half of a circle) and was a favorite rustic medieval element of the Richardson Romanesque and Shingle styles although half-round Roman arches were also used.

What is most notable, in general, about the Shingle Style is the restraint used in a highly romantic eclectic design. It was the reaction of New England architects to the prevailing styles of the time. It essentially stripped the Queen Anne style of much of its decoration, added natural "rustic" red cedar shingles and stonework from the Richardson Romanesque style, and added some classical elements popular in the emerging Colonial Revival style. It was known as a Victorian and well as a Colonial Revival style until it was later identified by Vincent Scully at Yale. Unfortunately, the Shingle Style didn't spread far westward or to home builders so it remained a specialty of New England architects like McKim, Mead & White and William Ralph Emerson and in a sense it still is.

Notice that CBT resolved the potential conflict of the medieval front elements and the roof detailing by avoiding the classical roof cornice returns and overlapping gables that builders and internet plan mills seem unable to resist (see earlier photos that you posted). Elsewhere they wrapped the wall shingles into a the jambs of a recessed window, a typical Shingle Style treatment that gives the building skin a fluid yet massive quality. The Shingle Style roof overhangs with brackets work well with the romantic stonework. So does the slate roofing if you can afford it.

The best characteristic of the Shingle Style, from a designer's point of view, is how easily it can accommodate romantic design elements and modern life styles. Googling it on the internet is not usually fruitful so it is best to buy some used books from Amazon or search the web sites of New England architectural firms. This is not something many builders understand. I designed a Shingle Style house for my brother-in-law with full scale exterior details but at the last minute the builder persuaded him to tack on oversized historically inaccurate classical cornice returns ... even on the dormers. It looks pretty dumb with a Romanesque front entrance arch and bracketed roof overhangs. And the brackets look tacked on because, in fact, they were.

You seem to be on track, keep at it.

Here is a link that might be useful: CBT houses

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:04AM
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drjoann, the second house you posted is beautiful, inside and out.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:54AM
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Jo Ann - If you feel like a small road trip some day, try driving up to the Memorial Villages and wandering around the little streets. There are a number of houses here that (I think) very nicely straddle the rustic/refined/traditional/woodsy/elegant hurdle you're wrestling with, and the setting is wooded - so compatible with your future locale.

I'd take photos, pull magazine pictures, build a scrapbook, then most importantly, write a "mission statement" to freeze your vision in words. Go for the 'feeling' more than the 'look', and try to condense it as much as you can. That's something I struggled with at the beginning of our total overhaul, and boiling my vision into a 'sound bite' really, really helped.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Well, I have two Scully books on the way from Amazon and a book about McKim, Meade & White in transit from the library. I'm kinda "down" right now, because I can tell that DH just doesn't understand why I think the CBT house is so lovely. I'm going to study up & let it "stew" for a bit to see if the ROI of convincing him to go in the direction of a Shingle style is in my favor. (Otherwise known in spouse-speak as "pick your battles" (sigh))

MA - I think the shingles wrapping the window jambs are exquisite. That is what made me understand your earlier description on another thread of the Shingle style - that it is as if a cloak is draped over the house. I've also read it described as a "skin" or a "girdle". I also see why the cornice returns on your BIL's house breaks the flow of the "fabric".

brutuses - I'm encouraged by your reaction. The interior pictures are not from the CBT house, but other sources of what I would like our interior to be like. That means we are heading in the right direction (even if "we" is just "me", at this point.)

sweeby - I'm soon going on leave for the rest of the year, so I'll find a nice, sunny day and get DH to drive up to Memorial Villages. I was also thinking of going to Rice Village. Do you think that is worth it? I was in Austin for the week of Thanksgiving and had good intentions of walking all over the place looking at architecture. Unfortunately, DD was just miserable recovering from foot surgery so we didn't get out. DH & I are thinking of "borrowing" DD's Austin apartment for a couple of nights to do a few walking tours. She lives near Hyde Park & it looks like there is some nice, older stuff there, as well as on the west side of campus.

Thanks, again, everyone. Time to think, some more.

Jo Ann

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Jo Ann.........That first house you pictured looks 'exactly' like a house just down the road from me...including on the water!! By chance was that house in 'Misty Waters' in Belmont, NC??

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 7:37PM
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robin0919 - I don't know where the house is. I got it from the Living Concepts website. The link is below with more pictures so you might be able to better discern if it is located near you.

Jo Ann

Here is a link that might be useful: Living Concepts Portsmouth B

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 1:03AM
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It depends.
I have seen both approaches (matching and not matching int/ext and in either, you can have successful or catastrophic results they could be boring and matchy-matchy or they just do not belong.

Just talking about exteriors only, have you seen what they did in the Louvre? It goes from French/renaissance/baroque to CONTEMPORARY! And I think that was VERY successful.
I have seen in the prettiest city of the Caribbean, Cartagena, now UNESCOÂs World Heritage Patrimony, most of them original "Spanish Colonial Style" and some NEW houses with the "SC Style" exterior (by city ordinances) and in the interior they either match the exterior using ancient techniques and use furniture with the same style or they go eclectic and sometimes contemporary.
I live in a very traditional city in the Midwest. Most subdivisions here have covenants and they establish steep roof pitches and lots of brick or stone. Most of these houses are New American and some are "old world style" and I have seen a few interior decorations in a more contemporary or eclectic style. Very, very few people here dare to build a contemporary exterior house, some go Prairie style and they call that "contemporary".

After all of thisÂ

My opinion is that although you could be successful  if you get skilled guidance- building your DH choice house and going a bit different in the interior
IÂd say:


The house that you like is a lot Nicer. It is a less "dated" house and a less limiting house. Also, in the event that you need to sell the house for any reason, it will be easier to sell.
Because this is your forever home I highly advise you to convince your DH of how important this is for you.
You see, the thing is that if you are not happy, chances are that in a few years you would want another house (believe me on this one). I am pretty sure your DH wouldnÂt want that.

There is something with guys and lodge/lumber cabin style houses; my DH likes them. But most guys actually do not fall in love with the houses, the just like them so I bet he will get over it, while in the other hand, you will not get over it.
If your hubby has common sense he most know that if the wife is happy everybody in the house is happy!!!
In my experience, I really think this is a battle that you have to choose. Please, do not allow your DH to make a mistake selecting that house.

Good luck

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 12:53PM
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Yep.....that's the same house!.....:).....It's on the same street I sold my first spec house last year.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 7:56PM
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Hang on. You're getting 'there'. I like the understated rough stone and shingle house you just posted -- best so far!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 10:08AM
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It's a handsome house but the first test I apply to a design is if it makes sense as a building. For instance, why would the garage of a turn-of-the century Colonial Revival/Shingle style home have such a prominent 3 bay garage made of stone? And why would it change to shingles halfway back? And why would the large window of the main house have a segmental arch top but the garage openings have straight horizontal openings requiring modern steel lintels and the garage doors have arch top windows?

I would be looking for something more honest and less simulated/derived from charming but architecturally inappropriate elements. When a designer has a good idea it should be carried to its logical conclusion for the sake of architectural integrity. We all sense the lack of integrity even though we don't realize it because we have seen enough real buildings in spite of the common developer/builder attempts to create style from a kit of popular house parts and materials.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 12:03PM
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This is what I'm talking about: the lower level recreation room has a stone fireplace that goes all the way to the ceiling but it wasn't worth the effort to turn the corner with the stone so it would look like a real stone chimney or even a real stone-clad chimney. If the designer liked the face-only veneer look why is the wood storage alcove all stone?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Here is a video tour of a house designed by Stanford White with Vob Billa ... I mean Bob Villa. It shows how adaptable the Shingle Style could be and how influenced White was by his trip to the Normandy region of France during the construction of the house. Romantic architectural elements are highly manipulated without appearing forced or fake. Of course, the owners had the bucks to get it done right.

There is also a good example of how windows were installed by shingle style architects like White and William Ralph Emerson (I found this detail on an Emerson house recently).

There is also an explanation of veneer plaster (blueboard) that is hard to find outside of a few markets in the US.

Bobby V. knows so much; he's just amazing!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 1:22PM
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