Over the winter holidays, I was introduced to this little ditty… it obviously belongs right here. Happy New Year to all!
4/1 got news last week that Houzz.com has given us a ‘Best of 2012’ award. I’m thrilled, of course, but puzzled – while I use the site with nearly all of my clients, I only just put up photographs of the Ottawa house recently and did not think they were getting that much traction (except the darling photo of Ash in his bedroom, which is getting all the attention). After doing a little digging, it turns out it was based on customer satisfaction – and my clients who uses the site gave 4/1 a perfect score, so up goes the award! I’m grateful and a little flabbergasted, and thought I’d take the opportunity to explain how and why I’ve been sending my clients there.
For the uninitiated, Houzz.com is a storehouse of interior photographs, showing every style, every room, and every finish you could possibly imagine. The site allows easy bookmarking of images, tagging of the bits you like, and searching for particular details. I have always recommended that my clients gather images of spaces they like as we work together, and Houzz has become an ideal way to gather it all in one place. If you’re considering doing a renovation, remodel, or addition, I’d highly recommend spending some time lost in their treasure trove, regardless of your future designer.
Of course, there’s nothing like seeing a space in person, and two 4/1 designs will be on a house tour coming up next month. The Cleveland/Holloway tour, usually an affordable $5/person suggested donation, is scheduled for Saturday, June 9th. I’ll be there, bouncing between 527 Holloway and 508 Ottawa – come and visit!
A neighborhood kerfuffle has me thinking about old and historic – where the two overlap, where they’re separate, and why there are people who think anything old is bad unless it is, officially, ‘historic.’ As though preservationists have had a chance (and the funding) to designate every worthy structure by now. And this view defines historic as the big, decorative, grand, fancy – not the
In truth, sometimes an individual structure that is simple, plain, and small isn’t worth much in and of itself. A single little house from 1940 is probably not significant and not historic by any standard. But put that wee house amidst a whole block or neighborhood of similar houses, with all of their weathering and evolution over the years, and you have something with importance: a historic district? Potentially. But it’ll be a revealing group of buildings for a researcher, and will carry their own sense of place for even the casual observer. If those little cottages are knocked down gradually, one here and one there, the fabric of the neighborhood is interrupted and their story starts to fall apart.
Given that I spend a good amount of time evaluating old buildings in an effort to discover their historic qualities, I do tend to find most old to be also historic. I’ve got a broad view of it and can find the little details to love in just about everything. That said, someone asked me today if I’m ok with demolition, and I had to stop and think. Beyond the material waste, I have seen some terribly-awful, might-as-well-knock-it-down, “functionally obsolete” buildings redeemed, reused, and reborn – someone just had to have the right vision.
That said, a parking deck that’s structurally unsafe, lousy on the street level, and taking up a massive block of downtown? Bring on the wrecking ball! That’s just old.
I’m curious though – for those of you outside of the preservation field, what’s the line for you? When is something old, and when is it historic?
Exterior paint color consultations are one of my favorite things to do. I get to meet new folks, see a house up close, and guide the homeowner to make a huge decision. Colors can make a house absolutely sing (hopefully in harmony with its neighbors) or let a house sit quietly in its surroundings.
With that in mind, I finally got around to gathering photographs of some of the ‘afters’ and put them all in one place – take a look, and let me know what you think!
ps. let me know if something is amiss technologically, would you? thanks!
Taking trips always makes me appreciate what’s at home, and this last jaunt the beach was no exception. Not that I didn’t enjoy the sand, water, and a chance for a break, but that all the new growth ocean-side made me relish being back in a town with some history. We’ve got in spades exactly what the beach town was trying to invent: a legitimate city center, remarkable historic buildings, and destinations for walking or riding. What they had? A fake lighthouse. Really.
It was lovely to climb up, afforded a view and a breeze on a wet blanket of a day, and allowed for a local history museum of displays on each landing – so I have no issues with it as a lighthouse or tower by any means. Instead, I have issue with it being presented as a historic feature, something comparable with Cape Hatteras or Ocracoke. A little googling tells me that it was built in the 1970s and modeled after one in England from two centuries earlier. To be fair, it wasn’t so much described as historic as it wasn’t described at all – so it was easy to assume, based on the form and the general histories of lighthouses on the coast. I should have been clued in by the paneling on the stair railing, I suppose!
Back at home, I’m thrilled to have the genuine history around me of the Lucky Strike tower and the Hill Building – one or the other could certainly claim to be Durham’s lighthouse, I think. And I’m busy pulling together the plans for two houses (one c.1890, the other c.1915) that are in process… authentic and contributing to our real city.
The tax credits are wrapped up
Two projects design in the fall are both under construction, and I just saw a skylight appear on the side of this bungalow today (first on the to-do list way back in October). I am not doing any construction administration on that one, so I get to wait with bated breath until the owner invites me over to see the finished product.
Another tax credit project has popped up in Lakewood-Tuscaloosa – my first in that neighborhood in some time. That area seems to be doing a really good job of keeping their old houses full of character and not gentrifying quickly. Instead, there’s a gradual upswing to the neighborhood, over the course of the past number of years. The new owners
There’s more coming, and one particularly interesting project that deserves its own entry. We’re waiting to hear what the tax credit folks think about our plans, and then a whole update will be coming shortly.