Category Archives: musings

Cerise, Chartreuse, and Aqua!

Over the winter holidays, I was introduced to this little ditty… it obviously belongs right here. Happy New Year to all!

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Best of? Really?

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!

Old vs. Historic

Historic? duh.

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 everyday, the vernacular, or the plain.

Historic? or just old?

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.

old, terrible parking deck. knock that sucker down. but leave the 1960s motel at the end, please? (photo via opendurham.org)

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?