-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ebay: bentwood chair & cupboard

I have a chair in our hallway which we got years ago, with lovely bentwood arms. I've been looking for another that could go with it, eventually, and at last I've found one I like. I don't like the colour that much but it says it's easy to recover so it might be my first upholstery project. I can see these chairs one day living in the screened porch at Amherst.

Bentwood chair

From the Ebay listing:
"This is a nice design Art Deco, Sunray Sides,
Bentwood Arm, Reclining Armchair / Easy Chair, dating
to around c1930. It has great Bentwood Arms design,
with 2 side Sunray Type splats on either side,
supported by a curved lower support rail. The seat
section, can be slid forward, to make it a very nice
comfotable Reclining Armchair. The seat section, has
been recovered at some time, and is still in good
condition, with no tears or holes, but is an easy
recover job if desired, as the whole seat and back
section, can be simple just lifted out. Overall it
is in good solid condition, with no movement in the
joints on the oak frame. It stands at its tallest
38 3/4 of an inch, and is 24 inches at its widest
at the front of the arms, and the seat depth measures
about 22 inches and the seat height of the floor
measures about 15 1/4 inches tall"

Because there wasn't an extra cost of delivery if we bought more from the same seller, we also got a lovely walnut bedside chest of drawers. I really like the simple lines of it and pieces of furniture like this are always handy as side tables, etc.

walnut cabinet

From the Ebay description:
"This is a nice design Art Deco Figured Walnut Bedside
cabinet, dating to around c1940. It is a nice design and
has a nice Grain to the Walnut Veneer. It has a single
door Cabinet below, and it has a single drawer above.
It still retains its original black Bakelite turned knob
handles with white centre insert. The bedside cabinet
stands on nice angles out legs / feet. It is in good
solid condition, with a few small nicks to the veneer
in places, and it has one small chip near the bottom
edge on the front, which has been filled in, and still
look fine overall. There is a little line stain marks to
one side, which blends in with the walnut grain, and
overall this is a great looking Art Deco Walnut Bedside
Cabinet. It stands 29 3/16 of an inch tall and is 15 3/4
of an inch wide, and is 13 inches deep".

Monday, April 17, 2006

latest design iteration for new house

We got an email from Eric forewarning us of their arrival, and they were waiting for us when we got back. Tonight I'm going to try and look through them properly, but thought I'd begin by getting them scanned in and posted here.

First, here's Eric's comments on what he did in this iteration:

"I ended up having a blissful solid week with almost no
distractions, so I made a lot of progress with the designs.
I've done all the main drawings like floor plans, ceiling
plans, cross sections and elevations on AutoCAD, so they are
all very accurate. I worked up all of the drawing together
so that details like ceiling height and window placements
all correspond very well. I have also shown things like the
sideboard, the grandfather clock, and the big lantern, so
there should be enough detail to have useful discussions.

I have made small adjustments to quite a few little things to make
them work better (in my opinion...)

Some aspects like what happens around the fireplaces (and TV?) will
need some more thought. I played around with kitchen, and had an idea
about the main table going against the north windows. I'll look
forward to your thoughts.

And now, here's the plans, starting with the elevation views, to which there's been little change:

west elevation

north elevation

east elevation

south elevation

Now here's the ground floor room layout, along with a plan showing Eric's proposed ceiling heights in each area:


downstairs ceiling

Here's the same for the second floor:


upstairs ceiling

And finally, here are two cross-sections of the building which give a better feeling for how the rooms might feel:

building section1

building section2

online paint colour picker

Why is it that you only stumble across things after you needed them? I wish I'd known about this site when I was looking to choose colours for the Cottage. It lets you create a colour palette online and then order sample pots, colour cards, etc. designerpaints / colour picker

paint colours for Cottage

Dad is going to start preparing for painting the weatherboards on the old cottage at Amherst, so they have greater protection.

He emailed a few days ago while we were still in Savannah to ask us about paint colours:
"I have bought primer undercoat but want to buy the
wattyl solarguard. Talked to the rep at Hudsons and
colours need to be mixed at the point of sale, but
with a volume order he can give a better price than in
dribs and drabs. Your call to tell me the colour of
the weatherboards, and trim"

Dave and I hadn't discussed it but luckily while in Savannah we saw a lovely shade of deep blue that we both liked. So, given the need for a speedy decision, blue it is going to be! The colour we were told was called "haunt blue" and was made originally by mixing indigo with buttermilk. It was used back in the voodoo days to discourage ghosts, something to do with them getting confused with the sky?!? Anyway, it's a lovely colour.

Here's the mix of colours we've settled on:

paint colours

The deep blue is for the weather boards and the very slightly off-white is for the trim. We also picked out two other colours - a deep grey that could work well for accenting with the trim, or for things like shutters, and a sky blue. The sky blue could possibly work as an accent too, but mainly we picked it out to be the colour underneath the verandah.

Here's a picture of a house with similar colours (except the trim is a bit too white), and showing the verandah roof that's our inspiration for using the blue underneath:

blue house for lynette


wrapping trees in blankets

Below are various updates from Mum and Dad about the trees progress, and the huge effort they're putting in up there to protect them from kangaroos, frost, drought, etc. The trees are thriving far more than we'd even dared hope, and it's largely down to our parents efforts. Thank you!!!

Email from Dad (March 12):

Dawn and I spent a huge day yesterday shifting water from the dam and the top tanks and giving the trees along the drive a big drink. I have used 1 1/2 tanks of the potable water and pumped for 3 1/2 hours apx from the dam to leave the olive tree tank full and the watering tank by the house almost full by the end of the day, apx 8 pm.

Where wind protection for the fruit trees was provided, there is tenfold leaf growth. And it is obvious that where the trees have reached height of original tree protectors, without extension, the roos have grazed the tops uniformly on those which did not have a top of shade cloth. On one which is extended, the tree has reached the top of the extended wire and has lovely fresh growth on it and will doubtless continue to outgrow its confines and begin to spread itself. I am relieved that it is patently clear that the young trees have reached into the earth for deep water during this dry spell, and our strategy to not water them much has proved wise indeed.

dad with tree

trees in march 2006

We're going up again for the next Talbot market and I will do some more watering then of the olive grove, which didn't get water this time, and 4 fruit trees and 8 upper driveway trees. I will also put shade cloth on the remaining fruit tree enclosures while there if I feel up to the job.

Email from Mum (March 31):

Dad and I went up thurs morning, got there about 2.30 as we had lunch on the way and had left late. Got some of the trees done, whipped into maryborough for more wire (Dad had thought only about 10 needed doing urgently, but they all did) and came back - did somemore, knocked off a bit before dark - went into Talbot, walked dogs whilst our meal was being got ready. Bed.. and woke early, breakfast and out at work byut about 7.15 when it got light. Worked furiously, left about 5.30

driveway trees

Email from Mum (April 16):

Dad and I went up yesterday (Sat). We did some of the trees when we got there but not a lot, and got tea and were in bed early, asleep by 8pm. Woke early and dozed on and off, ended up late getting up and it was light an hour before we got out there. We got all trees done that we had shade cloth for and finished as planned a little after 3pm....

shadeclothing the trees

trees with shadecloth roofs

We just got home, very tired and sore fingered from wire ties and sore knuckled and handed from the roughness of the shade cloth. We have from memory 16 to do in total still and another 18 or so to do the wrap with but they already have a top on. All wire tops are folded down so they are not hugely above tops of trees so will do some good - a foot or two clearance.

All trees have grown a foot or so since being released from the lower constraining shadecloth.

We plan to go back Tuesday to get the rest done - will buy shadecloth tomorrow, another 50 m or so needed just for the gum trees and then there are a lot of fruit trees to get it done as well - they need it for wind protection.

It has been very cold at nights up there, close to freezing... It ws 0.1 at Coldstream this morning at 6.30am. no wonder I felt so very cold. It was not that bad at Amherst, think it was about 3 there. I think we are getting this tree blanketing done just in time to be honest. Sad they are not going to get so much sun but soon there won't be any anyway. When this lot of shade cloth comes off in about October November - depends on the weather - it will not be going back. I refuse to use a step ladder to put blankets on trees - if you think they need blankets still next winter you two will have to come and do them!

UPDATE: Email from Mum (April 18):

Rest of trees all done including the fruit trees for wind protection. Dad
got an extra 29 metres of shade cloth which was the full amount left on the
roll and we do not have one inch left over. In fact we could perhaps have
done with another couple of inches but made do. If we had cut an overlap or
two shorter earlier we would have been just right - using about 6 inch
overlap early fruit trees (6 total needed wrapping) and the last two were
short but were made to JUST meet.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey house

In the previous post I talked about the houses we visited just outside Washington DC. One of them was the Pope-Leighey house, which is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses. Unlike his other buildings, these houses were designed for the middle classes so were much smaller and more affordable.

I hadn't known what to expect. But figured, as I didn't get a chance to look inside any of his houses in Oak Park except his studio and first house (1890's), it would be interesting to see inside one of the houses he designed later in his career during 1940's.

The Pope Leighey house took my breath away. Just walking down the driveway towards it, it was so beautiful... the wood on the outside blending in with the trees, the glass, just the whole shape. I liked it a thousand times more from the outside than any of his Oak Park homes.

pope leighey house outside (scanned)

The inside was even more spectacular. It was small, yes, but it felt spacious. The lighting, the different ceiling shapes and patterns, the whole symmetry of the place just made it feel very comfortable. So much so that even Dave adored it and we were half jokingly talking about building a replica of it at Amherst. (Not that we need it, but oh, if we ever did need to add another cottage, this would be it).

pope leighey house lounge (scanned)

You can see a lot more great photos of the inside here. The photos don't do it justice though, as they don't capture the feeling of relaxation and comfort it imbues. Also interesting is this article, writing by Mr Pope in 1948 describing his thoughts about the home.

My favourite features included:

***The recessed lights above the dining table

***The carved wood making patterns over the windows - this was the cheaper version of his stained glass windows, and I liked them even better. In fact, I want to do a version of them for shutters at Amherst.

***The two doors in the corner of the dining area that opened out to create a diagonal opening to the back garden.

***The way there were windows everywhere, but you never felt exposed

***The way the kitchen area was separate, and able to be partioned off with concertina doors, but yet part of the main living space if you wanted it to be.

***The glorious concertina doors on the cupboards that were incredibly sturdy by having piano hinges all the way along each bend.

***The cupboard doors in the narrow passage outside the bathroom that opened like flaps from the top, 180 degrees back to lie flat so that they didn't obstruct the walkway if you left them open

***The way the bookshelves had their supports hidden and were in line with the horizontal lines of the panelling

I could go on. It was just an extraordinary house, made even more so by the realisation that all it took was an attention to detail and a care for design, rather than a lot of money or skill to build.

visiting old houses in Washington DC

Last week we spent a day just outside Washington DC. We arrived in Washington in the early evening from London, and left for Savannah the following evening, so decided to spend the day exploring old houses in the region in case we got some more inspiration for Amherst. Despite it pouring with rain the entire time, over the course of 7 hours we visited Mount Vernon, Woodside, Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey house, and Gunston Hall.

Mount Vernon

First up we went to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.


The weather was dreadful, but worst were the crowds even though we got there on a Saturday at 8.30am! We queued for an hour to go on the house tour, where you're shuffled each room with hordes of people and guides going through an ever-repeating spiel. It wasn't possible to properly look at things as there was no room to move which was a pity as there were things I would have liked to see more and ask questions about.

The most interesting thing about it for me was that even though quite Georgian in style, everything was on a much smaller scale than I'm used to seeing in the UK. Not only the rooms, but even the windows were smaller, ceilings lower, staircases narrower, etc. You can do a virtual tour of it here.

My favourite parts included the colonnaded walkway between the main house and the kitchen; the flower garden which had beautiful spring bulbs; the kitchen garden with espaliered trees around the edges of each garden bed.


Woodside Plantation

Next stop was Woodside, about 10-15 minutes drive away.

Refreshingly, this was almost empty, and we had a tour of the main house entirely to ourselves. Even though the house itself wasn't of as much historical significance as Mount Vernon, I enjoyed it a lot more because you could proceed at your own pace and really get a feel for the place.

I didn't like the outside of the house particularly, but there were some interesting things inside. e.g., the bannisters of the stairs are shaped to make it appear like a perfect oval if you view it from the hall, even though this means that as you climb the stairs the handrail gets noticeable lower near the top. One of the bedrooms had two low steps to enter (because the ceiling in the dining room below was higher than other rooms), which created a wonderful feeling of transition. And I learned that Venetian blinds are far far older than I'd realised... even back in 1805 they had them!

Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope Leighey house

This is on the same grounds as Woodside, about 5 minutes walk away. What can I say, this was utterly stunning, took my breath away and so unexpectedly. So much so that it warrants a post of its own.

Gunston Hall

This was described as an "architectural masterpiece" with wonderfully ornate wood carvings by my Lonely Planet guide so I had high hopes. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to them, but then perhaps my standards were unfairly high.

Outside, the house looked quite charming but very small. It was quite extraordinary considering that inside it had at least 6 bedrooms upstairs!


Inside was surprising too but not necessarily in a good way.

I was expecting extraordinary wood carved decorations akin to Grinling Gibbons work at Lyme Park. They were nothing like this. In the main hallway it had some simple but lovely carved molding but it was impossible to properly appreciate because of the hideous wallpaper they'd hung. Huge, bright coloured, busy pattern that kept pulling your eyes to the wallpaper rather than the delicate work. Our guide himself admitted he hated it, he'd much preferred it when the hall was painted a plain colour so you could see the carvings, but the curator had insisted on altering it to try and get closer to "historical accuracy".

There were two formal rooms downstairs. One had weird spike like wood carvings everywhere and was painted a bright yellow mustard colour, with bright chinoiserie style wallpaper. The other had bright blue grotto style cupboards and a giant rococo / palladian / georgian fireplace carving. In both rooms, the furniture was just haphazardly scattered around, supposedly to mirror the time when they had to rush away quickly to escape from robbers.

Weirdly, they both had these big ornate fireplaces with a big framed bit in the middle above the mantle... which was empty! I asked about it as it gave a sense of the rooms being incomplete, something was so obviously missing, and the guide said that yes something would have been there, but because the curator couldn't determine for certain what it was - whether a painting or mirror - for "historical accuracy" she insisted it was left bare! Very odd... although you might not know for certain what was there, you can sure as hell know that something was. It spoilt the experience of the rooms having it bare.

The rest of the house was less bizarre, although one was painted an extremely bright green all over of the likes I'd never seen before.

Overall, I don't quite know what to think about this house. I didn't like it, but it was still interesting even if just to have as a comparison to other places.