Category: Fireplaces

A Brief Recap of Historical American Home Design

According to Vincent Scully, Jr., in his book American Architecture and Urbanism, a defining characteristic of the American built landscape has been the tension between two competing forces. While the apparently limitless all-natural landscape created a desire to keep moving, to learn what was beyond that forest and over that mountain, a countervailing yearning to stay rooted in 1 spot also took record. Our built environment has been an outward expression of our anxiety about leaving the security, security and familiarity of home when we can not help but follow the dictum”Go West, young man.”

This duality has been expressed in many ways in the design of the houses. From an emphasis on flat continuity anchored by a vertical totem to our fascination with the RV (even if it’s tethered into a parking space), we want the illusion that we can get up and proceed at any moment while having the security of being attached and adjusted into a home. It’s not surprising that our national pastime is baseball, the 1 sport where scoring is attained exclusively by leaving and returning home.

So let’s take a look at the way American house layout has expressed and tried to resolve this tension — what may happen when the realization hits that the trend of growth is changing.

Daniel Contelmo Architects

Even in the colonial era, a stress on the flat line was a defining characteristic of home layout. Design features like placing horizontally proportioned upper-story dividers tight into the eave with constant sill trim below bolstered this nascent horizontal expression.

While most houses of this age, especially those in New England, put the mass of the chimney in the center of the home, there was likewise a trend, especially in the mid-Atlantic and South, to put the chimneys in the sides. In the latter instance, all of the horizontal motion is contained and stopped, especially with vertical components like pilasters at the corners.

The tension between wanting to stretch out and break free while being hauled in position is clearly evident.

Between Naps on the Porch

The houses of 19th-century America had a linear aesthetic, despite the era’s predilection for revivals. Home designers could not help but weave all of those horizontal themes and trim into the layout when faced with inherently vertical fashions like that of the second empire. Therefore the towers, mansards and vertical factors are held in check with a ribbon of trim that weaves in and out to deny this perpendicular.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

Obviously, it was the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and the other Prairie School architects to resolve — or exploit the tension caused by the duality between horizontal and vertical. While creating homes that seem to float on the property and in which each design decision serves to accentuate the flat, even Wright could not help but create this massive central vertical anchor that firmly roots the house to its location.

Dick Clark + Associates

Yet the homegrown Prairie School dropped from grace, as transplanted Europeans like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius introduced International design to America.

But we Americans altered that style to suit our character. Therefore it was not the idealized modernism of Le Corbusier but versions that were more linear and stretched, more expressions of growth and not as much of Europe’s urbanism.

Home layout took on a new kind as a result of a car-dominated culture that celebrated the freedom of the open road. Relaxed, casual, distribute throughout the landscape, the brand new ranch-style house gave expression to the expansiveness of the soul. And as the desire to be rooted at a location gave way to increasing mobility, the perpendicular totem no longer appeared.

Butler Armsden Architects

As a result, variations of this ranch house fill the U.S. landscape from east to west and Canada into Mexico. This ranch house, sitting on its horizontal lot with all the ocean in front and the mountains behind, is a full expression of the American dream and the California lifestyle.

Princeton Architectural Press

Occasionally a home can take on the characteristics of the Conestoga wagon and Airstream trailer, ready to pick up and move whenever the owner’s tires of this area.

However, what happens when ever-increasing advancement means less space to build and explore?

Union Studio, Architecture & Community Design

Perhaps then we have a critical look in taming the auto. And while we are at itwe could build communities as opposed to developments. Places where we still have the single-family home, but this time it’s built for sustainability and efficiency. These areas could be, after all, more in tune with the agrarian ideal that’s been at the core of our built environment for centuries.

More: Back into the Future of this House

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8 Influential Home Design Trends for 2012

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) annually conducts its Best in American Living Awards (BALA). These awards, open to contractors and design professionals, acknowledge that fantastic design “is not and shouldn’t be restricted to high-priced and custom homes.”

The NAHB uses these design awards to search for upcoming trends for new house design. This past year the jurors identified eight layout trends that will have an impact on new house designs in 2012 and into the future.

When speaking about these tendencies at the International Builders Show, held in February in Orlando, Florida, BALA jurors Heather McCune, Mark Kiner and Victor Mirontshuk all noted that new home layout is significantly better now than simply a few years back. Unlike in the recent boom years, when just about anything constructed was sold, strong competition in the current market is forcing all builders to improve dwelling layout.

A better house with an eye on the future. Now that is what I predict better living.

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 1: classic yet modern. The new homes with strong sales now are those that blend modern and traditional elements to create cleaner and simpler elevations. Interior spaces are clean, bright and easy. Gone are the generous and detailing ornamentation of the past.

This endeavor: Gold Award, One-of-a-Kind Home, 4,001–6,500 square feet
Private residence, Chicago
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: Kenneth Brinkman, Chicago
• Builder/Developer: Environs Development, Inc., Chicago
• Interior Designer: Amy May, Environs Development, Chicago

Photo by Herbie Rooprai

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 2: exterior spaces as an extension of living room. Whether to get a single-family house or a multifamily building, house buyers are looking for private outdoor spaces that blend seamlessly with the indoors. This trend cuts across geographic regions, being as accurate in the colder regions of the country as in the warmer, milder areas.

This endeavor: Platinum Award, Detached House around 2,000 square feet
Siena at Laguna Altura, Irvine, California
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: Bassenian | Lagoni, Newport Beach, California
• Builder: Irvine Pacific, Irvine, California
• Interior Designer: Austin Johnson Interiors, Irvine, California
• Developer: Irvine Company, Irvine, California
• Land Planner: Irvine Company, Irvine, California

Photo by Eric Figge

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 3: good, cost-effective designs. To keep construction costs low, we will see multiple roof lines and complexity give way to simplified forms. Gone is the “bursting roof” design paradigm to its simple gable roof and rectangular form. Innovative and creative methods to layouts, storage, curb appeal and so on will be established in the early design stage to make sure that the new designs don’t become boring.

This endeavor: Gold Award, Single-Family Detached Home, 2,001–3,000 square feet
Hampton Lane Plan 2, San Diego
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, California
• Builder/Developer: Pardee Homes, Los Angeles
• Land Planner: Project Design Consultants, San Diego
• Interior Merchandiser: Citrine Interior Design, Whittier, California

Photo by Robb Miller Photography

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 4: the family triangle. It was that open floor plans have been limited to certain geographical areas and buyer profiles. The open floor plan is desired throughout the country and by every industry segment. The older living room was replaced by a flexible space that could be used as necessary while still being near the family room. The jurors noted that these new open plans rely on light and detail to give a sense of spaciousness rather than simply being large.

This endeavor: Platinum Award, Interior Design, Kitchen
Brownstones of Brambleton, Ashburn, Virginia
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: Lessard Design, Inc., Reston, Virginia
• Builder: Miller and Smith, Mclean, Virginia
• Interior Designer: Carlyn and Company, Great Falls, Virginia
• Developer: Brambleton Group, LLC, Brambleton, Virginia
• Land Planner: Parker Rodriguez, Alexandria, Virginia

Photo by Jim Kirby Photography

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 5: multigenerational living. Whether it is because more are kids returning home after school or more parents are moving in with the family, multigenerational homes are rising in popularity. In fact, 1 study indicated that the construction of such homes has jumped 30 percent in the past few years.

So if they create “lock-off” units, two master suites (one up and one down) or even another sort of area, builders are recognizing the increased need for these types of homes and planning to them in their designs. Amenities such as wider hallways, elevators, grab bars and so forth are becoming the norm.

This endeavor: Silver Award, Green-Built Home
KB Home GreenHouse, Orlando, Florida
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: KB Home Architecture, Los Angeles
• Builder/Developer: KB Home, Orlando, Florida
• Interior Designer: KB Home and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Los Angeles and New York

Photo by James F. Watson

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 6: Kitchen entertaining using a view. Kitchens continue to be without a doubt the center of the house. But with square footage being trimmed, designers are having to create innovative solutions for storage and functional needs. There is also a growing use of large windows to keep the kitchen light, airy and bright so that it can live large. The loss of wall area for cabinetry is composed with walk-in pantries (dubbed the “Costco Closet”), in which it is not unusual to obtain the (messy) kitchen table concealed from view.

This endeavor: Silver Award, One-of-a-Kind Home over 6,501 square-foot
Private home, Bluffton, South Carolina
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: Hansen Architects P.C., Savannah, Georgia
• Builder: JT Turner Construction, Savannah, Georgia
• Interior Designer: Hansen Architects P.C., Savannah, Georgia
• Developer: Crescent Resources, Bluffton, South Carolina

Photo by Elaine Fultz

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 7: green design components that customers know and want. Buyers expect a certain level of green components in their homes now. Items that are somewhat familiar, reduce operating costs and are simple to use are the most popular.

This endeavor: Silver Award, Green-Built Home
KB Home GreenHouse, Orlando, Florida
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: KB Home Architecture, Los Angeles
• Builder/Developer: KB Home, Orlando, Florida
• Interior Designer: KB Home and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Los Angeles and New York

Photo by James F. Watson

National Association of Home Builders

Design fad no. 8: much less soil development, more focus on multifamily. The tendency is to smaller developments and infill properties using a proximity to transport and other conveniences. A mixture of housing types and buyer profiles is clear to ensure that households across generations can live near one other. Less emphasis is now placed on the importance of an auto, as buyers wish to reside in walk-to-everything communities.

This endeavor: Finest in Region, Pacific Northwest
Legacy at Riverpark Apartments, Redmond, Washington
Project Team:
• Architect/Designer: EDI International, Houston
• Builder: Legacy Partners Residential, Inc., Mercer Island, Washington
• Interior Designer: Robin Chell Design, Seattle
• Developer: Legacy Partners Residential Development, Seattle
• Land Planner: Tiscareno Associates (Master Plan Architect), Seattle

Photo by Vicaso

More: The Case for Cautious Optimism

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Give Your Space a Leg Up

Some individuals are so taken by means of a chair’s seat base or back or a table’s smooth surface they completely forget to look at what is supporting the entire structure. Short and slender or muscular and towering, the ideal table or chair leg can truly add that extra oomph into a space. Have a look at those gorgeous examples and collect ideas about how best to bridge function and fun at your home by selecting the most appropriate furniture leg to your area.

Marla Schrank Interiors

Complement and contrast with wood. These Cherner pub stool legs provide just the ideal amount of curve and contrast to the angular floating cabinets and kitchen countertop surface. “The Cherner chairs mention the organic world in both form and substance. Their glistening brown color and feminine stance appeal to the eye and also juxtapose from the masculine traces of the kitchen island,” says home stager Robin DeCapua.

The curves of the tanned stool legs also echo the curves of the ceramic vases and headboard crystal. From that standpoint the stools look like three women along with their backs turned, standing side by side. “The curves and streamlined nature of the wood add a feeling of lightness into the room and match the hard lines of the modern kitchen,” says interior designer Allison Jaffe.

Echo parts of the space. In this area, the dining table’s curved leg shape speaks into the conventional paneling and decorative molding in interior designer Mikel Irastorza’s bright and lofty apartment. “Pairing the dining table with new, white contemporary chairs makes the space sing. Even though the other components in the space speak eloquent contemporary, the table does a lot of the heavy compositional lifting by yanking the space together,” states DeCapua.

jamesthomas Interiors

Throw in a few spins . This oenophile’s tasting package is full of lines and right angles: Just take note of the storage racks, Philippe Starck Kong Barstool thighs and sliding balcony door framework. What better way to contrast this angular and modern space than using the accession of a twisted cocktail table? Its twisted shape and weather-beaten look add an entirely new shape to the otherwise sleek suite.

Emily McCall

Take a curvy shape. This warm and airy dining area is predominantly rustic and vintage in style. But instead of adding more lines into the room by means of wooden chairs or chairs, or by pairing the dining table with upholstered seats, contemporary Panton chairs were utilized by the homeowner, adding whimsy and a touch of playfulness into the room.

DeCapua reminds us that”too many straight legs leaves a room start to resemble a picket fence.” Take heed and throw your space a curve every now and then.

Catherine Cleare

Remove visual interruptions. The use of Lucite chair and seat legs retains the visual plane in this area from being interrupted and enables the distinct white and blue pattern scales to shine.

The Clear Choice: Lucite Chairs

DKOR Interiors Inc.- Interior Designers Miami

In this living space, the Lucite coffee table gives the illusion of a floating java table and reveals a patterned carpet without developing a visual disturbance.

Add stability using a stylish stump. Consider surrounding a huge trunk base with chairs that provide contrast. In this contemporary dining area, the Ferruccio Laviana UFO oval dining table is encompassed by Saarinen armchairs; the skinny, tubular steel legs of the contemporary chairs lessen the heavy visual weight of the hefty table base.

Modern Icons: Saarinen’s Executive Chair

Elad Gonen

Create an illusion. A three-legged dining table with just two legs, the Noguchi table adds a sculptural and illusory effect for this perfectly styled and polished midcentury-modern living area. At a space where all the other furniture legs are directly and predictably come in fours, the free-form sculptural base legs of the iconic, tasteful low table seem to beg everyone to not take themselves too seriously.

Six Tips for Choosing the Fantastic Sofa
10 Things to Consider when Deciding on a Coffee Table

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10 New Appears for Fireplaces in Older Homes

Living in the Midwest, we utilize our fireplace a good deal in the winter. A glowing hearth can add such warmth to a room, both literally and figuratively. This really is a bonus in an old home with quite old windows that allow out quite a bit of valuable warmth in the winter.

In most older homes like my very own, the living area is centered around the fireplace, mechanically placing your mantel as the focal point within the room. Finishing and accessorizing your fireplace and mantel can completely alter the atmosphere in a room you probably spend most of your time — if it is fireplace season or maybe not.

Julie Williams Design

At times it seems there isn’t anyplace else for the TV to go except above the mantel. I’m sure the first owners of our old homes could never imagine such a thing, but now it is common and can be carried out in a way that doesn’t detract from the room’s decor. The dark paint on the woodwork can help to disguise the TV better than if it had been painted white like the shelves.

See more on where to put the TV

Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B

This Craftsman-style fireplace is extremely popular in 1920s and 1930s bungalows. This chamber has a contemporary approach that starts with the tile surrounding the fireplace. The rest of the room pulls in the deep browns and caramel colors found in the tile.

Judith Balis Interiors

This is a very different way to dress up a Craftsman-style fireplace. Talk about glam! The bold colors and the striped couch are meant to be paired with that mirror. Also, notice how the fireplace just seems to blend into the decoration. Since black is utilized throughout the plan, the fireplace doesn’t look overly heavy but still seems to anchor the space.

Emily Ruddo

This fireplace mantel blends into the background. The colour closely matches the wall color, while bright accessories top the mantel and bold fabrics draw your attention away in the fireplace. This may be a fantastic way to use when your fireplace isn’t functional but still acts as a fixture in the room.

Kathleen Ramsey

I like the grey tones used in this tile. The mantel was painted in one of those darker hues, which makes it a little more dramatic than if it was painted lighter. The accessories and artwork are kept simple and neutral.

Mark English Architects, AIA

Brick fireplaces are common in older homes. If brick isn’t your style, just paint it. This painted white brick lightens a space already saturated in colour and gives your eyes a break. Without making the mantel busy straightforward accessories provide height.

Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab

The owners have left this beautiful timber mantel in its first state. So many older mantels are painted, so we never see their first glory. Even though the mantel appears very conventional, a patterned tile is utilized that’s echoed in the varied bold prints of the carpet and the ottoman. This chamber proves you can have a conventional finish but combine it with bold, fresh patterns.


Modern art with this fireplace pairs well with the more traditional decoration to maintain the room feeling upgraded.

Kevin Kelly Interiors

This mantel is dressed with an oversized mirror with a scale that matches the height of the ceiling. This helps draw up the eyes to that gorgeous crown molding that’s frequently found in older homes. And did you observe the whimsical larger-than-life lamp in the corner?

Julia Ryan

This is a notion that we’re considering doing in our formal living room. You can extend your fireplace by adding ornaments to the ceiling and painting it the same colour. This creates a great backdrop for art and would suit board and batten or trimming already on your own space. The bottom ledge offers a wonderful place for decoration. Many men and women use a candelabra in a fireplace when it is not being used, but the plate and also books have a more eclectic and contemporary feel.

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Guest Groups: Talkin' Turkey

Whether you’re novice or a specialist, whether it’s your very first turkey or your 50th, we need your main dish this Thanksgiving to be among the record books. There are particular essentials you need to cook the perfect turkey, and we’ve gathered 20 of our favorite products which we believe are must-haves for paying honor to the celebrity of this table this holiday season.

Heather and Vanessa from In the Picket Fence

Pottery Barn

Bountiful Turkey Serving Platter – $79

We can’t think of a beautiful way to present the crown jewel of this Thanksgiving feast compared to with this gorgeous platter. The colours catch the gist of harvest year, and we would love to get this gracing our tables this year.


Rachael Ray Red Open Roaster with V-Shape Rack – $59.99

A roaster may be a Thanksgiving essential, however they do not have to cost a arm and a leg. We adore this beautiful reddish version from the Rachael Ray set at Target.

Big Chill

Big Chill Retro Stove, Cherry Red | Big Chill – $4,295

If the turkey is the celebrity of Thanksgiving, the oven is where the conversion occurs. In our dream world, this reddish variety would have us speaking turkey daily.


“Thanksgiving” Cookbook – $15.95

We can practically smell this turkey! The cover of this beautiful cookbook is simply a sampling of all the wonderful recipes and tips you’ll find inside. Take your time to pore over every page and revel in planning for this particular period of collecting together.


Apple & Spices Turkey Brine – $18

Using a brine can be a great way to add flavor to your bird. We love this mix, which has all the ingredients that you need to take the guesswork from brining.

Acorn Twine Holder | Williams Sonoma – $29.95

This is the way you shop kitchen twine in fashion. The acorn shape captures all the best of autumn, and we would have to keep it on our counters yearlong. We just love the way the smooth end of this alder wood turns this functional kitchen item to a work of art.


Cuisipro® Dual Baster and Flavor Injector – $10

We definitely belong to the “turkey basting” camp. After all, who needs dry turkey? This fantastic baster serves two purposes, basting and injecting flavor, for the perfect turkey every time.


Hamilton Beach Electric Roaster Oven – $79.95

Just say no more stuffing — your oven, which is. We love the notion of freeing up much-needed oven space by using this stainless steel, electrical countertop roaster to cook your turkey.


Turkey Fryer – 3 in 1 Multi-Use – $59

Turkey? Good. Fried? Good. Fried Turkey? Yes, please! You won’t need to be worried about a crispy coating once you use this 3-in-1 turkey fryer. We have it on good authority that guys adore fried turkey.


All-Clad Instant Read Digital Thermometer – $39.95

Maintaining its temperature might not be the most glamorous part of cooking the bird, but it is undoubtedly the most important. So why not take it in fashion? We adore this sleek digital meat thermometer for taking the guesswork out of getting the meat just perfect.


Rococo Potholder – $12

It is possible to pull your turkey from the oven or fryer in style with these gorgeous cotton bud holders. We think they’d be perfect for the entire holiday season.

Food Network Store

Sili Gourmet Oval Turkey Lifter – $34.95

For an alternate to heaving that turkey from the roaster, how about utilizing this Sili Sling Lifter? We love that you can actually roast the turkey directly on it and then lift it from the pan. Sounds a lot less messy to us!

Mountain Woods

Acacia Turkey/Roasted Meat Serving Board – $34.95

We adore the dual purpose of this acacia wood carving board. One side is smooth for everyday cutting, but the opposite surface includes deep grooves for amassing the liquids from the leafy greens, preventing messy counters.


Electric Knife – $49.95

It’s rated one of the best by Good Housekeeping which makes it a winner in our book! If you prefer to carve your turkey up before it strikes the dinner table, we think this electric carving knife can fetch you the perfect slices every time.

Food Network Store

Knuckle Sandwich Guy Fieri Carving Set (2-pc.) – $89.95

You won’t have any more trouble convincing the man in your life to split up the turkey with this Guy Fieri carving set. He can slice that turkey up like a rock star fighter.


Fat Separator – 4 Cup – $14.99

Nobody needs a greasy gravy. We think the heat-resistant OXO fat separator is the perfect instrument for straining off the fat for perfect gravy every moment.

Pottery Barn

Antique-Silver Gravy Boat – $39

We adore the timeworn patina of the vintage-style engraved gravy boat. It’s a great new addition to your table with the look of a traditional family room.

Cost Plus World Market

Turkey Serving Dishes – $7.99

Don’t leave your side dishes from this turkey talk! Mound your stuffing and mashed potatoes in those domed, covered serving dishes. They are pretty enough to maneuver around the table.


Storage Bowls With Clear Lids – $19.95

We love to send our guests home with leftover turkey — when there is one. These clear glass storage bowls make the great take-home containers.


If all else fails, you can always buy one of those fabulous precooked-to-perfection turkeys. Scatter the above mentioned products around your kitchen and also pass this yummy mail-order bird away as your own. Your secret is safe with us!

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