Monday, June 9, 2014

The Farnsworth House

Last month we took a trip to Chicago to visit our dear friend Anthony.  He planned the most amazing trip!  We saw so much from the perspective of not just a local but an architect.  The best part was we never felt rushed.  In fact, it was so mellow (albeit in the end exhausting for everyone) that we did a last minute trip out to Plano (an hour outside of Chicago) to see the Farnsworth House.  

We happened to be there on Mother's Day and it was really special to see this great work of architecture with my family.  I knew of the house but have often confused it with the Phillip Johnson Glass House. I didn't know much of it's history or about Dr. Edith Farnsworth, who commissioned the house.  

In a nutshell, what started out as a modest, weekend get away turned into a total nightmare for Dr. Farnsworth.  By the end of the construction the cost had more than doubled and her friendship with Mies van der Rohe was ruined.  So, that's pretty standard in the world of construction;  costs balloon and relationships end.  However, as we were told more and more of the history and I walked through the house and I put myself back in time to the 1950's the more I felt I could "read" between the lines. 

Dr. EDITH Farnsworth.  A female doctor.  A highly successful female doctor in the 1950s. That alone speaks volumes. I can't imagine her success came easy or without a heap  of condescending, sexually infused comments on a daily basis.  She was looking for a tranquil, secluded weekend home to retreat to. She intended to go there often which is why it's relatively close to downtown Chicago. That again speaks volumes. When you see the place you feel it's isolation.  Her work must have been tough and to survive it she needed to get away from people. 

So, she hires Mies van der Rohe, a brilliant well-known architect. The story of how they came to work together is recorded from each of their perspective.  Her's in her diary and his in a court transcript.  They met at a dinner party, that's about the only thing their stories have in common.  It may as well have been two different events.  

There are details in the house that would have angered me terribly if I was the owner.  They almost seem like passive aggressive stabs at Farnsworth, specially for being a woman. Of course this is solely MY opinion and not based on anything said by the docent. Mies didn't set aside an area for Farnsworth to put her clothes. There was no wardrobe space or furniture.  He said she should store them in the kitchen. Can you imagine the kind of wardrobe a successful female doctor has?  Put your Chanel in the kitchen! I can certainly imagine the reaction that would elicit today! 

The longest room or area is the kitchen. And it's so obvious that we had a discussion amongst ourselves about it.  It was as if Mies was saying that's where she belonged. I don't know, it was just odd. Keep in mind the house was never meant for more than one person.  It was never an "entertainers" home.  Why such a large kitchen? 

Mies chose all the furnishing for the house  and only included one lamp.  When she asked how she was suppose to see throughout the house he said she should carry the lamp with her and plug it in wherever she needed. I guess he figured she had nothing better to do that to carry around a lamp.  

Farnsworth took Mies to court. The write ups and gossip surrounding the event are all about her being in love with him and that she was angry the friendship didn't turn into anything more. Or the other option, that she was a scorned lover.   No one thought it was about a house that started out costing $45,000 and ended up costing $90,000.  

I have no personal knowledge of either side's personality.  However, knowing the era and knowing what creatives with egos are like, its as if the house spills its secrets when you walk through it.  

Ok, enough about the drama of the house.  The house is beautiful. The details are exquisite.  The landscape is serene.  The lines of the house flow with the river that runs along side it.  It's pretty cool.  If you are a lover of architecture this has to be on your top 10 list of homes to visit. And here are some pictures!

It's almost a mile walk to get into see the property.  So, if you go wear appropriate footwear. 

Mies took into consideration that the area gets flooded by the river but even so it got flooded just 2 years after completion and several times since. 

Details.  Look at the centering of the beam to the tiles.  

This is the porch. You have to take off your shoes and wear socks to go inside. 

You can't photograph the interiors but you can photograph them from the outside.  I want every single piece of furniture in there! 

Anthony with our wonderful docent.  You can see the kitchen to the left.  

Dave and little G. Cooler dad picture?  I don't think so!

Oh how I love this picture.  My girls and I and amazing architecture. 

How Memento are the next two pictures?  This happened by accident btw.  Dave taking a picture of Anthony's feet going up the stairs while I took a picture of Dave taking a picture. And we took them as they are, one in black and white and the other in color!  Just like Memento!  Ok, I'm geeking out!  

Children were welcomed on the tour.  They were very kind. I think it helps to have a stroller that blends in with the good design.  Hee hee!

One of my favorite photos of the entire trip to Chicago.  Anthony, is an architect.  We've been friends since high school and he's known he's wanted to be an architect since then.  Mies van der Rohe is his favorite but this was his first time at the Farnsworth House.  Very special day for all!

Mies did end up building a wardrobe and entertainment piece for the house.  However, he delivered the piece to Farnsworth under a different name. At that point they were no longer speaking to one another. Mies didn't want another person designing the furniture for the interiors but he knew if he delivered it as his own design Farnsworth wouldn't want it. I only got a picture of the wardrobe side but the other side has a sound system.  The whole things is brilliant.  The sound comes out to you when the doors are open and when they are shut the sound goes up creating a surround sound effect in the entire house.  

This piece is now in a separate building on the property because it's received too much water damage from the numerous floods.  It's here for it's own safety.   

Thursday, June 5, 2014

6235 Lubao: Entrance

I've been looking at Zillow lately.  It's depressing. Not that we're moving but I'm always curious. Most houses in the Los Angeles area, priced in the $500 -900,000 range are very...well, I have to say it: ugly.  It's a clash of architecture styles with no eye for design. I usually have to go on a design blog afterwards to get the taste of ugly out of my mouth!

This house is unique. It already sold and I hope the people who own it now bought it for how amazing it is. It was sold under asking price which is amazing because the owners got a house with the kind of attention to detail only found in homes in the $3-4 million mark.....or in homes designed by their inhabitants who happen to be architects or designers. 

This is the entry.  Same tile from outside to inside really gives it continuity and flow.  Seamless! 

As you walk in, the courtyard is on the right. The frosted glass is completely opaque. You can't see in at all. But if you were sitting on the inside you know someone is there.  Smart detail. 

This is the only house in our three block neighborhood that has a second floor.  The stairs are right in the entry way.  In the rest of our homes with this layout, we have a bathroom where that closet door is now.  

Beautiful floating steps. 

The garage is very smart.  The window in the corner gives it both light and ventilation, both of which are always welcomed in a garage space. The far west wall has tons of storage. I love that there is again both light and air coming in over that wall with the way the beams descend. Without those two details for added light and air the garage would feel very enclosed.  Smart details when you consider how many chemicals we store in garages with warnings like "open in a well ventilated area". 

 This is what the above wall looks like from the outside. 

 Another smart detail, the ramp to take the garbage cans in and out.  On the other side of the gate in front of P is where the cans stay during the week. There is easy access to them from the kitchen...the one place where you are constantly taking garbage out of!  Smart placement. And then on garbage day it's an easy roll to the street. This kind of detail, so stylishly done is only found in expensive homes!  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

6235 Lubao. The bedrooms.

Finally, here are the bedrooms for the house on Lubao!

 I love the simplicity of the door molding.  Dying to take ours off and make it simple!

Great built ins and I love that you can open the closet entirely.  No sliding back and forth! You can have full access to your entire wardrobe with the folding doors. 

I'm not sure if this is a style of the era or one of his designs but what a great way to make the space feel bigger. The door looks taller while making a space for the AC vent.

So many homes in this area have had the windows shortened and it kills the space. These floor to ceiling windows make the bedrooms feel bigger and open. 

Another detail I found interesting was the height of the light switches. They're lower than the standard height today.  I like them lower. If you notice they are at the same height as the door handles making the overall look cleaner. 

This is the master bedroom. Again, great built ins.  The spot lights into the closet are brilliant. The wattage was dim which I imagine is perfect for when you need to turn on the lights in the dark while your spouse is sleeping.  Otherwise the natural light in the room is perfect for picking clothes out. And the hanging pendants are also perfect and brilliant. 

Great pendants! I want something similar in our room.....Not the style per say but the elegance of zero visible wiring with hanging pendants. 
Master bedroom sliding door to the garden and door to the master bath.

Built ins!  Simple. Elegant. Storage without cluttering with furniture. 

This is a horrible picture but it was the best I could do and I wanted to show you all this great tub with a view. Although in my house I'd have two little girls on the other side smooching their noses up to the glass if they knew I was realizing in the tub.  

This detail above the tub window is so smart. It lets air in and out which I feel in a bathroom is key. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Google Yourself

Ever Google yourself?  If I Google my maiden name vs my married name it's as if I Googled two different people.  It's a little weird. It's also fun to Google map your own home.  This is what shows up if you Google us now.  The picture has to be from at least a year ago.  Dave has a different Prius, our house isn't painted, the front yard is freshly done and the side yard still has the grasses.  It doesn't feel like much has changed in the last year and a half but then I look at this and I see we've been busy.  I guess these would be considered a #tbt, if there was a Facebook for homes. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


...just fixing a blind so it rolls again feels like a giant accomplished. I was on the phone with a friend when I started looking at how I could take it apart.  I got mad multi-tasking skills! Opening the blinds and windows first thing in the morning makes me feel alive and ready to start the day! This was big on my to-do list!  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Summer is Here!

It hit 100 degrees last week! The shade sails went up!  Dave and the girls were in the pool three times yesterday!  Summer is officially here!

I feel like I'm in a new house! The house debuted it's new stucco and paint back in October, but I hadn't really experienced the house outside in summer until this past weekend.  For example, I've never taken a picture of the girls in the pool from the angle above.  The walls looked so ugly I never even bothered.  But now I am happy, and dare I say proud, of how our back yard looks. I can't even show a before and after because I have no befores!  The only thing close are here or here

It's going to be a great summer! We have more plans for the backyard!  I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

6235 Lubao: courtyard and kitchen

The house has a beautiful courtyard adjacent to the den, the garage and a breakfast nook area.  The fourth wall/boundry is frosted glass and makes up part of the entry way path.  

We left off with the backyard. This is a picture I posted before. The sliding glass door on the right has the breakfast nook on the other side of it. 
This is a view in through the sliding glass door. The kitchen in on the right and the breakfast area is on the left. You can see the brick that carries through from the outside all the way to the courtyard. 

And this is the reverse view looking out. 

As I mentioned before, my girls were with me so you'll see them quite often in these pictures.  So now here you can see the sliding glass door to the right leads outside. The door where my daughter with the purple hat is standing, leads to the courtyard and my youngest is in the kitchen.  The bright overhead light in the kitchen is a skylight. The skylight was an add-on Rudy designed. None of the other homes originally designed by Krisel have skylights.  I love the transition of these spaces.  And remember Rudy had an herb garden right outside the door that goes outside. How amazing to pick your basil for pesto sauce right outside your kitchen door?! You can even do it in your slippers because you're not trampling through an entire muddy garden. 

Here in this picture you can really see the brick leading all the way through from the courtyard to the breakfast nook and it continues past the other door/window. 

The courtyard made the entire house feel zen.  There was another couple looking at the house when I was taking pictures and I heard them mention a few times how calming this space made the house. The choice of plants and stones was perfect of course. On the other side of the frosted glass wall is the entry to the house.  

This door to the garage provides a short cut directly into the kitchen. I thought it was so brilliant for when you come home fully loaded with groceries!  

This kitchen is so well designed. Remember this was done in the 70's. Look how well it translates into 2014. It fits with the era of the house while still looking modern.  I love the details like this pull out cutting board. I've seen these in many kitchens including my childhood home, but the boards are always rather small.  This one is nice and big.  Another detail not missed!  

Ok, thats it for today but more pictures to come!