Design snapshot: PEM historic arched-top tall windows

I was back in Salem, Mass. over the weekend for a photo shoot (updating the KHS website) and stopped by my favorite room in the upper level of East India Marine Hall at the Peabody Essex Museum. Constructed in 1825 to house artifacts collected by the East India Marine Society from beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, the Hall's original architect is currently unknown.

The height and shape of the windows in combination with their arrangement and glazing pattern make a striking impression. Despite their towering size, I believe the windows are single-hung. The surrounding trim emphasizes the windows' shape much as eye liner calls even greater attention to the eyes they trace. The windows' reflections on the floor are not to be overlooked, nor the different types of glass that form the window panes. I don't know if the original design called for the use of different glass types, but the result creates a somewhat abstract collage-like more modern effect.

The airy daylight in this grand space inspires most visitors to lower their voices and stand in admiration of the space before venturing to the rooms edges to look at the artifacts housed there. It's a must see/must experience if you find yourself at the PEM.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Monday, July 13, 2015 at 1:23PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

A Newport Secret Garden

Thought I'd share one of the sweet secret gardens from this year's tour in the Point neighborhood of Newport. I'm always impressed with the many and varied layers of interest the homeowners of these secret gardens are able to pack into a small space. This one, like others on the annual self-guided spring Secret Garden Tour in Newport, takes advantage of the placement of outbuildings and fences relative to the footprint of the main house to create a compelling outdoor room. Like many of the houses in my upcoming book The New Small House, this compact garden provides delightful additional season living space.

The Tour is also a great opportunity for an idjit gardener, such as myself, to learn about new plants, shrubs and trees and in what conditions they thrive. I always add the common names of new favorites to a notepad (on my phone, these days), so I can consider them for my garden next planting season. The Secret Garden Tours also offer a fall tour in different areas of Newport that you might want to mark on your calendar now. I haven't been on one of the fall tours yet, but maybe this fall will be the year to start another annual tradition. Funds from the Newport Secret Garden Tours go towards enhancing arts education and cultural programs in Aquidneck Island's public schools.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

KHS work-in-progress: Touisset small-house renovation/addition

With this post I'm starting a new category at House Enthusiast where I'll share "KHS work-in-progress". I posted some exterior and interior progress photos of this project over the winter in a "New-Small-House book tidbit" about transformation. Now the Touisset small-house renovation/addition is nearing substantial completion.

This is a kitchen/dining/family area addition off a c. 1910 ish cottage bungalow. We designed it to resemble an enclosed porch inside and out, though it's new construction. Windows wrap three sides and a cathedral ceiling with mahogany beams give it a porch-like quality. Daylight is shared by each of the overlapping kitchen/dining/family spaces and the increased ceiling height allows the various spaces to feel larger than the sum of their parts.

Because windows line the counter work surface there are no overhead cabinets and therefore no undercabinet lights, so to provide task lighting, low-voltage cable lights stretch between beams. Tall cabinets, not seen to the right, provide storage for items that would otherwise have occupied overhead cabinets. A sliver of the built-in banquette is visible beyond the shaker-style cabinets and soapstone counters. The banquette and the built-in bench adjacent to the stair provide discreet locations for intimate gathering and slight remove from activity elsewhere in the space. A new gas heating stove is yet to be installed on the other side of bar-counter wall. The existing stair to the right, which used to run along the exterior wall of the house, now opens into the addition and sports a new guardrail on the addition side of the stair which plays off the existing square baluster design of the original guardrail on the other side of the stair.

Southern yellow heart pine floors tie the addition into the existing home and a family of industrial-inspired light fixtures with smoked glass and exposed filament bulbs provide cohesive warm accents throughout the kitchen/dining/family area. This multipurpose space offers a variety of spatial experiences for a variety of activities which will allow it to live larger.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 6:10PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Summer 2015 New England garden tours

We're in luck, WBUR's The ARTery has compiled some upcoming New England garden tours for us again this summer. I plan to attend, at minimum, the Newport Secret Garden Tour June 26-28. Browse The ARTery listing to see if there's a tour or two you can catch this season. It's a delightful way to spend an afternoon, and an invaluable learning opportunity for this idjit gardener.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 10:06AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Juror for the AIA Connecticut Alice Washburn 2015 Award 

I had the pleasure of serving on the jury for the Alice Washburn Award at the Connecticut chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) last week. The award is co-sponsored by Connecticut Magazine and recognizes "the thoughtful and delightful adaptation of tradition to address 21st century needs" in houses and accessory buildings. It's named for Alice Washburn who designed numerous Colonial Revival-style houses in Connecticut near her Cheshire home in the 1920s. The 2015 award winner will be published in an upcoming issue of Connecticut Magazine, so I won't let the cat out of the bag. 

I was particularly taken by the breadth and quality of the submissions in the accessory-building category; there were some real charmers ranging from several small curiosities to a vast specialized structure. I'm not sure if the winner in the accessory-building category will be part of the Connecticut Magazine story, but if it isn't, I'll be sure to link to the winning accessory building here at House Enthusiast.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 9:03AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off
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