Entries in reading reviews (14)

Book recommendation: At Home in New England: Royal Barry Wills Architects 1925 to Present

cover image courtesy of amazon.comI think I should probably change the name of this category to "Reading wish list", since, once again, I'm going to comment on a book I haven't yet held or read.

I was late to learn of Royal Barry Wills, a New England architect who launched his practice in 1925 and went on to win the National Gold Medal for a small-house design in Herbert Hoover's 1932 National Better Homes Competition. In his heyday, Wills penned several well-received books including Houses for Good Living, Better Houses for Budgeteers, and Living on the Level: One-Story Houses, among others. He was perhaps best known for his Cape-style house designs which were 1920's, 30's, and 40's interpretations of the traditional Cape Cod cottage. As architecture approached the mid-century modernist era, Royal Barry Wills's modest, straightforward, highly livable, traditionally-inspired residential designs were not in vogue with the architectural establishment but were beloved by the middle and upper-middle class homeowners who commissioned them or dreamed of commissioning them. 

While reading up on Royal Barry Wills, I was delighted to discover that Wills was a friend of Samuel Chamberlain (previously mentioned in House Enthusiast here), another champion of the Cape Cod cottage. Chamberlain is quoted on the Royal Barry Wills Associates, Inc. website as writing in 1937, "'No sham or pretense gives a false note to the true Cape Cod cottage. They are genuine, honest and sedate. They have no need to assert themselves like newcomers anxious to im­press, for they have been a part of the American scene for centuries. Decidedly, they are not a pass­ing mood of the moment, despite their current popularity.'"

The same could perhaps be said of the Cape-style house in the 21st century. And, indeed, the firm, now helmed by sole principal Richard Wills (son of Royal Barry Wills), appears to continue reinterpreting the Cape Cod cottage, as well as other traditional house forms, for contemporary living. I understand that it's these newer homes, from the past decade, which mostly populate At Home in New England: Royal Barry Wills Architects 1925 to Present. But, admittedly, my interest will turn more to the homes designed by the firm's founder. Nonetheless, it sounds like a monograph sure to capture the interest of New England house enthusiasts. It's certainly on my wish list.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 10:51AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

House gift book

I was going to write about several widely distributed, somewhat recently released, house books, so that you might add them to your holiday gift list. I was thinking of highlighting Deborah Needleman's The Perfectly Imperfect Home and Diane Keaton's House -- both pleasant diversions, but instead, I want to share with you a small-press offering: House and Home, an OrangeArt Miniature. It's a tiny 3-1/4" x 4-1/2" letterpress original by Darrell & Elisabeth Hyder of The Sun Hill Press.

It's full of sunny and/or pithy house-related quotations and intermittent tiny sketches, all bound between faded-blue, house-plan end papers. Within its pages find insight like Frank Lloyd Wright's "No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other." And quips like Joan Didion's, "You have to pick the places you don't walk away from." And heart felt sentiment like Mark Twain's, "[Our house] had a heart, and a soul...we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace..."

Pick up a copy, where OrangeArt Miniature's are distributed, to savor the rest of House and Home's wisdom.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 7:22PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Reading musings: Easy Edible Garden

Broccoli I grew in last season's idjit, square-foot garden. (Who knew that broccoli blooms if not harvested in a timely fashion? Not this idjit gardener who thought the flowers were pretty.)I picked up Sunset's Easy Edible Garden special-interest-publication at my local supermarket when I was shopping hungry. You probably know better than to shop hungry, but, sometimes, it can't be helped. The Easy Edible Garden title and cover shot of a breezy, mozzarella, mixed-tomato, and basil salad appealed to both my appetite and my idjit gardening skills.

Inside Easy Edible Garden, I found a fount of accessible gardening information for the gardening-challenged (my term, and a more PC way to describe idjit gardeners such as myself). There's a section about different garden bed sizes and styles suitable for the urban, suburban, or rural gardener -- complete with basic, edible plant recommendations. And, best of all, there's a lengthy section which focuses on 20 of the "easiest veggies, fruits, and herbs you can grow -- and dozens of delicious ways to enjoy them." The recipes are the clincher. They're always my favorite part of Sunset magazine. (I know, I know, it's a west-coast magazine, and I'm a New Englander, but who couldn't benefit from a touch of the other coast? Plus, fresh edibles are fresh edibles.)

I'm looking forward to using some of this season's idjit-garden bounty in "Cilantro chicken," "Sauteed Swiss chard with pancetta," and "Spicy eggplant, pork, and tofu stir fry" -- among other Easy Edible Garden recipes. Pick up your copy on newsstands before May 18.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 11:29AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in , | Comments Off

Lou Ureneck's Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine

cover image courtesy of amazon.com.Here I go again, commenting on a book I’ve neither held nor read. I have, however, read its inspiration. Like New England Icons by Bruce Irving, which is based on articles written by the book’s author, Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine by Lou Ureneck took inspiration from the author’s blog "From the Ground Up" on The New York Times website. 

There, Ureneck wrote, for example, about the intrinsic charm of his cabin’s structure: “For me, a timber frame is poetry made manifest in wood. I love the way the timbers fit together, tenon inside mortise, to make a snug joint; and I love the way the structure stands against the sky, shoulders squared and strong enough to shelter those who dwell inside it for centuries.” So, if you followed the blog, even intermittently, you, too, have some sense of Cabin.

“From the Ground Up” caught my attention in late 2008 initially because my book concept Small Retreats, Backyard and Beyond had been “killed” by its intended publisher a few months earlier. I, like Ureneck, imagined many folks could appreciate the simple pleasure of a small place of one’s own, especially when times are tough. I may have even sent a link to Ureneck’s blog to my former publisher in hopes of bolstering my case that there was in fact an audience for writing about small retreats.

Now, Ureneck’s memoir -- about the restorative powers of building a cabin and, in the process, building relationships and peace of mind -- has found its way to the shelves. For further insight into the book, check out the WBUR Radio Boston podcast of their recent Ureneck interview about his 640 square-foot, timber-frame cabin built with his brother in Stoneham, Maine. I’ve added Cabin to my wish list. Have you? 

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 5:10PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Bruce Irving's New England Icons

cover image courtesy of amazon.comThis is a bit unorthodox; I have neither read nor held a copy of New England Icons by Bruce Irving, so this is more of a reading/viewing wish-list post than a review or commentary.

You may know of Bruce Irving from his 17 years producing This Old House for PBS. He wears many hats: real-estate agent, renovation consultant, writer, editor, speaker, and, now, author. I believe I first learned of Bruce from his Design New England magazine department about icons. His interest in the houses, work buildings, local artifacts and places of New England overlaps to such a degree with mine that I also consider him a web neighbor. Plus, as a Cambridge resident, he's a New England neighbor, too.

With photography by Greg Premru, a forward by Norm Abram, and content including stone walls, sugarhouses, roof walks, skating ponds, icehouses, mills, and lobster boats, New England Icons sounds too promising to miss. Let me know at the KHS Facebook Page if you've had a chance to check out a copy. Happy reading.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 2:02PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in , | Comments Off
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