Found in the Details
I love the idea of creating things that last – whether enduring interiors or objects that are designed and crafted to stand the test of time. Some years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of being hired to design a house unlike any I had designed before (or since.)
I was so pleased to see that the editors at Victorian Homes Magazine love the house as much as I do. In reading the article in their most recent issue, I’m reminded of the immense amount of attention and detail that went into the house. I spent six years working with the clients, my team, and an array of the most talented artisans and craftsmen imaginable.
You can read the full article here. And I thought it might be interesting to point out some notable details – and what went into taking them from concept to reality.
The living room ceiling took six master carpenters and a team of carvers eight months to complete. The wood was milled by hand on-site and fastened using old-world joinery generally found only in fine furniture making. Though I originally wanted to use French Walnut throughout the house, because of is sumptuous warm golden tones, I learned that French Walnut is a scarce resource. It would likely have taken years to source enough for the house at an astronomical expense. Our solution was to use American Black Walnut throughout the house along with a seven-step furniture finishing process. The result was millwork that is indistinguishable from fine French-polished French Walnut.
Collaborating with local master stone carvers Holly and Joseph Kincannon to design the 32-feet tall great room fireplace was a thrill. Their team spent a year carving, two months installing, and three weeks “aging” the stone so that it appeared as if it had been in place for centuries. The process of adding patina involved two artisans with bare hands ever-so-gently touching the stone with olive-oiled fingers in the places that would naturally receive human touch over time. It was a very slow and careful process. And the results were nothing short of beautiful.
I wanted the bedrooms to feel more feminine and intimate then the more public spaces. So for each I collaboratively designed ornamental plaster ceilings that were produced on site by a rare artisan who happened to be a retired classical architect. Each bedroom also features custom carpet designed for the space and woven in a single piece so that it could be installed with no seams.
Another favorite detail of mine is the office flooring. In my research for the project, I amassed quite a collection of books and manuscripts on Gothic, Tudor and Jacobean style architecture, including many that are out of print. Inspired by a wood marquetry pattern found in one of these books, I reinterpreted and simplified the pattern and had it produced in leather to become a rich, warm and aesthetically compelling floor.
I had hoped to find a really amazing antique dining table for the home, but unfortunately nothing quite fit. So as with many of my projects when I can’t find the right piece, I started sketching and designed a table to precisely fit the space. The table is constructed from 200-year-old French Walnut logs and features intricate Celtic motif carving around the edge and inlaid brass filigree in the top.
We’re very proud of this project, and are grateful to Victorian Homes for sharing it. Interested in seeing more? Follow this link!