Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Book Review: Alan I W Frank House: The Modernist Masterwork By Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer

©  2019 Alan I W Frank House Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

At the end of 2019, publishing powerhouse Rizzoli published an amazing book - a rare opportunity to explore the largest and most important house ever designed by Walter Gropius, founder of Bauhaus, and Marcel Breuer, a leading architect and furniture designer of the twentieth century - ALAN I W FRANK HOUSE: The Modernist Masterwork By Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. 

Built in 1939, and occupied in 1940 the house is a truly a masterpiece. Gropius and Breuer designed every aspect of the home built for Robert and Cecelia Frank, a third-generation of Pittsburgh industrialists, and their son, Alan. 

Some quick house details: 12,000 square feet on four floors, nine bedrooms, thirteen bathrooms, five terraces, a rooftop dance floor, an indoor swimming pool, and a cantilevered staircase of independent slab risers that Breuer would go on to make a signature of his work. To call it a house is a supreme understatement. It is more akin to a palace, mid-century style.

©  2019 Alan I W Frank House Foundation. All Rights Reserved. No image may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written consent of the copyright owner.
Photo by Ezra Stoller, 1940

Robert Frank, an engineer, was very hands on in the process of the construction of the home he and his family would share. Together with his wife Cecelia, the collaboration of designer/architect/homeowner resulted in a beautiful home filled with extremely advanced systems. They incorporated an integral system for cleaning air, and an energy conservation system using the water from the indoor swimming pool as part of the heating and cooling system of the home. 

©  2019 Alan I W Frank House Foundation. All Rights Reserved. No image may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written consent of the copyright owner.
Photo by Ezra Stoller, 1940

What is most fascinating though, is that the home remains essentially the same today as it was when it was first built, an unrivaled example of mid-century architecture and design. This is in large part due to Alan Frank, the son of the inspired creators of the home. Alan has preserved the house for more than 50-years, and is the current president of the Alan I W Frank House Foundation, whose mission is to preserve this unique asset in architectural and national history for the education and delight of future generations and to give them a place to connect directly with the work of the master designers who created the look and feel of modern life.  

©  2019 Alan I W Frank House Foundation. All Rights Reserved. No image may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written consent of the copyright owner.
Photo by Ezra Stoller, 1940

If so inclined, you may purchase the book via the link below, or on the Alan I W Frank website where you can learn more about the foundation, the book, the house and the incredible visionaries who turned paper and plans into one of the world's most impressive examples of mid-century architecture. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Daniel Romualdez Before and After

Architectural Digest just published a web exclusive tour of a Hollywood Hills home recently completed by Daniel Romualdez for a young entrepreneur, Will Bennett.

Will, a Harvard graduate, was born in the UK, but had become accustomed to the fast pace business life of Manhattan. Then, Bennett moved to the laid back west coast a few years ago to work in a new real estate investment firm there. Through his old employer, he had worked on a very tony project in Tribeca with Romualdez, and asked if he'd be interested in helping on his own project in LA.

You can read the rest in the AD article here, but I thought today it'd be fun to look at the before and after pictures, something you won't find anywhere else. (Yet.) So without further ado:
BEFORE, the house is a Spanish colonial, built in the 1920s. The large open entertaining spaces and plaster relief work existed prior to Romualdez. But with a little paint, and some calming neutrals:


AFTER, the living room sings as a fresh and beautiful modern space fit for a 33-year old executive living a LA lifestyle.

BEFORE, the prior owner had opted to accent the plaster work on the fireplace with a lacquered verdigris paint.


AFTER, all white and bright. Window treatments aren't needed for privacy here, and Romualdez opted not to have them for decor either. Keeping the lines very linear and masculine. Large format art hangs on the wall of this room, and a beautiful raw plaster table anchors the seating area.

BEFORE, the formal dining room was immediately adjacent to the breakfast room, with a 10-light modern panel door into the kitchen.


AFTER, the room functions as part office, part library, part formal dining room if needed. The adjacent breakfast room was given more seating with the addition of a wall length banquette.


From a piece written by themanual.com, the homeowner, Will Bennett. Bennett bought the house in 2016, and the renovation of this room was complete by the time of the article, just 1-year later. Romualdez, even working on a tight budget, was able to move pretty quickly to get this LA beauty pulled together for him.

BEFORE, the breakfast nook. Small, with french doors leading to a patio. Here you can look into the kitchen, which I believe wasn't part of the Romualdez renovation.



AFTER, clever photography shows only the breakfast room here, which is why I believe the kitchen stayed as is.

BEFORE, the best photo available looking out to the outside dining space from the breakfast room.


AFTER, a sweet little spot to take your morning coffee.

BEFORE, a bedroom used as a home office.


AFTER, also used as a home office for Will. A bit more eclectic and modern, this room is an homage to his youth, filled with family photos and mementos.

BEFORE, the master bedroom painted a dark charcoal with a sheen.


AFTER, Romualdez had everything pianted out in a bright white, making the fireplace less of a beast in the room. A custom designed canopy bed floats in the room now, with a seating area at the foot of the bed, looking out onto another set of french doors that lead to a balcony. 

BEFORE, the master bathroom had a large soaking tub and corner shower with sinks at a window immediately across. 



AFTER, fully renovated in limestone with a Japanese soaking tub and steam shower, this space is far more in keeping with the rest of the house. 

BEFORE, the backyard. Not unlike most homes in the Hollywood Hills, the house has a terraced lawn. Landscape designer, Sarita Jaccard  was hired to make the spaces a bit more functional for the lifestyle of a hip 30-something. 


AFTER, a pool with cascading water wall for privacy was added, along with lush gardens and multiple seating areas on all of the different terraces. 

Again, you can read the full article from AD here. I'm off to see if I can figure out how to make myself one of those plaster coffee tables! 

Friday, December 13, 2019

My Christmas List: Part Two

If you missed Part One, it's good! Check it out, here - or just keep scrolling down. There's some really good stuff!


So we all have that guy (or girl) in our life that we never know what to buy. Birthday, Christmas they all are sort of lost on us because they're just entirely too hard to buy for. For me, it's those guy's guys that I just can't ever relate to. My brother-in-law, primarily. He's a big beer guy, brews his own, (and it's very good incidentally) but I always just find myself bringing him beer as a gift. Practical because I know he's going to drink it, but boring because it's something he's already bought himself. I found myself lost again this year wondering what to buy him, when I stumbled across this Yeti COOZIE! I didn't even know they made these things!?!?!? He will love it, and it comes in assorted colors you can choose, all for $25 which is our "family threshold". I had to start off Part Two of my Christmas list with this, because I feel like we all have that person in our lives that we know would LOVE one of these, and it makes for a great gift that they'll use and appreciate. 


The Fire TV Stick turns any regular television into a smart television. If you don't already have a smart TV, I definitely suggest one of these little units, which plugs into an HDMI port in your television and allows you access to HULU, Netflix, Amazon TV and more. 


For the person who has EVERYTHING! They definitely don't have a fresh box of French macarons! 



We could all use a little more humor in our lives. 



Ever have that moment where you wonder if you cut the iron off? Not sure that you turned on the crock pot? Smart plugs are the solution for these little nuisances that usually require a special trip home to check. You can turn the power on or off to the appliance plugged into these adapters with your smartphone. 


I ordered this for myself this Christmas! LOL! Tis' the Season, right? But seriously, I've had an immersion blender for a long time and I love it. When I saw this package, which is essentially an immersion blender with attachments that allow you to have a power whisk, food processor, bullet, and blender all in one? For $40?!?! YES! I'm all about space saving in a tiny kitchen, and I think this is going to be so fantastic! Thought you might love it, too! 



Nest Candles have the sweetest packaging, I love them! The 2oz votives are relatively inexpensive, and very fragrant. Holiday is my fave. 



I got these last year for Christmas, and I will NEVER have another set of wired headphones again. 


Mark is working on two new books right now, but his first book "Beautiful" is still a top seller, and is filled with great decorating ideas and advice. I highly recommend it. 



Splurge on your cuddle time with this gorgeous cashmere throw! 


Love a large tote for grocery shopping, farmers markets, bringing things to parties I'm not hosting. This one is great! Love the stripes! 

Alright, this combined with Part One (keep scrolling) are my offerings to the endless lists on the internet this year for good gift ideas! I hope you find at least one thing you'll love for you or someone else, and above all - that you'll have a wonderful holiday season with the people you love! 

Monday, December 9, 2019

My Christmas List: PART ONE

So it seems like everyone is doing a Christmas list of goodies from around the internet. I often find them helpful, but know what sort of work goes into one of these things, particularly when you're trying to find links to send someone to the right place instead of on a wild goose chase. But, cause I love ya, I've made sure they all work and you're all set. So, without further ado - let's take a look at the 2019 Christmas List I think you and THEY will love!



The perfect candle. This is something I burn year round, and actually have going right now! Capri Blue Volcano is the quintessential scent of Anthropologie. If you've ever been in a store, walked by a store, or probably thought of a store - it's the scent that accompanies those experiences. It's sweet, and citrus-y, but has enough of an earthy balance to be a favorite scent all year long! It's my favorite candle, and has been for years! Definitely a must buy for the person on your list who loves home. 



If you're a seasonal scent person, and are looking for the perfect Christmas or winter fragrance, look no further. The luxury scents of Votivo brand candles are beyond enticing. They burn clean, and are wonderfully fragrant. This ICY WHITE PINE scent is my favorite. It's a hint of balsam without feeling like you're smelling a Christmas tree into February, you know? Sometimes you want that clean forest winter smell without feeling like you should be unboxing decorations! 



I finally have a patio/outdoor space that's all ours in 2020, and I couldn't be more excited. It's made me begin to think of all the pretty planters and pots that I'll need come Spring. Of course, you could use these beautiful footed vessels for anything year-round. A fruit bowl, a place to put your keys, you could plant succulents or an orchid in them, top with moss ... 


They're just really interesting and  that's not easy to find at that price point! So if you know someone who loves to garden, or just loves to have pretty and interesting things - these are worth a go! 



Who doesn't need a good looking tote bag? I mean, I'm sure there are some manly-men types who are going to rail against this, but for most of us, having a sizable grocery bag or tote in the car is a great idea. Sure, you can keep your reusable grocery bags in there, but what about when you have a party you're going to, or you just need a bag on the fly. Look sharp and put together all the time by keeping one of these lovelies in your car! Makes a great gift, too.


Another thing that's great to have on hand, but that also makes a great gift - linen napkins. I love these hemstitch options in various shades of linen, white, even dark wintergreen. Trust me, it's something people love and want they never think to get themselves. So if you're looking for a gift idea, make these a part of it, and if you're just wishing you had some - 'tis the Season to TREAT YO SELF!


Another relatively inexpensive idea that everyone wants, the YETI. I have to admit, I thought that this was a crazy thing, but then I got this little guy: 



And I fell in love. They've got some great sophisticated color options too, that don't feel too youthful.



We all spend too much time on our phones, right? I mean, we don't want to admit it - and like any good addict we look around and point the finger at someone who uses it more than we do - BUT it's true. WE SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON OUR PHONES, me included. I used to feel tethered to it literally with the cords jumbled everywhere, but then I found this little guy that we now have by the bed. Lightning fast charging, and no more messy cords. Plus, having my phone charging by the bed means that I can be hands free, phone free, stress free somewhere else in the house ... that it until I can't handle being without it. LOL! 



Back to candles, I know. But I thought that these were a great gift idea and the others I thought were a great idea for you! Know someone you went to College with, or who moved away? Still keep in touch and looking for the right thing to buy them? Maybe it's a sister or a brother who got a job out of state and has raised their family in North Carolina while you and yours are still in New York? Well, these Homesick candles are practically for any place you can think of, and are a sweet and thoughtful gift for the person you love. Even if they're not homesick, maybe you're wishing they were home. A great gift for the Mom and Dad's out there who have kids away at college! 



Truth here, this is something I want for Christmas. The new place has granite counters, and I don't have a large cutting board like this anymore. So I'm putting it here in the hopes that my Santa will see it, BUT also because it's a great price and I can tell you I'm not the only one hoping for one of these babies this year! 


These are great stocking stuffers. I want to buy the NAG NOTE for myself! LOL! Little post-it like sticky notes that are pre-printed with a fun header. Yes, definitely buying the nag notes for you-know-who.

There you go - part one! I'll have part two up on Friday. 

OH!!!! And, before I forget. 

I have a very limited number of Cross Bottles available on sale over at Cross Bottle Guy if you're looking for handmade gifts this year! And you can always peruse my instagram for art! 


Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Mark D. Sikes' Designed House For Sale!

One of my most favorite designs ever shared by Mark was a home he finished about 9 years ago in Pacific Palisades.


I'm sure you remember it from his book, Beautiful. It's also been shared a zillion times on blogs, instagram, and more. The book shows more photos of the house than Mark's online portfolio, but it did leave lots of rooms unaccounted for. I always wondered, did they do the whole house or only these few rooms? 

Well, now we know because the house is on the market for just under $10,000,000.00. I also got to feel a bit better about not being able to find the house for this long! You see, the owner is a builder/designer and bought a ranch on the lot where this house now sits, and had this one built. I've been lucky enough to pull a few before pics from her website




The new house built on the foundation of this:


When Mark was hired to come in and decorate the house, the house already had somewhat of a neutral identity: 



White slipcovered furniture, sisal area rugs, and neutral colors throughout. Peeking into the dining room, the table has two hanging fixtures and you can see the arch into the kitchen. 


From Mark's book. New upholstered sofa and chairs made it all a bit more sophisticated. A larger abaca rug, heavier curtains and the addition of some gorgeous banquettes and warm leather made this room my favorite to date. Mark reused the clients existing glass coffee table. 


The banquettes had great little cigar tables scattered about for varied use. Swing arm wall sconces flanked antique mirrors above them. There were two, one on each side of the main opening into this room.


Mark reused the commode that the owner had there, but most everything else is new and more refined.



This sofa was actually the sofa that pushed me into doing white upholstered when I had that big tufted beauty in my apartment a couple years ago. I always wondered how this faired, and it appears it did pretty well! 


In fact, it appears almost untouched, even the pillows and cashmere throw are in the same place as when Mark left the house. It's almost eerie how similar the house is to when it was photographed 8-years ago for Mark's book. The most notable difference is the absence of the antique area rug that Mark used to weight the main seating group. It definitely added something to this room, but I don't think it looks bad without it. 


An unseen room in the book, this foyer. The client had a blue and white collection that predated Mark, so I assume that this room is a collection of those, and the palladian chairs that had been in the living room prior to the redo.


This room was featured in the book, and on Mark's website. But I never understood it. What was this room? A reading room? Seemed awfully small for such a large house. But the real estate pictures resolved those questions:


This small room is an office. And again, nearly identical to when Mark was originally finished with the room, down to the Queen Anne's lace in the vase in front of the mirror.


From the book, and the website, the dining room. The table and chairs belonged to the owner, as did the bar that is being used in front of that Gracie wallpaper.



Again, nothing changes, and the styling stays the same!


There's no before of the kitchen, but my assumption is that it was not something that Mark worked on.


Off of the kitchen is this family room. This one may have been Mark? The mirror is one he's used before, and we know he loves a slipper chair. It could have been a simple reworking of the client's pieces.


A library area on the first floor.


Hall Bath.


We probably all remember this little library moment outside of the master bedroom, right? Well, when Mark first took on the project, the house had been styled with a center table in this room:


Again, Mark just came along and elevated all of this, beautifully.


The real estate photo shows this looking nearly exactly the way that Mark left it, except for the framed family photos.


And the bedroom, which had a very large sitting area adjoining:



Wouldn't you love to have Mark come in and decorate and then have it be perfectly the same ever after? Part of the reason that this one is so "perfect" is because it's no longer the family's primary residence, and that's always why it's on the market.

And that's it. No additional rooms. The house has 6 bedrooms, but this is the only one photographed. You'd think with a $10,000,000 listing, they'd spent a little more time and money on photos. But ... this is where I leave ya. While the last big sale of a house Mark designed resulted in the old client re-hiring him for the new place, I don't think that the same will happen with this one. The homeowner has started her own design business, and the new place seems fully decorated!

Wonder what she'll do with this furniture?