Posts Tagged ‘woods or over look’
The quintessential romantic house is a cottage nestled in the woods or over look in the sea. It might have a steeply pitched roof embellished with dormers, and it may feature old-fashioned adornments such as window shutters and porch posts—perhaps even a weather vane. Most of us are drawn to a house of this sort because it appeals to something deeply rooted in our emotional makeup: it arouses feelings that we associate with a good home. Romantic homes can be sentimental; they do not shy away from allegorical details. But they are not defined by those elements either. The defining feature of the romantic house is its ability to stir people’s senses.
How to create a romantic house should not be the big mystery that it currently is for most people. In this section, I lay out a series of techniques you can use to design a house that’s expressive and emotionally satisfying Ideally, you would build the house in a setting that intimately relates to nature, since natural scenery—particularly a view of a valley, mountains, shoreline, or luxuriant vegetation—always stirs an emotional response. The house ought to seem at ease in its setting, which means it might lie partly concealed in earth and vegetation or might have only its roof and chimneys visible above the tree-tops as you approach. It might be positioned so that a visitor glimpses the house first from one direction, then from another; the path toward the entrance can tantalize the visitor with a succession of skillfully circumscribed and choreographed views. “The approach is like the roll of the drums,” says Hugh Newell Jacobsen. In a conventional urban or suburban location, the possibilities are more constrained, yet even a small site often has the potential to incorporate a garden, an area left to grow wild, water, rocks, or some other feature that will summon up associations with nature and help create an enticing and not entirely predictable entry sequence. Wherever it’s placed, the house should be imbued with sentiment.
Irregularity and surprise are important parts of the picturesque approach to design. The irregularity may take the form of unusual proportions—an exceptionally tall roof, or thinner-than-normal windows, or porch posts larger than structural necessity would dictate. The surprise may also come when a cozy entrance leads to a soaring interior, which in turn contains a diminutive alcove or an unusual staircase. There should be things that spark curiosity. Most houses oversell the big door and the grand facade—features that are not essential for stirring a response.
If a pair of shutters flanking a window will make the homeowners or their guests feel joyful or contented, the designer may well add them, regardless of whether they’re necessary to protect against the weather. Materials, both inside and out, should be seductive; they should have a sensual quality, causing people to want to touch them or gaze at them. Natural materials such as wood and stone are especially effective at achieving this effect.
You can bring portions of nature indoors, either literally or figuratively. A house with a log wall is one example; the logs link the home to trees outdoors; at the same time, they give the house a hardy, rough-hewn personality. One advantage of materials from nature is that they open up the potential for many varieties of expression. Natural materials left rough and primitive generate one sensation; natural materials that have been smoothed and refined create quite another. Stonework might consist of chunky, odd-shaped boulders if a rustic atmosphere is the objective. They might be rocks that fit precisely together if you want a sense of order and sophistication. The feeling differs, but in each case, the inhabitants of the home will revel in a connection to nature.
Just as the approach to the house should be carefully orchestrated, movement through the interior should be manipulated to stir emotions or establish a mood. In many houses today, you open the front door and all the living areas are exposed to your gaze. Poof, the effect is finished. It’s much better if you orchestrate a sequence of experiences. In a house by Obie Bowman, you may find yourself enveloped in a forest of gigantic log columns, then led into a cave-like space, and then—bang!—comes a stunning view, maybe a view of the ocean, perhaps just a graceful old oak tree. A good home doesn’t have just one kind of space; it has a variety of them, organized so that movement from one to another is full of interest and incident.
Jacobsen, Bowman, and Peter Bohlin, the architects of the homes featured here, have collaborated with their clients to create unique designs that are both modern and romantic. Their homes have few, if any, traditional details, yet they convey as much sentiment as houses composed of more old-fashioned elements. The power of these homes to bring forth a broad range of emotions—from delight to curiosity to tranquility—comes from romantic techniques such as a carefully planned approach, thoughtful manipulation of how you move through the interior, and a reward at the end of the journey.
The romantic modernist will often tap into the seductive quality of natural materials such as wood and stone and may also find expressive character in raw construction materials such as metal and untreated concrete. Unlike the picturesque movement of the nineteenth century, which used decorative details and motifs to represent nature, the modernist uses the real thing, either by capturing expansive views of the natural surroundings or by incorporating boulders, tree trunks, and other specimens of nature into the house’s construction. Bohlin’s own home in northern Pennsylvania rests on a large stone. “It would have been so easy to move the house or cut the stone,” Bohlin says. “But the house is so much better, so much more interesting, by accommodating the stone.” Romantic techniques can make people sigh with delight or cry with surprise. They go a long way toward creating the good home.