Monthly Archives: February 2012

Design in my Backyard: Richardson Street

I was dog-sitting this weekend, and found some time to get out and go for a walk in Fairfield, an area of town with lots of beautifully maintained character homes, many of which have a distinct Arts & Crafts vibe that I really love.  That is where my personal taste sits – solidly in that Craftsman style of building and design.  I find it balanced, comfortable, accessible (not abstract or overwhelming) on an emotional and intellectual level, and with lots of character and detail…  All elements of design that I think are incredibly important to creating an amazing space that resonates.  In this case, Arts & Crafts is what really resonates with me.

So Craftsman style aside, there I was on my walk, and this house caught my eye.  To be honest, lots of houses catch my eye every day, and especially in Fairfield, but this one had something about it that seemed very inviting and welcoming, even on a cold February day.  I present to you, 1249 Richardson Street:

To be fair, there are some elements of this house that I don’t really love, but a lot of elements that I do.  Let’s dig in…  First thing is that I don’t really like the use of the stone on the front porch area.  In fact, the whole front porch area isn’t fantastic in my view.  I think it would be better if it were raised up another one or two steps off the ground.  The way it’s situated, I feel like someone missed a level in there somewhere and just plonked the house down without remembering to set it all at grade, or to raise it up so it feels intentional.  I think that’s a really important thing for me in design… Something that tells me very clearly that someone made an intentional decision to design or produce a home (or aspect of it) in a particular way.  I want something that feels like a very clear decision has been made.

I’m also not a huge fan of the roof over the porch area, and off the side of the house, with the second storey looming over it.  Something feels unbalanced and out of proportion there to me.  I’m also not a fan of the one random round window.  Again, give me a clear rationale for decision-making that follows through visually in the design.

I do, however, really like the cedar shakes and the stain of that siding.  It looks weathered and welcoming, and I love the corbels underneath the roof gable at the top.  I really enjoy the balance of the gables on the roof.  The asymmetrical placement adds to the casual feel of the exterior.  I really love windows with muntins, and that throwback to original wood framed windows (I currently have about five old windows sitting in storage waiting for me to make some kind of funky stained glass and mirror project out of them…  I’m a sucker for an old window!)

I really dig the front door of this house.  I like the side lites, and I love any door that balances the top half with windows and the bottom half with heavy-looking wood.  Nothing like a solid door to make one feel like home.  I like the balance of all the vertical lines in this arrangement: the columns at the porch entrance, the side lites on the door, the framing and panels on the door itself.  Even the taller-than-wider windows add to the effect.

Overall, I think this is a good example of a nicely balanced home that feels larger and lighter than its footprint probably actually is.  While there are some areas with room for improvement, I have to say that my overall impression of this home was good – I probably wouldn’t have stopped to snap a photo otherwise!

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February Lighthouse

Went out for a walk at Fort Rodd Hill this weekend with my sweetie.  The weather was sunny, even though it was a bit chilly out.  It’s still the beginning of February, I suppose…  Fort Rodd Hill is an old military base, and the park has a lot of really interesting preserved batteries and old cannons – typical military stuff.  However, there is also the Fisgard Lighthouse down at the bottom of the park, which has been turned into a really nicely done up information centre.  

I lived in St. John’s NL when I was younger, and something about the lighthouse has just stuck with me.  I really love the rugged timelessness of them, I think, as well as the ease and sweetness of that saltbox simplicity.  I think the lighthouse sticks with me as a symbol of shelter as well as strength – a structure to weather sea and storm, and an unadorned, unassuming house to provide comfort, warmth and home.  Probably a romantic notion, but something about it catches at my imagination and my heart.


ALSO: this is the first of my experimentation with instagram.  I avoided it because it was so trendy, but I can’t help loving the images it produces, so here come some of my own…

Design in my Backyard: Dallas Road

I had a nice chat with my good friend AB this evening.  One of A’s favourite places in Victoria is right in my neighbourhood, and is a building that I really love as well.  In fact, I pass it during my evening runs about twice a week, and I always admire it:

I sadly didn’t take this photograph, because the weather has been so miserable lately (welcome to January in Victoria…), but this image of the building definitely captures what I really love about it: the brick facade, the very square architecture, all capped off by that fantastic roofline.  I mean, how can you not love that detailing??  It’s bold and traditional, but something about it says to me, “I dare you to call me modern”…  I think it’s the great contrast between the modern shape of the building – flat roof, boxy envelope, geometry everywhere – and the traditional materials – brick, roofline edge that looks like crown molding, wrought iron railing, windows with mullions.  Just gorgeous.

Here’s an artist’s rendering of the building from when they were developing and selling the condo units.  Fun! …


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