Frank Lloyd Wright @ the Victoria & Albert Museum

Finding wonderful examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s furniture while traveling in London was a surprise.
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1955 high-back chair designed for John Rayward House (“Tiranna”), New Canaan, CT. Philippine mahogany, vinyl-cloth upholstery.

FLW Table
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High backed chairs
 The greatest surprise was that the museum had purchased this office whole and shipped and reconstructed it as an exhibit.  The work was very fine, the lighting not so much.  My husband thought they were attempting to preserve the color of the wood by limiting the level of lighting in the displays.  It was a nice feeling of home for an architect abroad.
Edgar J. Kaufmann Office, 1935-1937, Pittsburgh, PA
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Frank Lloyd Wright designed this office for the owner of one of his most famous designs, Fallingwater, client & owner Edgar J. Kaufmann.
The Edgar J. Kaufmann office seating, desk area, wall paneling detail below.
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This office is now on public display as part of the Victoria and Albert Museum in England.
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Cover of Time Magazine from the period from whence these designs were created.
Fallingwater in Winter
Afterwards I went hat shopping
London hats
Later we stopped for lunch
Dan London lunch
The view at lunch
London rooftops
Merchant Prince & Master Builder, an article published in Inside Carnegie magazine (Carnegie Museum) which explores the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and his patron, Edgar J. Kauffman.  Apparently, he was the owner of a department store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   The office pictured above was a part of Fallingwater itself.  For more information, and a few pictures of the Kaufmann family, including one of Kaufmann in the office itself: Explore PA History website.  This last site is a good, concise single page post.
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Italy Upon Arrival: Pace, Pace, Pace

I was so very tired when I arrived in Italy. We had only about 3 hours of sleep when our mini cab came to take us on a 45 minute drive to the airport at Stansted, where we were required to arrive two hours prior to our 3 hour flight’s departure. The trains were not running on Sundays between London and Stansted as a result of improvements being made to the tracks. In London there is an express train that takes not much time at all to get from the City to the airport. But such luxury would not be ours. We wiggled our way through all kinds of serpentine streets and made our way to the airport where resourceful, and youthful budget travelers had made their way early and were camped out on all the free seats and had spilled over on to the floor everywhere in the terminal. We fled to the airport café, dragging our wheeled luggage in tow and waited for the window to open. Ah! A table with two chairs and something warm to drink.

firenze santa maria novella by ilmungo.

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The beautifully skylighted Santa Maria Novella train station, Florence

Riding the train from the airport in Pisa, Italy toward Firenze (Florence), I began seeing rainbow-striped flags hanging from the windows. I began watching for them and quickly saw that the word “PACE” was centered on them. Peace. After we changed trains in the amazing 1930’s Art Deco station in Firenze and headed toward Cortona, I continued to see these flags hanging from multi-storied apartment buildings, grand homes, overpasses, ruins and hung by farmers out in fields of grain. Sometimes there were six of seven flags hanging on the laundry lines on the side of an apartment building. They were everywhere! As we passed through amazing, long and dark tunnels through the hills of Toscana I saw more and more of these flags. Clearly, many of the people of Italy had their minds focused upon Peace and they wanted one another to know about it!

And I felt as if my prayers were being heard somewhere in a language that I did not speak. “Join me in this prayer for peace.” My meditation became “Pace, pace, pace…” as I rode through the ancient pastoral landscape, past the ruins of fortresses, towers, gorgeous vineyards and fields of grain, lovely gardens, orchards, olive trees and stopping at every station, where I saw more and more “Pace, pace, pace.” And then I saw Cortona and its glorious stone buildings on the hillside, imposing, powerful, overlooking the valley below it.

When we arrived in Cortona by taxi from the train station in the town of Camucia at its feet, we sat in the square at a café with our luggage all around us awaiting the key to our little apartment, it was 3:00ish as I looked up to see the time of our arrival on the clock tower which we sat beneath, and to the right, hanging from a Citta de Cortona office window there was another flag, I was home for the month: “Pace.”

Cortona Clock Tower by jschneid.

Florence

Pace by gremionis.

Pace Flags by GeorgePinecrest.

Life With an Architect: Thanks For The Laundry Room

Our laundry room used to really suck.  I am not an ungrateful person.  I had a laundry room.  I didn’t have to go to a laundrymat unless I was washing the blankets or quilts that fit our King size bed.   I thought it sucked that we had all that space and no place to fold or hang laundry as we got the job done.   It is still the same long narrow room.  It no longer has a recycled plastic accordian door, unpainted drywall.  It’s just not at all ugly anymore.

I don’t really like to fold clothes in the rest of the house, but I couldn’t really do much in there about folding and hanging the laundry.  We moved into our house five and half years ago.  So I did wait for this remodel for a while.


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The cabinets are recycled.  They were once in the kitchen as upper cabinets, but they weren’t convenient for me so we took them down and saved them for this project.  Dan refinished them and created the network of shelving that wraps around the corner and the panel that covers the plumbing behind the washer.  He has a little more trim to put up on the shelf beside the washer.  This is because when he got close to having figured out and refinished all those cabinets and had built the shelves, our 5 year old Maytag DIED a cruel and expensive death.  So after much research of rebates, efficiency, repair frequency and pricing, we bought this hot metallic red number.  The slight difference in size and configuration caused a bit of trouble in fitting everything.
Now I have good storage for my vases, the laundry detergent, bleach and all that other stuff is behind closed doors within reach of the washer.  Nice. So Nice!

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Since we first remodeled, we painted that door red and added better storage. See pictures below.

After all that work with the vertical grain fir cabinets was accomplished, there was the building of the folding surfaces.  We used a two sided plastic laminate from the Ikea, and with the help of the gigantic equipment our neighbor has in his cabinet making shop Dan fitted the entire design to the wall, attaching it in the back and leaving space for a laundry sorter beneath the table plus other additional storage.  The main table is six feet long.

Did I mention all the painting!  There is no window, so the sunny, but not too bright yellow keeps it modern, bright and clean looking in here.


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The shelves are also from Ikea.  The brackets are the same design as the wall hooks we put up over head for dividing our hanging laundry for each person.  Some of the track lighting that Dan installed to bring light to every spot that we need it while doing laundry shows in this photo.


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Here’s a closer look at the cabinets & shelves.  It’s so nice not to have to cram vases in here and there wherever I could find a little space.  Now when I bring flowers into the house I know exactly where the vase I want is located.  One more little instance of suffering has been averted!

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The laundry room is on the bottom floor of our home at the foot of the stairs and is just beyond the Field of All Buddhas.   Of course, it seems appropriate to me since it is as if it was the Compassionate Buddha, or was it that fat, laughing Buddha, as Dan that ended another minor source of my suffering (in the laundry room) and it is he who I have to thank for this indulgent wonderfulness.


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To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.

Albert Schweitzer


Thanks Honey Bunny!

More About Remodeling Toad Hollow

Life with an Architect: Why Dan is THE Man

Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul.                                        Ernest Dimnet

I asked Dan to hang this chandelier in our entry hall for my birthday.  It had been in the garage for two years.  There were other projects that came first, it was not his fault!  But one thing leads to another and now he has refinished and repainted the walls (twice) after having replaced some of the drywall because he found some mold that had been painted over by prior occupants.

The window and door trim has been sanded down and is being refinished and one of the doors is fitted and being finished to match.  The tile is almost ready to grout.  But geeze, he had to break out a lot of heavy, old, poorly installed tile and haul it out, level the floor so that it matches the room next to it for future tiling, and really, it turned out to be quite a lot, but, it is becoming more and more beautiful.    When I bought this chandelier to match the other two and the rest of the lighting I had no idea what would transpire …

Chandelier & New Beam

Like this project, which came first:

Chandelier in the Dining Room

Or this one, where he custom built a deep pantry cabinet with pull out shelves and built in microwave, which meant he had to run wiring and made it possible for us to store more than you can imagine:

Pantry & Microwave cabinet

 Or later when he installed this lighting in the kitchen:

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The kitties like to keep track of what he is doing:

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That door is new and will be stained to match the stairs and trim.

The tile is almost all in:

Tile no grout There are just a few to set on the risers and then the grouting will begin.  That is a cat door he built that goes to the kitty boys private latrine.

Cat door Dan never has any projects.  Really.  So while he missed getting the entry hall done for my birthday on November 6th, I have no complaints.  If you hear me complaining, slap me, please.

I nearly always agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, but in this he is wrong:

“Art is a jealous mistress, and if a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.”

Monday 11-16-09 Update:

Risers tiled 111609 This is a really messy process, but all that mortar does clean up with water.

Wood trim The wood trim takes multiple steps of measuring, cutting & mitering,  sanding, staining, finishing, sanding, finishing, sanding, finishing and finally nailing and filling the nail holes so they disappear as much as possible.  I am thinking that this will be done sometime this week.  I hope.

Appetite, with an opinion of attaining, is called hope; the same, without such opinion, despair.                                     Thomas Hobbes


Results FIRST posted 05-24-10

Skylights at dusk


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One of the reasons we wanted to remodel this area was so that we had a place that was worthy of this painting.


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Click on any of these photos below to enlarge your view.

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More About Remodeling Toad Hollow

Life with an Architect: Soul of Beauty, Intelligence & Craft

In September of 2010 I got a bonus and took myself and my husband, Dan the Man, down to Bellingham Millwork to look at flooring.  Thus, began our saga.  I love this place, but it is a place that trouble goes to find its beginnings.  The kind of trouble that involves inspiration, design arguments and hard work and more time than any architect will ever own up to the project taking, I promise.    Millworks

Once, when we were new to our home, I thought we would put vertical grain Douglas fir flooring in our bedroom.  I was dreaming.  It is too soft a wood unless you don’t mind scarred and severely scratched floors.  So we looked at just about everything.  Because we have radiant heating in our floors, it is necessary to use engineered wood flooring.  I have learned that when you get it installed, there is no visible difference.   We decided on a good hard cherry floor. This is a photo from the website of the manufacturer.

American Cherry Elite by Kentwood

We have a lot of details in our house that are Vertical Grain Fir and we are very consistent in carrying through the same details for baseboards, window and door framing and many built in features that Dan has designed and constructed over the years.  Once we decided on the flooring, the plan for the remodeling was discussed for months before Dan could begin.  Any changes to any other feature in the master bedroom had to be taken into consideration.

Here is the incredibly ugly bedroom that we bought in November 2004.  I think it really takes the cake for ugly.

From the deck...

That door on the right went to a ‘walk-in closet’ that was too narrow to walk in.  You can see the room has good bones and wonderfully soaring  12′ ceilings with two skylights.  Dirty looking greyish Berber carpet from the big box store matched the quality of the cheap track lights that were jammed into the corners of the highest part of the ceilings.  The cheapest skinny moldings were around the doors and used as baseboards.

Here’s another view from the foyer. You can see the bathroom door next to the closet.  You can also see that in addition to the color of dried blood, baby diarrhea was chosen to accent its architecture.

View 2 2004 master bedroom

Living in this room convinced us that we needed to change it.  We were unable to center the bed under the skylights because there wasn’t enough room to open the closet door if we did.  That notch they made to accommodate the closet simply cramped the room and did nothing useful in the closet either, which needed reconfiguring. And there were five doors, counting the two French doors that lead out to the covered deck.  Where can you put furniture in such a room?

It didn’t take long and we realized our new home was both generally short on closets, and specifically in our bedroom, there just wasn’t enough wall space for dressers to make up for the lousy closet in the corner.  Plotting a change commenced shortly after we moved in but various events pushed remodeling our bedroom away from the top of the list of remodeling plans.

Once I had enough money for the flooring it was time to begin.  Dan is retired and all of our remodelling has been pay as you go so that we could stop at any time if we had other needs arise.  And Dan is the one who has done 98% of the work with heavy bits assisted by our neighbor’s son, Nate McConnell, who works in his father Gene’s cabinet making business.  He may be young, but he is knowledgable and creative when Dan needs help with something big or heavy and he has good ideas for alternative ways to accomplish things.  His father has been indispensable at times when Dan’s tools are inadequate to something that we need, or when Dan needs a better idea for how to build or finish something. We’ve got fine neighbors.

Things started with demolition, as they always do with remodeling.  That notch was removed and so was the doorway. Lighting was arranged around the perimeters of the room and installed both in front of, and inside, the new closets which flanked the French doors.  The chandelier was installed earlier and shades were removed to protect them.  I can’t stress highly enough how much you have to protect what is done from what is being done when you remodel.  One of those shades cost $30 to replace.

be gone doorwayThe closets begin


This is the other side of that wall!  A new closet is born, with entry from the bathroom.  All I lost was one wall hook.  What I gained was a lot of shoe storage, lighting and a wonderful cedar lined closet!   Since this photo was taken the towel rods and switch plates have been added.

The other side of the wall

There are multiple shelves overhead and beside the hanging space, using the soaring heights of the space for storage of suitcases and extra linens & blankets.  And Dan added that sweet mirror and lighting with an outlet so I could style my hair someplace where I could actually see what I am doing without my glasses.

drawers & hanging      Lighting


And of course, there are more closets! Another one for me, and one for Dan, who here is taking down protective paper from the staining of the closet.  We started with selecting the floor, but it is the LAST thing that gets installed as you can see in these photos.


Taking down paper


Closets 2

   Pottery Display

This was a test of the lighting and depth of the pottery display we decided to have between the wardrobes.  It creates a kind of nook for my Craftsman Rocking chair too. There will be collection of pots.


Closets near completion  Day 3 of floor installation

The floors are all done but for the last bit glued down and the trim will all be going in very quickly. The last photo is Dan visually fitting the next course. Next, a peek into what’s nearly finished, first my closet, then Dan’s.

My wardrobe  Closet 3

  • “Defining craftsmanship far more broadly than “skilled manual labor,” Richard Sennett maintains that the computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen engage in a craftsman’s work. Craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, says the author, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. In this thought-provoking book, one of our most distinguished public intellectuals explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world.”

From Yale University Press regarding Richard Sennett’s book The Craftsman. 



Dan the Man

Life with an Architect: Soul of Beauty and Love of Craft

Our beautiful new Master Bedroom Suite

A great deal of inspiration for what we’ve done came from Sarah Susanka’s series of Not So Big House books.  My husband, retired California architect, Dan Edward McMullen and I don’t think folks need McMansions to prove something about themselves.  Dan’s been inspired, since his days in UC Berkeley’s architecture school, by it’s Dean at that time, William Wurster, whose residential design was noted for its simplicity. We believe people live well and best in homes that fulfill their needs in a variety of ways. Our home has 2186 square feet.  Not a tiny house, but certainly not a behemoth.  We have sufficient room for visitors and for each of our activities, including my home office.  We’ve been doing nearly all the remodeling work ourselves–that is an imperial “we”–over the past seven years. Last Christmas we resolved to get this done, and it is!

In a basic sense, we needed a better way to store our clothing.  We needed new flooring.  We had a wonderful bed already.  We needed better lighting.  On a personal level we wanted a suite that restored our souls, launched our days in peace and which included art works properly treated and displayed, and enough ‘white space’ to allow both the eyes and our minds to rest, whether our eyes were open or closed.

This room preexisted those ideas and our remodel was meant to bring it into line with those ideals without breaking our budget.  Good rooms have thoughtful details and a high level of craftsmanship, and this one certainly does.

You can find out more about Sarah Susanka’s work and philosophy at http://www.notsobig.com/ 

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The walls in this room were already textured, and so they remained.  The paint was expertly done after some corrections were made to the wall to make sure that they were straight and plumb.  The closets would never have fit well if that work had not been done.  Retexturing in those areas was a bit tedious, but those changes are invisible to the eye due to painstaking work.  The color is called Oriental Silk and is a cream color that has a hint of warmth.  It’s Behr paint available through Home Depot and we learned that Behr is highly rated by Consumer Reports for durability, and standing up to cleaning.  That research means we won’t have to paint again for a long time.  We’ve used it for ceilings throughout our home because of the way it warmly reflects light.
The paintings in front of the closet are by my dear friend, currently visiting her home in Spain, Maria Gracía Brunsó, who goes by Grace when she is in San Carlos, California with her husband, architect Miquel Aymerich, a friend and colleague of Dan’s.
The chandelier, bed side lamps and sconces are Robert Abbey Beaux Arts designs.  We have smaller models of the chandelier in our dining room and entry hall.  We have pendant lighting over the island in our kitchen.  This kind of consistency gives a smaller home a feeling of peace.  The light from the shades is warm, like candle light.
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The art works are important to us.  The painting just outside this door was done by Pacific Northwest artist, Mary Moore Baileywww.marypaints.com; the pastel of the coastal foothills above Skyline Drive not far from Pacifica, California hangs over the bed,  by JoAnne HorsfallBeasley who died in 2006. We bought it just before moving to Bellingham at the end of 2004 from The Main Gallery in Redwood City.  We also purchased two of the Raku pots in the next photograph at the gallery from potter Jeff Carlick. The small, lidded Raku pot is an early example of work by our brilliant nephew, Tim McMullen.  He is one three partners in Silica Studioswhere they provide both gallery and studio space.  They also teach.  It’s a great place to learn on every level!  The large plate in the center is by Gene Buckley of Stony Clearing Studio here in Bellingham.  We also have pots by his wife, Cheryl Lee, one on the table through the doorway under Mary’s painting.
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 The rocker is an Arts & Crafts antique that was in bad shape when I got it, but Dan refinished and reglued and clamped it and we recovered the seat with a German upholstery leather remnant we bought on ebay.  We got enough to cover 6 dining chairs and a Morris chair & ottoman.  We enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes of being self-sufficient. The floral painting is the first purchase in our art collection and is also by Mary Moore Bailey.
The small carpets are Safavieh Anatolia.  The floor is Kentwood American Cherry Natural Elite, an engineered wood floor with a 25 year guarantee. The baseboards and door frames are clear vertical grain fir, hand finished to match the doors and closets by my husband, Dan the Man McMullen.
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Firecat and Honey Boy test the new floors.
MBR5   The watercolors on the right were painted by Dan in 1959, when he was at UC Berkeley studying Architecture.  On the left is a eucalyptus grove above the Greek Theater, and on the right is a bridge over Strawberry Creek, both on the campus. These paintings represent so much about Dan’s life as a student and later as an architect.  Their peacefulness makes them perfect for our room.

Other Resources:

  • Bedding, comforter, shams & matching shower curtain are a discontinued Arts & Crafts organic print from Pottery Barn.
  • Sheets, wonderful cream Veratex 800 thread count — We splurged on Overstock.com
  • Shaded yellow quilt and shams, a find at TJ Maxx
  • Box spring cover, Matlasse from Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Pillows, 2 sets of Sleep Innovations® Memory Foam Down Pillow online at Kohl’s.  So comfortable!


This is our wedding portrait, December 31, 1990.  You can tell by my dress and flowers that we agreed that we would already be doing things a little differently.  I am the extra mother to these four wonderful additional McMullens.  The handsome devil with his arm draped over my shoulder is the infamous cradle-robber of his class of 1962, Dan the Man, my beloved.
Our Wedding 21 years ago

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