The GEM! A Comparison of House vs. Home

     Today I want to stab off a little about 'Taste in Design.'   One thing that constantly confounds me (us) is the phrase, 'but my neighbor has...,' or, 'well this one site had...'   These words to a designer in any field are about a million times worse than nails on a chalkboard.  Horrible.  
     Of course we must remember that our job is to translate the wants of a client into our own language - the language of art, architecture, etc., ad nauseum.  Of course our natural responses are curses that would make the French proud, but all in our head - of course.  After all, being not far from prostitution - we need the money.  My go -to phrase in that situation is, 'But wouldn't you want your neighbor wanting what YOU have?'  Still often times unsuccessful.
     WHY? Because we are trained to understand the world in ways which our clients simply are not.  This does not make us better than them, but it does make it hard to communicate sometimes.  Today I want to share with you some pictures of what I'm talking about.  A little gem amongst rubble.  Enjoy:

the setting:

"typical" houses on the block:

Whoa! What am I talking about? Notice the low-key stature of the house, the shrubbery almost hiding it from the street - as opposed to the other houses who are made to be seen. Let's not even talk about columns & keystones NOT belonging in a beach setting in NY.

Look at these 2 again:

BIG windows BIG columns BIG terrace on the FRONT of the house.. NOT designed to look over the beach, but to look at this: (directly across from terrace)
a much better view?

Let's look at the 'entrance' to The Gem:
The inhabitants drive INTO the house - are protected and immediately are welcomed to the beach side of the property.  The 'columns' you see on the left actually are closets for outdoor material storage - you enter from the driveway into the kitchen - its useful to drop your things off, and move to the rest of the house. 

I'm sure this cost the same as that oversized portico across the street. Much more useful, much more beautiful, much more of a HOME. 

Let's talk windows. forget big picture windows staring at nothing.  The biggest window in The Gem is in the family room, which opens up to a covered terrace, which sits on the water. If you're already outside, you don't really need windows.

And finally lets look at how the other 'houses' engage the water.
This one really gets too 'look' at the water... the house has no engagement. I don't even see a door to the rear yard...

these people have a BEAUTIFUL LAWN - but the pavement stops 5 feet from the house.  Unconsioucly the inhabitants & visitors never venture further past the pavement. a damn shame. 

The Gem's engagement is obvious.  The house is designed around where it is, to enhance the experience of the inhabitants.  It is truly a 'machine for living.'

The Statement:
Set into it's surroundings, surrounded by nature.  The roof protects the inhabitants whether inside or outside the house. 

The Entrance:
This is a view from the 'front door' looking back towards the street.  You feel comfortable just looking at it. Its functionality is evident.

The Materials:
We have to stop this STUCCO bullshit.  You can pay more for your 'coins,' or you can pay for natural wood. When you sit outside, even though covered by a man-made structure - the natural materials keep you attached to nature  & add to the serenity.  
The Engagement:
 From the deep overhange, to the matching storage shed (over in the left) the geometric relationship from the covered porch to the dock... I love how the chimney continues a plane past the powerful line of the roof. 

And of course how they all work together, in harmony with itself, it's settings & it's inhabitants. I hope my ramblings made sense.  Remember - forget what people tell you that you want, rely on that which matters to YOU and you will have something beautiful.

Do you think this was an accident: (last thing)
The only other window that breaks the high, private windows of the bedroom is a long, glass block window of a bathroom.... but the true magic is that it is made even more private by placing a tree between the window, and the side lot line.  Accidental? I think not.  Organic Design, plasticity in essence. 


  1. Anonymous30/6/10 13:37

    A gem indeed, great post.

  2. that would be a pretty nifty, 'accident.'

  3. Anonymous1/7/10 02:43

    the gem is a nice haus. i-talians have obviously gotten to the others.