Design for You: Remembering Jim van Sweden by Pamela Heyne

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Oh we had fun! Jim van Sweden was one of the most delightful of collaborators, and an extremely talented and successful landscape architect.

Littlefield house addition by Pamela Heyne AIA, from Bold Romantic Gardens

I met Jim at a party in Washington in the 1970’s. He had recently started a landscape firm with Wolfgang Oehme. Wolfgang had been a successful Baltimore landscape architect with a unique naturalistic style, partly an influence from his native Germany. Jim actually had been in the city planning field, but realized he loved landscape design. At the outset of their partnership, Jim worked out of a bedroom, then the basement of his Georgetown house.

van Sweden home garden, viewed from kitchen designed by Pamela Heyne, AIA

One day Jim received a phone call from David Lilly, a board member of the Federal Reserve, saying he wanted them to design a garden for the facility. Jim said to Wolfgang, “This is our big break”. After a tough winter which killed magnolias, Jim and Wolfgang created a series of varied areas that included benches and pergolas, so that people in the neighborhood could use the garden. When the project was finished I happened to pick up a copy of The New Yorker, which reviewed the garden as “being touched by the hand of God.” Well, that was something, from the urbane New Yorker. Soon I helped design Oehme van Sweden’s office in a Georgetown commercial building. Eventually they “bought the bank”… purchasing a bank building for their offices on Capitol Hill. They would go on to design other major projects such as Battery Park City, the World War II Memorial, and the National Gallery. They obtained numerous important residential clients, such as Oprah Winfrey.

Federal Reserve Garden

The name of their style was “the new American garden” or sometimes termed “the low maintenance garden” . Jim said he hated “ditsy” landscape design, and mentioned “anyone can do spring.” They disliked neat lawns with clipped borders. Instead they created gardens that were more like meadows, big scale and colorful throughout the year. The wind was an important factor, as were water features. They had a wide palette of perennials, and made bold use of grasses…. unusual at the time. The essence of the gardens was an exuberant lushness throughout the year. However, when the gardens were first planted, clients had to be lectured (usually by the heavily accented Wolfgang) that patience was a virtue.

Jim was generous in giving architect friends such as myself interesting jobs with which to collaborate. He might suggest a type of window, or a placement in the landscape that was unusual, and made your work better. He also laughed and said some architects asked him to “cover up their mistakes!” I remodeled his home, and did several projects for one of Jim’s best friends, Jerry Littlefield. The Littlefield house and garden is shown in this article. Jim and I worked on a number of other projects together, including Evelyn Nef’s Georgetown house, known for its two story high Chagall mural in the rear garden. A particularly fun project was a pool house I designed with a curved outdoor shower covered with a trellis festooned with Jim’s choice of vine, silver lace. I always thought it would be fun to shower out of doors under plants, a la Mary Martin in South Pacific.

I put a picture of the kitchen I designed for Jim in a recent book of mine on kitchen design. Jim and I had many happy hours sitting at that table, laughing, and looking at his spectacular garden. When I met Carl Widell, a man I considered marrying, I took him over to Jim’s house one night to meet my friend, sit at that table and observe the garden with dramatic uplighting. That of course was not the only reason Carl married me. But, it didn’t hurt.

Jim passed away a few years ago. His firm carries on with capable and talented stewards. For me he is ever reaching forward, planting a delicate shoot,….and laughing.

Pamela Heyne is an architect and owner of Heyne Design on the Eastern Shore. She is author of the recent book “In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child.” She can be reached at  pam@heynedesign.com  or 410-714-9040

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pamela Heyne, AIA
a Saint Michaels and Wash.,DC architect and
head of Heyne Design
is author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child

Habitat: Design Matters by Jennifer Martella

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While most people may not think of hiring an architect or other design professionals, their input can be crucial to making your vision for your home or property a reality. Great design is a creative collaboration between architects, interior designers, landscape architects/designers and informed owners.

Design starts with defining “wants” and “needs”. You need three bedrooms and two baths; you want granite kitchen countertops.

An architect can guide you in making sure your “needs” are met and then add as many “wants” as your budget allows. When I met with prospective clients, I always asked each of them what their “sacred cow” was – the one thing they couldn’t live without and the design concept grew from there.

Landscape architects/designers think of landscape as “outdoor rooms” that extend the living space. They know how to specify plantings that will grow to maturity without crowding other landscape elements. Like architects, they specify outdoor lighting that enlivens your property. I have an uplight in one of my four-story high silver maples; when I turn the uplight on after dark, the tree canopy comes alive to the delight of my neighbors.

Interior designers interpret your lifestyle with furnishings, accessories, and finishes that add functionality and comfort, as well as complement the architecture. What they do helps make your house a home.

Some of the most famous houses in America personify the integration of house/interiors/landscape. Think of Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello, or Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate near Asheville,

NC. I have visited Biltmore many times and am still awed by its grandeur and the remarkable landscape genius of Frederick Law Olmstead.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. Falling

Water, his weekend retreat for the Kauffman family of Pittsburgh, is a masterpiece. Who else could have convinced a family their house needed to be over not opposite the waterfall? Wright designed the house and interiors and was fortunate to have Mother Nature as his landscape designer!

Another well-known example is the Miller home in Columbus, Indiana. Columbus is now a destination for architecture buffs due to the visionand architectural philanthropy of one man, J. Irwin Miller. Over his lifetime and through the foundation he established, most of Columbus’ public buildings have been designed by some of America’s greatest architects beginning with the father and son team of Eliel and Eero Saarinen. Miller chose a “dream team’ of architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard, and landscape designer Dan Kiley to create Miller’s residence that has become a mid- century-modern gem.

Most of us don’t have the budget of a Vanderbilt, but whatever size house we call home can utilize the integration of house/interiors/landscape in some way. Design does matter and over the coming months Habitat will identify and celebrate properties in Talbot County that reflect these aesthetics of home ownership.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from HUD neighborhood revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio to renovate an abandoned barn into a library for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee. Her passion for Italian food, wine and culture led her to Piazza Italian Market where she is the Director of Special Events, including weekly wine tastings and quarterly wine dinners.

Design for You: Thoughts on the New Harriet Tubman Center by Pamela Heyne

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The new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor center, on the edge of Blackwater Park in Dorchester County is a tour de force of drama and design. The heroine of the drama is Harriet Tubman, born into slavery in 1820. When she was 29 she escaped to Pennsylvania, and freedom. Yet, selflessly, she returned to Maryland 19 times and rescued 70 other slaves. These were mostly friends and family on what is termed the “underground railway.” She followed the north star to lead her followers to freedom, through fields, forests, waterways and safe houses.

The Baltimore firm GWWO Architects used the concept of traveling north as a symbol in their design for the Center. A “spine” leading north unifies a series of simplified barn like, LEED certified structures which contain a bookshop, ancillary spaces and most importantly exhibits describing Harriet’s life. Bronze sculptures by Maryland artist Brendan O’Neill Sr. are compelling…lifelike, yet because of the material, these figures have a grandeur. They avoid the kitsch aspect of so many other historical exhibits whose figures sometimes resemble giant dolls.

A particularly compelling statue for me was an image of Harriet as a child, forced to catch muskrats in the winter, wading in the water coatless and barefoot. Quotes of Harriet are interspersed in displays, showing her intense sadness as a child, crying for her mother’s bed, which in reality was not a bed at all but a wooden pallet. Yet, her resilience and bravery shine through the displays. We even see her guiding Union soldiers during the Civil War,

Projections also display poignant images from the time, babies being sold while mothers wept, newspaper ads for runaway slaves, and a slave child tending to a beautifully dressed white child. Harriet was able to rescue all but one sister. She carried a pistol with her, sometimes to inspire other escapees who were getting cold feet. As she said, she never lost a passenger, and the train never got off track. We learn also that she eventually settled in Auburn, New York, yet kept working to help others.

Image of Harriet catching muskrat

In a phone call with Senator Ben Cardin, the Senator expressed just how moving it was for him to see Tubman so gloriously celebrated. He said the center “will help people understand Tubman’s courage, and her relevancy today.” He mentioned that the project actually began with a request by Senator Sarbanes. Legislation passed to make it into a national park. Local problems were worked out, and Maryland provided numerous resources. Other key national players along with Sen. Cardin were Sen. Mikulski, Sen. Gillibrand, Sen. Schumer and President Obama.

I asked Senator Cardin just why the Center was placed at the entrance of Blackwater Preserve. He said, “You can learn about Harriet Tubman, then go see soaring eagles.” In her own way, Harriet, a petite woman, was a soaring eagle. Our area now has an inspiring new tourist attraction, amplified by a scenic driving tour, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railway Scenic Byway.

Pamela Heyne is an architect, head of Heyne Design in Saint Michaels, Md., and author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child. For more information about the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor center please go here

Design for You: Thoughts on Architect David Morton by Pamela Heyne

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It was always a treat going to dinner at Presqu’ile, the 1820 historic home of Anne Morton Kimberly. Proceeding down the long tree lined drive was a dramatic beginning. Then our cheerful, stylish hostess would greet us, often introducing us to new friends. Sometimes her daughter Babes and Babes’ husband Tom would be guests when they were not traveling. Dinner was usually in the formal dining room, or for more intimate occasions, in a cozy nook off the kitchen.

After dinner we would often sit in the library and continue chatting. A full length portrait of Anne’s son, and Babes’ brother, David Morton graced a wall in an anteroom. The picture showed him standing on a hill, smiling, as he gazed in the distance. David was tall and handsome, resembling his dad, 6’7 Congressman and cabinet official Rogers Morton. David had died in 2003.

I had known David much earlier, long before I moved to the shore and met Anne and Babes. David and I were classmates at Yale School of Architecture. David was a talented and brilliant fellow. I recall a handful of us gathered in his apartment as David explained to us some engineering complexities, and exactly how air conditioning worked! He had a patrician confidence, not surprising since he had spent his teen years at Presqu’ile, attended the Country School, and came from a prominent family. Yet he had a zany side too. His New Haven apartment could only be described as quirky. It sported a black hallway with a giant stuffed toy jolly green giant suspended from the ceiling.

A few years later after graduating from Yale I took a trip to New York with another classmate from New Haven, Tom Welch. We stayed at David’s home in Brooklyn. Its previous incarnation was a toilet seat factory but David was transforming it into a chic series of loft apartments. He had a grand piano in one of the rooms. Leaning next to the piano was a cane. I made conversation about the cane. Turns out it was a gift from Leonard Bernstein.

 8 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn New York

8 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn New York

The building was next to the Brooklyn bridge. As we had dinner we gazed out the wide windows as car headlights slipped across the bridge, and the lights of Manhattan glistened on the water. One felt suspended in a kinetic, magical world.

David had a lifelong partner, Tom Cordell, an architect turned artist, of whom Anne was most fond. After David’s death Tom would accompany Anne on trips and was frequent a dinner guest at Presqu’ile. Tom is still alive, and his work is handled by Fischbach Gallery in New York.Anne, who grew up in privilege in Kentucky, had a remarkable openness of mind. Though her husband was a prominent Republican, she hosted a fundraiser at Presqu’ile for Democrat Frank Kratovil and said she “enjoyed her new Democratic friends.”

David grew up in beautiful surroundings and himself created beautiful surroundings. He saw the potential in Brooklyn factory buildings before it was fashionable. Eventually settling in California, he designed homes throughout the US. One of his designs is a spectacular sliver of a house perched on a ridge in Hilo, Hawaii. Now a vacation rental, called “The Falls at Reed’s Island” it is listed in the Frommer guide as one of the “top 15 rooms with a view”.

A few years after David’s death I saw that one of his home designs appeared in Architectural Digest. I took the magazine to Anne and left it with her. She was pleased to see it, but also, really unable to speak. We both realized that a talented person left the earth way too soon.

A while back, on a speaking trip to Chicago, I visited again with old friend Tom Welch. I learned with great sadness that he, a gay man, had been beaten up on the street. In David Morton’s 2003 NYT obituary Tom Cordell was listed as a partner. Now, in Babes’ 2017 obituary, Tom Cordell is listed as a surviving brother-in-law. That little detail said a great deal and pleased me.

Pamela Heyne is head of Heyne Design in Saint Michaels and author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child.

Design For You: The Home Elevator by Pamela Heyne

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Have you ever considered installing an elevator in your home? Now that more of us are living longer and staying in our homes as long as possible, this technology does add value to the home, despite the total price tag of between $30,000 and $35,000. According to realtor Elizabeth Foulds, “This helps for re-sale when otherwise the buyer may only be looking at single level homes.” There are two basic approaches: the more traditional elevator with a shaft, and the cylindrical futuristic looking pneumatic elevator.

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.42.06 AMI recently spoke to an expert in the field, Merl Beil, currently with Delaware elevator. He agreed that people should not go for a minimum size elevator, but one that can accommodate a wheelchair. That cab size would have an inside dimension of 3’ wide and 4’ deep. 5’x5’ is the basic inside dimension required for a shaft. This requires a reinforced concrete floor under it, 1’ below the main floor level in the house. In the shaft are pullies and a piston that move the car. Additionally a machine room is needed; it can be as small as 4’ x 4’ and is best if it is as close to the main elevator shaft as possible.

I also spoke to Brent Garner, manager, Talbot County office of Permits and Inspections to get his take on home elevators. He said that in the year since he has been working for the county he has not issued any permits for one. However, he used to work as a builder and installed “a beautiful one” he said. He had installed a window both in the elevator cab and in the shaft, so that when the cab reached the second floor, a lovely view appeared. A mural was installed of the same view on the ground floor, in the shaft itself, so that when the cab was on that level, the window did not look out onto a blank wall. There are many aesthetic options for these elevators. Want different door arrangements or an all glass shaft? No problem. Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.42.41 AM

I specified a home elevator for a traditional townhouse in Georgetown, DC. It featured an exterior elegantly paneled door. These elevators will have two doors, an outside door and then in the moving cab itself, some sort of folding door. The solid sliding doors we see in commercial elevators are rarely specified for residential elevators, because a much wider shaft would be required.

Closing the interior door is mandatory, or else the elevator will not move. Obviously this is a safety feature. However, Merl said many times he would get calls from people complaining the elevator would not work. He would ask, “Did you close the gate?” Invariably the answer was, “Well, uh…no.”

The cylindrical pneumatic elevator is appealing to me, and I have considered it for my own home. This type of elevator operates without cables, but because of variations in air pressure, and has a secondary braking system. A Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator, PVE, unit from Miami Florida has three sizes, 2’6”, 3’1” and 4’4” outside diameter. The largest unit is appropriate for wheelchairs. One must deduct about 7.5” from the outside diameter to get the inside clearance. These don’t require pulleys and a machine room.

There is also a small, shaftless elevator recently introduced to the market, that can be installed in the corner of a living room. It is too small for wheelchair use, and, to my mind, has little appeal aesthetically. However, it is another option to the stair lift.

Pamela Heyne, AIA is head of Heyne Design and author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child. She will give a slide talk about her book Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3:30 at the Book Plate, 112 s. Cross Street, Chestertown. Light refreshments. pam@heynedesign.com

Design For You: A Boston Kitchen by Pamela Heyne

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I was recently in Boston on a book launch. My book shows how Julia Child’s ideas can be relevant today in modern kitchens, with an emphasis on cooking and sit down dining and a de-emphasis on lounging, snacking and TV watching.

I was lucky to be hosted by a couple who had a beautiful kitchen that could easily have been in the book. The lady of the house, who did most of the cooking, said she hated barstools, so none encircled the space. She favored sit down dining, so a dining room was reached from one door, a breakfast room from another. The TV was in the cozy library, remote from the kitchen.

unnamed-3Her appliances were cunningly concealed. The microwave oven was under the counter. The refrigerator is a new “refrigerator column” or “integrated refrigerator”. It basically looks like a cupboard. She also had two “drawer freezers.” They are convenient 2’ deep drawers, and avoid a lot of that rummaging we hate. Her designer was Paul Reidt from Kochman, Reidt and Haig in Stoughton, Mass.unnamed-2

Designers have always had a problem with the bulky refrigerator. The refrigerator in Julia’s French Chef TV show was recessed in an arched niche, making it much more presentable. We architects and designers were happy when “counter depth” refrigerators arrived on the scene a generation ago. Actually 27” deep, the door sticks out past the counter. Now, the “new kids on the block” are the integrated refrigerators. They are designed to sit flush in a 24” cabinet. They also have varying widths, from 18” to 36”. Thermador and Subzero are the leading manufacturers. Some of these models qualify as “energy star”. This means that they exceed federal energy standards.

Interestingly, Julia Child and Paul Child had tried to make the old fashioned refrigerator in their Cambridge kitchen less visible. Designer Paul painted it black and nestled it in bookcases. During my original interview with Julia she had asked me, “It’s more chic, don’t you think?” She also had small freezers under the counter. All these elements are now preserved at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. That Cambridge kitchen has been enshrined behind glass walls, viewed by millions every year.

In Julia’s day, climate change was not as critical an issue as it is now. Beyond looks, we want kitchen appliances and equipment that help us reduce our carbon footprint. If one decides to purchase a new refrigerator, the government recommends against putting the old one in the garage. It becomes an “energy hog”, can cost the homeowner hundreds of dollars a year to use, and certainly does not help the environment.

Pamela Heyne, AIA has a design studio in Saint Michaels, Md. pam@heynedesign.com. She will give a slide presentation on the relevance of Julia Child’s design and lifestyle ideas at the Saint Michaels Library Dec. 1 at 5:30 pm. The book, In Julia’s Kitchen, practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child will be available for purchase.

Design for You: Really Comfortable Dining by Pamela Heyne

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I advocate sit down dining in my book, In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child. Recently in my own family room I made two changes to enhance that activity.

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-9-14-05-amThe first change was the chairs. I took away the dining chairs and added traditionally styled easy chairs to the glass topped table in the family room. These chairs are comfortable; blissfully soft, they say, “stay”. So….you lean back in them rather than sitting ramrod straight. Your head is supported. You relax. Maybe you scrunch your legs up. The effect is remarkable…my husband and I linger at the table far longer than we did in the past.

The second change was the TV. Oh we still have one, in an armoire. But, as the phrase goes, we “cut the cable.” Now we are not paying a fortune a month for shows we don’t watch and a few of those news shows we watched too much. We get all the news, commentary and specialized shows we really need, all delivered through the internet. But now, much of the time the armoire doors are closed.

In my book I mention that Julia Child enjoyed watching Tom Brokaw’s news show every evening, but never while dining. As I often say, the meals we enjoy and remember are the ones we share with others rather than with the TV. It takes twenty minutes for our brains to get the message that we have eaten enough. Distracted dining in front of the television often results in our eating more food than we need, and enjoying it less.

So maybe one solution to our national obesity epidemic is to make sit-down dining really, really comfortable. And, take a cue from Julia, no seconds! But, conversation has no calories…it is just food for thought.

 

Pamela Heyne, AIA is head of Heyne Design. pam@heynedesign.com 410-714-9040 her book is available through her, at local stores and online.

Design for You: Glamour for Valentine’s Day by Pamela Heyne

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Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romance, so this is a fun time to make our home a bit more romantic, and maybe spruce up our own appearance as well. Mirrors and proper lighting can help in both instances. I think Saint Valentine would be pleased at all the fuss.

Wall Mirror

Wall Mirror

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.38.26 AMMirrors are a quick way to add sparkle and glamour to the home. A favorite technique of mine is using mirrored placemats, with beveled edges. They reflect candles and beautiful flowers. I also like combining them with other reflective accessories such as silver and cut crystal. The placemats are easy to clean, with a wipe of Windex. They also are small and easily stored. I have had mine for years. An additon to candles is LED (light emitting diode) lighting. LED candles and LED votive candles emit no heat so can be installed in paper holders. LED tape, in varying lengths, can simply be mounted atop a ledge or bookshelf and plugged in. Then as a director you click the hand held control and chose whatever flattering rose or gold hues you want to set the stage. For inspiration look at some of those over the top events shown on line, such as at Kennedy Center or the National Building Museum.

When it comes to sprucing up ourselves in the mirror it is helpful having more than just the mirror over the sink. I like being able to get up close to the mirror for that last minute grooming, and I hate magnifying mirrors. As for lighting, please, no spotlights on the ceiling: they create shadows.

The Three Way Mirror

The Three Way Mirror

For a dressing area for a client, I designed a closet with a three way mirror. It was simply three hinged mirrored doors. When the center door was closed, and the two outer doors were opened, she had in essence the kind of view you get in a department store dressing room. Don’t want a three way mirror? I recently saw a wall mirror in a DC hotel ladies’ room that had an ultra wide bevel; much more stylish than those wall mirrors mounted with little plastic clips!

So, you look great, the house looks great, the champagne is chilling. Perhaps one of your toasts could be to Saint Valentine. He was a Christian priest who performed secret wedding ceremonies for early Christians, particularly soldiers, against Roman law. Romans felt soldiers were better fighters if they were single.Valentine was executed by Imperial Rome because of his activities. Just before his death he wrote a note to a woman whom he had helped heal from an illness. The note was signed “from your Valentine”.

Pamela Heyne,AIA, is a Saint Michaels architect and designer. She is author of Mirror By Design and a forthcoming book on Kitchen design, based on her interview with Julia Child. pam@heynedesign.com

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