Saturday, May 7, 2011

Houses for Mom

While Fabrications, Embellish or other boutique stores now satisfy my Mother's Day shopping needs, I remember having designed a house for my mom.  It had tunnels, an elevator, and a helicopter pad - all the things my 8 year old mind thought my mom might enjoy (or that I would have enjoyed, anyway).

Le Corbusier, a Swiss architect and urbanist, is celebrated for several avant-garde buildings.  Although not one of his designs incorporate the essential elements of underground tunnels with elevators, he did build a house for his mom: La Maison Blanche.


Le Corbusier was 25 a the time; the house was completed in 1912; and the design was revolutionary for its time: assymetrical, 10 different types of windows and contrasted building techniques and the sinuous lines of art nouveau that prevailed at that time.

Not surprisingly, building a house for one's parents is a common dream and accomplishment of many architects.  The following home in in India designed by architect ,for her parents. 

Excerpt from architect Sahana's blog:
"How often does one imagine that one might design the future of one’s parents? Right from when we’re little kids, we rely on our parents to design our lives. Then at some point, if we’re truly growing up, that changes, and we relate with them as adults do with other adults. Then life seems to come full circle, and we have an opportunity to contribute back to their lives. I had the fortune of one such opportunity: to design a home for my parents!"

Miyahara Architect Office:  "House TTN was designed to accommodate three families – the parents and the families of their two daughters. They had decided to live together again with the birth of grandchildren. Thus, the main objective for House TTN is to provide the necessary functions for an “urban” extended family, accommodating the needs of modern nuclear families who have grown accustomed to independent life but have chosen to enjoy the benefits of being part of a large family."

Lastly, I want to celebrate the Koby cottage, by Garrison Architects, a modular cottage built for parents visiting their children at a residential treatment centre.  The cottage was a gift from thankful parents whose family was transformed by  Starr Commonwealths Montcalm School 

Short video of Kolby Cottage construction:

~Happy Mother's Day ~

 Related books on

A House for My Mother: Architects Build for Their FamiliesLe Corbusier Le GrandIn Detail: Single Family Houses (In Detail (englisch)) Le Corbusier: Architect of the Twentieth CenturyLe Corbusier - An Analysis of Form

Sunday, February 13, 2011

White, white or white?

The trick to choosing a white?  Comparison - as with any colour.  

Certainly there are some industry faves to rely on.  But to be sure of what you're looking at, compare your swatch first to to whatever else is in the room (another paint colour, a sofa...).  When you hold it up to your gold sofa, does the white suddenly look pink?  If so, move on.

White will just look white, until you compare it to other colours or other whites.  

3 Benjamin Moore top picks:

Benjamin Moore

white dove


This color is part of the Off-White Color collection. Inherently sophisticated and endlessly versatile, the Off-White collection offers subtle nuances of whites that suit tranquil, serene environments as well as creates color-enhancing accents for dynamic spaces. 
Modern, fresh & slightly taupe.
Connecticut lake house by architect Gil Schafer and color consultant Eve Ashcroft 

Also White Dove designed by: Jeffrey Bilhuber

Benjamin Moore   Cloud White    CC-40
This is also a great colour for painting furniture.
from Style at Home June 09

Benjamin Moore  Decorator's White  OC-20

Apartment Therapy

ABCD Design

Notes on White from Apartment Therapy:

• Benjamin Moore Super White (cool white, pretty modern/stark)
• Benjamin Moore Linen White (yellowy-peach tone) I love this color, but depending on lighting situation, can look a bit dingey. Has a bit of the Martha Stewart-ness about it
• Benjamin Moore China White (pink undertone, not my favorite)
• Benjamin Moore Ballet White (a bit taupey, I like it, but may look "navajo white" dpending on lighting)
• Benjamin Moore Mayonnaise (hint of lemon white tone)
• Benjamin Moore Decorators White (decorators swear by it, but reminds me of China White)
• Benjamin Moore White Dove (modern cool white, slightly taupe)

• Philips Perfect color BUTTERFLY WHITE (from G&R paint in SF) - LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH. slightly lighter in color and fresher feeling than linen white. a creamy aioli-esque white) also very Martha-esque
• Ben Moore 925 - clean, fresh and slightly vintage-y
• Ben Moore AF-40 LYCHEE creamy yellow white
• Ben Moore AF-20 MARSCAPONE slightly pink cast
• Ben Moore AF-15 STEAM slightly greeny-taupe

Rules of thumb:
• if there is green light cast in the space: use something pinky to offset
• if there is blue, use peachy
• if there is yellow, user cooler tone

Free online design tools are numerous.  Many are easy to use and quite helpful; others just provide a large dose of e-frustration.  Here is my recent discovery that seems simple and fun:

Imagine you're out on a hike and just ahead, between the salal and oregon grape, you spot fiddleheads in the perfect green for your living room.  You take a snapshot with your iPhone or Blackberry.  Then, using Sherwin-Williams'  ColourSnap app, you receive several suggested fiddlehead-inspired paint colours.

Free & Easy download:

When in doubt, call Fitz & Suko Interiors to choose for you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Remembering Merida

The Villa Merida, Boutique Hotel

Walking down the streets of Merida, the air is thick with humidity, artistic inspiration, and the sounds of trova played on delicately out-of-tune instruments.  As you stroll the colourful walled streets, luck smiles upon you and a window is left open to reveal hidden palaces or ruins begging for your creativity.  Pink and purple bouganvilla peep over rooftop gardens.  The creek of hammocks swinging to and fro seeps though metre-thick walls.  Culture, art, history: Merida is Mexico's oldest city with French and Spanish influences and a thriving Mayan community.

While channel surfing this evening, International House Hunters was featuring Merida again.  I remembered what it was like to discover Merida; and how overwhelming it was to oversee building projects there.  After three years though, I developed relationships with some amazing architects and designers, artisans and tradespeople, real estate brokers and hoteliers - not to mention an admirable fluency in Spanish constructions terms.  I'd like to share those resource in hopes to maximize the joy in someone else's renovation of a colonial gem.

Design images below are from Estilio Yucatan, an award-winning architectural firm and design group regularly featured in Mexico's most exclusive design magazines and competitions:

3 of many publications featuring the design savvy of Estilio Yucatan. 

Casa JB53 was a project on which I worked with Estilo Yucatan. 

Rumor has it that there will soon be a rental website for this property.

The Villa Merida was one of the my largest projects while in Merida.  I'm sure there have been changes since my time there, but the images on their website are still of the original design.  All the furniture, with the exception of a few, unique antiques, was designed with inspiration from traditional pieces, materials, and forms from the region.  They were crafted by a local carpenters and blacksmiths as specified.  The result was stunning.
Original 'pasta' tiles were restored and new floors were created in that same traditional style and technique by Mosaicos La Peninsular  A great article on these tiles can be found in Yucatan Living Magazine .  More Villa images can be found in the Fitz & Suko Interiors Projects Gallery.
Rated highest among Merida's finest Hotels, Villa Merida is luxury wrapped in history.
The purchase of this property was facilitated by Mitch Keenan of Mexico International Real Estate. I adored Mitch; he was thorough, honest, and to the point. In 2003, he was one of the only USA and Mexico trained and certified real estate agents working in Merida.  He knew the laws & processes plus knew where I was coming from as well; so he facilitated my understanding of the process.   
I'd had other real-estate dealings there.  Those went more like playing hopscotch on a chess board. 
General resources:
Yucatan Today ~Online and print magazine for visitors and locals: resources, events, great maps...
Yucatan Living ~ Online magazine with various resources aimed at expats living in or moving to Merida
Mexico International Real Estate ~ They have some great links for those relocating or visiting under 'Resources'  (and Mitch is particular about who he will recommend) 

When in doubt, just ask Victor or Atahualpa of Estilo Yucatan.