Design snapshot: Rockin' red shed

Many antique structures (and some inspired newer ones) are painted a single, deep, bold color. Instead of relying on multiple exterior colors to differentiate the various component elements, such structures rely on texture and depth to communicate order.

Here, wide tongue-and-groove boards establish a field of horizontal relief which clearly reads as siding, and is differentiated from thick trim boards, proud slatted shutters, and doors comprised of vertical tongue-and-groove panels framed within crisp stiles and rails. A clipped rake and a short eave are just deep enough to cast shadow lines. The result is a taut, nuanced, rockin' red shed.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 6:35PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Design snapshot: Board-and-batten garage and connector

All too often our garages appear to receive only cursory design attention, as if we've only a finite supply of design energy, which our homes have exhausted. Not this spunky garage.

There's a lot to like about it. First, it's modestly sized. Its single stall is clearly subordinate to the main house, as a garage should be. Its casual Scandinavian-like board-and-batten siding and gable roof complement the main house's French Second-Empire-inspired tidy clapboards and sophisticated Mansard roof, rather than mimic or ignore them. Its yellow exterior body color and white trim visually tie it to the main house. And the green garage-door surround kicks up the garage's playful vibe.

My one complaint is with the intermediate space between the main house and the garage. Though I appreciate that a one-story, flat-roofed, recessed structure can be an appropriate connector between the two, I wish it had been better differentiated as a distinct entity. Ideally it would have been more transparent, either screened or glassed in, but perhaps it functions as a utility work or private living space; in which case, I'd have clad it in white-cedar shingles stained a natural color like the garage doors.

In any case, this ensemble is in lively conversation.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 2:36PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison | Comments Off

Design snapshot: Self-assured symmetry

I just watched East of Eden this weekend, the c. 1955 Hollywood interpretation of a portion of Steinbeck's classic, which recalls Cain and Abel -- with James Dean as Cal (Cain) and someone else as Aaron (Abel). They're brothers vying for their father's affection. Well, Cal thinks their vying, when, truly, Aaron has already, long ago, handily won. Aaron has it all: confidence, good looks, a solid reputation, a balanced ease, support of the establishment. Poor Cal is the seeming opposite of Aaron, in all respects save the looks department. You might (if you're a House Enthusiast) even compare their attributes to those of symmetry and asymmetry.

What is it with symmetry, so sure of itself, so solid, so relentless, so balanced, so attractive, so established, so lauded, so trusted, so good, so Aaron? This Georgian could be the poster child for symmetry. It's a self-assured delight. How we enjoy the parade of double-hung windows and the march of stone treads, railing, and balustrade emanating out equally from the center of the door and pediment. What pleasure we take from the repeated shadows cast by the matching sconces, thick sills, and proud window heads. How comfortable we are with a countenance that's symmetrical like our own.

But fear not, asymmetry has its strengths, too. It's the underdog, less established, less trusted. But it, too, can posses its own unique kind of balance. It can be less relentless and more open as a result. It can win your trust. And it can be uniquely attractive; take a look at Cal (James Dean); he's redeemed in the end. He just needs someone to believe in him. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a worthy asymmetrical "Design snapshot" to share, if only for Cal's sake.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast 

Posted on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 10:36AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Primer: More comfortable cathedral ceilings

Image excerpt from my Fine Homebuilding "Drawing Board" column about cathedral ceilings. Rafter battens and paired wood rafter ties.Pick up a copy of the November 2013 Fine Homebuilding magazine to catch my latest "Drawing Board" contribution. This one explores lending nuance to cathedral ceilings by introducing different levels of enclosure, overhead density, and orderly rhythm.

Click here for a PDF of the column. "Comfortable cathedral ceilings" by Katie Hutchison, Issue #238, October/November 2013. Reprinted with permission copyright 2013, The Taunton Press, Inc.

Visit the KHS publications page to see other magazine columns and articles I've written.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast
Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 11:32AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

The idjit gardener strikes again

In between the Hibiscus and the Rose of Sharon stand the offendersThis idjit gardener was starting to get a little cocky about her new found gardening acumen until the recent weed incident. Early in the summer, as I tilled the dirt patch next to the deck, I came across a discarded empty Delphinium seed packet. How lucky, I thought, that my predecessor had made the effort to gift me some delphinium.

Soon afterward, some green sprouts in the area of the found packet began to reveal themselves. They had multi-pronged leaves, which -- to the idjit gardener's untrained and suggestible eye -- looked to be the delphinium I awaited. In no time, there was a booming bounty of them popping up in a haphazard array. So, I subjected them to my innate orderliness, and transplanted them into two neat, tightly-spaced rows. I watched over them carefully for a few days, saw that they were thriving, and went on my merry way.

Next time I took note, they were about 18 inches tall and topped with short spikes of little lightgreen buds. But wait, that's not what Delphinium are supposed to look like, are they? I googled "Delphinium images," and doubt set in. Things got worse when I spotted the same Delphinium impostors among weeds in a town parking lot. Oh no. I dispatched photos of the impostors to friends and family who possess plant identification skills light years beyond the idjit gardener's. In reply, I received diplomatically worded emails about how something is only a weed if you don't want it, and that perhaps my impostors possessed an unsung worthiness. Well, they didn't.

This morning I removed the offenders with somber resolve. In revenge, they set my fall allergies into overdrive. But I would not be deterred. Now they rest curbside in a yard-waste bag. The garden looks a little bare in their absence, and, though I mourn the Delphinium that might have been, I've already transplanted some Hollyhock seedlings into the sunny spot the offenders so enjoyed. Perhaps the idjit gardener will next learn that Hollyhocks do not tolerate being transplanted in early fall. 'Til then, there's always another adventure for the idjit gardener.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 4:21PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off