Web neighbor: A Verdant Life

It's probably a bit early for spring fever, but with all of the grim economic news bombarding me indoors, I’m ready to get outdoors. Though the snow has finally melted on my street, temperatures often in the 30’s aren’t warming my heart. So I started daydreaming about warmer climes like California, where I’ll be headed in a few weeks, and I dropped in on A Verdant Life, the Bay Area blog by John Black who’s a landscape and garden designer. He’s also a principal at Verdance Fine Garden Design.

John Black and I practice related design disciplines on opposite coasts. His is a proactive, thoughtful voice in support of regional landscape design that is sustainable, authentic, and inspirational. He’s an expert comfortable expounding on binominal nomenclature, and a trend spotter amused by the recent treatment of architects and landscape architects in pop culture.

He offers insight into the landscape design process and succinct pointers to gardeners looking for direction. Often his conclusions readily translate to the fields of architecture and interior design too.

For New England house enthusiasts looking for cross-disciplinary and cross-coastal inspiration, look no further than A Verdant Life. Sometimes, venturing outside, literally and figuratively, can bring a much needed fresh perspective.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast

Web neighbor: Robert Swinburne -- Vermont Architect

Bob’s blog came to my attention not long ago. I knew when I read the subtitle “musings and mutterings of a rural Vermont architect” that I’d probably found something special. For starters, you might want to begin with his introductory post “What I want my blog to be,” which sets the straightforward, refreshing tone evident throughout his blog.

I was amused to discover he’d created an ego category. Since architects are known for having hefty, often humorless, egos, I was delighted to find that Bob’s “ego” posts are modest and insightful. He writes in “A Little bit of Me” about his desire to reconcile the artistic vision of an individual architect with the performance of architectural services for a client. In “Site Decisions and Instinct” he offers a window into the architect’s perspective on one of the most important decisions in the design process. And, naturally, he shares some of the recognition he's received, like winning the 2008 Providence Sustainable Housing Design Competition in the "affordable" group.

His mutterings category appeals to my inner irreverence. He rants about “free” design and complicated heating systems. In a post titled “Grassroots Modern, Carpenter Modern” he defines his interpretation of architectural "modernism;" see “Bob’s Barn” for an illustration of the warm, rooted, and stream-lined aesthetic he’s describing.

I think you’ll find that his is a welcome, down-to-earth voice in the architectural blogosphere. Take a look.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast

Slow food inspires Slow Home

slowhomelogoFooter.gifI only recently discovered Slow Home thanks to architect Bob Swinburne of Vermont. In a video introduction Founding Editor John Brown (an architect, real estate broker and Professor of Architecture at the University of Calgary) describes Slow Home as “a new design environment that will help you learn about Modern residential design and how to start integrating the principles of good design into your daily life.”

The site has a number of informative features that illuminate the rewards of good design and the failures of ill-considered design. The Design Studio category includes telling segments titled “What’s Wrong With This House?” in which Brown provides voice-over analysis and recommendations for drawings that he shares via video. The News category includes both pithy clips from other media sources and Slow Home announcements that pertain to residential discourse, events, and updates. For a quick overview of what to expect on the site for a given week check out the Slow Home Report videos.

Though the aesthetic of the work featured on the site is Modernistic, I don’t believe the thinking behind the Slow Home movement need be strictly associated with a specific style. Their site states, “In the same way that slow food raises awareness of the food we eat and how these choices affect our lives, Slow Home provides design focused information to empower each of us to take more control of our homes and improve the quality of where and how we live.” I believe such information could empower readers to pursue authentic design, no matter their aesthetic preferences.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast