Category: architecture

Majestic Milan

Arriving into Milan Central railway station you immediately know that you have entered a most elegant  European city.  Modeled after Union Station in Washington, DC the impressive Milano Centrale station was completed in 1931.  Adorned with numerous sculptures, this grand stone structure has no particular architectural style.

Milan, Italy train station

Detail of Milan Italy train station

The city’s principal landmark, the Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano, prevails as a Gothic masterpiece. Soaring over the piazza that bears it’s name, the Duomo, took six centuries to complete and even today is in a constant state of refurbishment and repair.

Duomo di Mlano

The second largest Italian church with a nave height of the nave of over 147 feet, it boasts the highest Gothic vaults of a complete church in the world.

Milan Cathedral interior

Duomo di Milano interior

A profusion of carved statues, stained glass and marble adorn The Altar of San Giovanni Buono, a 7th Century bishop in Milan.

Altar of San Giovanni Buono, Milan Cathedral

Sharing space on the Piazza del Duomo find the shopping arcade known Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.   Pass though the magnificent triumphal arch to a glass covered shopping and dining promenade.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Built in the 15th century on the remains of a 14th Century fortification, the  Castello Sforzesco, was renovated and enlarged in the 16th and 17th Centuries, making it one of the largest castles in Europe.

Sforza Castle Milan

Away from the bustle of the main tourist areas, find the lovely Brera district of Milan.  This upscale residential area is comprised of beautiful town homes, shopping and dining.

Brera district Milan

Nestled in the Brera neighborhood, on the Piazza del Carmine, find The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine.  The church structure was completed in 1446 while the Baroque style facade was added in the 17th Century.

Santa Maria del Carmine

While in Italy, I discovered my new favorite cocktail, the electric orange Aperol Spritz.

Aperol Spriz

Combine 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, and 1 splash soda on the rocks.  Garnish with an orange slice.   Molto Bene!

Mr. H says: Do your heart a favor an travel-Enjoy!

A design transformation

Built in 2003, this Lake Keowee vacation home needed an update to appeal to my clients more modern aesthetic.  A major two year renovation ensued and these are some of the preliminary results.

The original French country kitchen included a rustic brick floor

Kitchen before photo

Red cabinetry, a spectacular granite island and contemporary lighting set the tone for the main living area of the house.

Kitchen after

A pleasant sun room and breakfast space were added by enclosing the porch from the kitchen.


Sun Room

Knotty pine paneling kept the dining room in perpetual gloom

Dining Room before photo

An airy modern quality was achieved by removing the paneling and painting the walls a light linen color.  Tailored Swaim dining arm chairs replaced the bulky country French chairs.

Dining after photos

Heavy red upholstery along with the pine paneling made the spacious living area appear cramped

Living room before photo

A pair of button tufted Kravet sofas offer plenty of seating with out feeling obtrusive.

Living after photo

Hoping to have the project wrapped up by the end of the year.   Stay tuned for complete finished photos.

Mr. H says: Never forget that marriages are a compromise and so are renovations-Enjoy!

Blended Boston

At the recent ASID Chapter Leadership Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, we were able to carve out some time from the training sessions, to visit with this modern yet historic city.

Boston, MA skyline

Brookline artist Janet Echelman’s ethereal spider web rope sculpture “floats”  between it’s supporting buildings over the  Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Janet Echelman’s aerial rope sculpture

A personal tour of Boston’s hip North End by a local architect and developer highlighted some of the unique structures around the area.  The Skinny House is the narrowest house in Boston, measuring a mere 10 feet at its widest point.

Skinny House Boston

The North End lays claim to being the city’s oldest residential community, having been continuously inhabited since it was settled in the 1630s.  Red brick tenements housed the waves of immigrants that flooded the city at the turn of the 20th Century.

Boston North End

Built in 1723, The Old North Church, is the location from which the famous “One if by land, and two if by sea” signal is said to have been sent in Paul Revere’s midnight ride, on April 18, 1775.

Old North Church, Boston, MA

A histrionically Catholic Italian neighborhood, the North End of Boston is home to many elaborate pop up shrines.

Boston Catholic shrine

And of course, cannolis can be found around any street corner

Boston Italian Bakery

Mr. H says: You see a lot of things in Boston when you’re dancing in the streets-Enjoy!

Beautiful Breckenridge

Set against the backdrop of snow capped peaks, the charming mountain village of Breckenridge, Colorado contains a wealth of historic Victorian architecture.  Now considered a world class ski resort, Breckenridge was originally a mining town that provided services for the  profitable mining district that surrounded it.

Historic Breckenridge, Colorado

It was during the summer of 1859, when miners discovered gold along the Blue River, that the development of the small Breckenridge community was established.   While none of the original camp exists, the historic structures that remain are marvelous building archetypes of a town born from the gold fever era.

Breckenridge historic photo

Along the Main Street, facades display architectural ideals of the Victorian age of this once mining town now resurrected as a resort ski village.  The town’s period of historic significance spans from its settlement in 1859 to the closure of the last gold dredging operation in 1942.

Breckenridge Colorado Visitor's Center

In 1980, the Secretary of the Interior designated the greatest concentration of the town’s historic structures as a Local National Register Historic District.  The over 300 significant structures are protected through development and design standards that insure compatible infill construction.

Breckenridge Colorado Main Street

Typical false front, painted clapboard commercial buildings along Main Street.

Main Street Breckenridge Colorado store front

The merchants wealth is evident in the Victorian details of the widow’s walk and adjoining tower with stained glass windows.

Victorian Architecture Breckenridge Colorado

Known as a “rough and ready” town, built for function, Breckenridge does boast some elaborately detailed structures.  A wide variety of building ornamentation can be found including brackets, decorative window surrounds and ornamental cornices.

Victorian Breckenridge Architecture

Victorian architecture Breckenridge

Victorian filigree and whimsy is evident on this facade

Victorian architecture in the US west

In keeping with the Victorian edict of saturated color in multiple intense shades, residences and business alike flaunt eye popping color schemes.

Victorian exterior color scheme

Both economic activity and population declined with the cessation of mining although Breckenridge, as the Summit County seat, never became a ghost town.   In 1961, Rounds and Porter Lumber Company of Wichita, Kansas opened a new ski area breathing new life into the mountain town.

Breckenridge Colorado ski resort

The town of Breckenridge is a celebrated example of preserving the past while maintaining a viable purpose.

Victorian street scape

Mr. H says: Architecture can be considered frozen music-Enjoy!

Whiling Away in Winston Salem

On a recent trip to High Point Furniture Market I was pleased to spend some time in charming Winston-Salem.  Even though its the fifth largest city in North Carolina, it harbors a wealth of charm and history.  From skyscrapers to the 1700 era structures of Old Salem, Winston Salem is a sojourn worthy city.

Completed in 1929, as the headquarters for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, The Reynolds Building was the design inspiration for the much larger and more famous Empire State Building in New York City that was built in 1931.

RJ Reynolds Building Winston Salem

The tallest building in the Piedmont Triad region is found in Winston-Salem.  The Wells Fargo Center or 100 North Main Street is a 1995 postmodern 34 floor skyscraper designed by Petronas Towers architect César Pelli.

Wachovia Tower Winston Salem

The area of Old Salem was originally settled by members of the Protestant Moravian Church in 1766.  Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966, the town’s restored and reconstructed buildings, staffed by living-history interpreters, present visitors with a view of Moravian life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Old Salem building

Old Salem streetscape

Old Salem

A trip is not complete with dining at the Tavern in Old Salem.

The Tavern in Old Salem

For the duration of my stay, I was happily ensconced in fellow ASID interior designer Susan Carson’s home.  Built in the 1920’s, it was a joy to behold her design of the interiors.

Winston Salem home

A stunning Zuber inspired hand painted wall mural in the entry

Hand painted stair mural

The elegant faux painted dining room with a cheetah patterned rug.

Faux Painted Dining Room

Mr. H says:  Seeing art and engineering as separate is not seeing the world as a whole-Enjoy!

Kiawah Island Modern Design

Overlooking the Turtle Point Golf course and the Atlantic Ocean beyond this modern Kiawah Island home we recently completed has sweeping views from nearly every room.

Kiawah Island Interior Design

Designed by Camens Architectural Group and built by Koenig Construction, Inc. this ocean front home seamlessly blends traditional and contemporary elements.

Marc Camens Architect

Utilizing an over sized mirror in the foyer that reflects the architectural staircase made artwork unnecessary

Oversized foyer mirror

Bamboo flooring is the optimal back drop for the sleek, curvy lines, of the main floor furnishings from Swaim and Weiman.

Turtle Point Golf Course Kiawah

living-room modified

Soft green, geometric bedding and drapery from Eastern Accents in the guest bedroom

Modern bedroom design

The third floor master bedroom features a custom bed, floated in the center of the room, with a stunning view of the beach.

Modern interior design bedroom
Photos by Jim Somerset Photography.

Mr. H says: Design is thinking made visual-Enjoy!

Scottish Castles

With the media attention on their unsuccessful independence vote and the wildly popular Starz TV series Outlander filmed on location at Doune Castle, the Scots are enjoying a bit of a renaissance in their ancient country.

There are thousands of castles dotting the Scottish landscape in various state of use and ruin. On a recent trip to Scotland, we experienced the history and romance of a few Scotland’s architectural treasures first hand.

Dominating Edinburgh’s skyline,  the city’s namesake castle, sits high atop Castle Rock.  Since the 12th Century, a royal residence and stronghold sat on the this site housing notable Scottish monarchs such as Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), who died there in 1093, and Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566.  Now a museum and function venue, Edinburgh Castle safeguards the Stone of Destiny, on which kings and queens were enthroned for centuries, along with the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Impression of Edinburgh Castle before the 'Lang Siege' of 1573.jpg
Impression of Edinburgh Castle before the ‘Lang Siege’ of 1573” by Kim Traynor – Scanned from James Grant, Old And New Edinburgh, Cassels 1880.

Edinburgh Castle


Edinburgh Castle

Scottish Crown Jewels

At the other end of the Royal Mile (literally it is a mile) is the active royal residence of Holyrood Palace.  Since the 16th Century the structure has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots and is still in use by Queen Elizabeth for state occasions and official entertaining.  With its ruined 10th Century Abbey to the rear, the existing Baroque palace structure was re-constructed in between 1671 to 1679 which was designed by the architect Sir William Bruce.

Holyrood from Calton Hill by James Valentine. 1878 or earlier..jpg
Holyrood from Calton Hill by James Valentine. 1878 or earlier.” by James Valentine

Holyrood Palace Forecourt fountain

Holyrood Palace Edinburgh

Holyrood Abbey Edinburgh

Holyrood Abbey Scotland

Along the coast, just South of the city of Aberdeen, Scotland sits Dunnottar Castle.  Commanding a sweeping view of the North Sea, this Medieval castle ruin evokes Scotland’s mystical past.  William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all slept there. According to legend, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels from destruction by lowering them into a boat below the castle.

Dunnottar Castle John Slezer.PNG
Dunnottar Castle John Slezer” by John Slezer – Theatrum Scotiae, 1693.

Dunnottar Castle Scotland

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar CastleDunnottar Castle Chimney Piece

Mr. H says: There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds-Enjoy!

ASID Carolinas Presents Animal House

Coming this Fall!

The American Society of Interior Designers presents Animal House: Barkitecture and Kitty Couture

A competition of custom-built dog and cat houses, pet carriers and table top houses as well as  a silent auction to benefit animal charities in South and North Carolina.

Austin Barkitecture Fix & Blackwell
Austin Barkitecture Fix & Blackwell

This “furtastic” event is open to the public and all are invited to design and build their own animal friendly creation

RecyclArt Cat Bed Suitcase
Brooklyn Limestone
Austin Barkitecture LZT Architects
Austin Barkitecture LZT Architects
Cool Pet Steps
Cool Pet Steps

Join ASID Carolinas Saturday, September 27th, 2014 5:30PM at the The Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina to see the results

Click Here for all the details and submission criteria or head to the ASID Carolinas website

Modernist Cat litter box cabinet
Modernist Cat

ASID Carolinas Animal House 2014

Mr. H says: Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail-Enjoy!

Remembering Our Heroes

While many of us our looking forward to the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and the official kick off to summer, we often forget just what this coming Monday is really about: To remember the men and women of our armed services who have died in a United States War. Find some of the United States most moving and iconic tributes to our nation’s fallen heroes.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Honoring the men and women who served in the controversial Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial chronologically lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to their country. 

While there are several parts to this memorial site, including “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, the most famous part is simply known as the wall.  The Memorial (wall) was designed by an undergraduate at Yale University, Maya Ying Lin, born in Athens, Ohio in 1959. Her parents fled from China in 1949 when Mao-Tse-tung took control of China,  She acted as a consultant with the architectural firm of Cooper- Lecky Partnership on the construction of the Memorial.

Completed in 1983, The Wall consists of two 246 feet and 9 inches gabbro stone which were sunk into the ground, with earth behind them.   It looms 10 feet high at the apex point and tapers to 8 inches on either end.  This India quarried stone was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality, so that when a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, symbolically bringing the past and present together. 

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

Located in a natural crater, The Punchbowl, consists of military cemetery along with 60 memorial boulders for those that fought in various United States conflicts around the Pacific Ocean.  Although there are various translations of the Punchbowl’s Hawaiian name, “Puowaina,” the most common is “Hill of Sacrifice.”   Continuously expanding since 1949, this vast breath taking site houses the remains of over 13,000 soldiers and sailors who died during World War II alone.

"Punchbowl" National Memorial Cemetery Photo: Danny Lehman

The famously striking grand stone staircase is flanked by the ten marble slabs of the Courts of the Missing which list the names of the 28,788 military personnel who are missing in action or were lost or buried at sea in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  Designed by the architecture firm, Weihe, Frick, & Kruse, and completed in 1964 this solemn space is watched over by Lady Liberty.

Photo by Jiang

Names on the  Honolulu Memorial Walls

World War II Memorial

Honoring the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home it is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the National Mall’s central axis in Washington, DC. Designed by Rhode Island architect, Friedrich St.Florian, this memorial site was created by a team of artisans assembled by Leo A Daly, an international architecture firm.  With St.Florian as the design architect, the eam also included George E. Hartman of Hartman-Cox Architects, landscape architect Oehme van Sweden & Associates, sculptor Ray Kaskey, and stone carver and letterer Nick Benson.

World War II Memorial Washington DC
United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division

The final design consists of fifty-six, 17 foot tall granite pillars arranged in a semicircle around a plaza with two 43 foot triumphal arches on opposite sides. Two-thirds of the 7.4 acre site is landscaping and water. Each pillar is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 US States of 1945, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska and Hawaii Terrritories, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, American Somoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.  The northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic” and the southern one,”Pacific”.

Worl War 2 Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial

This unique memorial site is a structure built over the remains of USS Arizona that sunk upon the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

National Park Service

Designed by Honolulu architect, Alfred Preis, who had been detained at Sand Island enemy at the start of the war due to his Austrian birth. The US Navy specified that the memorial be in the shape of a bridge and the architect complied by creating a 184 foot long structure withe two peaks at each in connected by a sag in the center of the structure.  Representing the height of American pride before the war, the sudden depression of a nation after the attack and the rise of American power to new heights after the war.

On the inside, the shrine lists the names of the 1102 men that died in the attack

USS Bowfin Submarine Waterfront Memorial

As the daughter of a 28 year veteran submariner, this site was especially poignant to me. The Waterfront Memorial stands in tribute to the 52 U.S. submarines and more than 3,500 submariners who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation during World War II. The fifty-two monuments chronicle the wartime career of each of the lost submarines and list the names of the officers and enlisted men who are “on eternal patrol” with their vessels. 

USS Bowfin Waterfront Memorial

The USS Bowfin Waterfront Memorial is the end result of of four years of hard work by a talented team of historians, architects, graphic designers, landscapers and skilled craftspeople.

USS S-28 Submarine Memorial Plaque

It is no surprise that their are countless memorials scattered across the United States including battlefields, monuments, cemeteries and parks and for good reason since a staggering 1,321,612 Million of men and women lost their lives in US conflicts since the founding of our country in 1775.

Mr. H says: Never forget that those that died for their country was someones child, spouse, sibling, relative, friend and coworker.  Let us give thanks to those they left behind.

Ancient Places, Holy Spaces

In Charleston, and through out the United States, we treasure are 200 year old history and the structures that have survived.   The Middle East however boasts some of the earliest signs of man’s handiwork on planet Earth.  We were thrilled to encounter such places on a recent trip to Israel and Jordan.

The Tomb of Absalom’s construction and first stage of use occured during the 1st Century CE.  The monument is said to house Adsalom, the rebellious son of King David of Israel.  Rising in the background is The Mount of Olives which has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves.

Tomb of Absalom, Israel

The equally impressive Second Century B.C. Tomb of Benei Hezir and neighboring Tomb of Zechariah has been ascribed a First Century CE construction date

Tomb of Zechariah,  Israel

Dating from possibly the 12th Century,  the Cenacle marks the site where the Last Supper was to have taken place.

Cenacle on Mount Zion

Dedicated in 1910, the Hagia Sion or Abbey of the Dormition, claims to be the spot that the Blessed Virgin Mary ended her worldly existence.


An important Christian pilgrimage site, the circa 1048 Church of the Holy Sepulchre is venerated as this site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre


Church of the Holy Spulchre

The basalt stone ruins of the 3rd century CE Synagogue at Bar’am is in remarkable condition.

Ruins of the Ancient Synagogue at Bar'am

Ruins of the Ancient Synagogue at Bar'am

The amazing sandstone rock carved tombs of Petra, Jordan were possibly begun as early as 312 BCE.  The Nabataean custom of burying their dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves has left us with one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan

Mr. H says: In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods, somehow they have not forgotten this-Enjoy!