Yesterday an artistic, architecturally fluent client/friend and I attended a Zephyr party at the Decorator Showcase, held this year in a Julia Morgan designed building at 3630 Jackson.
Julia was really quite something. Read about her here, and here, and here, and here.
In retrospect I really wish I had focused my phone camera less on beautiful flowers and eye popping design details, and more on the window arrangements and proportions of the rooms, which were consistently wonderful. Happily, there have been many camera's trained on these interiors, so you can see lots of photos here and here - keep an eye out for the windows.
Beautiful arrangements of windows in most rooms. Intimate spaces flowing into and contrasting with more grand, but still comfortable, spaces. Large bay window assemblages, bringing in more light from more directions and bringing the viewer out into the world. Prospect and Refuge.
She really understood live-ability and light. My client and I discovered our mutual appreciation of "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander, and agreed that beautiful livable spaces are possible to create at most price points, through intelligent use of patterns, such as "light on two sides".
We also agreed that spending 10 or 20 million dollars does not guarantee live-ability or comfort. Not all of the Showcase houses, or other very high end homes, are actually that pleasant to live in. You really have to look beneath the staging for proportions and light and flow, which as you can see by my personal photos is hard to do, especially if you are a visual person easily distracted by flowers or wallpaper or art. On the other hand, it can be hard for most people visualize living in empty homes, hence the popularity and effectiveness of staging. Here are a few photo's before the designers arrived.
I was encouraged recently by my clients architect to"go through the whole place at least twice" and look more deeply at how the building is constructed, how the weight and spaces are distributed and how the building has been maintained. Don't just think about where you would put your TV. Look at long term comfort issues like orientation of rooms, windows, flow, function, adaptability of space. Also how the building connects with the ground and community surrounding it.
These are the things that will support you in your life in the home, or not. Massive renovation is not for everyone, and even those who love it prefer to start with "good bones."