Oct 01

3 Easy Autumn Decorating Ideas For Your Porch

Mums are a great way to add immediate color to any porch.

Mums are a great way to add immediate color to any porch.

Use these 3 easy autumn decorating ideas to add curb appeal and showcase autumn colors on our porch. No matter its size, any porch looks great when decorated for the season. In fact, these ideas can add the “wow” factor to your home and will last throughout the season.

Mum’s the Word. This is a real easy way to add immediate color to any porch. Often times we do not use enough chrysanthemums to make an impression. This year, use multiple groupings along on and around your porch.

Take care to not present a tripping hazard, but if your porch staircase is sufficiently wide, use potted mums on each side of the steps. If your stairs won’t safely accommodate that arrangement you can place them at the top and bottom of the staircase.

Not only is placement important, choosing the right color or colors is as important as well. Many use one predominant color throughout their decorating scheme. There is nothing quite like seeing mass groupings of yellow or gold mums. Still others prefer to mix and match colors to create interesting arrangements as well.

Paint the Pots. First, remove the stickers from the pots. It really detracts from your plant arrangements to look down and see the bar codes on the pots. Second, consider painting them to complement or contrast with the colors of your mums.

Most pots are black which can appropriate. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to basic black. In fact, gold, yellow, and other autumn colors will enhance the look of your arrangements. Pots do not have to be all one color either. You can have fun creating your own unique design. Spray paints made just for this purpose are readily available.

Hang a Decorative Flag. Hanging a flag not only adds color and flair to your porch but it is also eye-catching to passers-by. They come in a variety of colors and scenes so selecting one to fit your style should be easy. You might also want to color coordinate the flag with your mums. Stretching your color scheme across your porch on various items will give it a together look.

These 3 easy autumn decorating ideas are quick to do and will add immediate curb appeal. They will last throughout the season and be delightful to all who pass by. It is a colorful season and one which you can use your porch as your palette as you celebrate this special time of year.

 

Dave R. Morris is a co-creator and co-founder of http://www.front-porch-ideas-and-more.com/porch-decorating.html, your portal for front porch ideas and designs.  To learn much more about front porch designs and to be inspired by many front porch pictures, please visit our autumn decorating section.

Dave, a woodworker and lover of the outdoors, lives in Nashville, TN. Take a break and enjoy your porch!

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Sep 21

Midcentury Modern Furniture Design

mid century chair and buffetThe period between the end of World War II and the early 1960s brought a period of optimism and prosperity to America. John F. Kennedy becomes president, a man flies into space, and it seemed like a time when anything was possible. Gio Ponti and Carlo di Carli added sensuousness to furniture not seen since the height of Art Nouveau. Planned obsolescence seemed like a good idea and disposable furniture was the craze. Joe Colombo built a chair out of polyurethane foam covered cylinders that could be taken apart and put in a duffel bag. Wendell Castle made a chair of white molded plastic that looks like a sand castle with only a depression in the center to sit in.

The new plastics allowed furniture to molded into every imaginable, and some unimaginable, shapes. Places like the Superstudio and Archizoom reacted to the excess by making what they called Anti-design… furniture both awkward to use and ugly to look at.

But for most of the designers, form followed function and they expanded on the stripped-down look of the Modernists. To the Japanese influence of simple structures, they added bold colors, stretch fabrics and molded plywood. The use of the widely versatile aluminum influenced furniture design. Just as leisure became a more important part of American culture, so designers began to create chairs designed for slouching. Informality ruled and lines stretched and moved into organic shapes only made available by the new materials.

Like the pivotal work of Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson at the Herman Miller furniture company took off with a style demanding “durability, unity, integrity and inevitability”. America, because it could so quickly recover from the ravages of World War II, led the way.

Likewise, the Scandinavian countries were much less affected by the war and so they were able to begin production much faster than the rest of Europe. Hans Wegner designed his Model No. JH 501 chair that became so popular it was simply called The Chair. House Beautiful declared it the most beautiful chair in the world. It was the chair used for seating in the televised debate between JFK and Richard Nixon.

One of the more interesting aspects of Scandinavian furniture was the use of teak. Native to the Pacific Rim countries, large military exercises cleared huge sections of forest in Thailand and the Philippines and so teak became abundant and cheap. Finn Juhl was a master at shaping teak into free form furniture.

Other hot items were the drop chair of Arne Jacobsen, with its polyurethane shell in leather-upholstered foam and standing on copper-coated tubular legs. His 3107 chair was so popular that by the end of the 20th century, 6 million of them had sold.

One of the stranger pieces of the time was the UP5 chair by Gaetano Pesce. It was made from high density polyurethane foam and coved with stretch nylon. It was then placed in a vacuum chamber and shrunk to 10 percent of its original size and packed between two heat sealed sheets of plastic. When you got it home and opened the bag, air would seep back in and the chair would regain its full size and shape.

 

There are more articles on furniture history, care & design at http://olyfurnitureworks.com/blog/.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Sep 12

5 simple design tricks to revamp your home

revamp your home(BPT) – Whether you’ve just moved into a home or you’ve lived there for years, it might be time for a design tune-up. While many may think tackling their home décor takes a bundle of time, money and expertise, it doesn’t have to be so frightening. You don’t need to spend a fortune or go to design school to breathe a little life into your home.

“It’s all about simplicity,” says Susan Yoder, interior design expert for Clayton Homes. “A little goes a long way when it comes to home décor and living spaces. Only a few simple changes can make a big difference and allow you to create a room you’ll be itching to show off to friends and family.”

Yoder offers a few of her design tips that will help any homeowner revamp their space:

Pops of color. “Nothing livens up a room like a bright pop of color,” Yoder says. If you have neutral-toned furniture, try sprucing up the room with lamps, curtains and accessories in bold hues. If you’re up for a painting challenge, an accent wall is a great way to incorporate color into a space. Choose your favorite color from a throw pillow or wall-art piece in the room to pull the look together.

Varying textures. A room tends to get boring when it focuses on only one texture, so it’s important to create a sense of balance. Try varying the fabric types on your sofa and curtains. Add in some metal or wooden accents to draw the eye around the room. You can even play with lighting to reflect off certain objects and create visual interest.

Antique feature. Choose an antique or unique piece of décor to be the inspiration for the room. This could be a rug, lamp, chair or even a chandelier — anything that gets you energized and motivated. Get creative and run with the theme it creates. Or if your style is more on the modern side, an antique object will stand out among your contemporary décor.

Symmetrical yet functional. The furniture collection in a room should form a restful, symmetrical layout. It’s all about balance. There should be between three and 10 feet between each seat. Additionally, instead of pushing each piece up against the wall to create more space, give your furniture a bit of breathing room a few inches from the wall. This makes the room appear open and airy.

Clutter-free organization. Getting rid of clutter is a grand challenge for most homeowners. When you decide to take on the mess, drawers and cabinets are your best friends. Take some time to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, donate or throw away. Store any leftover items that can cause clutter in an organized, out-of-sight area.

Use these tips to revitalize your space and you’ll be ready to confidently host gatherings and enjoy your home instead of shying away from your living space.

Jul 21

How (and Why) to Apply a Paste Wax to Your Furniture

Flowers on a tablePaste wax has been used for centuries to seal, protect and add shine to wood furniture. Paste wax dries to a hard, but very thin, protective finish which makes it the best choice for maintaining fully finished furniture. It is simple to apply and offers several benefits that modern technology can`t match.

Paste wax contains no chemicals that can dry out wood furniture. Most spray-on furniture polishes contain harsh chemical solvents to make them spray effectively, which means that they are dissolving your finish even as they are cleaning it.

The solvents in paste wax are generally made from mineral spirits and are only intended to help the wax soften enough to be spread over the wood. This type of solvent is far gentler on furniture finishes.

Manufacturers of spray polish like to scare consumers with the dangers of “waxy build-up,” but this is a myth. Given the nature of paste wax, it simply does not build up in the way that they claim it does.

Every time you rub against a waxed surface, you degrade a tiny bit of the wax. When you reapply paste wax to furniture and buff it, you`re replacing missing wax, not simply layering over what is already there.

You don`t need any special equipment to apply paste wax, but it`s a good idea to keep lint-free cloths and oil-based furniture soap on hand.

Begin by dusting your furniture. A static-cling or feather duster is excellent for this, because they do not grind the dust particles into the finish, which can cause microscopic scratches. Another benefit of paste wax is that it easily fills tiny scratches, but it still makes sense to avoid causing them if you can.

To apply paste wax, start by dampening a lint-free cloth such as a shop cloth, linen dish towel or old t-shirt with warm water and a tiny dab of oil-based furniture soap. Clean the furniture thoroughly and then wipe it down with a clean, dry cloth.

Place a little blot of paste wax in the center of a clean cloth. It doesn`t need to be large, certainly no larger than a jawbreaker candy or a ping pong ball. Twist the free ends of the cloth close around the little ball of wax. Squeeze and gently knead the cloth until the wax warms and you can feel it softening.

Hold the cloth by the twisted ends and rub the part covering the wax against your furniture. Use whichever motion feels most comfortable, either small circles, back-and-forth or side-to-side sweeps. Because the wax seeps through the cloth in such tiny amounts, it doesn`t matter if you work with or against the grain of the wood.

Let the wax sit for a few seconds. You will see it start to become cloudy. This is the solvent evaporating and it is a necessary part of the process. Buff the wax lightly with a clean, dry cloth and it will develop a deep, soft shine.

If you let the wax sit too long, so much solvent will evaporate that the wax becomes hard again. Apply a bit of fresh wax and it will soften right back up.

Work in small areas if you`re polishing a very large piece of furniture. Buff each section to a high sheen before moving on to the next one and you won`t have to worry about the wax hardening.

Reapply the paste wax when water no longer beads up on its surface or when the furniture looks like it is starting to lose its shine. This will vary according to how much use the furniture gets, so check the look and feel of the wax every time you dust.

More articles at http://olyfurnitureworks.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Jun 22

To The Origins of Mid Century Modern Architecture

Modernist Eichler Home - the Foster Residence, in the northern San Fernando Valley.

Modernist Eichler Home – the Foster Residence, in the northern San Fernando Valley.

The modern American house, with its interlaced spaces, functional zones and cubic forms, was developed in Europe by Le Corbusier and others, modified in America by the works of the Masters, and transformed into a new idiom through its regionalization.

The images of the “American house” were transmitted around the world, making it the modern model for the 1950s and 1960s.

An essential contribution to the genesis of the ‘American modern house’ idea was given by John Entenza -publisher of Art & Architecture- that in 1945 conceived the ‘Case Study Houses Program’ together with some of the most important post-war Californian architects.

The houses had to be an example of modern and inexpensive way of building and living for post-war modern families.

The first houses included in the program were built in wood -due to the shortage of industrial materials- and their dimensions were regulated by law.

Six of these economical houses were built in California by 1948; they set the scene for what was to follow when conventional industrialized products once again became available on the market.

An exceptional house using prefabricated components was built by the designers Charles and Ray Eames in 1945-1949 in Santa Monica, California.

The house is set back from the sea on a hilly site, amidst trees that filter the light into its interior. lt is a box that recalls the delicacy of a Japanese shoji screen, in this instance with a prefabricated framework of metal, filled in by transparent and opaque panels of varying sizes.

The interior space, with its double-height living area overlooked by the sleeping loft, employs the same vocabulary, and features furnishings such as the now famous Eames chair.

The Richard Neutra Kaufman Desert House in Palm Springs, also, set the rules for the typical mid century modern American Suburbian houses.

The house ‘landed’ -as Richard Neutra liked to say- with its green grass all around and the swimming pool, in a desertic landscape surrounded by hills and rocks. Its plan has the shape of a cross with each wing designed by Neutra to have their own view and access to open space.

ln addition to its seminal 1932 “lnternational Style” exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art in New York also staged other events that brought modern architecture to an American audience.

ln 1949, for example, it exhibited a model – essentially suburban – house by Marcel Breuer. The house had a V-shaped butterfly roof, like that of Le Corbusier’s project for the Errazuriz House (1930) in Chile and with similar dimensions, and was also similar in the way that it was zoned for contemporary living.

Both houses were modified by locally manufactured materials and components. Breuer’s house reflected the exuberance of postwar optimism in America as a model for middle-income dwelling.

The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House more than any other mid century modern house expressed the most known features of the American house: horizontality and spaces flowing into each others.

The Farnsworth House brings to a domestic level what van der Rohe already did with the Illinois Institute of Technology.

lt was unlike any conceived before it, consisting of a minimalist rectangular box enclosed by a floating roof slab and a floor slab suspended 1,5 m above the ground, both supported by eight steel H-columns.

The walls were of large panes of glass. ln plan it measured 8.6 m x 23.7 m.

The patio is on the west side and as big as the whole house. The one space plan interior is only divided by the kitchen-bathroom-fireplace core and a set of closets that screen the sleeping area.

The perfect integration of the house with the landscape, its lightness and sense of open made the Farnsworth house unique in the mid century modern as in the contemporary architectural scene.

Built before the Farnsworth House was completed but clearly indebted to its design was Philip Johnson’s Glass House (1949) in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Sitting on a low brick podium, it held a single space that was symmetrically contained by columns at the corners, centers and entrances of each of its four sides.

The interior itself was defined asymmetrically by free-standing cabinets and a cylindrical bathroom core, an arrangement that, according to Johnson in his Writings, was inspired by a Malevich painting.

According to Mies’ biographer Franz Schulze, “Mies disdained the house not simply because it was an imitation but because he considered it poorly detailed as well.”

Some years later, during a visit to the house, Mies and Johnson argue about it and other architectural matters, and their rift never healed.

As Schulze observed, it was probably for the best that Johnson left the shadow of the Master when he did, and went on to become one of America’s most influential architects.

However, as examples of perfect dwellings both the Farnsworth and Johnson houses failed.

They both allowed only poor climatic control, were expensive to build, and designed as pieces of art; not really attractive for the majority of people.

Despite this, the two houses became international icons of the mid century modern architecture and extraordinary successful.

 

The mid century architecture and design realised what the Bauhaus in the Early 20s stated in its manifesto.
Modern houses and furniture for a daily use, mass-produced and ideal to fulfill the needs of the post war American middle-class.

To see, read and discover more about mid century architecture and design, Check now Mid-Century-Home.com, the online source for mid century enthusiast and not only edited by Mark Gua.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Jun 22

Mid-Century Furniture Is Modern – Again!

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair

The era that gave us mass-produced furniture and the opportunity to “experiment” with our decor is making a come-back in the lush set designs of AMC’s hit show, Mad Men. From Pete’s chic apartment to the Draper’s domestic dream home, everyone seems to be buzzing about mid-century modern, and rightly so.

With whispers of clothing lines coming out based on the fashions from the show, and online forums filled with questions about where to find Dan Draper’s office furniture, the trend towards mid-century modern is firmly in place. Mid-century modern furniture – your grandmother’s furniture – is classic, cheap, and easy to find if you know where to look. Outside of it being handed down from your relatives when you moved out of the house to go to college, you can find these “antiques of the future” in thrift shops, estate sales, antique auctions and online at sites specializing in mid-century modern.

Mixing these classics with your existing decor is easy. In fact they look fantastic and add a lot of character when mixed with other styles. Furniture of that era is smaller in profile than many modern alternatives, so works really well in smaller spaces. You can even reupholster these pieces to match your color scheme and still do it for less than the cost of new furniture.

Danish Modern

The most abundant and easy to find mid-century modern is Danish Modern, or Danish Teak as it is sometimes known. As Mad Men Set Director Amy Wells points out, when asked about her work on set. “I want to make Mad Men look real, as if the people really have those pieces. It’s important that they be imperfect, not iconic. A lot of people had Danish modern at the time because it was reasonably priced, and much of it still exists because it was so well made.”

Some designer’s names to keep your eyes open for would be Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, N.O. Moller, Arne Jacobsen.

Finn Juhl was the first modern Danish furniture designer to be recognized internationally. He created a new style of Danish furniture that embraced form as much as it did function. The world noticed, earning Juhl the unofficial title of Father of Danish Modernism. You can see more credenzas and mid-century modern furniture examples for sale.

Top 10 collectible pieces of mid-century modern to start your collection

Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW)

The husband and wife team of Ray and Charles Eames really are American Modern Royalty. Together they made advances in manufacturing methods for mass-producing furniture. Their Lounge Chair Wood is iconic of their work.

Nelson Platform Bench

Designed by George Nelson, the Director of Design for the Herman Miller Company, the Bench has a light airy quality to it while maintaining the warmth of the wood. Nelson was also known for his advances in creating modular furniture and shelving for both office and residential.

Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American designer and sculptor. His sculptural sensibilities can be seen in his most famous furniture piece, this coffee table designed in 1954 for Herman Miller remains a timeless piece of design.

Eero Saarinen Tulip Table and Chairs

Finnish-born architect and designer, Saarinen was the father of the “Jetson’s” look. He is most famous for his Tulip table and chairs. Coincidentally became the basis for the seating on the original Star Trek series.

Eero Saarinen Womb Chair

Saarinen was also well-known for this piece of design as well. The womb chair was said to have been designed for Florence Knoll, who challenged him to create a piece of furniture that she could curl up in.

Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair

The Wassily chair is notable because it is one of the first chairs to incorporate bent tubular steel. First designed for Wassily Kandinsky, the chair widely gained popularity and has been mass-produced ever since.

Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair

The Barcelona chair was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition in 1929. The fluid lines of this chair make it a classic that is as fresh today as it was then. Mies van der Rohe’s signature is on the frame of each original piece.

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair

The Swan chair was designed for the lobby of the Royal Copenhagen Hotel in 1958. The chair, manufactured by Fritz Hansen, was innovative at its time because it was entirely made up of curving synthetic material covered with upholstery.

Eames Lounger

This chair epitomised the height of status and luxury for a long time. Designed to be as comfortable as an old baseball mit, the chair certainly lives up to expectations.

Finn Juhl Model 45 Armchair

This chair typifies the Danish design sensibilities. Beautifully proportioned, elegant sinewy frame and the warmth and comfort of wood and leather.

 

Melanie Carlson is an online entrepreneur with a passion for contemporary and mid-century modern furniture design. Her desire to find a centralized source for used designer furniture brought her to create her own web site devoted to it. Lushpad is an online classifieds site to buy and sell used designer and mid-century modern furniture and fine art.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

May 13

Exploring Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo and Serenity on Lake Ontario

Toronto Waterfront at sunset

Toronto Waterfront at sunset

My theory is a real traveler is able to discover interesting things even in the most unlikely of places. Well, Buffalo probably hasn’t made the “top travel destinations” list for a while, but I have been doing some research on it and I thought it’s high time to explore Buffalo, the closest American city to Toronto, just south of Niagara Falls and right across the Fort Erie border.

So my fellow travel and architecture aficionado Shauna and I headed out early yesterday morning to make the 2 hour trek to Buffalo. We picked the Fort Erie border crossing and fortunately it wasn’t very busy at all. The border crossing was actually a reasonably pleasant experience as the border guards were in a really good mood and very friendly, a nice foreboding to a good day.

Approaching the city we immediately took a wrong turn and headed south on Highway 5 away from downtown. But we got to see Buffalo’s waterfront, which in this area includes a few rather unspectacular marinas and some old run-down industrial buildings. We turned ourselves around and headed back towards the downtown area. Because the tourist information office was closed on Sunday we figured, we’d stop in at the Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel to pick up some tourist brochures and city maps. Another pleasant experience: The lady at the front counter was extremely helpful, provided us with several brochures and a printout of how to get to 2 of the most important architectural heritage sites in Buffalo: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House and his other important Buffalo work, Graycliff Mansion.

Having parked the car on Delaware Avenue at about 10:30 am, the one thing that struck us immediately was how empty the streets were. There was virtually no pedestrian traffic at all and very few vehicles passing by. We figured it must be too early for people to be out, and we headed off into a restaurant called “Flappy’s” to strengthen ourselves for the day with a filling brunch. We booked our tour at the Martin House for 2 pm, so after breakfast we had about 2 hours to do a walking tour of downtown.

As we came out of the restaurant we noticed the city had gotten a bit livelier, but not by much. We parked our car close to Niagara Square and started our exploration on foot. First on the agenda was the Buffalo City Hall, a monumental Art Deco skyscraper completed in 1931, built of orange-hued sandstone with intricate details and colourful ornamentation. An immensely impressive building. We examined all the facade details and friezes which display images related to agriculture.

We did a little downtown circle and covered a few really interesting buildings. The red colour and detailed ornamentation of Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building really captured our imagination. We passed by St. Paul’s Cathedral and past the trolley tracks of Main Street we discovered the Elicott Square Building. The east entrance to the building was actually open so we went inside. This building was erected in 1896 according to a design by Daniel Burnham, one of Chicago’s most famous architects. This building is constructed around a large interior court covered by a glass block ceiling held up by ornamented steel girders. We commented on how similar this design was the one of Chicago’s most famous buildings, the “Rookery”, and it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that both buildings were created by the same architect.

It’s an amazingly impressive building with gorgeous sweeping staircases and an intricate mosaic covering the entire courtyard. From the Ellicot Square Building we headed towards the Lafayette Hotel, a handsome red brick and white terra cotta French Renaissance-style building which was built in anticipation of the expected influx of visitors at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. Due to financial difficulties, however, it was not opened until 1904. From there we checked out the General Electric Tower, a handsome white Terracotta-clad structure dating back to 1912.

The Electric Tower happens to be right beside another fascinating building: the Buffalo Savings Bank, a building manifesting Buffalo’s boom of the second half of the 19th century. In the late 1890s – the peak of Buffalo’s golden age – the bank held a competition for a grand new headquarters. The contest was won by Green & Wicks, Buffalo’s premier turn-of-the-century architectural firm. Their design projected stability, security, and aspiration.The building’s signature feature is the gold-leafed dome.

After the Buffalo Savings Bank we explored the Genesee Building which today is the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Just as we finished exploring that building the heavens opened up and there was a torrential downpour so we sat down in front of the Hyatt and took in the street scene. We were facing Main Street, the street that is now a pedestrian zone and accommodates Buffalo’s light rail rapid transit line. One thing we consistently noticed in Buffalo was the absence of street-level stores and restaurants. In the downtown core, as a matter of fact, most of the modernist office and government buildings did not have any street level retail at all. A lot of the modern administrative buildings in Buffalo have a rather austere and non-welcoming feeling and some of the newer buildings dating back to the 50s and later have an almost penitentiary feeling to them. The resulting scarcity of street-level store fronts combined with the utter lack of pedestrians (certainly on the weekend) really gives downtown Buffalo a rather eerie deserted feel, and the absence of people downtown was our most striking impression of Buffalo. Judging from the classically styled street lamps with blooming planters, however, the city appears to have been working on beautifying the downtown core.

We started heading back to the car and passed by the Statler Hotel, which isn’t really a hotel any more, but apparently a building full of lawyer’s offices. We had a look inside the impressive lobby which features French chandeliers from the early 20th century. I took a couple of pictures, but the security guard stopped me, telling me no photography was allowed. We had a really interesting chat after this and he commented on long-standing economic problems of Buffalo and how in his opinion, the current mayor had only made things worse. One example of the city’s economic problems is that the stately ballroom of the Statler Hotel had only been recently reopened after having been closed down since 1957. Furthermore, a previous owner of the building had tried to create a food court in the basement and had opened up the main floor, but ran out of money before the food court could be built. So now you have a rather obtrusive opening on the ground floor with a view into an empty basement without stores or food outlets. Our local contact also commented on the reasons why downtown Buffalo was so devoid of people, and he said that all the locals did their shopping at the suburban malls and big warehouse stories. That, combined with the economic woes of the city, has apparently created a flight into the suburbs that has left the city’s core rather lifeless on the weekend.

It was really quite sad to see that a city like Buffalo, which has such a great number of outstanding architectural heritage sites, had virtually no street life, retail or shopping opportunities in the downtown core. A lot of stores were boarded up and the few stores that were there were closed down tight on the weekend.

Well, we had to move on to our tour of another architectural jewel, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House. Darwin Martin was a high-ranking executive with the Larkin Soap Company and his brother-in-law had encouraged Darwin to seek out Wright’s work in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. After familiarizing himself with Wright’s work, he brought him to Buffalo in November 1902 to build a house for his sister, the Barton House, with a size of about 4000 feet, and then to build his main house, a 15,000 square foot Prairie Style home, characterized by Wright’s rigorous and consistent use of cruciform plans, piers and cantilevers, and other prairie house principles. After many years of neglect, the Martin house is now under renovation to restore it back to its original early 1900’s authentic splendour.

Right now the building is empty and a few large photographs illustrate the former decor and furnishings. It’s very visible that this building has been neglected for a long time and the Martin House Restoration Corporation is working very hard to restore it back to its authentic 1907 characteristics, even to the degree of rebuilding the pergola and the coach house that were demolished by a previous owner. The tour lasted about 90 minutes and was provided by a very passionate docent and all the volunteer staff in the gift shop and the chaperone were very helpful. We even received a glass of water in the 60s style kitchen of the Martin House which will be torn out and replaced by more authentic furnishings as the renovation continues.

After the humid heat inside the Martin and Barton Houses we were glad to get outside to cool down. We drove through the Park Side East Historic District surrounding Delaware Park, a creation of the famous landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park. The area around Delaware Park and the Forest Lawn Cemetery is a beautiful part of the city with gorgeous mansions and manicured lawns, and this beauty is most visible on Millionaires’ Row along Delaware Avenue. There was much more traffic and street life in this part of Buffalo, the atmosphere was pleasant and the residential areas impressive.

We headed over closer to the Niagara River and drove along the Seaway Trail, crossed Grand Island and continued on the outskirts of Niagara Falls, NY, right along the Niagara River towards Lewiston. The drive north of Niagara Falls to Fort Niagara State Park on Lake Ontario is gorgeous, with beautiful old homes overlooking the Niagara River, huge trees overhanging the 2-lane country road, with well-kept properties on either side of the road. We stopped for a snack just outside the very quaint town of Lewiston, in a place called the Silo, which is right next to the river, overlooking a launch area for the high-speed boats that whisk visitors into the rapids of the Niagara Gorge. We had a lovely greasy lunch outside, enjoying the breeze (hey, you don’t have to eat healthy every day) and then continued our drive all the way to Fort Niagara State Park, admiring the villas and estates.

We had chosen to cross the border at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, but construction work had caused confusing detours and a local New York State father and son team stopped their car when they saw us by the road, staring at the map, trying to figure out how to get to the border crossing. They rolled down the window and said they’d guide us to the bridge, which they did. We followed them for about 10 minutes through the maze of detour signs until we found the bridge and headed back over to Canada. Both of us were very impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the locals.

Back on the Canadian side we drove along the Niagara Parkway and stopped in the beautiful little village of Niagara-on-the-Lake. NOTL calls itself the “prettiest village in Ontario”, and they might just be right. The village is home to beautifully maintained Victorian homes, overflowing flower baskets, souvenir shops, cafes, bed and breakfasts, as well as the famous Shaw Festival, and for many Ontarians it is a favourite destination for a quick weekend getaway.

From Niagara-on-the-Lake we headed through vineyards and orchards to St. Catharines, and to its Port Dalhousie waterfront entertainment area, not forgetting to stop by a road-side fruit stall to buy ripe red cherries and nuclear-size apricots fresh from the tree. About 20 minutes from NOTL, Port Dalhousie harbours a marina and a long pier and numerous outdoor patio restaurants, ice cream parlors, souvenir shops and other entertainment. Hundreds of people were parading along the pier, couples, parents with children, dog owners, retired folks and a very interesting young lady with red hair, whose friend had given her poodle a matching-colour hairdo with the leftover hair dye.

The atmosphere in Port Dalhousie was almost like in a Californian seafront resort town with rollerbladers, walkers, beach volleyball players, boaters and relaxed pedestrians taking a stroll through the village and on the pier. I did not even feel like I was in Ontario. The sun was starting to set and lake was laid out in front of us like an ocean, with no shoreline visible on the other side. It was a beautiful hot evening and I felt like I wanted to spend a whole week in this happening spot. But no such luck, we had to get back to Toronto after our exciting girls-only excursion to Buffalo and the Niagara Peninsula.

We got to explore some fabulous architectural gems, connected with the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, had a lovely greasy lunch right next to the Niagara River, enjoyed the hospitality and the helpfulness of the local New York State residents, and back on home territory, we hopped along the Lake Ontario shoreline to enjoy fresh fruits, frozen yogurt and an amazingly relaxing late afternoon by the waterfront. It doesn’t get much better than that…

 

Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions(http://www.travelandtransitions.com). Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features. You will also find stories about life and the transitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.

Submit your own travel stories in our first travel story contest(http://www.travelandtransitions.com/contests.htm) and have a chance to win an amazing adventure cruise on the Amazon River.

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The interview with photos is published at Travel and Transitions – Interviews

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