Thursday, April 30, 2009

Curtis Park Home Tour 2009

Front Door

We painted the front door a dark brown-black a week before the tour
Last Saturday was the day I have been preparing for for the last couple of months. It was the day of the Curtis Park Home Tour. This yearly event is put on by the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association to benefit the Sierra 2 Community Center and it’s programs. Food sales at the event benefited the Sacramento Children’s Home. It is a neighborhood event that I look forward to every year where I get to play look-e-loo and visit other houses in the neighborhood to see what others are doing with their homes. Most homes in the Curtis Park neighborhood were built between 1910 and 1940, and there are many different architectural styles represented: Craftsman Bungalow, American Foursquare, Spanish Colonial, Monterey style, Tudor, and Italian Renaissance Revival to name a few. Most of these styles were found on this years tour.

Front of House with cars RC

Photo by Rudy Calpo

My Photo of our house doesn’t quite compare to the photographer Rudy Calpo’s artistic version, but I wanted to show the cars and the line of people half an hour after the house was open :
Our House and cars

Our house was number one in the program, and we were scrambling to get the last flowers in the vases up until the front door was opened at 10:00. There was a line part way down the block! Our plan was to leave and go to brunch at a crepe restaurant near our house and then go on the home tour, but it took about an hour to escape once people realized that Tim and I were the homeowners. Everyone was so nice and wanted to know all about the house, it’s history and what we had remodeled.
One of my favorite parts of the event was the participation of the Capitol A’s Model A Club. Chartered in 1959, the cars are required to preserve their original four-cylinder engine and interior. The club members parked two to three cars in front of every house and drove around the neighborhood periodically changing places. These cars were built from 1928 to 1931, so would have been seen when this neighborhood was first built.

Model A Ford Car in Driveway
Me and Car and House
It was so much fun getting to talk with the club members and take pictures with them at the house!   Yes…that’s me in the white pants…it was in the eighties that day!
RC Front Porch ViewPhoto by Rudy Calpo
View from the front porch of our neighborhood. The tunnel of trees down the streets was one of the draws when we first moved to this neighborhood 17 years ago. Time goes by so fast! Feels like yesterday.
RC Living and Dining Room with People
Photo by Rudy Calpo
Rudy was able to get a wide angle shot with his camera of the Living and Dining Room areas.  Tim and I were gone at this point. My younger daughter was at a friend’s house, and my older daughter was selling lemonade in the back yard, so none of us were in the house. It is very strange to see pictures of all the people walking through!RC Butler's Pantry
Photo by Rudy Calpo of the Butler’s Pantry’s Pantry
RC Kitchen and People Photo by Rudy Calpo of the Kitchen looking into the Family Room.  RC Family Room Kitchen
Photo by Rudy Calpo of the Family Room into the Kitchen.
The man at the far left was the homeowner before the family we purchased from. He was a well known architect in the Sacramento area and I heard he stayed at the house for an hour just looking at all of the changes and reminiscing about the house he had lived in for many years raising his family. I was told he liked what we have done and that made my day. I think one always wonders how a home might change when a new owner takes it over.
Basement Flowers
Flowers in the basement with a collection of bird pitcher
House number 2 was a Spanish Andalusia style house built in 1929. Very typical of California architecture and particularly of this neighborhood. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the interior….I don’t know what was wrong with me! I think I had not gotten over the morning panic of getting my own house ready and had not switched over to “blog mindset” yet. But the interior is very true to the original and is filled with antiques that would have been found during the period.
Spanish House
Photo from the Tour Program
House number 3 is referred to in the catalog as an “American Colonial, 1928” but it also has aspects of a Bungalow with it’s sloped columns. The homeowners did not change the exterior other than to paint it a very pretty carmel color with dark trim and a red door. You can see how long the lines were here!
American Colonial House
I did get a few shots of this home’s interior. The couple that lives here is young with a new baby and they have a young modern style. They were able to have quite alot of seating in this fresh and cozy living room.Colonial LR
They put up sliding panels in the dining room. I love those windows…double hung and almost floor to ceiling! They also opened up the Dining Room to the Kitchen a little bit, which opens up the space nicely.
Colonial DR
The hall bathroom still has the vintage tile floor. They added beadboard wainscot which adds alot of charm I think.
Colonial Bathroom
The Master Bedroom was a great dark ochre color and had punches of black in the art and bedding. Very tailored and clean. This house shows the diverse sizes of the homes in this neighborhood. One of the things I love about it here is the mix of larger and smaller homes, all of which are well cared for and allow for young and more established families to live together.Colonial MBR
House number 4 was a Norman Castle built in 1928. When it was designed and built it was a contestant in the Better Homes Movement of the 1920’s, a progressive-era program founded to promote ownership and beautification. Cutis Park features more contest houses than any other Sacramento neighborhood. (Information from Home Tour Program). To find out more about this movement, click here.
Norman Castle 1928
The highlight of this home was the beautiful garden which is organic and combines vegetables and flowers especially in the back yard. This house was crowded to the point that I could not get any good interior shots! Except for the Aga Stove in the kitchen. Nice!Aga Stove
House number 5 on the tour has been named the Anne Hathaway Cottage by it’s builder after the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne. It is an English Cottage style with a shingled roof intended to resemble thatch. The Anne Hathaway Cottage was a sixth-place winner in the nationwide Better Homes Movement and even appeared on the cover of an early Architectural Digest. Anna Hatthaway Cottage      
Anne Hathaway Cottage with Model A
I was able to sneak a photo of the Master Bedroom which was a pretty French Blue reflected in the door of the French style armoire. Anne Hathaway MBRThe last house is one of my favorites: an Italian Renaissance Revival house built in 1927. When we had first moved to the Curtis Park  neighborhood, we had looked at this house many times hoping someone would release it from it’s massive overgrowth in the front yard. You could hardly see the house for the trees. Luckily, it did not take long for the current owners to transform it to it’s former glory. The house’s front columns were produced by Gladding McBean Company, and there are two Bachelder Tile fountains in the front arcade. In the front foyer is another Bachelder fountain surrounded by a spiral staircase. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in this house, but it is quite beautiful with it’s mahogany floors and paneled doors throughout.
Italian Renaissaince Revival 1927
After the tour we went to the park , which is centered in the neighborhood, and enjoyed the musical stylings of the Soul Twisters, and had a bite to eat from the mouthwatering “Mike’s Smoking Garlic Barbeque”. Nice way to relax after a beautiful day!
Band at Park
RC Curtis Park
Photo by Rudy Calpo
I just want to thank some of those that made this event a pure pleasure for me: my wonderful friend Diane Weidinger who came and helped me pull everything together at the last minute with the flowers inside and out. You may remember her from this post; my good and long-time friend, Lori Harder, who recruited me to put my home on the tour. You made it so much fun! Janice and Rudy Calpo for being so wonderful to work with and for taking such fabulous photos of the house. I also wanted to thank Professional Drapery Service (916-344-3430) who saved my day by sending out Vlad to install Living Room Draperies the day before the tour! They are beautifully done! And many thanks to Steve Schubauer from 306 Glass and Design (916-231-3602) who fixed a broken window the morning of the tour. In fact I think the tour may have started by the time he had finished! Tim was washing windows the day before and the top half of a window came slamming down when the cords inside decided to snap after almost 100 years, shattering the window. A small price to pay for living in a neighborhood steeped in history and wonderfully caring neighbors, both for each other and for the homes they live in.
It was a brilliant day!
For more information about Historic Curtis Park click here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Little Nook Look

Hi Everyone!

I am sorry I have been a little busy lately! It took alot of time the last couple of weeks to get ready for the Curtis Park Home Tour. I took alot of pictures, and I have seen some wonderful pictures taken by the very talented Rudy Calpo which I want to show to you all. I will be posting about the home tour by the end of the week, so I hope you come back and check it out!

It was a perfect day....bright blue skies and temps in the high 70's. It had rained a day before, so the air was crisp and everything was washed clean. There were so many friends to see and everyone involved with the tour, the organizers, the docents, and all of the members of the Model A car club were just wonderful.

The photo above is just a little nook in my house between the main floor and the basement. It is a space often overlooked....but it is a pretty little space. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guest Room Update: Progress

Here's a little progress picture for you on the Guest Room redo. You may remember this post showing the "before" and "during" photos. Amazing what a little paint can do. And a little straightening up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rizzoli Book Sneak Peek: Orlando Diaz-Azcuy

One of the things that makes me excited to go to work in the morning is the prospect of pouring over my treasured design books for inspiration and information. When I was informed that another top notch design book by the esteemed and very chic author, Diane Dorrans Saeks was in the works, and that it was about an architect and designer that I have much admired for many years....well....I barely had the patience to wait for a copy.

Orlando Diaz-Azcuy is a treasured California least I think of him as our very own, even though he has projects all over the world and is originally from Cuba. Mr. Diaz-Azcuy was born and raised in Pinar del Rio, Cuba until the political climate made it more prudent for his parents to send him to study architecture at Catholic University in Washington D.C.. After graduating, he high-tailed it to Northern California where he has been ever since. Living in San Francisco, Mr Diaz-Azcuy travels often abroad and very often to New York, where he also keeps an office, working and developing his designer's eye.

Photo: Tim Street Porter

In an Edwardian house in San Francisco, Mr. Diaz-Azcuy placed a graphic sculpture by Harry Bertoia on a gilded marble-top Italian table, showing each to advantage. - Diane Dorrans Saeks

You may know Mr. Diaz-Azcuy as a superb Architect and Designer, but he is also the creator of multiple beautiful lines of furniture for McGuire, Light fixtures for Boyd Lighting, and fabric lines for Schumacher and Pallas Textiles. You will see many of his product designs in the photos here.

I imagine Mr. Diaz-Azcuy has used the residences he has had over the years as laboratories for his creations and ideas. The book cover is a case in point. Mr. Diaz-Azcuy (ODA) creates a certain tension in the placement of his collected furniture pieces in his Pacific Heights modern apartment. In this very modern space, he has placed a 1930's leather chair by Danish designer Fritz Henningsen as if it were a piece of sculpture. You can see one of his sconces designed for Boyd next to the very moody painting.

Photo: David Duncan Livingston

In the Dining Room, ODA drapes the table with silk taffeta and tops it with antique Venetian crystal and silverware from Gumps. Quite a departure for what one would call a contemporary apartment. But that very thing is what makes it interesting. The successful contrast between new and old...the interjection of the unexpected. That is what sets a "great" designer apart from the merely "good".

Photo: Grey Crawford

ODA's house in St. Francis Wood, a 1930's Spanish colonial with Pacific Ocean views, reminded him of the house he grew up in, in Havana Cuba. In this home, ODA reversed his contrast of new/old. He started with a traditonal shell and took the opportunity to fill it with modern furnishings. In the dining room you will find one of 11 Saarinen tables ODA has collected over the years. The chandelier is one designed by ODA for Boyd. He has surrounded the table with George II gilded chairs providing luxury and that "surprising contrast" that is his hallmark.

Photo: Matthew Millman

The Living Room is again a mix of old an new. The white lacquer table in the center was designed by ODA exclusively for HBF, and the floor lamp was designed for Boyd. The mix of white linen upholstered antiques, Mies Van der Rohe ottomans, silk taffeta pillows, and ornate gilded candlesticks "energize" the space.

Photo: John Vaughan for Architectural Digest

In another of ODA's San Francisco homes, he strays from his modernist leanings and cocoons in a 1913 Beaux Arts building on Russian Hill. The monochromatic color scheme with touches of black and warm woods creates a cleaner more tailored traditonalism, however. Here ODA reveals in his love of classic forms, but still he brings in the unexpected modern twist: the painting of two Korean sisters above the sofa by Lordan Bunch.

Photo: John Vaughan for Architectural Digest

In this Russian Hill Dining Room, ODA has used his own design for the Dining Table. He has placed a gilded Austrian Beidermeier chandelier above and Italian Neoclassic chairs circa 1860 from Ed Hardy Antiques. The white bowl is an item you will see again and again in an ODA interior. It seems to embody a richness in it's traditonal classic form and simplicity that speaks of the designer's aesthetic. Note that it is also on the white lacquer table in the photo of the St. Francis Wood Living Room above. When you get your own copy of this wonderful book, take a moment and search through all of the photos to find it. Always beautiful.

Photo: John Vaughan

In the study of the Russian Hill house you will see the chairs used in Dining Room of the St. Francis Wood house. Ebonized floors and green silk upholstered walls provide drama in a room with little light ,transforming it into a media and evening entertaining room.

Photo: Jeremy Samuelson

Mr. Diaz-Azcuy makes another style departure in his Sonoma weekend cottage. Far from the madding city crowd, in fact quite remote, he created a country retreat, but one with a "sophisticated and polished look". The tiny bedroom above was given drama with green striped painted tenting. The simple linen upholstered bed is a quiet backdrop to the gilded architectural fragment and the antique Swedish table.

One can see from Mr. Diaz Azcuy's own homes the breadth of his skill and style. It is not a huge leap for him to create interiors for clients in the same vein:

Photo: David Duncan Livingston

The clients lucky to own this home are long time friends of ODA and the trust between designer and client is evident. As said by ODA: "This is one of the few clients who understands the patina of age, and the beauty of of antiques, textiles and objects that show signs of time, and fine craftsmanship. ....... They totally understand that the new house benefits from a mix of venerable antiques and custom-made new peices." Oh, that we all had clients like these in abundance!!

Photo: David Duncan Livingston

The living room of this house shows a beautiful mix of textiles, furniture peices, art and color. The art deco painting, one of a pair, were the first things acquired for the house. I love the use of a corner banquette. Perfect viewing of the rest of the room! The other photos of this very large room are reason enough to see the whole book!

Photo: David Duncan Livingston

The family room of this client's San Francisco St. Francis Woods home is an example of how ODA can create a modern space that is inviting and liveable for a large family . The warm colors and cozy textures just call one to sit and relax. Note the matching storage bins in the book shelves for toys and games keep it serene and restful, yet friendly for the kids. The tables are by ODA for McGuire.

Photo: Tim Street Porter

From casual and cozy, to city sophistication, ODA seems to be able to handle any type of design challenge. You can see the Bertoia Sculpture on the gilded table in this Pacific Heights living room that was pictured ealier on. Fortuny Silk on the pillows. Beautiful.

Photo: Grey Crawford

I simply love this Napa Valley kitchen. It has all of the elements one sees often enough: black cabinets, Carrera marble counters, classic subway tile. But the way in which the elements are brought together are somehow unique and more interesting than the usual. Perhaps it is the shelf created out of the tiles, the black and white photo,the metal window frame, the overscaled accessories....whatever it is, it works for me.

Photo: Tim Street Porter

This home, located near the Golden Gate bridge above the Pacific, is a 1920's Spanish Colonial owned by a family with three young children. This home was designed by Greg Stewart, one of the principal partners of ODA Design Associates along with David Aldroyd (both of whom joined the company soon after it's inception in 1987). It is clear there is a meeting of the minds when it comes to the design aesthetic at ODA Design Associates. The modern Richard Serra monoprint creates a dynamic foyle for the eighteenth century Spanish chair. Bronze and rakes table by Ingrid Donat.

Photo:Lisa Romerein

This last room is a collaboration of sorts between Mr. Diaz-Azcuy and clients, architect Andrew Skurman and his wife, sculptor Francoise Skurman. The envelope had been designed by ODA and Skurman more than a decade before for an apartment building. The Skurmans moved in after their realtor notified then it was available. " More than a dozen years old, it still looks startingly fresh" says Skurman. The bedroom sitting area is simply stunning. The combination of the Venetian mirrors, "Fresh Fat" plastic table by London designer Tom Dixon, white leather Odin settee by Konstantin Grcic, and antique turned leg stool is magic.

So....have I tempted you? The book is beautifuly written.... every page keeps your attention. This is something I have simply come to expect from books put together by Diane Dorrans Saeks. She has a way of engaging the reader which I enjoy so much. As I mentioned in this post about Santa Barbara Living, Ms. Dorrans Saeks takes obvious pleasure in speaking with people...all kinds of people. So it is small wonder she is able speak of them in the same real and enthusiastic way.

I have only hit the tip of the iceburg here. There are so many more wonderful homes, beautifully photographed and chronicled. And the multiple office spaces of ODA Design Associates are also pictured. Of course, I didn't want to give too much away! You will want to curl up and enjoy this book for yourselves.

Another home run from Rizzoli! Many thanks!

Available in bookstores ( and the Katiedid Bookshop link in the sidebar!) this May. Keep an eye out. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Happy Place: Freeport Bakery

I am an impatient driver. I drive a lot for work and play chauffeur to my offspring, so it is inevitable. I do try to stay calm....but every once and awhile, I find myself yelling at another driver that has cut me off or is going too slow. I don't know why I do it...they can't hear me. But I yell and curse anyway.
One day, when it really got past the point of acceptability, my younger daughter calmly said to me" Mom, calm down ........take a deep breath and find your happy place". It made me stop and think, where is that elusive "happy place" exactly? Well, I have more than one I suppose. But this is one of my top ten: Freeport Bakery in Sacramento.

And I am far from alone. Every holiday, you will find a line around the building of people waiting to pick up their orders of delectable cookies, cakes and breads. You can be sure that the treats will not all make it home in one piece. I came across such a line last Saturday, the day before Easter. You will not find my impatience here, however. When the lines are expected, there is always a coffee cart out front so you can help yourself while waiting. And the lines move quickly due to the very well trained staff and organized traffic flow....a little different than the city streets mentioned earlier.

You can just smell the goodness as you pull into the parking lot. And the minute you enter, it is a feast for the eyes. Every holiday gets it's own special touch: decorations and specialty cakes, cookies and breads.

The decor is happy and welcoming. I always end up staying longer than I planned just taking it all in.

That pink box on the counter is holding a bread ring baked with colored eggs. So pretty you almost don't want to eat it. Almost.

One of my very favorite year round treats is their almond horn cookie. They are crunchy outside, chewy inside with that delicious almond paste flavor. They are dipped half way in chocolate and covered with slivered almonds. I can eat a dozen without thinking!

And the cakes! Don't get me started! Oh....I can't help it: there are fabulous fruit tarts, and specialty cakes for each season. You can see the beehive cake in the case there. I still cannot get the Pim's Cake out of my head from the Fall season: rich almond cake frosted in chocolate fudge with orange marmalade and chucks of fudge on top...O.M.G! Bliss...pure and simple.

So.... you didn't think I would leave empty handed did you? This sweet thing came home with me:

If you are ever in the Sacramento area, Freeport Bakery has got to make it onto your itinerary. It will be your "happy place" too.......promise.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Peek: Inside the City

Random peek at my Master Bedroom

I am swamped with work a very good way! But I had to fit this in today: I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to the wonderful ladies from Inside The City for including me in their April issue. Thank you to Publisher, Cecily Hastings, who puts out a great publication every month that has the latest and greatest local goings-on in the Sacramento Region. I always make a point of scanning every page! And a big THANK YOU to Julie Foster who wrote such a flattering peice! I am very grateful. I'm blushing.

For a better peek, you can click on over here.