Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nieuw Neo Georgian! Ruard Veltman's Mountain Masterpiece

House Beautiful has a fantastic spread on this beautiful mountain retreat in the April issue. We posted this article in August of 2010 and thought you would enjoy our thoughts on the subject as well.

Ruard Veltman collaborated with my friend "Mrs. G.," creating a spectacular home for her family of 6 in the English country vernacular of Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens:  "Sir Edwin, father of  neo-Georgian architecture, please meet Dutch born, Ruard Veltman, of nieuw-neo-Georgian architecture!"

This detail from the rear of the house illustrates the fusion of both schools: The Arts and Crafts ethic of combining hand crafted regional materials with swooping rooflines, deep eaves with Lutyens exaggerated Georgian windows, mullions, and transoms. From the inspirations of the pre-Raphaelite ideals,  Lutyens interpretations evolve and thrive in the ateliers of Bobby McAlpine where Ruard Veltman collaborated for many years. 

Nieuw (Dutch for new)-neo Georgian, interpreted by Mrs. G and Ruard Veltman, recombined from Atelier McAlpine, Fitz--meaning bastard son of--Lutyens, Fitz-Georgian, Fitz Pre Raphaelites, and Fitz Louis XIII , in an au courant grisaille color pallette, is all I have to say! Lets go through the bastards--shall we? 

Candida Lutyens, works within the legacy of her Grandfathers vision. Here we see the Georgian geometric paneling, windows, stone fire surround with the mixed geometry of arches and circles within the space that were the play things of her ancestor. 

Bobby McAlpine: Beautiful Homes: Late Summer edition 2009

These ancestral Elements also echo within the Mrs G./Mr. V. living room--Tall Georgian style windows, concrete or stone fire surround, naturally shaded palettes. Recombinant McAlpine, well bred DNA, marries provincial Regency Louis XIII Os de Mouton chairs (sheep horn stretchers), with a new aesthetic. New solvents react, mixing the French regency design period (1560-1643) with the Lutyens Arts and Crafts innovation (1810-1910). Both periods express changes in style, united by economic forces. The meteoric prosperity rise of the middle class, launched a Queen's wave to the past. Both visions unite as economic cusps.  Stately declines--nieuw rises, often with economic shifts,  often with enduring stylistic effects. Lets look around again. Grand takes on modern era--edge, tempered by soft velvets and palette. 

Edwin Lutyens struggled with his aristocratic wife, who immersed herself in the Spiritual Theocratic, schools of the era. Lutyens loved mixing geometrics, and Mrs. G. has had a contemporary seance in this vignette--triangles, on x's, on squares, upon rectangles,  within circles--the woman is all harmonious, oxymoronish, symmetry and complication. Welcome to Mr. G.'s world! 

Ultra modern lighting in the foreground gets invited to the party. The best parties, like interiors include all ages and types.  Mrs. G. explained that the gray palette throughout the house was inspired by the Jasper John's exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Mrs. G. wanted the architectural interplay of Geometry and curve to dominate the conversation. The neutrality of tone creates intimacy, and comfort. According to the Met's Johns catalogue, the grisaille application was: "to evoke a mood, at other times to evoke an intellectual rigor that results from his purging most color from his works." 

The rhythmic curves, of the nail head trim, break up the right angles in the geometry of the furnishings and architecture. They echo the swooshy Lutyens curves that are so characteristic of his work and relate to the counterpoint of the curvy Os de Mouton chairs. The dining area is raised above the living room adding visual dimension and depth to the large space. It creates a theatrical mood, where I for one, would have spent my childhood creating plays. The landscape, a reflection of the mountain environment, was painted by Mrs. G.'s father. 

The kitchen is very nieuw, and forgive our struggles with the light! Veltman's theory of kitchens is that as the contemporary center of entertaining, the refrigerators, dishwashers, coffee makers, and televisions should disappear. At a recent cocktail party, I was delighted to walk into a kitchen full of brightly clad guests set off by the chic aura of an upscale eatery in Soho. It is so very Lutyens, Veltman, Mrs. G. to plant a completely new space, that is united to the house in the color scheme. The accoutrement are cleverly disguised behind the paneling.

The nieuw countertop is in the cupboard or just off stage, in the pantry. Ruard is a fan of pantries, as lately, so is the entire blogosphere. Mrs. G. reports that it functions very well for a large family. 

Moving upstairs, I had to do a little detective work to discover the meaning of the head boards, and all the little hints Mr. Veltman planted all over the house, as little swooshy motifs, or footnote references. 

The eponymous Lutyens Napoleon chair was designed by Sir Edwin in 1910, supposedly after a Jacques-Louis David painting of Napoleon sitting in an asymmetric chair. I think it is because they resemble his hat. Little swooshes are repeated throughout the house. Let me know what you think!

Veltman designed this headboard, in the guest room, and I see the DNA recombined; characteristic Lutyens swoosh meets a glamourous Hollywood starlet. According to the Lutyens Furniture website: "Rhythmical symmetry.... is typical of Lutyens's love of form." I think Sir Edwin would love the nail head trim.  Evan Wood of Chandelier and Light in Charlotte, N.C. crafted the sconces throughout the house.

The  Thakeham bench has become the archetypal image associated with Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens. 

I know, I know the clutter? This house is a completely new installation and has not acquired the layers and perfect additions that only time can provide.  Here, we have a Napoleon hat divided by a semi-circle. Another genuflect to the master's delight of interplay of rythmic line, geometry and the occasional symmetry.

Sir Edwin Lutyens jokingly called his neo-Georgian work, his: "Wrennaissance style." I think Mrs. G. and Ruard Veltman can add to the discussion as a Nieuw Wrennaissance style. As always, I like to leave you with a quote. Mr. Lutyens in a famous apology to his wife:

"I will wash your feet with my tears and dry them with my hair. True, I have very little hair but then you have very little feet.’

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Devotion: The Country Farm Estate of Blitz and Dick Reynolds

We are re-posting our article on The Devotion Estate. With a wedding about to take place on the property, the owner decided that the views and the architecture should be a complete surprise. We will post and toast the happy bride and groom in our next installment!

As many of you know, I live across the street from the Historic Reynolda House Museum, Gardens and village. Our pastoral, small city is highly cultural and well preserved greatly, by the perseverance and generosity of the Reynolds family. I noted in my last post, on the Reynolda Estate,  that R. J. Reynolds was a highly progressive thinker who married an educated and energetic wife, to whom he accorded a great amount of personal autonomy. The estate was purchased in her name and Kate had full control over the vision, execution and management of this self sufficient enterprise--in 1917.  R.J. Reynolds died soon after the house was completed, which was a terrible loss.

From left: Mary, R. J., Katharine, Nancy, Dick, and Smith.

I mentioned that I recently read: Kid Carolina: R.J. Reynolds Jr. /A Tobacco Fortune and the Mysterious Death of a Southern Icon, by Heidi Schnakenberg. It is a fascinating read. This is the story of the eldest son, Dick, who took his father's death very hard. Kate, his Mother had been warned by her doctors, owing to a rheumatic heart, that she should not have any more children. When she remarried a significantly younger man and died in child birth, Dick embarked upon a life long search for love and happiness that sadly left a great deal of scorched earth.

Owing to his spectacular wealth and notoriety, not to mention looks, Dick Reynolds went on the lamb from time to time, much to the horror of his family. He would simply evaporate, and the family would have to hunt him down. I believe he experimented with anonymity to test his self worth. When he checked back in, he threw his energies into new technology and projects, receiving his pilot's license from Orville Wright, founding the earliest airfields and airline companies, using his family name and wealth to secure success. The burden of legacy is heavy. Dick Reynolds inherited his family's entrepreneurial genius, yet he was plagued by loss. He cycled through presence and absence. When he was good he was very, very good, and when he was bad, he was horrid. So, through my interest in design and architecture regarding various local Reynolds's estates, I was able to visit a spectacular portion of the Devotion Estate he developed with his first wife, Blitz--Elizabeth Dillard Reynolds.

Above: In 1934, on his 28th birthday, Dick and Blitz took possession of his inheritance of more than $25 million. “I know it’s a lot of money, but I can’t get excited,” Dick Reynolds told reporters.  I wonder what it would take? 

Tobacco sold briskly during the depression and fueled by the massive inheritance Dick and Blitz assembled 11,000 pristine acres of wilderness along the Mitchell River, naming their rural retreat "Devotion,"  reflecting their strong feelings for each other.  Inspired by FDR's WPA programs, Dick sought to employ as many of the rural population as possible. The rural retreat movement was on, and with Architect, Roy P. Wallace, who had worked with Charles Barton Keen on Reynolda house, they utilized the chestnut trees that had been lost in the blight and the regional stone quarried on site. Long, deep verandas, gabled roofs, board and batten walls, with exaggerated rock chimneys all combine to create charming, unpretentious rural dwellings that compliment and transition between farm and wilderness. Fish Hatcheries, turkey, pheasant and chicken houses, cattle and horse barns are scattered around the portion that I visited.

The trout hatchery still operates and the different sections hold the fish as they mature. The magnificent lake where we spotted a pair of massive Herons that look liked Pterodactyls--I kid you not. I am just going to walk you around and let nature speak for herself!

I am not going to show you the photo of me laying on the ground clutching branches for dear life, as we scaled the hillside.

My favorite quote on design is from Hutton Wilkinson
"Every night I go to bed and pray that people with money will get taste, and that people with taste will get money." I think this is why I am so enamored with the Reynolda family estates, as they had both taste and money. 

If you are as fascinated as I am, regarding the Reynolds family and their estates, I recommend  you read: Devotion Rural Historic District Draft of Research for Application to The National Register of Historic Places and The National Register of Historic Lands by William Noah Reynolds. It is beautifully written and detailed. As a grandson of Dick and Blitz, he chronicles the phases of their life with honor and authority. As to the dispersal of the estate, and addressing this portion, he explains : "As part of the divorce settlement, Blitz Reynolds was awarded sole ownership of the rural estate. For the next few years, she and the four Reynolds sons -Josh, Will, John, and Zach lived year-round at Devotion. After Blitz Reynolds’ death in 1961, the property was divided equally among her sons. To this day, William Neal Reynolds II and other heirs of the Reynolds family possess large parcels of Devotion. In the 1990s Raleigh resident Charles C. McKinney purchased a key portion of the estate. During the past decade, Mr. McKinney has undertaken a major restoration of more than a dozen buildings and structures on the site,  Owing to McKinney’s stewardship, one is able to sense the original rustic architectural character of this 1930s-era mountain estate designed for R. J. Reynolds, Jr. and Elizabeth D. Reynolds."

The Reynolds boys at the main house, which is on a different portion of the property.  
More Later! 
Written by Liz Morten 
with Ashley D'Auria
My brilliant intern from Wake Forest University
Congratulations on your graduation Ashley!

Don't forget to visit our online store