Visiting the Farnsworth house is on all design lovers list, and is often referred to as a pilgrimage. Having dinner at the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois is a religious experience (for design geeks). A few years ago we were invited to a dear friends birthday dinner celebration, we were beyond delighted, and we were going to move any engagements to make sure we could make it. The invitation was for dinner at the worlds most gorgeous floating glass box in the woods, it was at the one and only Farnsworth House, and is an event that will not be easily forgotten. A bus trip from downtown Chicago shuffled us from one Mies building to another, and to what is often called his masterpiece. We spent a beautiful Summer evening dining on the patio, and enjoying cocktails as we freely walked around and enjoyed the house. At one point, we found several of us piled into the bathroom having a conversation about all the details with a glass of wine in hand. We might have even cheekily called each other from the operating rotary phone in the bedroom. It was the night that the Frost House got to meet the Farnsworth House. We frequently joke that if IKEA was to make a version of the Farnsworth, it would likely be the Frost House.
We finally made the pilgrimage to the modern mecca of design in Columbus Indiana to see the Miller House. It has long been on the ‘visit’ list, and we finally got around to a quick overnight road trip. We wanted to get some design inspiration for updating the living room, injecting some color without making it too much of a modern mid-century maximalism [ahem Jonathan Adler-esque). We thought the Miller House was the perfect home to help us out.
We equipped ourselves with a few tour maps to help guide our tour: 1] Curbed did a great map and story in Sept 2019, and does a great job with building descriptions; 2] ArchDaily also did a nice job with a map and editing down the buildings to visit Jun 201, but it lacks descriptions.
For the Miller House Tour, we booked well in advance to get tickets, as the tour is popular and limited in availability. The bonus of going during COVID there were 50% fewer people on the tour than normal, so there was plenty of room to socially distance, and less people you needed to dodge in your photos. MCM Daily by DC Hillier has a great write up and photos that you should check out, along with Leslie Williamson via Dwell.
The Miller House – it has to be seen to really grasp this beautiful property – the gardens were much larger than expected.
And then there was more garden to admire ….. we missed the pool – it was already closed for the winter.
We also booked an overnight stay at ‘The Inn at Irwin Gardens’, it was easy to book online, and came with breakfast in the morning included with the room rate. This private home and gardens was converted into an Inn in 2009, and much of the charm has been preserved and maintained to the original 1910 remodel, with some furniture pre-dated to the original build in 1864. It gained a lot of screen time in the movie ‘Columbus’ (2017).
The overnight trip was a little too quick, and because it was a weekend and during a global pandemic – many locations were not available for interior tours. None-the-less we enjoyed our visit.
We are thrilled to announce an exciting collaboration with Lubeznik Center for the Arts [LCA]. We have agreed to host LCA’s Sustaining Members for a series of tours on Sunday, July 21st. There will be three one-hour sessions beginning at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Each Sustaining membership includes admission for two people to one of these tours. If spaces remain, we will make them available to other LCA membership levels.
Sustaining Members can RSVP by calling (219) 874-4900 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not currently a Sustaining Member but wish to attend, you can purchase a Sustaining Membership over the phone, in person or online at www.lubeznikcenter.org
Every year Indiana Dunes National Park with Indiana Landmarks host a ‘Logs to Lustrons Tour‘, it takes a full day to get to see all the homes and really is a fantastic event. This was our second year attending, and each year they add a few new homes or there are some amazing updates to learn about. We recommend that you keep an eye out for next years event and buy your tickets, it is typically the first weekend in May. Here are some of our photos from the event. Please excuse us – we were enjoying the narrative too much that we didn’t really get good shots.
Let’s start with our new favorite house in our area – Read Dunes House. The owners of this home [and within the this home] advocated for the Dunes preservation and successfully so, the Dunes just became the 61st National Park in the USA. Phil Benham Read and his wife Irene commissioned their architect son Herbert P Read to design the weekend house. It is currently managed by the National Park Service and they are hoping to restore it and make it available for rentals. Let’s hope their plan works – it is a gem.
Another highlight on the tour [not all homes are open for interior tours] was the Schulhof Lustron home. What is unique about this Lustron is that it is a three bedroom model, and fewer than 200 models were made. This house was built in 1949, originally it sat on the lakefront, and in 1956 had to be moved due to beach erosion. Lucky it was a Lustrous, they were designed to be moved. Anyone want to help out and lease this one and restore it? Contact the parks for details on their leasing program.
Oops – I guess we shouldn’t be nosey and look in peoples drawers.
Loads of original features – but it needs some serious work to get it back in working order.
OK two more highlights to share. This one we are SUPER excited about. It is stunning.
Right next door to the Lustron, is Dr. John & Gerda Meyer House. Originally built as a one story home in 1961, it had an addition added to it in 1965. The lower level opens onto dune woodlands, and the upper level overlooks Lake Michigan. It was designed by Harold Olin [who also was an advocate for preserving the Indiana Dunes]. What makes us excited about this home, is that it will soon be available for rentals. If you want to get in to be one of the first to stay at this stunning home – you can do so thru this program. We didn’t take any photos that do this place justice – the bedroom is filled with clever storage ideas. such a beautiful home with incredible views – again photos we didn’t take – we were too excited to be able to finally get inside this gem.
This wall panel below is brilliant. Between the two horizontal wood strips are removable glass panels – that you can place art behind, and switch-out. Perfect for displaying photography straight out of the darkroom that is on the right. Downstairs has the original kitchen with another upstairs.
The dining room has panels that can be closed to convert the dining room into a bedroom, and it is cleverly attached to a jack + jill bathroom too.
Lastly, the Solomon Enclave. Party central. These homes / apartments are also on the list for being converted into rentals homes, managed by the National Park Service. Three homes built on a sub-divided lot, with views to the lake. The homes have plenty of the original features in tact, designed for summer vacations there is plenty of glass and screened porches. This will truly make a great spot for family reunions and large gatherings once it is back up and restored. We can’t wait to see life back in these building.
Anyway, just a quick tour – we are not going to share all the details – you just should sign-up and go next year. It really is a great day, and there is a stopping point where you can grab some lunch from the newly opened Goblin & Grocer.
We didn’t know that much about the Schindler House when we visited. We love Architecture and enjoy learning by exploring spaces, we did know that the home is considered the start of modernism in California, and has greatly influenced many who came thereafter. So we put it on the radar for a visit to learn more.
Visiting this house is easy to plan. Turn up Wednesday – thru – Sunday between 11am – 6pm pay at the gate and in you go – no advanced reservations needed. It is a self-guided tour, and there are frequently art exhibitions going on at the same time. We won’t give you the spoiler alert on the history, and stories of it occupants over the years, we have instead opted to share some images and thoughts.
A few things stood out to us: 1] The house is in smack in the middle of West Hollywood, and surrounded by taller 3-4 story structures, it was originally surrounded by open fields – the house feels a little suffocated; 2] it was designed for communal living for 2 families / groups; 3] everything was designed with not a lot of predefined usage of each space, so it allowed for lots of fluidity of use by the occupants; 4] the ornamentation is minimal; 5] the ceilings are incredibly low (the FLW effect); 6] the gardens are gorgeous drawing your eye from the inside out.
It had a very calming effect on both of us, and we could totally visualize this house rebuilt with the same layout, but with new materials, it would be a really lovely place to live in today’s world. We have been know to, on more than one occasion, get into rearranging furniture and artwork in the middle of a dinner party, so we can relate to the idea of ‘flexibility’ in the usage of rooms. Moving a bedroom / study as the seasons change, or just to keep things interesting (cheaper than moving house). And total admiration for their HUGE veggie garden so neatly organized and tucked away behind some growing bamboo screening.
Added bonus: Across the street you can also view, from the exterior only, the equally intriguing, and very distinguished – Rootenberg-Markham House built in 1952.
If you find yourself in LA, make sure before you arrive that you make a reservation to tour the interior of the EAMES HOUSE. You can find out all the details here. The tour is intimate and incredibly special, it feels like a morning or afternoon as a house guest, with an opportunity to sit on the rug and have a chat with the docent. It’s something that we could see ourselves returning for another interiors tour, there is so much to absorb, and so much packed into an efficient and somewhat compact space. It is a splurge, but it is work every penny – the money is reinvested into the preservation of the property.
The most surprising element to the property was the proximity of its location to the ocean. Perched on a hillside, the home is set back, and overlooks a meadow in which you can see the ocean framed through tall beautiful eucalyptus, the setting is incredibly magical. We can see why Ray when she would arrive back to the house + studio, she would ‘inhale deeply and smile’, we did too.
We did notice some similarities, and I am sure Emil Tessin was influenced by these case study homes. We noticed that the exposed steel beams and colors had some likeness in our Alside House, maybe that helped us feel comfortable when we were on this tour.
There was so much to be inspired by on this visit. For example, the ferns in the garden [pictured above] are something that we want to place into our garden, and we definitely want to introduce more house plants into the interior. Photography is not permitted of the interiors – but check it out for yourself – the vignettes are so inspiring. Oh! And we must be the last people on earth to learn that the ‘house bird’ is a replica of a decoy that Charles & Ray picked up in Indiana when on a road-trip after getting married in Chicago [yep – we purchase one – but on the hunt for a ‘decoy’]. Lots of inspiration here, that is why we can see that return visits would be of value – so much to experience.