November 15, 2013


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(Source: William O'Brien, Jr.)
I find it amusing that those desiring a bucolic pied-a-terre often re-create replicas of something from a prior era, assuming a country home should look as if it's always been there - frozen in time, or inherited from their upper-class forebearers....
We've definitely crossed the Rubicon of where sitting on stanky old upholstery, using shot-down cabinets and walking on Persian carpets that stink like cat-piss when it's humid are considered "fashionable" 
or acceptable...
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Whaaat? Where's Paul Revere??

What is Modernism?
The "Modernists Movement" was an early 20th century shift away from what was the now obsolete culture of the past.  
The term Modernism encompasses the activities and output of those who felt the traditional and "enlightenment" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world. 

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The Seminal "Modern" Country House
Philip Johnson built his Glass House in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut. He threw out all the rules for what a home in the country should be. 
"let the countryside be the decoration"

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(Source: Pinterest )
Yeah, they painted the 18th century beams white, get over it...
Whaaat? No ancestral portraits??

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(Source: Elle Decor)
One of my favorite rooms in this missive!
sooo clean looking, well-edited and comfortable!
The paneling and floors make this home feel rural.
Whaaat? No five-piece crown moulding??

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(Source: Roman & Williams)
An eclectic mix of modern pieces and yard-sale treasures in a rustic, raw environment.  And, it's totally got its groove on with no pretense.
Whaaat? No gilt-framed mirror above the fireplace??

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(Source: Erin Lauder)
Lauder's Aspen home is edited down to the bare essentials. Amazingly simple - yet uber sophisticated as each piece is a part of a minimalist puzzle.
Whaaat? No chintz in the bedroom??

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(Source: Pantelleria Italy)
This domed Moorish-style house on the island of Pantelleria kicked the ubiquitous Italian style of majolica floors and overstuffed furniture to the curb and let the rustic lava rock structure be the only 'decoration.' 
Whaaat? No busts of ancient scholars??

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(Source: House Beautiful)
Clean lines with a simple palette and nothing blocking the large windows - allowing a necessary connection with the outdoors. 
Comfortable everyday seating is accentuated by some additional stylish seats for pulling in when your peeps visit.
Whaaat? No Amish quilt on the wall?

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(Source:  AD)
An old barn in France achieved a very "Danish Modern" look with the Artichoke Lamp (ca.1958) and the leather Doyl Chairs (ca.2011). 
Whaaat? No mahogany banquet table??  

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(Source: Pinterest)
An 18th century home  doesn't  have to have an 18th century decor!!!
The secret is to keep it simple, don't override the architecture and resist 'period' cliche's!  The 1960's "Homecrest" wire chairs add a casual, funky infusion into a staid environment.
Whaaat? No Persian rug?

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(Source: Lizarriturry Tuneu Architects)
This modern 'estancia' in Uruguay was designed with lots of windows allowing the beautiful landscape to draw your eye outside - beyond the simple built-in banquettes and the Wegner easy chairs (ca. 1950)
Whaaat? No Chinese export anywhere?  

 photo SpanishfirmLizarriturryTuneuArchitects_zpsda1c8351.jpg
(Source: Lizarriturry Tuneu Architects)
This bathroom in the Uruguayan estancia is at once rustic and modern  
Whaaat? No marble or subway tile??

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(Source: Alric Galindez Architect)
In Patagonia these homeowners chose to not do their weekend ski-lodge in the "old-world" look that's frecuente in the region and go modern by using Argentinian architect, Jorge Hardoy's "Butterfly Chair" which he designed for Knoll in 1938.
Looks amazing and causal, and celebrates it's indigenous history!
Whaaat? No Black Forest bear coat tree?

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(Source: Allan Shope)
At first glance this looks like an old turn-of-the-century home,
but once you study it, it's totally modern!   The paneling, built-in bed and desk are completely void of any decoration or color. 
A Wassily Chair (1925) juxtaposed with antique Audubon prints are exactly what design is about today!
Whaaat? No four-poster bed??

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(Source: Elle Decor)
By using white paint and playing down all the Victorian bullshit the old wood floors naturally become more prominent.  The white "Tulip Chairs" (ca.1955) and the white linen window shades don't interrupt the view to the garden...
Whaaat? No Eastlake chairs or purty curtains with ducks on 'em? 

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(Source: Shawn Levy)
This new home used old timbers (See my September Blog on Reclaimed Wood) and absolutely no superfluous decoration - just simple surfaces. The furniture is an eclectic combination: Two Sergio Rodriguez chairs (ca.1967);  an industrial-modern coffee table and an antique Chesterfield sofa - when all mixed together it comes off as cozy, not cold or stiff. This is 21st century modern!
Whaaat? No polished wood floors??

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(Source: Ralph Lauren Home)
Usually, a home in the desert with warm-colored stucco and stone floors would  not  be considered "modern," but it's the absence of 'decoration' that makes this beautiful - which is the basic principle of modernism. 
Whaaat? No reclaimed antique front door?

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(Source: Marie Claire Maison)
An 18th century barn renovation feels modern because they avoided adding superfluous design details, letting the purity of the barn remain in tact.   Throw in an Arne Norell Safari Chair (ca. 1960),  some mid-century modern upholstery and BAM, country modern! 
Whaaat? No wagon wheel chandelier??

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(Source: Malopolska)
A weekend cottage in Poland didn't do the "cutesy-cottagy" thing and ultimately feels bigger  and  younger!
Whaaat? No gingham curtains??

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(Source: Waldo Fernandez)
One of my favorite designers stripped out all the pedestrian mouldings, mantles, etc. and just added back in a few clean-lined architectural pieces. 
Whaaat? No antique pine mantle??

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(Source: Elle Decor)
This room is more "Moderne" with it's eclectic co-mingling of "traditionalism and modernism."  The beige Jean-Michel Frank upholstery (ca. 1930's) with the Paul Evans leather bench (1970's).  A heterogeneous ensemble of mid-century pieces all blend seamlessly and provide a modern, lived-in feeling.
Whaaat? No Queen Anne piecrust table??

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(Source: David Kleinberg)
Kleinberg made a small, banal library much more interesting by mixing industrial with organic: A George Nakishima table (1950's) with a Friso Kramer chair (ca. 1953).  
Whaaat? No antique musket collection on the wall??

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(Source: David Kleinberg)
In the same house Kleinberg trimmed away all the fat and created a dining room which feels timeless and sophisticated by using only whats needed - no unnecessary tsotchke's or ornament.
Whaaat? No crystal chandelier?

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(Source: TOM)
A converted loft-space avoided the 'industrial' schtick and 
gets its country on  by using the antique cabinet and mirror with natural floors. The Bertoia chairs (ca. 1952) look awesome juxtaposed with the organic tree-trunk table.
Whaaat? No colonial spinning wheel in the corner?

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(Source: House and Home, Canada)
A small Victorian cottage with small rooms gets a STFU makeover by using sleek leather seating, natural stained floors and lots of sunlight - that's country modern!
Whaaat? No pressed oak chairs??

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(Source: Tigerman-McCurry)
The screened porch on this farmhouse has corrugated metal surfaces and grid-framing which is the perfect envelope for their funky-ass mix of furniture:  50's-style rattan mixed with the Frank Gehry chairs (ca.1992) and some lobster-trap-buoy lamps which add regional identity.
Whaaat? No wicker or old feed-store signs??

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(Source: Vogue)
If you had a home on a beautiful river like this would you want to obscure the view?  The modern interiors subliminally allow the river to be the main attraction by not usurping it!
Whaaat? No swags and jabots over the windows?

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(Source: Robert Stillin)
Modern pastiche balances  Gothic Revival
The 're-interpreted' canopy bed adds structure; the humble bedside table adds warmth while the Pierre Paulin chair (ca.1963) gives a modern punch. A vintage pummel horse adds whimsy - which is always cool!
Whaaat? No curtains on that bed??

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(Source: Houzz)
LOVE this simple cottage with the entire end ripped off and sheathed in glass - the room literally becomes part of the landscape!  The cement floor and mix-matched chairs in various colors are modern in attitude which makes you smile, and that's the most important thing, after all!
Whaaat? No wall for the sampler collection??

 photo Cambridge-basedarchitectWilliamOrsquoBrienJr_zps4be0531e.jpg
(Source: William O'Brein, Jr.)
Another glass end-wall, but in a modern home opening right into the heather and aspen trees ...  Perfection!
Whaaat?? No wing chairs or Chippendale coffee table?

 photo Turnbull-Griffin-Haesloop-Architects_zpscdf4de97.jpg
(Source: Turnbull-Griffin-Haesloop Architects)
A country home by the sea used "no-frills" materials like cedar paneling, cement floors and walls of glass.  The modern and contemporary furniture is inexpensive, casual and mobile - exactly what a country home should have!
Whaaat? No Wainscoting??

You can do it, I'm here to help!

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