Tuesday, 2 October 2007

A good nosy around

It’s Open House weekend coming up in New York, a fabulous event where all sorts of places, both private and public, throw their doors open to the commoners so that we can have a good ol’ nosy around lots of interesting spaces we'd never usually see. I recently read that the Open House weekends started 10years ago in London – I have a vague recollection of it going on when I lived there, but I never took advantage – and has since extended to various cities across the globe. I can highly recommend it if you get the chance to check it out. It’s been running in New York for five years now, although last year was the first time I made the effort to check it out with my friend Francesca and I am very glad I did.

There’s an amazing variety of places which participate, but my favourite places to visit by far are the architects’ houses/studios and last year Francesca managed to squeeze in two of them, including an gorgeous house in TriBeCa that had been completely gutted by the architect couple who lived and worked there. It was beautiful as you might imagine. They’d removed the entire back wall of the building and replaced it with glass to maximise the light and they were fortunate not to have any windows from neighboring buildings overlooking their property. I was very impressed by the effect of the glass wall, although when I excitedly related how fabulous it was to a friend of mine he rather snootily informed me that ‘all architects do that, it’s very common.’ Clearly I must have been the only person in the world that didn’t know this was commonplace in architectural circles. Fancy that. Whatever, it still impressed the hell out of me.

The bonus of the TriBeCa house was that the wife was actually there and very enthusiastic to give everyone a guided tour of her home, answer any questions and generally share details of how she and her husband had approached the renovation their home and studio. She was a lovely woman and her enthusiasm for her home was infectious, however I am ashamed to admit that at one point, when I was stood close to her, I was focused less on the intricacies of how they’d cut a piece of marble to form a cantilevered table in the garden and more on how hairy her legs were for someone wearing a knee length skirt without tights - I kid you not, they were a good half inch long, clearly a woman with her mind on higher things than leg waxing. Evidently I'm a shallow, overly grooming focused New Yorker, since I appeared to have been the only person in the the place to have noticed such a thing while she held everyone else architecturally enthralled.

Earlier in the day we'd seen another architect's house/studio in Grammercy Park that was interesting, but not somewhere I would want to live. It was very cold and had water features everywhere, with a sort of moat around the living area on the ground floor and three wooden and very wobbly stepping stones you had to cross to reach an open staircase up to a ‘bedroom’ - technically just a platform cantilevered over the living room - they love their cantilevering these architects don't they?

As I toured the Grammercy house I kept thinking how different the male architect’s life must be to my own for him to live in such a place. God forbid he should ever arrive home worse for wear from a couple of cheeky glasses of wine on a Friday night after a hard days architecting. He’d be likely to stumble over his stepping stones and trip and drown in his own reflecting pool. The bedroom was no less treacherous with the top half of the bed extending out over the staircase with a 10foot drop to the ground floor below. You certainly wouldn't want to risk any vigorous sexual activity in that bed I can tell you; it would be all too easy to get carried away in the throes of lusty pash and roll off the side of the bed and plummet to your death in the moat below. Now there's a contraceptive for you.


So kids, should you ever be in a bar and an architect tries to lure you back to his Grammery pad for a roll in the hay, for safety's sake, just say no, or suggest a nearby hotel instead ;-)

Update: I just found a couple of photos courtesy of Flickr of the place in Grammercy. It's called the Ling Loft and is at 225 East 21st Street.

Here are the stepping stones you have to cross to get up to the sleeping area (Photo credit Kathryn via Flickr)



And here's a long shot of the ground floor of the apartment by Michael Surtees via Flickr.


12 comments:

Ha Ha Sound said...

That bed sounds really tricky. I'd be afraid of stepping into water on my way to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. And yeah, falling off the side during late night lovin' just sounds too risky.

I also think I'd be really jealous seeing the beautiful interiors of people's expensive Manhattan homes, knowing I'd eventually have to come back to my little Manhattan studio. But I guess that's a whole other story. =+)

Amel's Realm said...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...Oh dear, you always manage to make me laugh, Fish!!! Bless your heart! ;-D

Interesting about this Open House thingie. Never heard of it. I've read about TriBeCa in some Chicklits I had to translate a year ago. Interesting!!!!

I couldn't help laughing when you describe the woman's hairy legs and also about the stepping stone and the bed. YIKES!!!

When I'm tired, I wouldn't want to go up the staircase to go to bed, thank you very much he he he he...I especially wouldn't want to fall off my "high" bed hi hi hi...

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hey Ha Ha, yes I think the bed would be slightly tricky for anything beyond sleeping :-)

As for the jealousy, most of the buildings that are open aren't homes, and the few residences you can take a peek at tend to belong to architects. They're generally not homes I'd want to live in, so I don't feel too bad heading back to my shoebox afterwards :-) If you like art and design OHNY can be a fun thing to do.

Hi Amel, I updated the post with some photos so you can get the full effect of the stepping stones. Unfortunately there wasn't one that showed how treacherous the bed could be :-) Thanks for stopping by. Fish x

Amel's Realm said...

Gee...the stepping stones look so uncomfy...And what's that chair doing there? Hmmmhhh...

The place looks more like a museum than a homey place to live in...but I'm no architect and I have no flair in that area, so *shrug* he he he...

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel, the stepping stones were a nightmare as they wobbled. Can you imagine coming home after a couple of glasses of wine at dinner. I'd end up napping on the kitchen counter rather than risk those precarious stepping stones. Unless he usually keeps a pair of wellington boots by the side of the pool for those occasions ;-) I'm not sure what the chair is doing there. It's probably an artistic touch. I agree with you the place looks more like a museum than a home. I remember it feeling very cold. Not somewhere I would want to live either. It was interesting to see though.

Amel's Realm said...

Yeah, I bet it was interesting to see he he he...

After I see the pic, I can imagine what you said: coming home tipsy and having to step on the wobbly stones? No, thank you. I'd rather sleep on the couch hi hi hi...

alcoment said...

I'm really quite nosey, plus love to pass judgement on other people's ideas on decor, so this Open House thing sounds right up my street!

I like the sound of the glass wall (I'd never known that it was common in architectural circles either!), but would be too scared of the bed. Never mind activities other than sleeping, sleeping itself would be too dangerous for me, the amount I move around in the night!

Oh, and I'd have probably noticed the hairy legs too!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Alcoment, you should check out the Open House thingy next time they have it in London - I think I read it happens there every September.

How everyone else failed to notice the hairy legs is beyond me. She wasn't a fair haired woman ;-)

thewishfulwriter said...

dear lord. i'd be afraid to even tour the house....i keep getting visions of stiches (i am the world's worst clutz).

We were just in Charleston, SC and missed their open house weekend by two days. I was so mad!

I love nosing around other people's places. I'm the girl who drives slowly down the street at night so I can peek into people's windows.

I sound like a freak now, don't I?

I do.

I realize.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Heather, my mother does that too. You do know it makes you look like you are curb crawling don't you ;-) Fish x

Flowers On A Friday said...

"after a hard days architecting" - classic!

kitty said...

hey fish
a coworker of mine is heavily involved with the OHNY shindig, and here I hadn't heard of it before. Where have I been.

I think that architect's house is not so good. I can't imagine anyone, never mind an architect, building those stepping stones. That's nuts.

anyhow, thanks for posting!!!
-k