19 August 2010

One House – Three Designs

 

 

mca5

Architect Bobby McAlpine’s former house in Montgomery, Alabama was modeled after Edwin Lutyens’ Homewood. 

 

 

image

Homewood was built in 1901 for Dowager Lady Lytton, who was to soon become his mother-in-law.  The Luytens children spent summer holidays at Homewood, so it truly was a family house – held by the Luytens until 1973 when it was sold.  Today it is a bed and breakfast inn.  In this picture of the back side of Homewood, you can see the three large windows which McAlpine used as inspiration.   Also notice the two wings that flank the windows, another feature that McAlpine incorporated along with the lilting silhouette.

 

image 

The three large doors that McAlpine used to emulate Homewood’s three large windows.  Like Homewood, there are two small wings that flank these windows. 

 

 

imageAn early picture of the Montgomery house showing the side entrance before the vines covered the pergola over the entrance.  The carriage house is seen at the very left.    

 

 

 

image

The front of Homewood.   Notice how McAlpine’s roof mimics the left side of Lutyens’ house.

 

 

image

Montgomery, Alabama.  Notice the shadow of the huge tree!   The photographer probably waited all day for this shot!    Above the doors is the window of one of the bedrooms.  Another matching bedroom is on the other side’s window above the pergola. 

 

 

 

image View that shows the small wing that flanks the three windows/doors on the side.  One wing holds the kitchen, another holds a bedroom.   (Is that a headless ghost running there?  What IS that?!!!)

 

Bobby McAlpine, a recent guest on The Skirted Roundtable, started out early.   He began drawing floor plans at age five.  When he was 12, he designed an addition to his house that his parents ultimately had built.    McAlpine was to oversee the contractor when he got home from school.   The contractor balked at taking instructions from the precocious 12 year old but McAlpine’s father told him to do so, or they would find another contractor who would.    His first commission came a year later when he was 13 and he designed a ranch house for a woman, complete with floor plans, all for under $100.   At 16, he designed a new house for his parents which they built – an experience that bonded the two men forever.   All amazing stories, but not really surprising, given the genius that is the man.   A gift from God like he possesses isn’t something one learns at college,   you are either born with it or not.   And Bobby McAlpine was born with his talent, in spades. 

The first house that McAlpine built for himself is located in Montgomery, Alabama.   Receiving much press, this house is usually the one that most first took notice of McAlpine, and it remains a favorite among the legions of his devotees.  Built in 1995, McAlpine was 36 and single at the time - he took inspiration (one of the few times he ever did so) from Edwin Lutyens’ Homewood.   McAlpine revealed on The Skirted Roundtable that he has visited the original Homewood and his house  is “so much better!”    Of course it is.   Though the Montgomery house resembles the English Cotswold style, McAlpine calls it “Monastery Modern.”   The floors are concrete tiles of irregular shapes.   There is no molding and no window trim., details left out to make the house feel “permanent and resonant.”

Although McAlpine had remodeled the house three times, the house was still missing something – a happiness that can only come when its shared with someone else.   He eventually sold the house to a “beautiful” young architect who works for his firm.   Today that architect, his wife and two children happily live in the 3 bedroom house which Bobby admits was designed for a bachelor.  There is true love in the house now, something that was lacking at the time for McAlpine.   It’s fascinating to follow the three decors that McAlpine installed – each is completely different from the other.   This story is about those three different stages of the same house.   Enjoy!

 

NOTE:    Bobby’s last name  is not pronounced Mc-AL-Pine, accent on the Pine.   Instead he pronounces it Ma-CAL-pen – accent on the CAL, so much harder to say it that way!!!!  And, Edwin Lutyens is a name I have also always mispronounced!   Ma-CAL-pen called him Lutch-ins.  Don’t even ask how I always pronounced Lutyens.

 

 

STAGE I:   A Self Portrait in Warm Greens

 image

 

Stage One:   Here how the house first looked when McAlpine moved in.  A mixture of beautiful antiques chairs and tables, the main living area is colorful in many shades of green.  The salon is two stories high, with a 70’ aisle or  landing that connects the two bedrooms upstairs.     The bottom of the front door is seen on the very upper left.    McAlpine calls this first stage his “self portrait.”     During this self portrait phase, he filled the house with things he loved and had collected:  An antique Flemish tapestry, a Dutch chandelier, a collection of corner chairs.    The dining room doubles as a work area:  the table is behind the sofa.  Alas, this decor was not to remain.  He states that he cycles every 3 years when he must either move or redecorate.

 

 

 image  Looking the other direction towards the antique limestone fireplace dating from the 16th century.   The house was built without moldings or window trims.   The landing or bridge runs between two identical staircases.   The floor is made of concrete pavers of irregular sizes. McAlpine says he loves chairs and his collection of antique Os de Mouton chairs is gorgeous.     

 

 

 

image

A view from the upstairs bridge overlooking the tapestry in the main living area below.   Notice how the huge column does not reach the ceiling!

 

 

 

image

Behind the fireplace is a small sitting room.   The cypress paneling here is on a grid, and is repeated throughout several other rooms.   You can see a bedroom through the paneling that opens like a door.

 

 

image  One of the three bedrooms (this one is downstairs in the wing) with its gorgeous twin beds and the long table between.   A modern bench is the surprise here.  Notice the beautiful trio of windows here that give the house its English Cotswold feel.   These windows are repeated in the kitchen which fills the opposite wing.

 

 

image The kitchen with its long row of windows.  This might be the kitchen that inspired all the farm sinks and no overhead cabinets!   (sorry for the bad picture splice!)

 

Stage II:   The White Interior

image

A few years after moving in, McAlpine decided to completely change his interiors.  All the greens, yellows and oranges are now gone, replaced with white.    Stage II is what Bobby calls his “white phase.”    He was celebrating, he had lots of parties, and he became the owner of a white greyhound that he wanted to match to his house.  I can really relate to that feeling!!!  Notice the beautiful column made into a side table. 

 

 

 

image  Looking towards the fireplace, Bobby added a very tall screen to play with proportions.   I LOVE the antique French barometer he has placed hanging on the screen.  And notice the side table – one piece of concrete atop two small sawhorses!!!  Upstairs, the window of one of the bedrooms is open to below.   

 

image

A long concrete table with logs underneath and candles above is settled in front of the wall of windows. 

 

 

 

  image

A beautiful concrete urns sits before the grid patterned wall.   Here, McAlpine mixes stools with chairs and a settee around the dining table – an early trademark of his.  Notice how the door to the bedroom is hidden in the paneling.

 

 

 

image

The upstairs bedroom where the bed, placed between two large pier mirrors, sits in front of the large side window. 

 

 

image

Reflection in the mirror shows the bridge upstairs between the two bedrooms. 

 

 

 

 

image The view again of the upstairs bridge and staircase.  I love all the concrete items he has in the house – like this orb in the corner on a pedestal.

 

 

 

STAGE III:   Dark and Serious

image

 

It’s difficult to realize that this is the exact same space as the White Phase, yet it is!  The third makeover goes completely dark.  For the first time a large dark striped rug covers the concrete floor.  This third phase which followed McAlpine’s white celebratory phase is called his introspective phase.  Here he wanted to “dim the houselights and contemplate all that had just happened and what was going to be.”   The walls were darkened with linseed oil and pigment.   Notice how beautiful and structural the rafters are that hold up the bridge.        Interior designer Susan Ferrier worked with McAlpine on this phase.   She is a partner with McAlpine Booth and Ferrier Interiors

 

 

image

A close up of the fireplace.  What a beautiful rug!   And the desk and chairs are all so beautiful.    I particularly love the map on the mantel.  During Phase III, the house became more decidedly masculine - a sanctuary, McAlpine states.    He was feeling vulnerable at this stage in his life and he darkened the walls so that they would envelop him and warm him, like a blanket.    The map of Bohemia allowed Bobby to pretend the house was in another country, where he could hide out until he could figure out where he needed to go next.   Actually, he ended up buying an old house in Nashville where he now lives with his partner, although his company remains in Montgomery.   

 

 image

Close up of the small McAlpine sofas side by side, which give more people arm rests, he says.   Notice the windows on this side are grids, like the others throughout. 

 

 

 

image

The stunning desk floats in front of the three doors that lead to the side courtyard.   The white curtains have been replaced with these darker ones made of chocolate brown mohair. 

 

 

 image A Saladino shelter sofa sits in front of the entry.   Interestingly on The Skirted Roundtable, McAlpine mentions John Saladino as the only “living” designer he admired.  

 

 

 image

Behind the fireplace, the space is filled with another shelter sofa and chairs.  

 

 image   Beautiful statue of a greyhound. 

 

 

imageThe kitchen is so gorgeous – I love the rafters, the bank of windows and the sconces flanking them.  

 

 

 

 

 

image

In the upstairs bedroom, this bed was designed by McAlpine, who has a line of furniture he designs for LEE Industries HERE.    I wish I could see the map!

 

 

 

image

The other side of the bedroom, seen above.  

 

 

 image

The modern and the antique - this juxtaposition is seen throughout this house.

 

After studying all three stages this house went through, I am not sure which version I prefer.  I might like the white version most.   There are things in the first version I liked too.  The third version, the dark one, is probably my least personal favorite simply because it is so dark – but I do love the furniture and the interior design of the third version.  So, it’s difficult to say which version I like best.  I’m going to say which one I would probably like to live in the most –  the white version, or Stage II, but include in that the bedroom from Stage I and the antiques from Stage III.   What about you?   What is your favorite of the three styles? 

 

Be sure to listen to the Skirted Roundtable with Bobby McAlpine HERE

And to order his book, The Home Within Us, go HERE.

49 comments:

  1. I would like a mix of I and II. I is warm in feel/cozy...II (white) is modern in feel/chic. All three are incredible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the White Phase for a change. I have never done this in my homes and would love to, however with plenty of bright abstract art throughout!!

    Karena
    Art by Karena

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good grief Ms. CdT. You totally rocked this one. I keep looking at the space, not what's in it. I want to be there. Decorate it however you like. I'm liking the skinny mullions. Perhaps not in Homewood so much but Lutyens made the most beautiful window compositions, if that's what you'd call them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, whaddayaknow, I can't choose. There are elements of all 3 that I really, really like! I, too, am in my 'white phase' but more aligned with his 1st white phase dotted with color. Hmmmm.

    I'm DYINGGGGG to hear you pronounce Lutyens. Please? Pretty please? Next SRT? Or just a simple voicemail will do ;)

    Andrea

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bobby McAlpine can do no wrong in my eyes. For some time, his work has made references to John Saladino's style, but he has made his own statement - classic, elegant, timeless. Oh, I would love to see what these two design geniuses would do if they put their two incredible minds together! Thanks for showing so much of Mr. McAlpine's work! I keep his book on my bedside table just to take one more quick look before lights out!

    April (Just Verte)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! Loving the dark, the striped rug and chocolate mohair drapes tipped me right over...looks like I don't have to share since I'm the first one to choose the third re-dec!

    ReplyDelete
  7. We natives here in Montgomery are very familiar with Bobby's work and I have always enjoyed driving by his "old" home. It's in the "old money" section of town (as you would expect).

    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow Joni, thanks for the spread! All of us here at the McAlpine family appreciate what a cheerleader you are for us. Being included here is such an honor. Kisses from the South.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The white space is my favorite. The dark phase of McAlpine's design is striking and dramatic, but a little heavy for my personal taste. Either way, the man is gifted and has exceptional taste.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Joni!

    What a thorough, well-researched post (as usual)!

    I like the white version, but I absolutely love the dark version, probably beause I'm in an introspective phase in my life. If I could have anyone design and decorate a house for me, it would be McAlpine Booth and Ferrier. Their designs are elegant and timeless, and seem to have an air of mystery and secretiveness about them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a beautiful home! And I loved seeing how it changed through the years.

    I'd vote for the White Phase as my favorite too. Maybe a few antiques from the first one, and the kitchen from the last one, but I love all that light in the second phase of his home!

    And I can't believe you'd go for an ACTUAL rug, like the one from the last incarnation, versus seagrass!!! And such a modern rug, at that! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've listened to the interview so many times now, I'm embarrassed. Sending readers your way! I'm jealous that you know these people!

    ReplyDelete
  13. OMG everything is so fabulous I espeacially love all the stone work he used thru out. I think I like the dark and serious phase the best and that bridge...WOW! To have that kind of talent.......

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Joni. I'm definitely in Phase II, but honestly, this house is so incredible that I could permanently camp outside and just admire it from there! I love the outside even more, I think, than the inside. So authentic! Your post on this is beyond words. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a great piece, Joni!
    I would have to go with the White phase, but I do like elements of the third phase as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. How have I never seen this kitchen before or read his book? Those sconces next to the window just leave me speechless....and the mood he creates. That is what I find beautiful; the soul of his interiors. Have a lovely weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Home and Garden featured a story on Bobby's Nashville home which he shared with "Hal Cato". The two are photographed in the home which I believe was a renovation - not a from the ground up design. Interesting article on several fronts when read in the light of this post today. The article appears on the McAlpine website and was published in 2005.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love all his work and the house in each incarnation.Can I say that? A good friend of mine / coworker used to work for him and still has the most admiration for him! He's not just a talented designer but a great guy!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I like the dark phase. I think it is more personal and embracing. The white phase might require sunglasses 24/7 in the bright southern sun. Perhaps Mr. Tankersley might show us how this house has changed today.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love #1! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Tina Ramer

    ReplyDelete
  21. P.S. I would love to see what the young family has done with it!
    Tina Ramer

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think that my personal preference is stage I, but incorporating elements of Stage III and a little of Stage II. At first, I didn't grasp Stage III, but as you developed the story, I grew to appreciate it. Thanks for all of your research--this broadens my scope.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I unabashedly choose the glamorous and moody Stage III.

    Another excellent post, Joni! You are like crack to me. I have to check you out every day and when you don't have something new, I go into withdrawal!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't know if you read your comments but I want to thank you for this site. You have opened my eyes to colors and textures, and patterns, and given me so many ideas to follow. I too live in Houston, LOVE Brown (store), and have recently secured the services of Marc Anthony Rugs. Yesterday, I was at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and noticed that their showroom is painted primarily in gray. I thought, "she's right, gray is everywhere!" Anyway, yours is a generous talent. Thank you.

    Alison

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am a girl that requires light so it would be the white phase but I am with you I would love some of the pieces from phase 3. What a multi-layered gentlemen and what a talent. I love to see and get into the thinking of a designer of his calliber. Great post as always, joni. Thank you for inspiring and enlightening your readers!!! You are a wonderful blogger, Kathysue

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love the first phase the color is so pretty I'm over the white and gray schemes and moving to color!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think I prefer Stage 1. My favourite room is definitely the room with the twin beds in Stage 1 - it feels like 17th Century England. I had never heard of Robert McAlpine before the Skirted Round Table and now I can see trends which he must have unknowingly started in his home quite a few years ago which have come into popularity in the last few years. He must be ahead of his time.

    I was born in Scotland and can assure you that the accent for McAlpine is on the "PINE". We just roll our eyes at these strange pronunciations.

    ReplyDelete
  28. There are things in all 3 phases that I love, but my overall favorite & the one in which I can see myself living is Stage I. Love it! Thanks Joni.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love all the phases but maybe the white one is my favorite!
    GREAT post! Thank you Joni!
    xx
    Greet

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love all the phases but maybe the white one is my favorite!
    GREAT post! Thank you Joni!
    xx
    Greet

    ReplyDelete
  31. Steve and I are huge fans of both Lutyens (which I have always mispronounced!) and Bobby McAlpine.
    The Home Within Us is actually one of the only design books that I have read, rather than just look at the pictures (John Saladino's, Sills and Huniford's, and Rose Tarlow's books being the three others).
    We actually met Bobby McAlpine at one of his book signings the other night. I was so nervous. I'm sure I didn't make any sense, but I did get a signed copy of his book :)

    Loved this post!!!

    xo
    Brooke

    ReplyDelete
  32. This man is genius. While I definitely see the influence of Saladino, he also completely rocks his own style.

    Wonderful post!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Still biting my knuckles over the Saladino sofa. Now, THIS is a decor post, thank you for sharing, Joni.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This totally gives new meaning to "bachelorpad"!!!I love the first version the most- it's bright, you notice the textures, it's got just enough color to be liveable... though I love details and am so inspired by all three!

    ReplyDelete
  35. It is very interesting for me to read this post. Thanks the author for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Avril Benedict

    ReplyDelete
  36. Very timely and helpful! I am working on a post about an architect who came out of McAlpine's studio, who shares a great deal of the country house traditions McAlpine embraces.

    ReplyDelete
  37. have always been a big fan of Mr.McAlpine especially since I'm from Fairhope, Alabama, and he's from Montgomery!

    Also, I wish I could afford to redecorate every 3 years!

    ReplyDelete
  38. have always been a big fan of Mr.McAlpine especially since I'm from Fairhope, Alabama, and he's from Montgomery!

    Also, I wish I could afford to redecorate every 3 years!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Well now I am in a state of obsession. I finally got my homework done, so I could speak intelligently about my friend's collaboration with former McAlpine protoge, Ruard Veltman. I spent hours pouring over Lutyens information, and went down the rabbit hole. Ruard has picked up the Neo-Georgian theme with my friend, and now its Nieuw Neo Georgian! Fun to see a Wrennaisance" Also lots of gray, inspired by the Met's Jasper Johns gray show. See you soon!
    Liz

    ReplyDelete
  40. Wow! Where did you find all those amazing houses? It is so stunning. I wish I can visit those houses. I am sure it is going to be a great experience to visit those beautiful houses.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks for your post, I'm ordering his book today. The Skirted Roundtable interview was great, and I'm can't wait to get the book!

    ReplyDelete
  42. oh my goodness... I love the first photo. would love to live in a small house in that style. too bad I've fallen in love with the city as of late!

    ReplyDelete
  43. You want to see a map?? Go to Renovation Hardware's new catalog. I'm thinking of selling my first-born child to get one.

    - Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  44. Sorry, it's RESTORATION HARDWARE. It's too early in the morning for me. HA

    ReplyDelete
  45. its beautiful !! very elegant and impressive interior you have . i think i have an idea to make this set up to my patio together with my wind spinners and other garden accessories . thank you for the post and wonderful ideas . keep it up . have a nice day .

    ReplyDelete
  46. I just visited the house.There's a bigger fabulous mansion across the street for sale for around $498k and was decorated by McAlpine, it's AMAZING more so that Bobbys. But dreamers be warned, there are housing projects of the worse kind only 3 blocks away in two directions and the areas seems to be in decline. No wonder bobby sold and moved but he still keeps offices just up the street.

    ReplyDelete