The End of Summer: Returning to Life in the City


As the last weekend of summer approaches, it’s time to pack up the beach chairs, the straw hats and the lobster pots, and return to our busier, bustling lives in the city.  In honor of returning to our primary hearths and homes, we’re taking a look this week at an agelessly elegant pre-WWII apartment in Manhattan. Richer colors, the warmth of heavier upholstery and textiles, and the sheen of polished dark wood are all gently tugging at us now, calling us back to a new season.

This is an example of a pre-World War II apartment, on Manhattan’s East Side.

When the history, glamour and style of a prewar hotel turned condominum was chosen as a New York City home by a client moving from warm and sunny California, we envisioned a careful renovation to both honor its past and bring new and polished life to its rooms. The three bedroom, three and a half bath apartment is located on the Upper East Side in the former Westbury Hotel.  My team’s task was to create a perfect city retreat in the recently converted space, while retaining the elegant feeling of the 1930s and 1940s.  The usual prewar amenities, such as gracious architecture, high ceilings and fireplaces were not all present in this space, due to its previous life as a hotel.  So it was up to us to add the missing period architecture, as well as the dash and style that represented the owner’s contemporary lifestyle.

ENTRY

A mark of many prewar apartments is a spacious entry.  Its ample size needed to be balanced with appropriate details, so we added prewar flair to this space, including gracious French doors, flanked by sidelights, opening into the dining room.  The walls are covered in smart silk-stripe wallpaper, establishing an aura every bit as sophisticated as Myrna Loy and William Powell sipping cocktails in a 1930’s movie.  The piece on the right is a wonderful example of faux bois done by the Isabel O’Neal Studios, well known in the design world for her wonderful painted finishes. At the far end, this grand entrance gracefully opens into the living room.

LIVING ROOM

We added a fireplace to bring a focal point to this room, and brought the draperies up to the ceiling to make the ceiling feel higher.  The room is anchored by a Steinway’s Great Estates piano, a special Limited Edition made of satinwood. A longtime signature of Dujardin style is adding antique pieces for warmth and beauty, along with reflecting the client’s love of special places.  This room houses several antiques, including an elegant German Biedermeier armoire.  The painting and the nest of Nantucket Lightship baskets is an homage to the client’s love for Nantucket Island.  California comfort is found in the overstuffed sofa, and in its generous proportion and size. Contemporary lamps and sconces make the room truly timeless.  The room’s warm golden tones remind the client of her years spent in sun-splashed California.

DINING ROOM

The formerly closed off dining room was opened up to the living room by taking down a wall, then adding French doors flanked by sidelights.  There is another pair of french doors leading to the entry way, allowing the room to be enclosed for private dinner parties. Upholstered silk walls create a quiet atmosphere for intimate gatherings with friends.  The chandelier of wrought iron and rock crystal is a nod to the more casual California dining the owner also enjoys.  Chairs here are amply sized to provide comfortable seating, as the scintillating dinner conversation often goes straight through to brandy and dessert.

BREAKFAST AREA

This charming tableau is a rarity in New York City:  a true eat-in kitchen.  The country Chippendale desk, while functional, adds a subtle touch of Nantucket style to the room.  The painting above, showing a woman baking, quickly became one of the client’s favorites, as it reminds her of the many hours she spent in her grandmother’s kitchen.  It’s that kind of close attention to details from our clients’ lives that gives our interiors the true warmth and feel of home. I believe in a clean and serene aesthetic, and in honoring the architecture of the past when a home is redesigned for life in the present.  This vintage space, brought to fresh contemporary life, shows just how it can be done.

 

 

 

“I Send Thee a Shell from the Ocean-Beach”

Clients often ask me where I get my inspiration for the colors and textures for the rooms I design.  The world outside my door is a constant source of inspiration, especially the sea. (Read an earlier post on my color inspiration here.) I also love to read, and my library is full of beautifully illustrated books that fill my hands and my heart when I can’t be on my beloved Nantucket.

It’s no secret that I have always loved seashells; the logo for my company is a Nautilus shell, a beautiful example of what is called a golden spiral (also known as a logarithmic spiral).   Choosing the Nautilus shell was not accidental:  it perfectly represents a profession where proportion and balance are key to achieving a pleasing design.  We may not need to understand the science behind a masterfully (and mathematically) balanced design, but we are naturally drawn to elegant and balanced compositions, repeatedly found in nature.

This is a close-up photograph of a spiral palm leaf.

The concept of what makes the proportions of the chambers of a Nautilus shell so beautiful is explained by something called The Fibronacci series, often referred to as nature’s numbering system.  It is displayed to perfect effect in the bracts of a pinecone, the heart of a sunflower, the scales of a pineapple, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, the spiral palm, and even in the proportions of the human body. Leonardo Da Vinci portrayed this concept with his sketch of Vitruvian Man.

Many architects and artists have proportioned their work according to geometric principles known as the golden rectangle, the golden mean and the golden ratio, aesthetically pleasing proportions found over and over again in nature, in stems of plants and veins in leaves, and of course, in seashells such as the Nautilus.

In a golden rectangle, the smaller rectangle is the same shape as the larger rectangle, in other words, their sides are proportional. The curved design of the chambered nautilus shell and the ratios between each of the spirals reveal the fascinating connection between nature, geometry and architecture.  Read more here.

A staircase in the Padula Charthouse, a monastery in Southern Italy, founded in 1306.

Each single shell represents the world of nature’s intricate and mysterious designs, and is a work of art in itself. It is no wonder their shapes are frequently mirrored in our homes and lasting pieces of architecture.

Spiral staircase in an old mansion.

I frequently place shells where they can be seen and admired, especially in beachside homes. In case you’re looking for a little inspiration yourself, here are two seashell books you might find on my coffee table if you were to visit:

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Seashells won the Coffee Table Book Award of the National Association of Independent Publishers for 1996. Filled with stunning pictures by photographer James H. (Pete) Carmichael, who is especially well-known for his work with shells, butterflies, and rainforests, the wonderfully-written text is by Leonard Hill, a lifetime shell enthusiast, and a biologist employed by the US government who monitors the health of the oceans.

If you’ve ever come home from the beach with a pocket full of seashells, then this book was written just for you! Written by Marlene Hurley Marshall,  it’s filled with inspiring ideas of all the wonderful things you can do with your beachy treasures. Frames, chandeliers,  boxes, mirrors:  they can all be enhanced with memories of your time spent seaside.

 

“I send thee a shell from the ocean-beach;
But listen thou well, for my shell hath speech.
Hold to thine ear
And plain thou’lt hear
Tales of ships.”

Source, Listening to seashells
Charles Henry Webb, With a Nantucket Shell, reported in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

The Most Powerful Weapon on Earth to Fight Climate Change

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
– Marshal Ferdinand Foch

In Fall 2011, I attended the Design Futures Council’s Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design, and was impressed by the number of thoughtful, committed architects, designers and builders who are determined to create a more sustainable future in American cities.  At the Summit, our mantra was “you must stand for something, or you will fall for everything.  Never has this been more true than in addressing the risks of climate change, and identifying ways to counteract this dangerous warming of our earth.

I have long been a believer in the “power of one,” the power of each individual to stand up, speak out, and make a difference.  Now is the time to do so.

Summer 2012 has been a dangerous season for heat, drought and wildfires, exemplified by the blazes that scorched parts of Colorado and blackened hundreds of thousands of acres of New Mexico wilderness.  The August issue of Food, Nutrition & Science called this summer’s dry heat the worst American drought in nearly 50 years. Corn crops have been hit particularly hard; their decimation reminds us how fragile our environment really is.

Missouri has been hit hard by drought, as seen in this withered stand of corn.

(For an excellent discussion of the perils of wildfires throughout the U.S., read Timothy Egan’s opinion piece from July 2012 in the New York Times here.)

Even on the island of Nantucket, fire walls are being built, and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation is working on a Wildfire Risk Reduction Program, including brush cutting firebreaks and scheduling prescribed burnings.  The goal of this effort is to identify land management strategies that will reduce “fuel loads” of highly flammable vegetation on Foundation properties, especially where they occur in close proximity to homes.

Photo courtesy of Jim Lentowski and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.

In a world where people still debate the concepts of climate change and global warming, in spite of overwhelming evidence of steadily increasing temperatures, I turn to James E. Hansen, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) for a clear-eyed view of our future.  A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he received the Heinz Environment Award in 2001 for his climate research. Research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) emphasizes a broad study of global change, addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment — from one-time events such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal and annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — that affect the habitability of our planet.

In an opinion piece he wrote for the Washington Post on August 3, 2012, (Climate Change Is Here, and Worse Than We Thought), Hansen discusses a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which reveal a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers.  He is emphatic that the analysis shows that for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is no explanation other than climate change.

On June 20, 2012, BusinessInsider.com published a list of 23 ways the earth has changed in the 20 years since the first “Earth Summit” was held in Rio de Janeiro.  (Read more here.)  Among the trends they’ve identified are:

  • There are about 1.5 billion more people in the world, an increase of 27%
  • The average person eats 20 pounds more meat each year.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions increased 36%, from 22 billion tons to 30 billion tons.
  • The ten hottest years since records began in 1880 all occurred since 1998.
  • Artic sea ice has declined 35%.

Who’s Taking Action?

A movement called Architecture 2030 is underway, driving a national grassroots movement to foster private/public partnerships to create sustainable urban growth.  The 2030 District Model brings property owners together with local governments, businesses, architects and planners to provide a solid business model for urban sustainability.  First established in Seattle, today more cities are joining the effort.  This month, Pittsburgh joined Cleveland and Seattle by launching a Pittsburgh 2030 District.

2030’s mission is to rapidly transform the U.S. and global Building Sector from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate change, energy consumption, and economic crises. Architecture 2030’s Edward Mazria will deliver a lecture titled “The Next Built Environment, Today” on Monday September 10th at Carnegie Mellon University.  Read more about the movement here.

What Can You Do to Help?

The scope of our activities that generate carbon dioxide emissions are great, including driving our cars, turning on a light, and heating or cooling our homes.  But you can make a difference by taking action:

  • Plan your errands to make fewer short car trips.  Cars emit the most carbon dioxide when the engine is cold.
  • Properly inflate your car tires to prevent excess fuel consumption.
  • Turn down the heat or air conditioning a fraction.  Even moving the thermostat up or down a degree or two can make a huge difference.
  • Recycle whatever you can.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Switch off appliances not in use at the wall.  Anything connected to an energy source uses standby power that can consume unnecessary energy.
  • Before buying anything, ask yourself, “do I really need this?”  Rampant consumerism plays a huge role in carbon emissions.

Look for more ways to help, by visiting Carbonify.com or livestrong.com.

As James Hansen says, “This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it…There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time…The future is now.  And it is hot.”

 

 

 

 

 


 

One in 88

I recently had the privilege of hearing Suzanne Wright, grandmother of a grandchild with autism and co-founder of Autism Speaks, as she talked about this serious developmental disorder.  What she said both shocked and saddened me, and made me determined to help spread the word about the critical need for more research into the causes and prevention of autism.  Kathy Roberts, executive director of a renowned school for children with autism called Giant Steps and mother of a daughter with autism, was also invaluable in helping to provide a greater understanding of the problems we must face together.

 

 Here are some things I learned:

 

  • Statistics tell us that one in 88 children born today will have Autism.  If we look only at boys, the numbers are more alarming, at one in 54. (Autism is four to five times more common in boys than girls.)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
  • Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.
  • Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify a 78% increase in six years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness.
  • By way of comparison, more children are diagnosed with autism each year than with juvenile diabetes, AIDS or cancer, combined.

 

 

What does it mean to live with autism?

 

Each individual with autism is unique. Kathy Roberts says “when you meet one child with autism, know that you’ve met one child with autism.”  That being said, there are some skills and behaviors that are often exhibited in people with autism.

Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means.

Many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world, and have made significant contributions to their fields, perhaps because of their ability to see “differently.”  Great artwork and advances in science have been brought to life through the centuries by people who look, think, and act differently.

One of those “different” people today is Temple Grandin, an American doctor of Animal Science and a professor at Colorado State University.  As a person with autism, she has done much to help the public understand the disorder and is known both for autism and animal welfare advocacy.

She has a wry sense of humor about her disability, and says, “What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool?  You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.”

There is sweetness and joy and laughter in the lives of families who struggle with autism, but the issues are real.  Among the worries many parents face is who will care for their adult with autism when they are no longer here to do so?  The responsibility will often fall to a sibling, who may or may not be prepared to undertake it.  As Ms. Roberts tells me, “there are no tests to predict what a three year old will look or act like at twenty or thirty years of age.”  But we must continue to work toward better diagnosis and early intervention for best outcomes.

Science currently indicates that the cause of autism is both environmental and genetic, which makes the complex work of teasing out a way to prevent it all the more challenging.  That’s why we need to work together and keep the focus on this very important topic. “Bob and I founded Autism Speaks to provide hope for individuals and families affected by autism,” said Suzanne Wright.  “Together, we can find the answers and make a difference–Autism Speaks and the Nantucket community is listening.”

Please take a moment to learn more at www.autismspeaks.org. or www.giantstepsct.org.

You can also find a world of information at www.templegrandin.com, as well as a fascinating blog published by Psychology Today Online called Asperger’s Diary  written by a woman with Asperger’s syndrome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Adrienne Sprouse, MD, Talks about ADD

From Trudy:  “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share the thoughts of Dr. Adrienne Sprouse as a guest blogger.  Dr. Sprouse has dedicated herself to the field that saved her life:  Environmental Medicine.  After being diagnosed with Chemical Sensitivity and successfully treated, she was accepted to eleven medical schools at the age of 37, and chose Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating with multiple awards.

In 1995, she opened New York City’s first chemical-free environmental medicine center, treating patients made ill from environmental factors.  She has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, New York One and The Tony Brown Show, as well as serving as the Environmental Specialist for Fox Good Day New York. She has been an important part of my own journey to good health.”

A.D.D.:  Psychiatric Illness or Medical Problem in Disguise?

Children and adults who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder usually have one or more of these symptoms: inattention,hyperactivity, poor impulse control, poor school performance, social impairment, and low motivation.  However, these troublesome symptoms can also be caused by several medical problems.

Medical Illnesses Mimicking ADD

Several medical conditions cause symptoms similar to ADD.  These medical conditions include:

  • nutritional deficiencies
  • food allergies
  • inhalant allergies
  • sensitivities to chemicals
  • heavy metal exposure
  • hormonal imbalances
  • medication reactions
  • seizures, etc.

 

If You Are Having Behavioral Problems, Please Consider the Following:

Do you have a nutritional abnormality?

The body needs certain vitamins, minerals, fatty acids,carbohydrates, and amino acids to work correctly.  If one or more of these vital nutrients is low or abnormally elevated, behavior changes can follow.  It is possible to measure your body’s levels for these important nutrients and then tailor a nutritional program to your specific needs.

Do you have a hormonal abnormality?

Thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones play key roles in body metabolism.  An abnormality in any of these hormones can cause inattentiveness and a depleted mood.  Many chemicals in the environment today are hormone disruptors and can alter the performance of hormones in your body.  A thorough hormonal assessment can identify abnormalities and a corrective plan can be designed.

Do you have food allergies?

Symptoms of food allergy include irritability, itchy eyes, abdominal bloating, headache, sleepiness after a meal, bed wetting, recurrent ear infections (esp. in children) sinus infections, and behavior changes.  Treating food allergies can bring significant relief.

Do you have inhalant allergies?

The following inhalants have been documented to cause illness:  molds, pollen, trees, grasses, flowers, dust, cats, dog, and cockroach.  Identifying and treating your inhalant allergies can go a long way toward returning you to good health.

Do chemical exposures make you sick?

Toxic chemicals abound in our environment and often go unsuspected as a cause of illness.  Any one (or more) of the following chemicals or items can make you ill:  your gas stove, commercial cleaning products, air fresheners, new carpeting, perfumes, paint and varnish, personal care products, new computers, cigarette smoke, copier fumes, pesticides, etc.

Where Chemicals Are Stored

After chemicals enter our bodies, they circulate through the bloodstream to all parts of our bodies…even our brains.  In fact, many of these chemicals are fat soluble and get stored in the body’s fat.  After chemicals enter your body, they will find that fat which then will serve as a reservoir for dangerous toxins and become a staging ground for toxic illness.  Only proper diagnosis followed by individualized treatments to remove those substances will reduce your chemical load.

Clearing Chemicals From the Body

Chemicals already in the body are not likely to leave on their own.  So if you can, avoid them.  But if you can’t or didn’t, you have to remove them.   To remove them, we’ve got to assist the one organ in our body that is the command center for clearing and fighting our war against toxic chemicals:  the liver.  Through a process called detoxification, your chemical load can be reduced.

Phase I liver detoxification results in the modification of reactive  chemicals  by a series of chemical reactions like oxidation, reduction, etc.  Big words, but let it go as the first internal “scrub down.”

Phase II liver detoxification may follow Phase I reactions or may proceed independently.   Here, the liver maximally converts fat-soluble substances to water-soluble substances, facilitating their excretion from the body.  Look at Phase II as the “flush.”

To accelerate the detoxification process, a combination of selected nutrients and amino acids are given to the patient along with an in-center heat detoxification program.  This program contributes to the reduction of the total body chemical burden, and the eventual reduction or disappearance of symptoms.

Summary

Allergy, malnutrition, hormonal abnormalities, and toxicity arereversible causes of behavior problems. Those with allergies are often misdiagnosed with ADD.  Look for the underlying causes of your ADD.  The right treatment can make all the difference!

Learn more about Dr. Sprouse and her work at www.passionandpoison.com.

Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks

 

The people of Nantucket Island are known for their generosity and warmth of spirit, and never do they show it more clearly than each year when hundreds of people walk to fund vital research for autism.  This year, Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks takes place on Saturday, August 18th at 9:30 a.m.(registration at 8:30 a.m.), beginning at Jetties Beach. With a distance of only 1.5 miles, it’s something I hope we all can try to do.

Every 11 minutes, another family receives the devastating news that their child has an autism spectrum disorder.  The Walk, founded by islanders Bob and Suzanne Wright, is one way to help change the future for all who struggle with the challenge of autism.

Come join me, Frank and our three Bichons, Ellie, Tuffy and G.G.!  Learn more at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/nantucket, or call 646-843-6675.