Rhiannon Agosti is CustomMade.com's VP, Administration. Here's what her custom dream house would look like. What about yours?!
Owning a house, I obviously turn to home improvement when thinking about custom made and CustomMade.com. The best thing that could happen to my house would be a tear down and rebuild. However, realistically, it's time to wander around and dream about how the current space could be improved.
I would love a new bedroom closet, but how much real artistry is there in louvered doors? Then there's the nasty cookie-cutter coffee table that could so easily be replaced by a work of art. And don't let's even start on the kitchen . . .
And so I come to rest on my . . . library. As you can guess, "library" is just a gentrified term for "The room that houses all of Rudy's cookbooks and is too small and awkward to be a sitting room or den." It is 9' by 13', with an under-the-stairs closet jutting out into the rectangle, producing even more decorating hassle. There is a large double window which although north facing does provide a lot of light. The floor is beautiful blonde maple from the early 20th century, and the ceiling is a little unusual, with straight wooden beams running width-ways. There is no door to the room, a better way of putting it would be to say that it is missing one of the long walls.
It has been a long-held hope of mine that I will one day cover each wall in this "library" room with built-in, custom-made bookshelves, but Arielle's challenge gave me my first opportunity to actually voice my ideas.
It was once common (and probably still is) to find in the St Petersburg apartments of Russian intellectuals that every expanse of wall not taken up with absolutely essential domestic fixtures or windows and doors was filled with row upon row of hardbound books in every language and on every subject. Space was so precious that I have seen in these homes sturdy shelves built over the front door, jutting out over one's head as one enters. These apartments were quite literally libraries unto themselves.
As you can tell, this is an image that has stuck with me, and I am excited to imagine my mini take-off of those wonderful homes.
First I had to think of an inspiration or motif that I could build upon. My favourite styles are Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts: both very organic, but executed quite differently. Looking through the CustomMade.com Art Nouveau gallery it is impossible to ignore the ornate work of Steven Shroder and the craftsmanship of William Doub - who hasn't fallen in love with the swan bed? I looked at Doub's Mackmurdo-inspired chair, with its fantastic thistle back, and I could see that my ideas could be realized by real artists. I actually collect a 20th century style of British pottery, Poole, which has some beautiful floral elements, often informed by the Art Nouveau movement. These pieces are also painted in quite warm and vibrant colours which could be incorporated into a custom design: maybe stained glass? That would give me a chance to bring in John Hamm of Whittier, CA, or the Artistic Glass Studio of OK...
However, the ornament and flourish of Art Nouveau might be a bit much for both the size and style of the space. Returning to my ceiling, I wonder if perhaps the simpler lines of American Arts & Crafts might not be more appropriate?
A quick search on CustomMade.com tells me I have hit the right note for the Agosti homestead. Artisans like Kevin Rodel have already produced the perfect things for me. I see Stickley-styled chairs, Rennie Mackintosh-inspired furniture, and some good, plain, solid cabinetry with great hardware.
I think that one of the things about the Arts & Crafts movement that appeals to me is the obviously international draw it had: the way it morphed from flowery and sometimes overblown William Morris to the severity of the Glasgow "Four" to the more abstract ceramics of our own Marblehead, where a well-respected pottery was founded in 1904, to The Craftsman magazine started in 1901 by American-born Gustav Stickley, son of German immigrants. On CustomMade.com it is possible to trace the evolving lines of this complex movement just by looking through the galleries.
So, what did I finally "choose" for my so-called library? I saw and fell in love with NePalo's already-designed and installed library built from Honduras mahogany. Deceptively simple, NePalo chose a tiny geometric design as a flourish, and the warmth of the wood is offset by the small square iron hardware. Clearly added to an already period home, the shelves end where a long narrow window begins, running the whole length of the piece, making a smoothless transition from dark to light, from man-made to natural. Perfection.
So, it only remains for me to forward my dimensions and ideas to NePalo in San Rafael, and let Rudy know how much he will be paying for my new dream!