I’ve wanted to stay in this Michigan cottage designed by the notable Chicago architect Harry Weese for a few years. Tucked into the wooded shores of Glen Arbor just a few minutes from Sleeping Bear Dunes–arguably Michigan’s most popular summer tourist destination–sits another, far more secretive jewel: a trifecta of summer lake houses Harry Weese designed in 1938-39. He had a fondness for Michigan, perhaps due to the natural beauty of the Northern Michigan, where he vacationed with his family in 1936, or the fact that he went to architecture school at Cranbrook Academy, where he befriended like-minded designers like Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen.
These days, the original two Weese family lake houses are rented out, giving lucky guests the chance to experience Weese’s genius first-hand. In the woods. On a turquoise lake. They remain Weese’s only projects in Michigan, residential or otherwise. The first is Shack Tamarack (a traditional log cabin named after the trees felled in a nearby Cedar bog). We stayed in the smaller modernist cottage–a humble testament to Weese’s preferred architectural style, though no less rustic for its simple, clean lines. Walls are covered in tongue and groove black cherry, the tiny kitchen has more hidden drawers than a cabinet of curiosities, and in such tight quarters–no more than 1,000 square feet–Weese’s clever design unfolds like a lesson in flexible space. Room-dividing sliding doors glide back and forth into the wall to double the size of the living room and bring the outdoors in.
But forget the interiors–it’s summer in Michigan, and the outdoors beckons. A hammock suspends between two trees over a bed of mossy and wildflower ground cover, and the long sun-bleached dock was our all-afternoon home base our all-American roster of lazy-days vacation pursuits: swimming, skipping stones, catching minnows, reading, relaxing, and yes, maybe even cannonballing. I love how Harry Weese pulled his color palette directly from the water. The only color used in the home–a soothing teal–perfectly matches the shimmering tones of the lake. Rent it at vrbo.com; prices start at $2,100/week.
NOTE: I wrote about our trip for the Shinola blog. There will be another post about all our outdoor pursuits, so check back. And if you’ve never heard of Shinola, make it a point: the Detroit-based company is turning out beautiful, well-designed and American-made bikes, watches and leather goods. Harry Weese would have approved.
Monteleone d’Orvieto, Italy
When it comes to the types of places I try to feature on designtripper–thoughtfully designed, meaningful in experience, full of character–Patrizio Fradiani’s projects rank right up there as some of the most inspirational and influential on this site. Destinations in their own right. Homes that beckon with fruit trees and herb gardens, pools, art of his own creation and equally beautiful stories, all while reflecting the surrounding culture and landscape. Patrizio is an architect, an interior designer, a gardener and perhaps most importantly, a passionate storyteller who makes great efforts to let each brick, each fresco, each underground cave tell their own histories.
I’ve stayed at and written about Podere Palazzo, Casa dos Chicos and Domus Civita. All three involved impeccable and stunning renovations (and in one case, complete rebuilding using the existing materials), and we were lucky enough to feature a renovation series about the massive undertaking behind Civita’s exquisite cave house. And with Patrizio’s latest project already underway, readers, we’re in for another top-to-bottom, inside-out restoration adventure. Over the next year, we’ll see him bring an appartamento nobiliare in the old Italian town of Monteleone d’Orvieto back to life. Patrizio visited the town to reconnect with his great-great-grandfather’s legacy as a poet (there’s a plaque in town to honor him) and discovered this crumbling 17th-century noble apartment filled with dreamy, ornate frescos painted in the 1800s of flowers, landscapes, angels and mythological creatures. After weighing the obvious aesthetic, historical pros with concerns (will travelers go out of their way to stay in this sleepy Italian town of 800?), Patrizio, who’s as romantic as his poet great-great-grandfather, couldn’t resist sharing the story of his lineage in the language he knows best: architecture and design. “I fell in love with the feel of something once glorious and now in complete disrepair but still totally intact,” says Patrizio. “Something about that–infusing new life into it–charmed me more that anything.” For now, an exclusive peek at the apartment in its current condition.
The Tjoloholm Slott is pretty impressive all by itself, right? Built in Gothenburg in the late 1800s, it’s a sprawling Arts and Crafts castle-turned-hotel with great swaths of formal gardens, forests, park and coastline. A grand example of the amazing handicraft of the time, there were more humble quarters built on site to function as a self-sufficient village where all the estate workers lived. There was a church, town hall, library, school and cluster of homes (some which are now available for rent). And if there’s any doubt of Tjoloholm’s architectural and natural beauty, it’s also the dreamy-looking setting for that metaphysical apocalyptic Lars Von Trier drama, Melancholia.
I could continue rattling off all kinds of architectural details to wow–mahogany paneling, gold wallpaper, stuccoed ceilings, plant and flower motifs, hand-carved interior shutters–but what I find most impressive is how an established place with such high caliber of history and stature makes an effort to support local arts and foster fresh creativity. One of my favorite art/design/photo ladies, Fine Little Day’s Elisabeth Dunker, recently opened an exhibit in the old village hall. Tapping her signature playful, almost childlike approach to art and design, the nature-inspired exhibit is charming and fun–a great juxtaposition to such a refined institution.
Everyone loves the Wythe–Brooklyn’s newish hotel from the same folks behind Marlow & Sons. And from everything I’ve seen/read/heard, all the hype seems substantially merited. I haven’t stayed there yet, but I’m sure when I do, I’ll be joining the praise chorus about everything from the custom wallpaper to the beautifully designed downstairs brasserie Reynard, which one website describes as where all the people in Brooklyn who wash their hair hang out. The description made me chuckle, but the menu makes me want to dig in. And I especially love that there’s purposefully no room service, because they want to encourage guests to come out of their hotel rooms and be social humans.
In the meantime, I’ve gathered up some other amazing-looking options in Brooklyn. I’m totally blown away by all the choices. A few years ago–pre-Wythe and pre-Airbnb–it was so hard to find a decent place to stay in Brooklyn. And now…
The Storefront: A historic storefront with a beautiful, private garden in Greenpoint that’s being rented to guests until it reopens as an antique shop.
House of Collection: Featured in The New York Times last year, an eccentric artist loft chock full of displayed antique tools and implements, vintage and hand-crafted furniture, art, taxidermy and collections of collections upon collections.
The Erhart: Understated elegance rules the experience at this historic (and magnificent) 1887 brownstone in Clinton Hill. Guests can rent rooms in the 10,000-square-foot stunner, marked by grand staircases, gorgeous chandeliers and some seriously opulent architecture details. Read more about the rehab at remodelista.com.
3B: A charmingly funky boutique b&b co-op run by seven friends (and creative co-conspirators) out of their home. You share a bathroom with guests from the other three bedrooms, but the upside is they’ll make you a frittata breakfast every morning.
The last time I went to New Orleans, it was for this road trip and it was go go go to see, do and explore everything possible related to art and design. This time, I flew in for a long weekend to meet up with old, dear friends and our pace was meandering and slow, aimless even. We ate our biscuits outside on the courtyard, and rode rented bikes down boulevards lined with big, beautiful houses. During my last trip, I was overcome by the still-present effects of Katrina and awed by the people who rose up to rebuild the city. This time, I allowed myself to see the beauty that persists there, despite. Flowers blooming in the street, vines crawling up the sides of weather-worn houses, thick low-hanging oak branches and trunks as wide as water towers. Instead of heading to the Brad Pitt houses, we walked through cemeteries and hung out in parks. We toured a couple plantations, strolling down gargantuan oak alleys that lead up to front doors and stopping to smell grapefruit blossoms. There was time to admire door knockers and buy antique fluer de lis hooks from an eccentric lady who turned her crumbling estate into a brass fire sale. I whiled away an entire morning knitting at a coffee shop, and spent an afternoon hanging out at Rebecca Rebouche’s enchanted neighborhood studio. We ate long dinners at Bacchanal, sat outside on the flowering patio at Satsuma for hours, because it’s delightful, and well, we had nowhere else to be.
This should be over. Winter. The vernal equinox is behind us, yet it still snows. If you’re as fed up as I am, here are a handful warm-weather designtripper favorites from the archives for some virtual vitamin D. An armchair escape to get you through the last moments of a particularly clingy winter. Me, I’m headed to New Orleans this afternoon (feel free to follow along on Instagram: @meghanmcewen), and when I get back, Winter, you better be gone.
The Olive Grove
Todos Santos Inn
Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
I love winter. Just not winter in the city. I want blankets of dense white snow instead of dirty brown slush, and space to romp around in it. Sledding, ice-skating, cross-country skiing, the works. Even if I had a fireplace, it wouldn’t get me through: I crave the icy solitude of a rustic, bare-bones cabin in the country, stocked with wool blankets, snow shoes and plenty of firewood. Somewhere to stave off the stir crazies. This is why the amazing, covet-enducing Cabin Porn is a very dangerous haunt (if you’ve never heard of of it, I don’t recommend checking it out if you don’t have an hour or more to spare). The site’s only drawback, besides making me feel extremely envious, is that there’s not much information about each cabin, and most aren’t for rent. You may end up doing some random googling for “rustic hunting cabins in the woods for rent,” which produces a substantial list of places well-suited for a low-budget horror film, but not exactly Cabin Porn material.
Here are a few rustic spots from the designtripper arsenal that might come in handy:
The William Brown cabin
Next week, I’ll cover some favorites from the warm and sunny end of the spectrum. Because as much as I love snow (and was grateful for actually having some this year), we’ll be happily on our way back here.
[All images via Cabin Porn]
Cicero once said, “There’s no place more delightful than one’s own fireplace.” Even though I live in an old Victorian from the 1890s, I don’t have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, and on blustery, blizzard-y days like today, I feel particularly salty about that fact. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than sitting in front of a blazing fire with a tattered copy of Middlemarch and a cup of steaming tea. Maybe it’s time to outsource.
Nowhere else do I feel closer to home than in front of this fireplace in Maine.
I’d even take this cute little workhorse at the Parkamoor House–an amazing collaboration between the Grizedale Arts organization and the National Trust It depends on its rustic old hearths and stoves as the only heat source, since there’s no electricity.
Huberhaus is a 16th century traditional alpine log dwelling located in the Upper Valais in Switzerland.
Formerly the home of John Maynard Keynes, this former meeting spot for the Bloomsbury set beckons. The Tilton House.
You can never ever go wrong with a hearth in the kitchen. This 1790s Federal manor in the Hudson Valley looks as tempting for the winter months as the summer.
I know, I know. I’m ridiculously late to the party, but I kind of love Instagram. I’m wishing I would have started using it before our summer travels. I take so many photos that never see the light of this site, and it’s such a great way to share experiences beyond the places we’re staying. It’s like a time capsule of little travel moments–pretty sunsets, roadside fruit stands, an ancient stone wall covered in ivy, a line of Italian boy scouts, a misty apple orchard first thing in the morning. It’s these fleeting, tender, spontaneous, funny, beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime moments that make you so grateful you left home to open your eyes somewhere else. You’re welcome to follow along (and for any groaning Twitter or Facebook followers, I actually use Instagram!).
The lucky winner of last week’s Honor & Folly contest is Adi Segal.
In a recent story I wrote for the Guardian– 10 characterful hotels and B&Bs in the US — I tapped a contributor to guide me to an interesting spot in Northern California. Gemma and Andrew Ingalls have been to the Boonville Hotel three times, and Gemma assures me it is a tremendously lovely and worthy spot. Described as “a modern roadhouse,” the 15-room Boonville Hotel is situated two hours away from San Francisco in Anderson Valley, a laid-back wine region in Mendocino County known for bucking the posh pretences of Napa. Stay in one of their simply appointed rooms or spread out in a suite or standalone bungalow nestled in the garden, some of which have linen sofas, porches and hammocks. The cozy in-house farm-to-table restaurant is a destination in its own right (reservations-only). A recent menu, which changes daily, included prosciutto and melon, roast fig, local goat’s cheese, baked halibut, and late summer vegetable gratin, pea shoots and Pernod cream. While you’re in the area, make sure to taste the pinot noirs that the region is known for, take a hike through the Redwoods, and drive along the craggy mystical coast. It’s a real-deal family run affair, and relatives own the nearby Philo Apple Farm, responsible for more than 80 varieties on 30 beautiful acres and boasting a b&b/cottages/cooking classes on site. They also own the Farmhouse Mercantile downtown. Gemma and Andrew sent over some photographs of the hotel and the surrounding landscape, the latter a heart-stopping farm-meets-coastline combination of redwoods, rugged rocky cliffs over ocean, farmland, vineyards, orchard. Not sure it gets much better.
I know I’m not alone in feeling more creative and inspired when I get away. New places, new experiences make people see things differently. To think, feel and dream more. To quiet down and listen. Take me to a cabin in the woods, and after a couple days, my slower, more reflective self kicks in. Poetry, knitting, cooking, writing, building stuff with my kids from sticks. It’s the reason writers buy shacks in remote coastal towns, and artists create colonies in the country.
Most writers, painters, knitters, builders, bakers and craft-makers I know can’t afford their own creative refuges. So they seek quiet and solace and beauty where they can find it. Recently, I’ve been inspired by all the different types of creative retreats and residencies, art camps and travel workshops, from the extravagant SquamItalia to the humble and rustic, but no less impressive, Cabin-Time. So begins a new series: creative retreats.
Cabin-Time–“a roaming creative residency to remote places”–spent their third residency on the beautifully wild and rugged Rabbit Island, a remote 91-acre island off Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior. In addition to chopping wood, setting up camp and cooking meals over the fire, they managed to find time to make all kinds of site-specific art, like a series of vinyl-cut prints that represent the last harvest of blueberries or the perfectly simple weather rock. Photos below, plus this awesome 12-minute mini documentary.