May 31, 2016

Summer circuit

This is the time of year when die-hard city people spend every moment they can in their patios, balconies, or if they are lucky, backyards.  Like all good things that cannot be taken for granted, outdoor life heightens the pleasure of city living.  Attempts to make the retreat more appealing tend to become an avocation.  Lawns take on borders, flower beds, and vegetable patches.  Ideas for projects never stop coming.  Somehow the imagination becomes unfettered.  We love to cook outdoors, set the table on the patio-even for breakfast.  Hospitality flourishes, people drop by, and open house becomes a way of life.

I could say more, but it’s time for lunch…I’ve got to go.

May 18, 2016

Who is "a fraid" of ghosts?

When I first set foot into the dark garden flat that had been unused for a number of years I stared at a bachelor pad with no redeeming values. But with an eye for hidden treasure I saw it’s potential even after I was informed that the place housed a ghost.

The solution to fighting the flat’s gloominess (ghost?) was not to fight it but open up to it.  With literally no free square centimeter, a light, seamless color scheme helped to expand the space visually.  We gutted the kitchen and bathroom and chipped off the old plaster, pulled up the molded carpeting, sealed the floors and installed hardwood flooring.  As if by magic, the space seemed to expand to a comfortable fit for the client. The d├ęcor is a mix of inherited pieces and finds from scavenger hunts. The chairs in the small garden are antiques found on one of our weekend excursions. The client calls it his “faded gentility look”.

Ghost or not (I believe she has re-located to Kentish Town South ghost station), it is now a comfortable, stylish flat used and enjoyed.

May 3, 2016

May in Venice is better than April, . . .

But June is best of all. Then the days are hot, but not too hot, and the nights are more beautiful than the days. Then Venice is rosier than ever in the morning and more golden than ever as the day descends. She seems to expand and evaporate, to multiply all her reflections and iridescences...
~Henry James, Italian Hours

Venice is an island city that owes its survival entirely to man’s ingeniousness in taming the natural landscape.  Land is therefore a precious commodity.  Perhaps as a consequence, few Italians take greater pleasure in flowers and gardens than these island dwellers, who seldom own more than a few feet of ground, and tenaciously cultivate every inch of soil within these narrow bounds.

Those gardens, sprinkled among the buildings, reveal an intensely urbanized people nonetheless determined to enjoy the pleasures of nature, who insists that their outdoor life be as fruitful and varied as that of a person who owns acre upon acre of land.  The unique urban character of Venice is accentuated in these pockets of greenery.

The visitor approaching by air will glimpse a closely knit urban plan studded with green jewels.  The same visitor may be frustrated if he tries to discover many of the gardens that have beckoned so promisingly, as many are in private hands.  However, an itinerary is easily followed, as the public gardens are there for all to see.

Rooftop terraces have supplanted the formal garden for many Venetians.  Plants, some extremely large, are potted along the edges of terraces, alternating with statuary to create an impromptu garden.  

Glimpsed from the street or the boardwalk along a canal, these snatches of greenery suggest the fascination of the secret gardens of another era, evoking the “intellectual delights” once woven into the incredible urban fabric of Venice.