Back in the Saddle Again!

Hi everyone,

After a long break and delicious Thanksgiving dinner, complete with 3 turkeys, I’m back and raring to go!

Today I want to share with you some of the homes I saw while staying with my sister in Arcadia, California. A suburb 13 miles east of Los Angeles and south of the relatively low rising, San Gabriel Mountains. Having grown up in Monterey Park, also located in the San Gabriel Valley, Arcadia with its ranch style homes, big front lawns and warm weather rings a familiar bell deep inside of me. It’s only when the temperature crosses into triple digits and the smog is so thick it’s hard to breathe, that I’m really happy I don’t live there.

Like almost any neighborhood, Arcadia has its share of gem homes and what I mean by that is a home that doesn’t scream to anyone. It has a quiet, dignified, enchanting appearance. Some of you might not like my choices and some of them could be enhanced by a new coat of paint, but like a true gem, their beauty is much deeper than their surface appearance. The sweet cottage above practically disappears behind a thick coat of leaves and vines. I almost missed it as I was walking down the street but I’m glad I didn’t because I love the way it looks. This house reminds me of a cottage in a fairy tale that one would find in a forest with a thin thread of smoke rising up out of the chimney. It’s charming and quiet, it exudes a sense of comfort and escape from the rush and stress of everyday life. However, my feng shui teachings informs me that houses like this are not wise choices. The reason being, vines that attach themselves to a home or office structure, weaken them. As the vines grow more abundant and heavy, more pressure is put upon the house, slowly sapping away its strength and ability to hold together. Plus, vines make great highways for all types of creatures with a variety of even numbered legs and eyes. Still, it’s a lovely house but if it was mine, those vines would be cut away.

Here is another example of a modest but lovely home. Simple in design, symmetrical in detail, unimposing, but classy. These simple models from the last century remind me of a simpler, easier life when there was time to relax on the porch with a cold beer and watch the world go by. In the past decade or two, Arcadia has been under siege with McMansions. Hideous, poorly designed and executed monstrosities that stick out like the sore thumbs that they are. It’s unfortunate that the planning commission has allowed these protrusions to spring up like weeds throughout the  community casting shadows, paving over yards, and basically squeezing themselves in neighborhoods where they simply don’t belong. Shame on the people who’ve created and bought them.

You may not think the one pictured here isn’t so bad, and within the context of large houses, it isn’t but the fact that it’s next to these smaller, quainter, less imposing homes, it really does stick out. And I didn’t want to take a lot of pictures of them, though in hind sight, I probably should have, because I think they’re so awful. Plus, they’re almost all pastel!!!

Okay, enough of the bad-mouthing and on to more pictures of small houses that I like.

This house is fairly unremarkable except for the awnings. I have a thing for awnings, which you don’t see very much any more and especially striped awnings. I love stripes and if I had been the color consultant for this home, I would have had a lot of fun playing with the details of the three triangles and the garage in back. A wasted opportunity to show off a ordinary home in an extraordinary way.

Now this house is so adorable, it could easily have been lifted right out of Disneyland. It’s what I believe is called a gingerbread house with the fancy detailing below the roof and the stone chimney. The blooming flower tree makes it a perfect fantasy setting for an older home. I would love to see what the inside is like but for now, I’m just happy to share this picture-sweet abode with you.

I havea lot more pictures I want to share with you about my trip to Arcadia but they will have to wait until tomorrow. However, I’m going to conclude this post with a picture of my dog. I know he has nothing to do with home design except that he makes everyone in my house incredibly happy.

Thank you all for holding out while I come to terms with accepting the fate of a very sick parent whom I love deeply. I’m glad to be back and like I said, I’m re-energized. So much so, that I’m going to start a new website all about green home design copywriting. So if anyone knows of a small business in the industry of green home design, please let me know as I would like to learn more about the subject and offer my writing skills to help promote their products.

So until tomorrow, I remain,

your design detective,


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