This month marks the two-year anniversary of Honor & Folly. In that span, I’ve met countless kind, interesting, kooky, good people who have come through Detroit, many who have become friends. Many who have made the trip because they read this blog. That has been the greatest honor. Thank you, thank you. I love meeting you and showing you my city. This little inn has surpassed my expectations 100 times over and led to opportunities I would have otherwise never had. Like this interview in The New York Times and the H&F holiday pop-up at Shinola–the new bike and watch company headquartered in Detroit (factory and flagship). Because H&F has been so busy–a good problem, right?–I haven’t been able to regularly open up the space to the public for selling goods like I originally intended. So through the holidays, lots of the handcrafted goods that decorate Honor & Folly are on display and for sale in a lovely, dedicated nook at Shinola. And a few new things from the crew of talented designers for the occasion: Amy Bem added leather detailing to the quilt-like pillows; Abigail Murray made a new delicately off-kilter serving bowl; The Brush Factory added walnut bottle rock stoppers and gradient coasters; Megan O’Connell made the most beautiful holiday card I have ever seen (with an Elizabethan recipe on the back); and I gathered up a few vintage pieces that reflect the long history of American design, from a tobacco-drying basket to a natural stoneware mixing bowl (both of which I really want to keep for myself).
Remember a couple years ago when I wrote about architect Sabrina Bignami’s gorgeous frescoed Tuscan apartment, where she hosts guests in one of the extra bedrooms? Since then, we’ve stayed in touch a bit; call it a mutual affinity for beautiful, creative spaces. I was drawn to her strong preservation ethos, juxtaposing original interior architectural elements with a modern design sensibility, and she became a regular reader (the highest compliment). So I was thrilled to hear that she and her partner Alessandro Capellaro decided to start renting out their renovated Box House in Florence. If it looks familiar, the former carpenter’s workshop–once a giant, open-plan mess of dust, wood and machines turned cozy loft–made rapid-fire rounds through design magazines when they finished the project a few years ago. And now, I have the privilege of introducing it to travelers.
Located five walking minutes from the historical centre on a quiet street, there are so many important details that make it a great place to stay (a big cooking kitchen, interior courtyard, and fireplace, for starters), but I’m in complete lockdown mode on the old wooden boxes everywhere, creating the most clever display of reuse I’ve ever seen. They bought more than 300 antique wooden ballot boxes used in Italian elections from the 40s-80s at a flea market, and used them to build out the space, fashioning the boxes into cabinets, tables, shelves, sofas, counters, walls, beds, you name it. “Like 300 bricks, or Lego pieces, they can be transformed and reused,” says Allessandro, who approaches architecture the same way–honoring history, repurposing space. I really love that they left all the scratches, stickers, signatures and signs of the time on the surface as a visible reminder of their history. To stay at the Box House (prices starting at $160/night for two people), email Alessandro at alessandro.capellaro
By now, it’s probably no secret: I have a thing for old houses. I have relationships with them. I build entire trips around them. I study their crevices and crown moldings and broken floor tiles, making up stories about the people who spent lifetimes living and dreaming in their rooms. And when I find one like this 16th-century farmhouse, which is totally isolated, accessible only by foot (or a rambling old pick-up truck that will pick you up in a nearby town), then thoughtfully outfitted by a bunch of artists, I’m so happy I have people to share it with.
The premise is brilliant: The contemporary arts organization Grizedale Arts collaborated with the National Trust to fix up, furnish and decorate the space (but not too much), turning the historical stone house into a pared-back retreat for artists and writers and anyone else who needs a bonafide escape plan from the modern world. Inside, there’s a library with a wood-burning stove, kitchen with wood-burning oven, well-worn, spartan furniture and a collection of paraffin lamps. Outside, rolling hills, forrest and a compostable outhouse. This means no electricity, running water or phone reception. In other words, bliss for those who agree that the ultimate luxury these days is peace, solitude and a dreamy old house on a big swath of pretty land.
$650 a week. Sleeps six people in three bedrooms. Rent it at Welcome Beyond. All within walking distance: birdwatching, fishing and pub- and shop-filled old villages. Also, Lawson Park–historic Cumbrian hill farm and now the Grizedale Arts headquarters–is a 40 minute walk through the forest. You can visit the historic house and collections, farm gardens and wildflower meadow.
[This post was originally published 3/9/11]
A couple months ago, I read a beautifully written travel piece in The New York Times magazine. It’s about writer Michael Paterniti’s regular pilgrimages to a small, nondescript village in Spain, initially in search of a cheese, later in search of himself. I urge you to read the entire story. In one of my favorite paragraphs, he writes:
“But something happened to me. Even now, I’m not exactly sure what. I have a friend who once told me about the first time he ever took a ferry to an island off the coast of North Carolina, and how he knew, right there on the ferry — with the salt spray and the light off the ocean — that he’d come back to this same spot every year. He’d come to relive that feeling of leaving his old self behind. That annual renewal, the reacquaintance with the person he felt himself to be on that island, was something he wanted to organize his life around. Similarly, Guzmán instantly and improbably became my place.”
It made me think of Maine, and how we missed our annual summer trip this year. It made me think about how Maine, where I’ve been spending summers since I was a kid, is my place, and its absence felt like a tightening in my chest, like I needed the crisp salty air, the dense evergreens, the craggy rock beaches, the indescribable Maine-ness that makes me feel more, well, like me. We decided to make it happen in the fall. Yes, the water was freezing. But when isn’t it in Maine? Less ice cream, more clam chowder. Less laying in the sun, more snuggling under blankets. There was so much beauty in the silence of the off-season; it was exactly what our newly expanded family needed. We did a lot of hiking through the woods, exploring under rocks, collecting shells, building sandcastles and early morning fires, and taking long, meandering, two-hour walks along the beach. Most days, we saw few people but counted foxes, deer, turkey, porcupine, and crabs among encounters with living creatures. Below, some photos from our quiet week. The red and yellows popping out amid a backdrop of towering evergreen trees and blue sky still makes my heart leap.
Ben Lambers of Studio Aandacht hung out at (and took photos of) this place–part hotel, part nature park, part creative retreat–which he has visited a couple times since it opened last spring. In the midst of planning the foray of Honor & Folly into the country, I’m particularly inspired by this medieval settlement on the edge of a national park an hour and a half outside Paris. Situated on seven acres of forest with two springs and a creek, D’une île consists of a sprawling manor house and its medieval cottages repurposed as a getaway dedicated to the enjoyment of nature, art and food. The ambitious couple who opened it–after a grueling year of DIY rehabbing, roof-repairing, plastering, painting, landscaping, decorating, and creating furniture–bring no short supply of talent and guts (they had to bathe outside with cold water from the well). Michel Mulder, a composer, musician and professional chef handles the food at D’une île, and Sofie Sleumer is an interior designer. Together, and with lots of help from friends, they outfitted the rustic spaces with flea market finds, art, and furniture they restore themselves. They also cook for and dote on guests, as well as coordinate in-room art installations like the robot-like wood and wire mobiles by artist Just van der Loos.
Here, a short Q&A with Michel about starting and running such a thoughtful, creative hotel (that’s not at all a hotel) in the French countryside:
What made you decide to open D’une île?
Sofie and I wanted to leave Amsterdam after living there for 12 and 14 years, respectively. We marveled on the idea of creating a beautiful and well-functioning playground where all our occupations could flourish in one concept. We tried thinking of Barcelona, Quebec, Paris until we stumbled upon our little domaine. So we found the place, and then we had to think up what to do with it. A small hotel would be logical and the more we thought about it, the more appealing this idea became. But it had to be our hotel, and it had to stay our playground. So we thought, ‘ok, this is about the good life, so we need good, friendly people to share that with us.’
As an owner-innkeeper, how do you spend your time?
In contact with our guests and our local producers, building rooms and bathrooms, designing the rooms, restoring furniture, discovering new wines and even better products to cook with. We have up to 28 beds and more than 10,000 square feet of hotel space, a small restaurant and seven acres of land, there’s always work to do. But more importantly, there’s always room for new ideas!
What do you love most about D’une île?
I love the trees, all their different colors, how they change during the season, the view out of our bedroom window over the orchard, which is now packed with apples and pears. I love how the medieval buildings form a tiny little village with a small square in the middle and the big walnut tree towering over it. For us it’s a fulltime job. Apart from the hôtellerie we host weddings, exclusive dinner parties, styling assignments, and sell vintage design. D’une île is our place to live, to work, in every aspect. Sofie and I, we create things, and d’une île is our favorite.
[PHOTOS: All images by Ben Lambers via Trend Tablet]
Last August, when we spent a week in Civita, I paid a visit to another property in the ancient village. Patrizio had prepped me–”I almost cried the first time I saw it.”–but sheer emotion doesn’t do this place justice. There’s a deep sense of history, grandeur, and artistic eccentricity that make it feel like a living museum, where everything is curated yet highly personal. It’s the stuff of World of Interiors, the stuff of someone’s kooky yet incredibly tasteful creative mind.
The owner of Corte della Meastra, Paolo Crepet (a former gallerist from Rome, and a well-known psychiatrist and author), has lived here for 18 years. He originally moved to Civita to spend quiet time with his then young daughter outside the bustle of Rome. Since then, he has acquired more space in the adjoining cave-like building (the entire town sits on tufa rock and Etruscan caves), and last year, he opened the extra rooms as a b&b. It was part of church at one time, and there’s a stunning 16th-century religious fresco across one wall. His art collection, which is out of this world, is displayed throughout, and where’s there’s not art, there’s ivy, stone, bright pops of color. The surrealist gardens could be a post all their own.
He imagined it as a place where brooding writers, artists, filmmakers and freethinkers can find inspiration, solitude and good conversation over bottles of wine. When I visited, there was a photographer in the kitchen, and someone in one of the living rooms playing the piano. Perhaps they can stay a few months, he suggests. Of course, common travelers are welcome, too. But as he points out, it takes a special kind of person to want to stay in small village like Civita for more than a night or two — someone who’s looking inward, looking for something more than tourist attractions. Spend an hour with Paolo, and you’ll realize he’s as much a draw as his home. A big personality, who rhapsodizes about the meaning of art, life and love like most people talk about the weather. It’s invigorating and has just the right effect: He makes you want to grab a chair and stay awhile. Maybe even a couple months.
So the weather’s been a little unpredictable this summer–sweaters in July?– but of course, now that the precious season is nearly over, it’s all endless, cloudless beauty. Sunshine for days. In a little round-up to honor these final weeks of summertime, I’ve pulled together some favorite posts from the archives (and elsewhere)–about places you need to contact right now for one last gasp of summer. Right now! Because there’s still time. To buy a plane ticket. To pack a duffel bag, gas up the car and hit the road. To go bird watching, beach combing or body surfing. To float down a river on an intertube or walk through a field of flowers. To wear your salty bathing suit to dinner. To shuck oysters and eat lobster. To sit on a giant rock, looking out at the great vast ocean, contemplating how small you are and how good it feels to be alive.
Popham Beach, Maine: This place is as magical as it gets. I don’t say that lightly. And the beach it sits above could not be more quiet, natural and majestic.
William Brown Cabin, Roscoe, New York: For the outdoor shower alone.
Inn Paradiso, Los Robles, California: Laid-back homebase (with killer outdoor porches) for exploring the nearby farms and vineyards, or just lazing about.
Villa Pizzorusso, Puglia, Italy: This stunning 500-year-old masseria is the backdrop of last summer’s dream trip. The palatial compound is surrounded by olive groves, the pool surrounded by citrus and figs.
Le Leiu Perdu, Montazeau, France: Those wildflowers at the top of the post? Right here.
Casas da Areia, Carrasqueira, Portugal: A collection of thatched-roof huts with dreamy views and sand floors.
And go here for the…
pool with intertubes.
teepees with rocky coastal views.
little stream and best climbing tree in the whole wide world.
island life and front porch living.
infinity pool overlooking patchwork Tuscan landscape.
Are you tired of Michigan yet? I’m in a travel holding pattern right now, spending time with my new babe, and only in the very beginning stages of dreaming up where I’m going to take this sweet little bundle. So in the meantime, more photos of our time in Northern Michigan. We’re missing the Maine coast pretty desperately about now, but we’re so lucky to have this magical escape so close to home. Lake Michigan, farmland, farm stands, cherries, Tandem Ciders, dunes, what more?
I read about this place last winter–first in Martha Stewart Living, then again in Wilder–and made a mental note to stop in next time I’m passing through upstate New York. The backstory–a carpenter and self-taught chef couple trade in New York City for the Catskills to rehab a cabin and open a cafe–plus the lure of the small-town camaraderie and locally sourced ingredients makes for compelling travel plans. Then, just the other day, as I’m connecting some aesthetic dots, I realize they’ve added two rooms this summer, making it more than a pit stop for farm egg sandwiches and wood-fired pizza. With a spacious attic and second-floor bedroom, both artfully detailed with simple, rustic touches (handmade beds, found branches, pillows made from reclaimed grain sacks), guests are immersed in the close-knit community that makes this place so special in the first place. To book, you’ll ultimately be rerouted to airbnb.com, but you can learn more about the experience and extended community at their site first.
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.
HOORAY! I’m currently on a luxuriously long vacation “Up North”—as Detroiters affectionately call this area of Northern Michigan—with my two boys before the arrival of number three. We’re (fairly successfully) trying to shoehorn an entire summer of hiking, lake swimming, dune climbing, frog catching, pier jumping, sandcastle building, berry picking, stone skipping and ice cream licking into three weeks. And four hours north of Detroit, it’s the perfect place to try. Shimmering blue waters compete with any ocean I’ve ever seen, and country roads crisscross patchwork farmland and wind through orchards with peek-a-boo views of Lake Michigan from the tops of rolling hills. It’s ridiculously idyllic.
While here, the story I wrote about the Leelanau Peninsula came out in the July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living (a little online slideshow, not as detailed as the print version). Randy Harris is responsible for the beautiful photographs, and the magazine’s redesign looks fantastic. I overheard someone talking about the story in the checkout line at the grocery, and my face flushed.
One of my favorite places included in the piece (however briefly, in the sidebar) is the new Hillside Homestead—a farm stay b&b owned and delightfully operated by chef-turned-homesteader Susan Odom, who got the idea and honed her skills at the Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village just outside Detroit. Here, at her restored Victorian, she adds a layer of good old-fashioned historic hospitality to the local food movement, inviting guests to experience locally-sourced, home-cooked period meals around a big farmhouse table. Every last detail is straight out of the early 1900s, including the old-fashioned flowered dress and apron Susan dons for dinner, yet none of it feels hokey or overdone. From the antique wood burning stove and dry sink to the honey butter and apple jelly she makes herself, it’s all perfectly charming. When we stopped by, she was whipping up apple pie and fried chicken using homespun leaf lard, which I’ve never even heard of–apparently, all the rage in turn-of-the-century farm kitchens. Guest rooms are equally attended to, and outside, visit the pigs, chickens and an irresistible wooden tree swing, before settling down on the front porch for pastoral sunset views. Below, a few photos that do not quite do the place justice, plus a few other places to stay from the designtripper archives if you visit the Leelanau Peninsula.
A few weeks ago, we went camping in Canada. Kind of. Scenario: Tent packed, lantern oil filled, rhubarb crumble baked and ready to warm over the fire, and there’s an unexpected hitch. Temps teasing low 30s on Memorial Day weekend and two young boys in tow. I couldn’t bear the crestfallen faces of last-minute cancellation disappointment, so we rented a yurt with bunks and a heater, and despite all misgivings about fake camping, shoddy, aesthetically displeasing shelter and interior lattice overload, it was absolutely delightful. All the perks of camping–immersed in nature, blazing campfire, no modern distractions–but none of the discomfort. Now I’m on a bit of a research bender about yurts and yurt-like accommodations and thought I’d share some of my findings. (Of course, for a rustic, no-frills yurt experience that’s all about the nature surrounding it and not the decor, just check national parks and campground sites for options in the US and Canada. They’re everywhere–and perfect.)
Amazing-looking collection of yurts in southern Norway called the Canvas Hotel.
It’s not for rent, sadly–at least that I’m aware of–but check out this glass and stone yurt built by Micky Muennig in Big Sur in 1976.
Airbnb offers a decent collection of yurts in the US and around the world. Overlooking the foothills of Sierra Nevada, this one in Andalusia, Spain looks particularly compelling.
I’m not sure I’d forego a stone cottage or old farmhouse in France for a yurt, but you never know. If so, Le Camp would certainly be the place.
Everyone knows all about El Cosmico already, right? The de facto hipster playground/campground of Marfa? In case not, these yurt-like things stand alongside the airstreams, teepees and safari tents.
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.
I’ve had my eye on this place for awhile: a 13-room hotel in the Catskills with custom-made wooden furniture, vintage details and a juniper-surrounded pool with views of the mountains. Started by four friends from New York, the Graham & Co. is a hipster-ish renovation of a daggy old motel. A sucker for that no-fuss, rustic Americana vibe, I was hoping to check it out this spring, but since I’m expecting a baby in July, I’ve decided to postpone any travel that may involve river tubing. But for everyone else: Go! Looks like a superbly laid-back homebase for hiking, exploring the antique shops, and watching movies in the expansive grassy lawn from an adirondack chair.