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08.21.2013 | by: Meghan

Go! Last Chance Summer

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…
rope swing.
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.

08.07.2013 | by: Meghan

Summer Scenes from Northern Michigan

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?

07.15.2013 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Harry Weese Cottage

Glen Arbor, Michigan

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.

 

05.30.2013 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

A Work in Progress: Mazzini 31

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.

05.23.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Graham & Co.

Phoenicia, New York

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.

05.16.2013 | by: Meghan

Check In: Tjolöholm Slott

Gothenburg, Sweden

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.

 

 

04.25.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Brooklyn Stays

Brooklyn, New York

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.

04.04.2013 | by: Meghan

Go: New Orleans in the Spring

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.

03.26.2013 | by: Meghan

Armchair Travel

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


Coqui Coqui

El Garzon

Todos Santos Inn

Monastero

02.27.2013 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Updated: Domus Civita

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Since my dream trip last summer to Domus Civita — Patrizio Fradiani’s ancient cave house — he’s had professional photographs taken. For those who followed along with the gutsy renovation process, finally a worthy payoff. Chicago photographer Bob Coscarelli captures the magic of the place — the quiet interior, the soft light, the soulful connection between inside and outside, and the depths and history of those miraculous caves. Accessed only by pedestrian footbridge, the town Civita de Bagnoregio is straight out of time. A picturesque mess of cobblestone streets, climbing ivy and a pace that makes the rest of Italy look downright harried, the town and the surrounding landscape (views of the Tibor river valley and clay rooftops out every flung-open window) both play an inextricable part of the experience. The garden… that gazebo, I start feeling euphoric just thinking about sitting out there. But I won’t carry on — I’ve already done enough of that here and here — but I do want to share these photographs, because they do such a beautiful job of finalizing the story.

02.21.2013 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Winter Cabins

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
Mast Farm
Mountain Morning
Folsom Inn
Urnatur 

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]
02.08.2013 | by: Meghan

Fireplaces Worth Traveling For

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.

01.30.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Sextantio Albergo Diffuso

I first heard about this series of cave hotels from my Italian friend Patrizio, who thought I would love the “diffused hotel” concept: hotel rooms spread across a small medieval hilltop village that maintain their original character (rough stone walls, uneven floors, and old-as-dirt wooden furniture). The mission is to preserve not only the landscape and original architecture of the towns they’ve settled in, but also the history and local tradition–from the craft to the cuisine of the region.

And while Sextantio’s entire concept is pretty special–using tourism to save towns that would otherwise fall into decline– it’s the bit about traditional craft I find particularly inspiring. I didn’t realize, until I spotted photos of the beautiful loom work on Remodelista, that the hotel is so fiercely dedicated to supporting local craft. For instance, linens and coverlets are handmade by ladies who have always made textiles–in a town that has produced textiles for hundreds of years. They’re made with new materials using ancient techniques, often replicated from old drawings and archival photographs. I wish we saw more of this kind of beautiful creative thinking in the hotel industry.

12.12.2012 | by: Meghan

Instagram and Winner!

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.