Thursday, June 11, 2009

Patterns: Windows, Thresholds, Snakes

Hooked on Houses is hosting her "Hooked on Fridays" blog party; I hope y'all will click here and have look.

This week. I'm hooked on 3 Atlanta bloggers. Things That Inspire and Tara Dillard brought some clarity to my fuzzy thinking. I enjoy finding simple ideas and metaphors that help me understand design.

New Atlanta blogger Dan Curl gave me a scare and some good advice. (see below)

This post is not about cats: This picture is in memory of Lilly the cat who did her best to make our family room look good.

Have you seen Things That Inspire's last 2 posts fantastic posts on windows? We Architecture Tourists notice windows before we notice decor. If the architecture is wrong, it's hard to overcome with decor.

Her latest post, "Light on Two Sides" illustrates Design Pattern 159. LIGHT ON TWO SIDES OF EVERY ROOM. Inspire and I had been discussing the design patterns "off-blog." Many of "Inspire's" commenters talked about the trade off: more windows mean less wall space.

That rang my bell. We have a lot windows.

Our designer friend Gordon always bugs us to put something interesting outside the windows: Something to pull the outside in and the inside out. And whatever is outside needs to be lit because a window at night is just a black shiny thing.

If the windows take up decorative indoor wall space, put decorative items outside the windows. The effect extends your room. I think I've got the idea but I'm unable to explain it very well.

So this week I discover Atlanta blogger Tara Dillard and have one of those slap my forehead moments. Tara's term for the idea is "Vanishing Thresholds" the merging of indoors and outdoor design. Go over to Tara's site. She explains it better than I can.

If you are a fan of "A Pattern Lauguage" you'll apprecitate Tara's implicit understanding of several patterns:


Dan Curl's brother was bitten by a Copperhead Snake in an upscale Atlanta suburban subdivision. He was just taking a walk on the sidewalk after dinner. He's OK. Dan interviewed his brother in the hospital. Be more careful out there. I sure am. As near as I can tell, Dan is Atlanta first blogging home inspector. He was an "eco-inspector" before it was cool.

Here is a picture to honor Things that Inspire's "Light on 2 sides" post. These are some of our corner windows. We didn't realize it until we moved back in, but this room has north, south, east, and west facing windows. Most face north and east, the Palladian faces east. I'm not sure how Bill did it but I know he did it on purpose. I'm sure he knew we'd eventually catch on.


Thanks for coming by and please check out all the bloggers at Hooked on Houses' "Hooked on Fridays" blog party.


  1. I am so glad that you and Things That Inspire talked about the window design pattern issue because now I'm noticing it everywhere. I also like the idea of vanishing thresholds. Thanks for pointing these out.

    Scary about the Copperhead snake. We've been having black bear sightings not far from here. You just never think about nature getting that close to the suburbs!

  2. We had some bears in Atlanta last year probably because of the drought. Now we have more snakes because the drought is over.

  3. I really enjoyed Things That Inspire's posts about windows. She found some great pictures to share :-)

    I totally get the inside/outside thing. You explained it fine :-)

    Yikes, I'm happy we don't have any poisonous snakes around here!! Did the Copperhead bite without any provocation? Scary stuff.

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  4. Really interesting. I am going to take a fresh look at my windows and what's outside of them. I could use a little space expanding around here! And thanks for all of the great links. Very nice! Lisa~

  5. Don't tell my wife y'all don't have any snakes. We'd be moving.

  6. Thank you SO much for introducing me to 'A Pattern Language'. As soon as I return from my travels, I will be ordering my very own copy. I have looked through the patterns at a high level, and it all makes so much sense to me.

    Gordon sounds like a great person with wise insights! People often spend all of their time and effort on the interiors, then neglect to make the landscape live up to the rest. I think it is a mistake, although I can understand why it happens.

    I look forward to checking out the other Atlanta blogs, which are new to me.

    We live near a creek, and could swear we saw a water moccasin in our back yard a few years ago. We have not seen a copperhead in the area, but it is always good to be aware.

  7. Hey Terry,
    Sorry for the non snake-related response, but I wanted to let you know I'm now posting some thoughts to this Web site:

    Thought you might be interested. Keep up the good work! Your blog is now on my regular blog-browsing routine.

  8. Hello Ciambellina, a comment is a comment and always welcome. Katherine and I are so sorry we didn't get your picture on the Castleberry stroll. I think we're going to the Art B Que in Avondale tomorrow.

  9. Yikes! One think I don't miss about living on the mainland is SNAKES!

    I like the term "vanishing thresholds"! Out here we do a lot of indoor-meets-outdoor design, as we have typically small lots and no winter, people here in Hawaii spend a great deal of time outdoors and that is being reflected in the architecture as well.

  10. Dear Terry,
    I'm so sorry to hear about Lilly. She was a pretty girl, so I can understand how she beautified your room. Pets are the perfect love.

    I have read "A Pattern Language" and, indeed, it too gave me a language or vocabulary to easily express and verify my instincts about architectural design. I love that book!

    When we built our home 19 years ago from a "stock" builder(he developed the land also), I was insistent that he add transom lights and larger(long & low) windows than what he was used to. I picked the lot that would site the kitchen to the east so as to view the rising sun. These were instinctual needs for me which I could not have explained so easily until I read the concepts of "A Pattern Language."

    Has it been mentioned on either of the blogs that you included in this post that, for a mere $5 a month, you can become a member of the Pattern Language Association?

    Yikes! I'll have to check out the post on the snake bite; such as, the "how and why?"


  11. Susan, that's it for me. It's about psychology: There are ways to design and build that make us more or less comfortable. Designers have the instinct or the experience or they've been in great places and copied / adapted them, or they've been taught, or all of these: All architects go to Italy don't they?

    As an amateur I stumble into places that seem right or wrong. A pattern language sometimes helps me understand why. It won't make me a designer or an architect that's for sure; but it help me understand.

    One of our friends built a new walk from the street to their front door. Of course, they never have occasion to use it themselves. But I have. It makes me feel great and welcome every single time.

  12. Hi Terry,

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog. It's so nice to meet another fellow Atlantian. Well, I'm just west of you now out in Carrollton, but I moved here in October. Before that I called Marietta home.

    Thanks for the mention on the other blogs. I will have to look those up, although I have heard of the 1st one. Thanks for the warning about the copperhead too.

    I killed a baby snake 2 weeks ago when I opened my gagarge door. It freaked me out because I know there has to be a moma and family close by. Anyway, I'm off to look around your blog some more. I can't wait to see and the Atlanta stuff. :-) Sorry it took me so long to get over here. Have a great weekend!

  13. Hello Olive Rue, there's a bunch more great Atlanta and Georgia blogs and more I don't know about.

  14. Terry,

    At the National Association of Homebuilders Green Building Conference an architect stated that a MAJOR problem regarding windows can be stated as:

    The INDISCRIMINATE placement of windows. This is particularly true in Texas where banks of windows are often placed on west-facing walls. The heat gain through the windows is immense. So what do people do? Install plantation shutters or other treatment and NEVER, EVER open the treatments or windows. It's all about WHERE and what size. Take wall space: just place a narrow window higher in the wall: it allows for desks, beds or couches to be placed against the wall. Place windows at South (1st) then north and east walls. West is bad bad bad for warm climates; it can increase cooling loads up to 40%. It's all about building smart/not building STUPID!


  15. Terry, I just have to thank you for always leaving such great comments on my blog. It feels like we are neighbors!

    Loved reading your insight on windows.
    Warmest regards,
    Angela @ ImagineCozy

  16. Hi Terry,
    Thanks for your response at The Skirted Roundtable. I totally agree about the historic homes. Occasionally, I go on some of the historic home tours here in the Atlanta area, and it's disturbing to see them "modernized" beyond recognition.
    That is an amazing story about the snake...and while out just taking a! I saw one recently while biking The Silver Comet...posted a pic of him on my Silver Comet post. Don't know what kind he was...but I don't think he was poisonous. :-) Susan


Blog Archive