Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Who Lives Here?

The July '09 issue of Architectural Digest has photo spreads on some amazing homes, including one Miami Beach high-rise apartment furnished in a frosty minimalist style, with almost nothing but snowy white furnishings and clear crystal accent pieces (interior designer Jennifer Post doesn't have photos of it on her web site, but it's along the same lines as the Stiles residence.

I thought the look was stunning -- like something from an alien world -- but I cringed when I read that the people who live in it have a Great Dane. Baby, you bring a dog into an all-white home, you'd better have stored up plenty of bleach and pet stain remover.

I spend a fair amount of time looking at homes, rooms, and different places we inhabit, either in real life or in magazines like AD. I've often said that I dislike writing setting so much that I'd rather have the entire story take place in a featureless void. I think that's like living in an all-white house, though, so I'm working on improving my attitude. Because I like characters so much, I gravitate toward unlikely details, or the ways people express themselves and/or leave their mark through the places they inhabit. One way to figure this out is to try doing it in reverse with the Who Lives Here? game -- look at a room, and try to guess what sort of person it belongs to.

For example, I can see a room like this and imagine the owner curled up with her cat and reading a good book. I imagine she's a woman who likes to put her feet up and relax (the ottoman), treasures her books but doesn't like to dust (glass doors on her book cases) and has a quirky sense of humor (the curtain fabric.)

I don't know how the owner of this studio/workspace keeps all those little bits organized, but it's safe to say she loves selection, color and variety. The letters spelling out ART on the wall are a very direct statement; that says to me that she's likely gotten some flack about the value of her work. All the bins and drawers remind me of a controlled pack rat who has learned the value of proper sorting and storing. And that lovely view from the window must provide as much distraction as inspiration.

When I first looked at this master bedroom I immediately thought "bachelor sports nut." But in all fairness the owner could be a man or a woman or a married couple (I know some gals like the locker room look.) I'm intrigued by the shelves of shoe boxes and racks of what looks like running suits -- who needs that many sneakers and sweats, and why? But I can tell that here is someone who has seriously nested, surrounding themselves with everything they love best, and who isn't going to apologize for it.

If you'd like to play the Who Lives Here? game, look at the following photo (and click on it if you'd like to see a bigger version) and tell me in comments who you think this room might belong to:

27 comments:

  1. A man with a secret fetish for carrots. He longs to create carrots out of gold, but only had the budget for steel ones.

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  2. Obviously, this is the lobby of a hotel owned by Bugs Bunny.

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  3. Know nothing of architecture, but my second thought was that it would belong to someone who appreciated both the rugged, unapologetic sense of raw nature, and the taming of it (the super-polished granite).

    My first thought--honestly--was that it was the Hollywood home of Bugs Bunny. Thus the statuette-like silvery carrot holders along the wall, undoubtedly representing his many film awards. And the ultra-soft chair, for a rabbit who enjoys comfort, but must be ready to spring into action at any moment--thus the crouching position of the front legs of the chair.

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  4. A retired Bugs Bunny in a Hugh Hefner robe wearing a fez. I'm surprised there isn't a roaring fire somewhere nearby.

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  5. I love the floor, but this has the ostentatious display of a New York City hotel that's trying too hard.

    Hmm, I'd go with a lonely tycoon who lives in the penthouse on top of that same hotel. He's a workaholic and travels a lot so doesn't care about where he lives. It's as much for show as the rest of the hotel, and he hired the same decorator as they did with some random thought of not confusing the few business visitors he brings up there.

    Now take him away cause I have no time for a lonely tycoon. I will do my best to forget him now :). Neat game though. I should remember that as a way to use photo inspirations cause they usually don't work for me.

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  6. Someone quite grand and defensive - this strikes me as an entrance hall, a public area, whereas the rest of the house/building would be smaller, and more private.

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  7. I like these post..

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  8. I don't think anybody lives there. Big chair, dark foyer. Hotel? It's impressive but not homey.

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  9. The silver is very cold despite the organic addition of the plants in the vases. I would say this is a collector. One who enjoys remembering how each piece was acquired. The granite flooring and the silver border would give it more of a grand scale and the comfortable chair would be one he sat in for hours to watch.

    Granite is a good stone since it's very durable/scratch resistant. It can't harbor bacteria and stains can be removed. It's also cool on your feet which may give the collector a more tactile feel if he walks through his collection in bare feet.

    So what kind of collector is he? Not a nice one. :)

    What do you see, Lynn?

    I have a friend who does the same thing with her books. She searches for interiors in magazines and online and plays the what if game.

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  10. I think this is from an alternate universe where Carrot Top is a superstar. This is one of the rooms in his Graceland.

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  11. See, I didn't get the carrot thing until after y'all mentioned it.

    To me, this looks like the abode of someone who keeps himself distant from the outside world - either because he feels like he can't connect, or because he chooses not to. He's not pretentious, just isolated. He walks into his house (it's not warm enough to be a home) at the end of the workday, stalks to his chair and thinks.

    Thanks. That was fun. Sometimes I like to look at real estate listings and do the same thing.

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  12. This is clearly the room of a recluse old woman. The marble floor is ostentatious, showing she doesn't care what other people think of how she spends her dead husband's riches. The house is starting to fall into disrepair everyhwere but this room, since this is the she haunts. She sits in that chair for hours calling over and over again for her long-dead pug, named Maltese, (after the falcon, of course), but which gave the poor dog a big of an identity crisis.

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  13. The first thing I thought was this is a house with no kids. And it probably belongs to a guy with size issues. Those vases are very phallic. (Or maybe I just have a smutty mind.)

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  14. Dawn wrote: What do you see, Lynn?

    My first thought was that the room could belong to Richard Tremayne from my Darkyn novels. He'd like all that dismal, sparse grandeur, and the chair being upholstered in that color velvet suits his personality. The chair is also angled away from the mirrored wall so he doesn't have to look at himself. Like him it's impressive on the surface, but a bit cold and not at all comfortable.

    To be honest, I never thought of Bugs Bunny when I looked at the oversize vases in the background. I just thought "Too big vases with dead things in them -- that's Richard."

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  15. Keita Haruka9:59 AM

    Looking at this...this person doesn't lack for money. His taste is rich without it being sterile. There's a lot of attention to detail, so this person is likely very passionate, and likely to be a bit of a perfectionist. The one chair in a huge room tells me he's likely a loner...but not by choice, due to the attention that's paid to decoration. This person is not heartless, so the fact that he's alone is likely due to some outside influence that he has no control over. The colouring used and the somewhat chaotic patterns tell of a great imaginative mind that needs a lot of sensory stimulation. There's warmth there that tells of a sweet, caring personality, but it is likely trapped and suppressed, having on otlet for that. He likely looks cold on the outside.

    Oh, I could go on and on and probably spin an entire tale out of this one image, so I think I'll stop here. :P

    Great excercise! I think I'll use this technique a bit more in the future.

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  16. I imagine a modern day pasha, only the rugs are missing from the floor, so the women (plural) that kneel at his feet don't get too chilled.

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  17. (sigh) I'm ashamed to say Bugs Bunny popped into my mind the second I viewed this photo!! His words: "Good evening, Lolly."

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  18. Where Alistair Cooke relaxed after his Masterpiece Theater evenings. :)

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  19. I see a very wealthy old man, who's winding down to the end of his years. He estranged himself from his family many years ago; still holds a bitter grudge toward them.

    The giant steel vases and the black claw foot chair seem to signify power. This is a man who's used to getting what he wants by any means necessary. That's probably what estranged him from his family -- a little family business deal gone bad. They were poor and needed job, and he's probably the chairman of a very large manufacturing company.

    Despite being stubborn, intimidating, and bossy, he's getting old, and thereby, he's becoming lonely, and frightened he may die in this cold, unfeeling house with no one who loves him, but he's still far too proud to be the one to make the first move.

    I imagine his favorite music is opera, and he spends his evenings with the lights off, with a lighted candle on a table near his chair, sipping a glass of red wine, brooding, and flipping a half dollar from knuckle to knuckle like his party magician father taught him when he was little, and like he taught his son when he as little as well.

    Lol, that was fun.

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  20. That cat looks comfy on the ottoman, anyway!

    I'm thinking that just out of sight in that room is a swimming pool, and the owner likes to sit in their chair and watch their children swim. When the water's disturbed, it reflects in those steel vase thingies, and the whole room seems to undulate.

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  21. Who live there is a wizard. He is at war with trees and all growing things, and his alchemy is based on the earth and its bones. He eschews the vanity of crowns but reinforces awe for his powers by denying any comfort to his petitioners. He is short, and no one is allowed to stand on the level of his chair, but must remain below the steps. The plants in the silver columns burn when he holds court, but are never consumed. There is a salt water pool just beyond camera range full of crocodiles. He rules all who dig and mine the earth or sea.

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  22. Someone without kids. Probably depressed. Probably fairly powerful in one way or another and charismatic.

    I don't get the all-white house idea. Too sterile for my taste. But I prefer something eclectic, homey, and beachy.

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  23. I once wrote a story about someone who left her husband and her pretty white house because she couldn't stand to bring up her daughter there.

    I love to look at those rooms, but I'm certain I wouldn't want to live there.

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  24. She's female, mid-thirties but ageless in a sort of power domineering way. She sits in that chair in a crisp expensive suit, in fabrics to match her decor scheme, whilst her minions bring people to beg at her feet.

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  25. He keeps Weimaraners.

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  26. He keeps Weimaraners.

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  27. I thought of Jasper Carrot the English comedienne

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