Decorating My Loft In Rockford, Illinois

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My lovely loft was located in the William Brown Building, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, states,
of the last remaining commercial buildings of significant Romanesque Revival architectural style in Rockford, Illinois. About this historical monument, the

". . . with the recent rehabilitation
of its first story storefronts, the
building has excellent integrity,
particularly in its exterior detailing
and design . . ."  

I moved into this old bank building (built in 1891-92) which now hosted 30 loft-style apartments and a first floor anchored by commercial/retail space.

Those apartments, with their high reaching 11' tall walls overlooked Rock River. (I was on the fifth floor.)  My kitchen pantry was a huge, old bank vault. Is that cool or what! I found it extraordinary.

Here are photos and narrative about the decorating of my loft (you gotta' get you one!)

Whether it is working with a design client or whether I'm designing my own home, I am looking to create a surround of collections that reflect memories - or - of items that are cherished, items of interest or even that can be of interest. I have decorated using the things that I have, things that I love, integrating them into this incredible space.

I love art and artwork, I mix up my art placing contemporary impressionist pieces next to classic oil paintings and antique pieces.

In this particular home I was challenged with the enormous walls.  The design principle of proportion was integrated to assure that my furniture pieces did not look too small, almost like Barbie-doll pieces.

In the two photos at left, the oversized, colorful oil paintings have much visual weight and give me 'purchase' of my high ceilings.  By careful placement of other items under and around them there is scale, and by distribution of all of the furniture and accessories there is rhythm and unity.

The photo at right shows the opposing wall, made up of a grouping of various artworks and objects including a precious antique wall-mounted grandfather's clock.  The high-reaching top pieces provide needed elevation, and the two antique, French Provencial side chairs (being of smaller scale individually) each gain more presence when grouped with the nestling table.

This is a small table grouping, I like the mix of texture of the wooden duck decoy, the books (which also give my grouping height), the small pillow and the floral wreath.

At left, another table top grouping or vignette. When displaying objects, groupings of three or five work particularly well and are visually stronger than a group of two or four.  It is also pleasing to the eye to vary the height of your objects.  (Keep in mind that books are an easy, interesting way to create a platform for smaller objects.)

At right, another small vignette, this one includes hanging plates as art.  Note that there are five items:  two hanging plates, a vase, an elevated book and books.  It is a beautiful still life, pleasing to the eye.

Presenting Grilled Peaches Bonus Recipe In Honor Of The 'Rockford Peaches'

In case you were not aware, the Rockford Peaches
were a women's professional baseball team who played from 1943 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional baseball League representing Rockford, Illinois.  The Rockford Peaches were also featured in the 1992 film "A League Of Their Own."

Grilled Peaches Bonus Recipe

Yield:  Serves Four


2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ripe peaches, cut in half, pits removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Vanilla ice cream, optional


Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.
In a small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon.
Brush cut side of peaches lightly with butter.
Oil grill.
Place peaches cut-side down on grill and cook until grill marks appear, approx. 3 - 4 minutes.  Brush peaches bottoms lightly with remaining butter and turn peaches over.  Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture over cut side of peaches.  Cover grill and cook until sugar has melted and caramelized and peaches are easily pierced with a sharp paring knife, approx. 3 to 6 minutes longer.
Serve immediately, with ice cream, if desired.
This recipe will also work well with other fruits like nectarines, pineapples, apples and even strawberries (try grilling berries on kebab skewers).

Credit:  My Recipes Grilled Peaches Bonus Recipe

Accordia Project Wins Design Prize

High volume, high density housing. It is all around us.
But not this kind. When a development project is done right, it is good for the developer/client and it is good for the community. When a project results in an improved bottom line for everyone, that is a serious win-win.
Accordia in Cambridge in London is the Stirling Prize 2008 winner. InteriorDesign.Net reports that development projects typically involve an architect, a building contractor and the developer/client, and of course the local governmental planning authorities. Notable about the Accordia Cambridge project is that it was a consortium of three very different architectural firms – Feilden Clegg Bradley, Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects (FCBS).

On a brownfield site in Cambridge, London – formerly owned by the military - FCBS beautifully designed high-quality architecture in high-volume, high-density housing. The local governmental planners led by the remarkable Peter Studdert have been imaginative and firm with objectors. Developer/clients are too frequently met by local government planning departments who use their powers to withhold permission - unless the developer/clients use good architects to produce fine architecture, as was done here. The Judges said: "The local governmental planning department led by Peter Studdert recognized remarkable design plans."

* What other authority would have allowed terraces at first and second floor level, instead of banning them on grounds of over-looking?
* Where else would house-builders have been dissuaded from bowing to the supposed need of homeowners for a minimum 15 metre strip of garden behind the house?
* Here several busy residents spoke to judges about their sense of liberation from the demands of gardening. Instead there is common land where children safely play as if in some idyllic throwback to the 1950s.
* Houses and flats have good-sized, well-proportioned rooms with views out ranging from urban to rural pasture.
* There is plenty of variety in the house-plans too, from the understated simplicity of the FCBS layouts, to the highly complex plans of architect Maccreanor Lavington with their two staircases and their ambiguous inside-outside spaces; and the scissor plan stairs in some of the architect Alison Brooks houses.
* The detailing too varies with the architect, producing a different aesthetic in each. These are traditional houses but with a twist
* Much of the construction was fabricated off site to increase speed of construction, reduce waste, and to improve site safety and environmental performance
* This is a Span-type housing for the 21st century, much community aspirations and aesthetics with plenty of individuality in the flexible house plans. Mews garages have often been turned into studios or offices, even granny annexes; there is privacy on (most of) the terraces and balconies; but there are village greens and strips of common land, cars are tamed not banned – this is architecture that treats adults as grown-ups and children as people with different needs.

Accordia has already won numerous awards: Housing Design Awards – overall winner (2006); Building for Life Awards: Gold Standard (2006); National Homebuilder Design Awards (2006); Civic Trust (2007).
Accordia, Architects: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, and Macreanor Lavington; Client: Countryside Properties