Friday, March 30, 2007

No Words to Express My Jealousy

Inside the Hobbit House
Appreciating a modern-day cottage based on mythical literature
by Deb Silber

Asked to design a fitting repository for a client’s valuable collection of J.R.R. Tolkien manuscripts and artifacts, architect Peter Archer went to the source—the fantasy novels that describe the abodes of the diminutive Hobbits.

“I came back my client and said, ‘I’m not going to make this look like Hollywood,’” Archer recalled, choosing to focus instead on a finely-crafted structure embodying a sense of history and tradition.

The site was critical too—and Archer found the perfect one a short walk away from his client’s main house, where an 18th-century dry-laid wall ran through the property. “I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to build the structure into the wall?”

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Not only did the wall anchor the cottage, but stones from another section were used in the cottages construction. “It literally grew out of the site,” Archer said.

Perhaps stranger things have happened in Tolkien’s world, but few houses in this one go to such lengths to capture a fictional fantasy in the context of architecture. Here are some details.

Inside the cottage, a bench seat rests below the “butterfly” window, so called because its center-hinged panes take on the appearance of the insect’s wings when open. The divided-light look is created with gridwork affixed to both sides of the insulated glass.

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Photo: David Thorngate

Like the butterfly window, the cottage’s round 3-inch-thick front door is made of Spanish cedar by cabinetmaker David Thorngate of Newark, Del. Though the round door is used as an entryway, a more conventionally shaped (and discreetly concealed) 3-ft. x 7-ft. door in the back of the cottage conforms to code and, Archer concedes, makes it easier to get in and out. To the right of the round door, an electrical outlet is disguised under a metal box.

The round door is hung on a single hinge designed by blacksmith Michael Coldren of North East, Md. Designing hardware strong enough to handle the torque of the circular door was one of the tougher challenges, according to the architect. The walls are plywood, trimmed out with Douglas fir details and in-filled with plaster. Above the plaster walls, the roof is supported with Douglas fir rafters and a glue-lam ridge beam, also trimmed with Douglas fir.

Situated in the main room of the cottage, the stucco fireplace is embellished with slivers of the tiles used on the roof. The cottage’s climate control includes air conditioning and radiant heat beneath the 6/4 western white pine floor.

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Half-walls and an arch create a library in the rear of the main room.

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The architect intentionally left space between the square windows and the curved arch above for a bit of creative expression. The resulting pattern was created by the builder, who cut slivers of roof tile on a wetsaw and embedded them in stucco.

A similar pattern surrounds the windows flanking the chimney and the lower edges of the round door.

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Architect:Archer & Buchanan Ltd.West Chester, PA 610-692-9112

Builder:Richard Owens ConstructionChester County, PA610-827-0972
Custom doors and windows:Premium Grade Cabinetry Inc.Newark, DE.302-369-1982
Hardware:Michael M. Coldren Co, Inc.North East, MD410-287-2082


― Photo credit: Courtesy of Peter Archer, except where noted.
From Fine Homebuilding 186, pp. Back Cover


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Sorry for the extended absence, but I am in such a crochet rut! I haven't been able to joyfully pick up the hook for a few weeks now. I hope I snap out of this soon! I'm hoping it's just the result of going in too many directions at the same time and just need to settle down a bit. I'll let you know how that goes...

On a non-crochet related note, we finally named the mutant dog. We're calling her Yoda and if I had my wits about me, I'd have a pic of her to post. This weekend for sure. She earned that name cuz of her big ears! She has settled in quite nicely with Jose. They play a lot. She has more energy than he does (hard to believe), so he gets a little snippy with her on occasion. But all in all, it's working out well. She's a sweetie.

Other than that, it's pretty much same-o, same-o around here. The weather last week was gorgeous in the high 80s, this week it's threatening rain and in the mid-60s. It's typical for this time of year, but I so much want it to be in the mid-70s and sunny!

A chuckle for ya... last night hubby was watching Eragon whilst I was surfing the net. I could hear the dialog and they were talking about what it meant to be a dragon rider. Very serious stuff. Then I hear hubby say in his 'talking to Jose voice', "I'm going to be a chihuahua rider!". I peeked around the corner and there they were - hubby on the couch, Jose sitting up on his lap facing the TV and hubby was 'driving' him with his fingertips by the ears. I busted a gut. I married him for humor 16 years ago and he still cracks me up! LOL

Well, that's all the inanity for now. More later, I promise!

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Weekends are for resting and doing whatever you feel like doing. That's my philosophy anyway. However, it never seems to work out that way does it? So I'm stealing some time from my "adult" life to play on the net this morning.

In those few minutes I can squeeze some time with the hook and yarn, I've been making wildlife rescue nests for teeny critters. I've been ordering patterns and yarn on the net as I wake up in the morning with my coffee before work and the boxes are starting to come in, so that's always fun!

The LOTR madness continues ~ my Sideshow exlusive Boromir figure arrived yesterday! He'll be taking up residence next to Aragorn:

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Faramir and Legolas are on order of course!

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I think they did a particularly good job on Faramir :o) Of course, the husband is all crabby about it, but he'll get over it. All I have to do is remind him of his kayak/lobster adventure and all the money that went into that short-lived hobby and I'm home free! LOL

I really do need to catalog my LOTR collectibles, but it will be such a large job that I keep putting it off. I have 4 large curio cabinets filled with Sideshow sculptures, a jewelry box filled with LOTR jewelry, 5 swords, Gimli's axe, 27 autographed pics, 8 collectors editions of the books (includes The Hobbit and The Silmarillion - one of which is autographed by the illustrator) framed stills from the movie, an autographed letter from Peter Jackson, CD sets of the BBC plays, framed movie posters... and that's just the stuff within my immediate vision. Cataloging will happen someday I suppose when the mood strikes me, I'm sure.

Other than that, I had a few successes at work this week that I won't bore you with, but it made leaving on Friday a happy event instead of the normal trudging back to the car for the voyage home.

But today, it's more moving-related activities with my mom. Just helping her continue to unpack and settle in. Hopefully, this will be the absolute last of it!

More later~