Monday, August 30, 2010

After Katrina

When I hear the name Katrina it is a painful reminder of the historic events of Labor day weekend 2005. I don't have a life experience to know the pain and suffering endured by the people of the lower 9Th on the days after the storm, but I can try to imagine.

So when my latest edition of O Magazine arrived with a story about Brad Pitt and his Make it Right Foundation, I hesitated a bit, not wanting to re-visit those emotions. But when I finally read the article and then checked the website, I was elated with what they are doing. . I was amazed by the beautiful structures and all the innovations built into these homes. The foundation is designing and building beautiful Eco sustainable homes that will eventually be available to build for $150,000. It is a working experiment of sorts, with talented Architects and Builders using new and better building products and systems. I loved Mr. Pitt's quote "We don't just want to make homes that are 'less bad'for the environment. We want them instead to have an environmental benefit."

These homes are esthetically pleasing in their modernness, produce their own electricity and have rain water storage systems to prevent runoff water. They also use carpets, paints and other finishing elements that are free of harmful chemicals. And you can see the happiness (and healthiness) of the new owners. But what is also important is the return of the vibrancy of these communities. These were working class neighborhoods with deep family roots. These folks owned their homes and cared for their neighbors and it was so nice to see the apparent pride and happiness return to people who suffered so much.

Right now the technology is only available for this project in New Orleans...Hopefully, someday soon, we will have homes like these in our little corner of the world. Thank you Mr. Pitt

Monday, August 23, 2010

Walking at Welkinweir

What a perfect day to explore the former estate of Everett and Grace Rodabaugh, the founders of the Green Valley Association. It was Monday and I was the only visitor this morning. The quiet woods and gardens were stunning with lush foliage and colorful perennials all set off with beautiful puffy white clouds the bright blue was a perfect late summer day...I was hoping to see the inside of the historic mansion but could only peek in the windows for a teaser glimpse at the past. It is only open to the public on Mothers day and for a holiday open house in Early December. I have already marked my calender for those dates and for a Fall visit to savor the autumn colors..

The 197 acre property is a mix of meadows, formal gardens, arboretum, pond, wetlands and water fall. Many of the trees and shrubs are labeled for your reference. The fabulous stone mansion is overlooking the large pond. A spectacular view to be savored in any season. Welkinweir is located on Prizer road off route 100 just south of the route 23 intersection. There are gentle hiking trails though out the property and many wonderful spots for a rustic picnic. Of course if you "pack it must pack it out," but so worth it..the property is well kept but not formally manicured as is Longwood Gardens.

This is a spot you will want to visit over and over again.. in spring,summer,fall and even is truly spectacular..take your camera and wear walking shoes and please make a cash donation for the upkeep. Now..go enjoy Mother Nature at her finest...for more information go to

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I have to appologize to all my reader...I got caught up in life and neglected to blog this week...I am getting the hang of this....One of my readers...Mogallant..suggested the Wilkinwier estatate/ that is where I am headed can find out more about it at know a bit about the history...but I will tell you more after my trip tomorrow...the weather is expected to be good and I will relish the free time to be be with you all soon..

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Its all about the details..

I recently had time to dine at 2 of the area's newer restaurants. I chose each one because I love the architectural detail and ambiance of each. I knew from previous visits to both that their food and ambiance was terrific..You see I don't go out just to eat. I am a good cook and can feed myself quit nicely at home. In my college days I worked for fine restaurants to support myself...and learned "customer service" from award winning restauranteurs....I dine out to enjoy the setting and experience with friends.

What struck me in both recent experiences, is that both owners had gone to great expense with the restoration of their buildings, the decor of their establishments and their hiring of fine chefs. What they neglected to look at, and address, was the people presenting their wonderful creations and how that effects the total experience..and in the hospitality business, as in retail or any other business, it is about people and grace and style. In both cases the wait person was not informed of menu items, or of the kitchens/managements style and not properly trained in the art or service..Not their fault...

I had brought friends ( i.e. new customers) to both restaurants...there is a saying in retail that for every unhappy customer..there will be ten people that they will tell...ten lost sales..

Being a business owner who frequently brings contractors into homes of clients to preform services...I am very sensetive to how my clients are subcontractors make my business, just like the wait staff can make or break a restuarant. If there is a problem, then it is my problem and I have not done my job. . and I have had my share of "problems." After years of experiance, I have learned that you have to invest time with all the people you have representing you company and that when you take the time to train and empower you employees to do their best..they love it and will make you proud.

My Point in all this is not to find fault with local business.. but to bring the Art of Design and Style to the forfront of all businesses. No matter what the product we sell ..if we are not putting our very best efforts forward in all aspects of our business..then we are wasting money and shortchanging the clients we want to keep.

After my second experiance..I emailed the management of one of the restaurants...I took the attitude that they where not aware and explained my experiance without judgement..and thankfully.. I recieved a wonderful email back thanking me. I am so pleased because I really like that place...and hope to return soon... knowing I will have a better experiance... I will now email the other restauranteur with my concerns ...I want to live in a town that has lots of really great places and people to experiance...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Your.. Design Blog....

Welcome to my first blog.

As you can see, this is going to be a community blog about all things Design...and Design IS history.... It is going to be particularly fun for me to explore the greater Pottstown area for all things pertaining to residential design (both historic and present). That is a huge "umbrella" description. So... I will be welcoming your suggestions with regard to what you would like to explore and discuss in this blog.

I am not from this area...I am from the Lakes Region of NH...where "On Golden Pond" was filmed...(and oldie with Henry and Jane Fonda and Katherine Hepburn)...Worth watching if you've not seen it..Or... as Robert Frost observed.. "where we have nine months of winter.. and three months of Damn poor sledding".

I am hoping that with my "fresh eyes" and curiosity... We will together discover your town/region in a different way...I find it to be quite beautiful and historic and worth talking about...even as it is in a period of economic transformation.. goal is that I spark some curiosity and interest in the Tri-County area and its design history... I hope that you will take a few minutes and tell me what you would like to explore ...Is there a local garden or favorite nostalgic spot that you would like to share with your neighbors?...or perhaps there is a wonderful building/home you would like to know more about?...Historic or otherwise... Someplace you might like me to research and share with you?...I have digital camera... and lots of knowledgeable friends... and a couple of hours a week for an adventure.

Or perhaps your interested in Interior Design trends and would like to know what the new color and style trends are?.. Or maybe you know of a wonderful crafts person or artisan you would like to bring to my attention..and have me interview and report on...I will happily receive all your ideas.

I am going to enjoy writing and researching on your behalf.. and I hope.. that with your in-put... this will be your "go-to blog" once a week for design inspiration..

Until next week...this is the Design Sleuth...