Usonian Ceilings

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Matt
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:24 am

Post by Matt »

The ceilings of these homes are indeed a tricky element. The use of wood can be too rustic or oppressive or dark. The use of board I find often fussy in the ship-lap geometry that Wright was known for. And yet plasterboard seems out of place…as can be seen in some Usonian knock-offs. I think he preferred sanded plaster as it conveyed the texture of stone or cement.

My favorite ceiling treatment is the squares of plywood used in then exhibition house. It respected a grid, was brighter and simpler than boards, and yet clean and modern.

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

This pseudo-Wrightian house has had some attention paid to the ceilings:

http://www.kiawahisland.com/real-estate ... /429/0122/

SDR

LBF
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Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:19 pm

Post by LBF »

Having met with my contractor later today, we have decided to replace the compromised boards with original boards left in the attic by the prior owner, (a bonus!) strip and re-stain. So much of the wood was tinted/waxed, adding an odd green cast throughout the home. Likely a mid-70's update by the prior owner to make the home feel more current! I'm looking to LED light bulbs to bring more light to the darker spaces. All of this costs more money but Mr. Wright would likely prefer this approach over plaster and paint since this appears to be the original and intended design.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Bravo. Many will be rewarded by your efforts -- not least, the occupants . . .

SDR

pharding
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Location: River Forest, Illinois
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Post by pharding »

Kudos. Original except in kitchen is always best.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

LBF:
The "decks" (high shelves) often found at room edges or on top of closets or cabinets in a Usonian are good opportunities for placement of additional lighting, if it is not already there. With LED lights you have the ability to boost light levels in existing fixtures (or additional fixtures in unobtrusive locations) without generating excessive heat or high electric bills. Pay close attention to the color temperatures of the LED's. The warmer range tends to look better in the "warm color" interior of a Usonian. We've found a color temperature of 3000 to 4000 degrees Kelvin to look best in a Usonian.
Last edited by DRN on Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

LBF
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Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:19 pm

Post by LBF »

Ahh yes, that statement resonates with us! After meeting with two cabinet refinishers, both advised me to start over as the job-built cabinets would come off in pieces and fall apart prior to refinishing. Keeping with the mid-century theme, Kerf Design is doing the new kitchen. I believe Wright would have used Kerf Design if he were building still today. They are located in Seattle. Funny, the cabinet maker that provided the original cabinets in the home was also located in Seattle. http://kerfdesign.com
Last edited by LBF on Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LBF
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:19 pm

Post by LBF »

Color temp is so important and thank you for the information. I work in advertising as a producer so I'm always working along side talented lighting directors called, Gaffers. Color temp can make or break the visual tone of the room. Very helpful tip, thanks!

peterm
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Post by peterm »

I think Wright totally valued the workspace. What often appears to be cramped and awkward, actually functions quite well. We have just recently become accustomed to thinking of kitchens as large social gathering places, not as efficient spaces for one or two cooks.

Macrodex
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Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:11 pm

Post by Macrodex »

From what I recall, Wright condensed rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms to merely what was necessary because his larger focus was on the congregation spaces, i.e. living/dining rooms.

It is a shame that some people focus too much on the kitchen and bathroom and essentially want it to be a room so large you can do cartwheels in.

Unbrook
Posts: 706
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:19 am
Location: Lakewood, Ohio

Usonian Ceilings

Post by Unbrook »

The size of the workspace in the Usonians reflects the change in the American family, as a result of the Depression. No longer would a middle class family employ a live-in servant, thus Mom took over those duties. Mr. Wright eliminates the idea of the kitchen being a service space at the back of the house, and connects it with the community space. The Workspace needed to be efficient and so became smaller. This also contributed to decreasing the overall cost of the building.

Thus is the genius of Wright.

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

He also reduced the size of the dining room to an alcove near the kitchen. No room in a post-Edwardian house is less used and often more expensive than a grand, old-fashioned dining room.

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