Monthly Archives: September 2013

The New Guideboat Style

Still Waters Run Deep

It seems fitting that the Guideboat Company, a cool new, just-launched purveyor of outdoor gear and Adirondack-inspired guide boats, has just opened its first retail store and showroom in an historic former lumber yard in Mill Valley, California. The buildings are being sensitively turned into a retail complex by new owners Matt and Jan Mathews. Good wood cleaves to good wood!


The boats, like this replica of an 1892 J. H. Rushton Saranac Laker Guideboat, which is a centerpiece, are exceptionally beautiful utilitarian objects in solid cherry and fiberglass. Here it is on the water and in the store.

To my eyes the trapezoidal cherry-and-cane seat and back are elegant designs in themselves, with the ingenious body-and-boat-contoured shape and functional

2013-09-18 09.37.23materials that let air and water flow through for swift drying.

Restoration Hardware founder Stephen Gordon, who was also CEO of Sundance for many years, started Guideboat Co. in his “retirement,” and was inspired by his youth spent rowing in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Now he rows on Lake Tahoe. Guide boats are similar to canoes but are rowed, not paddled, and

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can carry great weight. The oars are made of Sitka spruce and can be painted, as shown. Two other boats are offered: the Maine Pea Pod, revived from an 1860s design, and the Sabot, from the 1840s. ‘These boats are not here as props,” says Stephen. They’re part of the merchandise along with the London-made marine lighting, sailing sweaters, foot ware, and other apparel to complete a very appealing environmental lifestyle.

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Next door in another restored section of the lumber yard, part of Stephen’s collection of vintage canoes and guide boats is on display. They make me want to try one out — though if you know me you know that camping isn’t really my

800px-Topridge_Boathouse from wikipedia

thing. But I’d be happy to row one up to a classic Adirondack boathouse: say Camp Topridge, expanded in 1923 by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, with its ornate branch work and viewing loggia; or Knollwood at Lower Saranac

800px-Knollwood_Club_on_Lower_Saranac_Lake wikipedia

Lake, built by William Coulter in 1900, with its high hipped roof and wrap-around veranda (both photos courtesy Wikipedia). Or if I’m


feeling a little more current, how about docking at this dramatic sailboat-inspired house by the  German architects Steeltec37, (photos courtesy Inhabitat). Now these are proper

floating-lake-house-2 from Trendir

guide boat destinations! And in its way, the sleek looping line of the Rushton Laker Guide Boat is just as contemporary as that swoop of a roof.



Announcing Our New Blog: TIME TO BUILD

Hurry Up Please It’s Time! (With Apologies to T. S. Eliot) is launching an exciting new blog platform — called TIME TO BUILD — aimed at helping everyone interested in building a new house.

TTB for Eye On Design 1

The brainchild of Houseplans CEO  Jamie Roche, it’s goal is to demystify the home building process and give you the tools to achieve the home of your dreams. TIME TO BUILD presents a constant daily stream of essential how-to-do-it articles, tips, and advice. Here’s a taste:

What does pre-qualifying  for a home construction loan mean? Correspondent Jennifer Hermes found out: “Pre-qualifying can be done in person or over the phone and is provided as a free service by most banks and mortgage companies.  “To be pre-qualified, we look at the cost of the land and the cost of the home,” says Joe Bartolomeo, vice president and branch manager of the Fairfield, Connecticut, offices of Total Mortgage Services. Then, he says, he speaks with the borrower in order to assess a variety of factors: income, other properties, debts, student loans, credit report, and other financial obligations such as child support or alimony.”

Or what are smart ways to save on construction costs? Philadelphia designer-builder Kenny Grono of Buckminster Green begins his series of informative

Carriger grading 092

articles with tips on analyzing the site: “Once you have land picked out you need to consider what house is right for that site. If you can, avoid clearing all the trees on the property; mature trees add character, and can also save you on your utility bills. Think of the face of your house as the side with the most windows. In a cooler, northern climate, you’ll want to face towards the south, so you can soak up the low angled winter sun and get that free heat. To your back, to block the chilly winds coming in from the north, it helps to have mature trees. Since you want them to block the wind in the winter, conifers are ideal.  Put the deciduous trees in front of all those windows so they block the sun in the summer and lose their leaves to let the sun through in the fall and winter.”

Or how do you start planning a kitchen for the way you want to live.? Home design expert Gale Steves, author of the best seller Right-Sizing Your Home, explains: “The latest kitchen designs have led to more efficient layouts that create a cooking room within a room. This concept gives you plenty of room for your culinary tasks as well as space for your guests to be comfortably seated but not in your way. The kitchen within a larger space works best if you have an


L-shaped kitchen plan with a large island or a G-shaped kitchen plan. Another layout is a free-standing corridor kitchen, with two parallel counters or even islands.  These designs keeps your activities within an efficient space and the friends and family close by.” (The layout above is from our Plan 137-278.) TIME TO BUILD categories include What You Need To Know; Architecture & Design; Kitchens, Baths & More; and Products & Finishes.

So — I hope you’ll follow TIME TO BUILD eagerly and check it often!

In Other News, we have a wonderful new Farmhouse Plan 888-7 by Houseplans

888-7 elevation

chief architect Nicholas Lee. Here’s another example of what Gale is talking about in the design of the corridor kitchen separated from the larger space by the


hard-working island. The  house-wrapping lanai off the great room  and master suite has my vote — that’s where I’d like to spend the weekend! Nick and his wife also have a new baby girl, so bravos — or bravas — all around!

NOTE: My Eye On Design posts will be every other week, for now, as we concentrate on TIME TO BUILD. Stay tuned!