Monday, September 8, 2008

modest fame

Rumford fireplace in the kitchen

Michael and I were in California recently and had a chance to meet the architect Alex Riley at his home in Napa. We appreciated the opportunity to ask him some questions and learn more about our home's building process and history. He generously showed us around his home and studio and shared some photos of our house during the building process.

One of the questions Michael had was regarding the two fireplaces in the house. They are tall and shallow with a beehive-like design. Mr. Riley explained that they are Rumford fireplaces, which are the most efficient at heating up a room with minimal heat lost up the chimney and minimal smoking. They are beautiful fireplaces. The one in the kitchen reminds me of an 18th century kitchen hearth. Mr. Riley built a little nook in the kitchen where one can sit in the winter with a cup of coffee by the fire.

We also learned that our home was featured not once, but three times in Architectural Digest. The first article was published in March 1986. We have a copy of this issue, but I found the article online at the website of Roger Harned, the man credited for the interior design in the article. You can view the article here.

The second article, published in August 1986, featured the home on the cover of the Italian edition of Architectural Digest. Mr. Riley had a copy somewhere in his studio but was unable to find it while we were there. I've done some research to try to find that issue with little luck. I did find a copy had sold recently on Ebay Italy and e-mailed the vendor to find out if he can find another one for me.

The third article was published in a special edition "The AD 100 Architects" issue in 1991. Mr. Riley was named one of the top 100 architects in the world (alongside Frank Gehry and John Lautner, two other architects we admire) based on his design of our home. I found a copy of this issue on Ebay and we are eagerly waiting for it to show up in our mailbox.

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