Thursday, August 26, 2010

Welcome to my town!

Welcome to my current home town of Alexandria, VA!  Last week was the beginning of the first stretch of days in months that were not oppressively, suffocatingly hot and it was actually bearable to be outside for an extended period of time.  I took advantage of the situation and, after church last Sunday, gave myself a walking tour of some of my favorite houses in Old Town.  The historic streets on which these homes are located are about 3-4 blocks from the harbor and 1-2 blocks from the town center.  The rows of houses are very neat and uniform (in a historic, worn old way) but each of them has some little detail or another which makes it just a little bit distinctive.  From historic decorative casings, to brightly colored doors, to beautiful arrangements of plants on their steps, these little touches are my favorite!
 This is one of the larger houses on these streets and they actually had a little bit of yard in which to plant these two well-proportioned trees. I love how the perfect symmetry of the landscaping, the shiny black door and the bright brass door knocker and letter slot make this house so effortlessly flawless.
Here is another entryway in which symmetry and gleaming brass prevails but you will see that they are not all that way...
The dentil moulding on this casing makes the door look a little frilly to me, but I love the asymmetrical twisted tree by the front door.
Some of the houses have shutters on their front doors, most of them, unlike this one, leading into a small anteroom.  I love the stained wood door with the black and brick.
I include this picture because the warm grey of this door is one of my all time favorite colors.  I also love the transom window above the door (it is very similar to the one over my parents' front door) and the fact that the brick and the steps look so old.  In many of these pictures, including this one, you can see the plaque next to the front door, indicating that these are historic buildings.
I love this peek of a black and white tiled floor in the anteroom.  I think that Dorothy Draper would very much approve.
 I actually don't like this door at all.  I think the bullseye effect and the paint job make it look like a circus house, but I included it anyway because it definitely qualifies as distinctive.
Now my favorite for last.  In my mind, the more ancient the better.  The casing around this door is obviously original, or at least very close.  Although the turquoise color of this door is definitely not historic, I do appreciate the artistic contrast and I think it makes a beautiful photograph.  I just wish they would take better care of their potted plants and this would be a perfect scene.

I will leave you with Dorothy Draper's thoughts on front doors, from her book Entertaining is Fun!: How to be a Popular Hostess.

"There's nothing in the American Constitution to the effect that all front doors have to be white or dark green.  Have you ever considered the possible charm of a turquoise-blue door in a pale gray stucco house, with boxes of frilly pink petunias under the front windows and a pair of dwarf apple trees beside the steps?  Or a glowing Chinese yellow door, like one of Van Gogh's sunflowers, in a dark timbered house?  Think of the mystery that would seem to lie behind the door of a white house that was painted the color of blue gentians in the sun ... Your home's welcome begins right at the front door.  If you can make that welcome cheery and friendly simply through the use of a quart of paint and a few hours with the paintbrush, why not do it?"


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