Archive for May, 2012

Living room metamorphoses

Posted in Home improvement, Journal at 11:33

Four years ago, the living room in my newly-purchased apartment was empty and floored with cheap tile.
Living room looking south (before)

I set up what little furniture I had.
Living room, couch nook, after organizing

In December, I was delighted to discover traditional terracotta tomettes beneath the tiles, and started the long floor restoration project.
Uncovering the living room

Once finished with the living room the following June, I had a little more furniture.
Living room looking towards sofa nook

Early 2010, I created a reading nook, repainting the recessed area.
Reading nook, mostly finished

Near the end of 2010 I had finished repainting the main wall, and had the lovely Art Deco couch and chairs set.
Living room from kitchen (1)

I never photographed the PC area, planning for it to be temporary. I wanted to find a nice, good-quality, yet affordable multimedia center that could bring disparate elements together. I browsed every store I could think of, but nothing worked. So it was that I ended up living with a multimedia area looking like this for almost three years.

Then, this April, one of my favorite stores, Habitat, had a big sale on furniture. As always, I checked it out… and this time, found two pieces I liked. The first was a long black multimedia center with three drawers. I put it in the shopping cart, went to check out, and was told it was out of stock. So I went for my second choice, a similarly wide, but taller and, I thought, somewhat clunkier, solid oak piece with straight, squared lines, two doors, and an open shelf. It was half off, making it less expensive than similarly-sized Ikea pieces. Once I had finished putting it together and settled on the best reorganization of elements (I had wanted to put my PC on the shelf, but it was just too large, so I stood it to the side), I could hardly believe how well its color and simple styling went with the rest of the living room. It looks like it was meant to be there.
Living room, May 2012

No more need to hide this side of the living room! You may have noticed that these two recent photos have different coloring than all the previous pictures – before, I used a flash with the kit lens on my Nikon D40 camera. Recently I started using my 30-year-old prime lenses, without flash. Thus the colors are warmer, since there’s no blue flash to override the yellower ambient light.
Living room with new cabinet

Le petit cabanon de Le Corbusier

Posted in La France, Travel at 13:40

Le Corbusier's cabanon
A little while ago, two Dutch friends suggested a visit to Le Corbusier’s cabanon, a log-sided cabin with a view of the Mediterranean in Roquebrune Cap Martin. I hadn’t heard of it before, and apparently it’s only mentioned as an aside in some travel guides. Yesterday was our visit date! It was worth the guided tour – we were shown not only the cabin, but the adjacent restaurant owned by Le Corbusier’s friend, Robert Rebutato, and the unité de camping bungalows that Le Corbusier also designed.

The cabin is quite small, at 3.66m x 3.66m x 2.66m – 14 square meters, or about 145 square feet. I found this floor plan in an aRoots article on Le Corbusier’s cabin, but it’s not credited. In any case it does reflect the cabin well enough, though it’s missing the small window in the back upper right corner. Le Corbusier wanted three of the windows to open onto different aspects of the cabin’s surroundings: the small one near the foot of the bed is about a meter from the floor, rectangular, and opens onto the rocks behind the cabin – l’aspect minéral. To the right, by the work area, is a square window with a folding painting and mirror cover, that opens onto a view of the agave tree outside – l’aspect végétal. Finally, the square window near the entry opens onto the Mediterraneanl’aspect aquatique.

There is a replica of the cabanon that tours different countries, with a video at that link (The Guardian) and some nice photos of it at IconEye. One detail that doesn’t come through in them, however, is how the main room is not truly broken up, not even by the sink column:
Sink column

There’s also ingenious built-in overhead storage:
Built-in overhead storage

Le Corbusier used the basic principles of the cabin’s design when creating the smaller camping bungalows for the Rebutato family. Each bungalow measures 8 square meters, or about 80 square feet.
Bungalow interior

Each has a colorful ceiling that ties together their differently-painted doors and window frames:
Bungalow ceiling

For more photographs: Roquebrune – Le Corbusier. Below, Le Corbusier’s “Modulor”, whose measurements he used in his designs. This one is painted on the north end of the bungalows.

Le Modulor

Soaps, ravioli, tea, cheese…

Posted in La France, Nice, Travel at 18:56

Things have been busy for me lately, meaning less frequent posts, as regulars probably have noticed! Last weekend I did do another walkabout video while in Vieux Nice, linked above.

I’m very happy to say that in June, I’ll be going on a 2-day hiking trip to the Vallée des Merveilles, the Mercantour National Park’s “Valley of Marvels”! Our comité d’entreprise, works council (organization of employees for employees, essentially), organized the trip and got us a 60% discount. I used to camp and hike overnight in the US pretty regularly with family and friends; this will be the first time since a 1998 trip through the Jura mountains that I’ve done more than a 3-hour hike in France. The Jura trip was lovely – with a group of friends, we spent 7 days and 6 nights hiking through the Jura mountain range. Unforgettable.

In the Valley of Marvels, we’ll be staying at the foot of Mont Bégo, which anthropologists believe was considered a sacred mountain in prehistoric times, due to the large amount of rock carvings (petroglyphs) left in the area. In addition to deriving from the Indo-European root beg, meaning “divine”, Bégo’s rocky peak juts above all others and is the focal point of lightning strikes during summer and autumn thunderstorms. As we’ll be there in early summer, our group is hoping for a thunderstorm. Not your usual wish when hiking, but certainly understandable in this case!