Don’t Forget the Ceilings!

by Lauren Rubin

Color and texture has been getting more play in the design world.  Paint and wallpaper have taken on new life and bring even more possibility to the overall look of your home .  Colors and patterns can elevate the design of a room to another level.

When choosing a wall color, of course you have to consider the doors, trims and floors…but don’t forget the ceilings!

Consider introducing color and pattern to the ceilings.  The added color can play off the walls and trims or sometimes it just adds a great place to focus the design.

Try to remind yourself paint and wall coverings are the icing on the cake.  They are not permanent and are a great place to experiment and perhaps take some risks.  Typically, you won’t be disappointed and it will separate the look of your home from your neighbor.  Don’t fall into the all-white trap! This is defined as a fear of color and plans to introduce a ‘fun color’ with a throw pillow…

The ceiling has its own relationship to the rest of the room.  It can complement the color with a similar hue or  it can pair well with simple colors and white walls. The bottom line is, don’t leave the ceiling just hanging up there – make a statement and let your ceiling shine!

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Touring Historic Cities with Kids…It’s All in the Details

by Lauren Rubin

Visiting historic cities can be a super fun time with kids. Especially as they get a little older and have had a few lessons in American history. They recognize things they have talked about in school and are able to make interesting observations of their own. But, let’s face it, they are still kids, away from home, which can often descend into a stress-filled experience punctuated by whining, complaining and arguments that leave the adults asking themselves, “Was this really worth it?!”.

My favorite part of touring a new place is drinking in all the new surroundings.  Just walking up and down the old streets, sitting in the plazas, eating ice cream and watching locals living their daily lives.

Touring the South over Christmas vacation with my 9 and 11 year olds opened my eyes to a new level of details. We mainly explored Savannah and Charleston, taking in the different types of trees, streets and sidewalk patterns, the cracked uneven steps, and the interesting shapes, colors and patterns on walls and floors.

Some of the details we liked the best:

historic-cities_sidewalks

The sidewalks in Savannah are paved with Oyster shells.  Nothing at all like a typical New York City sidewalk!

In Charleston, the texture of the streets is created from large paved stones. There are only a few areas left in New York that have this old cobblestone feel.

The streets down by the Savannah River Walk are paved with historic bricks. The variety of color and texture makes a beautiful pattern and some are still inscribed with the original brick factory brand

 

historic-cities_rainbow-and-iron

In Charleston, where the bricks have been deteriorating off the side of a building and the concrete shows below…. It created a whimsical pattern like a brick camouflage pattern or the skin of a giraffe.  We all had our own ideas.

We loved the bright rainbow and pastel colors on window shutters and building facades and the beautiful twisted ironwork railings:

Kids are always drawn to the risky and mine were definitely up to this challenge.  “Historic Steps….Use at your own risk” …that detail was a real crowd pleaser…

historic-cities_steps

I love to visit museums, tour historic homes, shop in markets, but my real love is just…to roam.  I try to instill this love of wandering in my children.  I want them to observe and interpret their environments and the built world around them. What’s the same? What’s different? How does it make them feel? And I have found that – it’s all in the details.

And after all that wandering, when everyone is tired and hungry? There is nothing like delicious local food to put a smile on their faces!

historic-cities_food

 

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Inspiring Little Architects!

by Lauren Rubin

As an architect and mother, I always try to teach my children about their neighborhood and the city in which they live.  I’m sure I bore them most of the time, but I know that some of my talks are absorbed.

Both of my children are growing up with an interest in architecture and design.  I know, living in New York City makes discussing architecture easy, but truthfully, no matter where you live, if you are looking up and discussing what you see, architecture can be inspiring at any age!

To help my cause, I also collect children’s architecture and design books. The following authors have done an amazing job inspiring my family.  Not only do they introduce ideas, design and history but they do it in a fun and offbeat way.

Some of our favorites:

The Three Little Pigs, Written and Illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia

The three little pigs are portrayed by Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Famous architects that every little designer should know. The first little pig, Frank Gehry, builds his famous 1978 house of “scraps” and is blown down by the big bad wolf. Phillip Johnson, the second little pig, builds his celebrated glass house and it is smashed. Finally, Frank Lloyd Wright builds one of his most famed homes, “Falling Water,” of stone and concrete and the wolf is finally defeated. The illustrations are wonderful as are the little architectural design details found throughout the book.

 little architect_3pigs

One of the more well know kid’s building books is Iggy Peck Architect written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.  The wonderful writing in this book is the real hook.  It is an amazing rhyming book that is witty and funny to both adults and children.  The drawings by David Roberts are wonderful with beautiful graphics and original design work.

It is my favorite book for reading to the elementary school classes and always the best gift for my teachers.  I even end my kid’s walking tours, with a cookie shaped and decorated like the Empire State Building and a reading of Iggy Peck!

little architect_iggy

 

The last book on my list today is Doodle New York by Violet Lemay and Puck Illustrations.  It is a “fill-in” drawing book full of whimsical graphics that enhance rather than contain a child’s imagination.  The drawings are simple but still structured and tell a great NYC story. This is my daughter’s favorite book.  Check out one of her creations!

little architect_doodle

 

 

All three of these books can be purchased at

http://www.amazon.com/

But other great places to purchase these books and other great design items are:

The American Institute of Architects:

http://store.aia.org/

The Museum of Modern Art:

http://www.momastore.org/

 

 

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Balancing Act

by Lauren Rubin

Everyone struggles with work-life balance. The perfect balance is an impossibility. A decent balance is a realistic goal but for a mother and architect, sometimes defining ‘decent balance’ can be elusive.

When I started Lauren Rubin Architecture, my balancing act began.

I have had moments of success and failure along the way – thankfully more of the former than the latter! Most importantly, I have enjoyed the challenge.

The beneficiaries of this challenge, my kids, are not just bystanders. I have been fortunate in that architecture enables me to incorporate my kids (and my clients’ kids, of course) into my work. Every chance I get, I merge the two together.
At LRA, our favorite parts of every project are always the kids’ spaces. Whether it’s a bedroom, a playroom, a special little nook or on a larger scale a classroom or a library. We ask kids what inspires them and then we try to capture it and weave it into their surroundings.

We interact with our small clients, ask them how they imagine their perfect space, then together with their parents, we interpret their ideas into our designs.

It might be floating purple boxes or purple walls and blue skies:

purple boxes_purple walls

 

Their favorite hero or their favorite color:

Their bright ideas inspire us and infuse our designs with something unique. It’s that special touch that allows a child to see their suggestion take a physical shape. Those purple walls or floating boxes become a source of pride.

LRA works for schools, creating inspirational learning spaces for kids to grow.

A new language school for young scholars:

LRUBIN_PORTFOLIO_LANGUAGESCHOOL_940x625_01

Or a pro-bono book room for a public school without a library:

LRUBIN_PORTFOLIO_BOOKROOM_940x625_01

My children are my inspiration. Every day, they excite me, they warm my heart and yes, exasperate me! They make me a better architect and a better person.

When we are walking through the city, I try to educate them about their surroundings and they re-educate me reminding me why I live in New York City.

I take their school classes on architecture walks through the city too.  And I have never given a tour without the students excitedly yelling out answers, asking thoughtful questions, drawing beautiful sketches, and leaving full of smiles.

We’re even working on a book series at LRA…hoping to have tours throughout the city….and you never know…..in all cities.

book images_revised

 

My work and my family are intrinsically connected, each year, each day, each moment. As we head into 2015, we are inspired and we continue to strive for that perfect balance…but we would settle for not falling off the tightrope!

TAG/ Lauren Rubin