ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN OF THE WEST
Summer 2007
"Copper's Hot!"

LUXE COLORADO
Fall 2006
"Off the Wall"

LUXE COLORADO
Fall 2006
"Stately Spread"

BOSTON HOME
& GARDEN
Fall/Winter 2003
"The Shape of Things to Come"

BOSTON HOME
& GARDEN
Spring/Summer 2003
"Walk This Way"

 BOSTON HOME & GARDEN
Spring/Summer 2003
"Signs of Spring"

BOSTON HOME
& GARDEN
Spring/Summer 2003
"What's New on the Homefront" 

 BOSTON magazine
March 2002
"A House Divided"

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ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN OF THE WEST
Summer 2007

Copper's Hot!

It's the new favorite material, both indoors and out. Just check out Boulder's Parasoleil and you'll understand the attraction

 

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There’s no denying it: Copper’s hot. It’s got a unique character, a surface that can be both shiny and matte, slick and subtly textured. Its color can range from burnished salmon (think Grandma’s kettle) to turquoise green (think Statue of Liberty) to deep, dark bronze (think Renaissance cathedral doors). Copper is extremely durable, versatile and adaptable, 100-percent recyclable and maintenance-free. It’s also got a rich history, dating back to 5000 BC and playing a big role in the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.

And besides all that, it looks cool.

Just ask Uriah Beuller, artist and founder of Parasoleil, a Boulder-based company that crafts unique shade panels from sheets of stamped copper. “This metal is beautiful and very alluring,” he says. “It’s timeless. And copper’s patina gets even better as it ages, so it looks wonderful over the lifespan of the object.”

Beyond his copper panels’ good looks, however, lies their real beauty, at least as far as Beuller is concerned: their usefulness. “I like to create art that will be used,” he says. “There’s certainly a place for art in museums, but I think art that’s never used is like a violin that’s never played. It loses its soul.”

Not a problem here. These masterpieces are meant to be used. The Parasoleil panels are three-foot-by-eight-foot sections of metal sheeting, which are punched, stencil-style, with one of five different patterns: Flanigan and Onion, which subtly echo the motifs of the ironwork and tiles of Morocco and East Asia; Kenyan, which looks a bit like African textiles; Continental Flower, which harkens to classic American quilts; and Lemon Drop, a subtle flower pattern that’s the most modern and least symmetrical of the bunch. The panels are thin, only 2/100 of an inch (about half as thick as a dime), and very flexible, meaning they can be bent and shaped easily. And each panel will age in its own unique way, depending on its exposure to moisture and sunlight.

Beuller, who is the son of two artists, designed the Parasoleil patterns to reflect various artistic styles even as they create an impression all their own. They were inspired, in part, from his travels, which include trips to Indonesia, Panama, Fiji, Thailand, and Kenya. The artist leads educational and cultural tours through a company called Distant Destinations, also based in Boulder. On those trips, he says, the emphasis is on leaving the beaten path and experiencing more of the real culture of the place, whether it’s a Buddhist monastery in Thailand or a Maasai village in Africa. “We try to see the heart and soul of the country,” he says. “I believe that a country’s soul is expressed through its art.”

He’s also been inspired by his family, he says. The Continental Flower pattern, for example, harkens to his mother’s artwork, which includes quilts as well as torn-paper compositions comprising orderly squares, each filled with a smaller, more chaotic arrangement of shapes and colors. “The idea is that the artist, the maker, puts himself into the art. Anyone who produces art puts something of himself into it. You always see the person, the story behind it.”

So far, the Parasoleil panels have been very popular, and Beuller has gotten requests from as far away as Australia. “The panels have huge appeal,” he says. “They’ve got many applications and many looks. You see them differently in light and shade, day and night. The options are endless.”

Indeed, Beuller’s installations already are all over Colorado, as well as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and the Kansas City area. They’re manufactured in Denver and sold through landscapers, interior designers, contractors, architects and deck builders. In most installations, the panels are screwed to a wooden frame or pergola, where they offer shade or privacy with a twist: a rich pattern that lets light and breezes through even as it protects against rain, snow and wind. The cutout patterns are subtle enough to blend into their surroundings yet strong enough to make a statement.

“The look is very inviting,” says Beuller. “Your eye is drawn to explore both what’s there and what’s missing.” Originally from Brooklyn, Beuller moved with his family to Kansas when he was 12. After studying and working in clinical psychology, he settled in Boulder in 1996 and soon after began his sculpture career. “It all started with a birdcage,” he says. “My wife and I wanted a big metal birdcage and couldn’t find one that was right, so I designed it myself.”

Inspired to pursue metalworking, he studied under master sculptors at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, then started his own business, UB Metal Arts, in 1999. He launched the Parasoleil line in 2006, promptly winning the Innovative Product award at that year’s Colorado Garden & Home Show. These days, Beuller divides his energy and talents among the Parasoleil panels and the various other products of UB Metal Arts, which include fountains, benches, staircases, tables and chairs, as well as smaller accessories: utilitarian hooks, drawer pulls, handles, knobs, address number signs along with decorative masks and other object d’art. A favorite is what he calls “Wallflowers,” a group of large copper flowers in an array of colors and arrangements.

His studio is in a small outbuilding behind his home, perched above a rushing stream – an ideal setting for both inspiration and execution. “I believe that art in its true expression is an internalized world,” he says. “When art is authentic, people are drawn to it, and that world comes through.”

 

LUXE COLORADO
Fall 2006


Off the Wall
A decorative painter brings style to the surface

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Ziska Childs always knew she'd be an artist. She's the latest in a long line — eight generations, to be exact — and the daughter of world-renowned painter and printmaker Bernard Childs, whose work hangs in the National Gallery and Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other places. As a girl, she traveled the world, studying in Paris and Tokyo and soaking up her father's lessons. After her parents divorced, Ziska came to the United States with her mother, convincing her to move them to Aspen after falling in love with the town on an early ski vacation. As an adult, she moved again, this time to New York City, where she earned her master's at NYU and worked on the sets of such Broadway productions as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Beauty and the Beast.” But Aspen called her back. “I'd be walking down the street and pretending I was walking past the Independence Square Hotel. I just missed it like crazy."

“I've lived all over the world, and this is home,” she says. And while she finds her surroundings inspiring, it's actually the lack of distractions here that helps her creativity thrive: “I'm not really creating art from what I see around me,” she explains. “My work doesn't start from the visual. It starts from something very abstract, which takes a lot of concentration. I can concentrate here.”

These days, Childs divides her time among many projects, including work for both commercial and private clients. Her specialty: murals depicting everything from Renaissance-style nudes to stylized Tibetan Buddhas, painted almost anywhere: on ceilings, walls, cabinet doors (there's even an elevator in an Aspen home sporting a Poussin-inspired landscape). Right now, she's gearing up to transform a little girl's room into a magic tree house, complete with painting, sculpture and mechanical devices.

Childs is also busy with Aspen Murals, a company she started to connect artists from around the world — experts in faux and decorative finishes, restoration, trompe l'oeil and gilding — with clients looking for that expertise. Their first collaboration, completed this spring, helped a homeowner in Scotland find and replicate a unique faux finish she'd seen in a restaurant in Italy.

 

LUXE COLORADO
Fall 2006


Stately Spread

An expansive estate gets even larger to accommodate a growing family

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Whatever you could possibly want is all right here,” says Mickey Ackerman, president of Amirob Architectural Interior Designers. Situated on five acres in Denver's Cherry Hills Village, this 27,000-square-foot manse is much more than a place to live. “We set out to meet all of the client's wants and needs,” he says. And there were plenty of both. The original owner of this contemporary home was an athletic bachelor (with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do) who entertained a lot, frequently hosting both party-goers and overnight guests. He also was a dog-lover with four German Shepherds. Hence, he needed lots of space.

Homebuilder Rick Watkins had the solution: an expansive two-story, 20,000-square-foot home boasting an exercise wing complete with an indoor basketball court, a climbing wall and an Olympic-size lap pool. It also has a steam shower (plus a separate shower room for the dogs), along with six bedroom suites, a private-access office, home theater and library.

Now in the hands of new owners, the house is getting even bigger, with 7,000 square feet of added space, including an extra guest quarters in the basement and a new play area for the couple's twin babies to grow into.


Yoko Imai, a design consultant working with Ackerman's company, had worked with the first client to give the home a sleek, uncluttered look, using Jerusalem marble, granite, stainless steel and glass, pus lots of wood, including mahogany floors. To suit the tastes of the new owners, Amirob designer Jill Firkins warmed up the Spartan interiors, adding elements such as colorful faux finishes to complement the classic good looks of the existing design.

Visitors to the property are immediately welcomed into the home's great room, a wide-open, 1600-square-foot expanse flanked by a granite fireplace and a Travertine marble staircase. Both the front and rear walls feature 30-foot-high windows, offering views of the park and the mountains beyond.

Undoubtedly, one of the standout features of the home is the 4,400-square-foot main kitchen, says Rick Watkins, president of Mesa Properties, the home's builder. It's a fully functioning dual kitchen outfitted with two sets of certified-kosher Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances. So impressive was the kitchen's design, in fact, that it was last year's regional winner in the Sub-Zero/Wolf Kitchen Design Contest.

To make the most of Denver's nearly constant good weather, the house has a unique all-seasons cabana. Sliding doors open up the entire space, which contains a kitchen, a fireplace, pool table and other entertainments. The cabana faces the outdoor swimming pool, an extra-large hot tub and what Ackerman calls “Denver's largest fire pit.” Roughly half of the five-acre property was landscaped by Designs by Sundown to look like a park, complete with gazebos, a greenhouse and botanical gardens.

 

BOSTON HOME & GARDEN
Fall/Winter 2003

The Shape of Things to Come


Poured concrete is making its way into homes all over the Boston area—in unexpected shapes, colors and textures

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If you’re like most people, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what concrete looks like: It’s the drab, grayish-white stuff they use to build bridges. The stuff that paved the schoolyards of your youththe schoolyards that were always cracked and bristling with weeds. Not the stuff you’d want in your house.

Not unless you were talking about some new kind of concrete. Something that would combine the rock-hard surface and rough-hewn character of the original with a few modern conveniences—like practicality and significantly more aesthetic appeal. Something like the sophisticated new material that’s being used for everything from kitchen countertops to patio floors.

Concrete can be used in almost any surface in or around your home, says Bill Guthro, president of Distinctive Concrete in Rowley. It’s been around for thousands of years – the ancient Romans used it throughout their Empire
because it’s durable, adaptable and practical. And, in its latest configurations, it’s stronger and more versatile than ever. And it’s becoming more popular every day, in both commercial and residential settings.

Indeed, concrete is popping up in many homes throughout the Boston area, says Michael Paulsen, an owner of Stone Soup Concrete in Northampton. “We just installed a black concrete soaking tub, big enough to hold 150 gallons of water,” he says. “We also do lots of countertops, especially in large-scale kitchens where the homeowner wants something more substantial than the standard 1-inch or 1.5-inch-thick countertop. On a 7-foot-long kitchen island, a thin slab of granite just looks like a wafer.”

Concrete offers the look and feel—and visual variety—of natural stone.

Concrete surfaces look a lot like stone, and weigh roughly the same (a 1.5-inch-thick countertop weighs about 19 lbs. per square foot, compared to 18 lbs. psf for a similar thickness of granite). Concrete is comparable to both stone and synthetic surfaces like Corian in terms of its general performance and cost. But concrete offers several advantages. It can be formed into almost any shape—a sink, a custom countertop, or even a piece of furniture—and can be stamped or stained to create virtually any color or texture. The surface can be cut to mimic the look of individual tiles, stones or bricks. Contractors also can add sophisticated polymer overlays, which are then stamped and textured in any pattern imaginable (these overlays can also be applied to existing concrete installations, to repair or just update the surface). Another bonus: A concrete item, such as an oversized sink or countertop, can be cast in place, eliminating the problems associated with getting an enormous object through a door.

Here are a few ways that concrete is being used:

Floors
Concrete floors can look as simple—or as complicated—as your imagination allows.
To create colorful effects, contractors can add a chemical pigment or stain to a new or existing concrete installation, transforming it from its original off-white into any color of the rainbow. For instance, some contractors use an acid stain, which is applied with a sprayer or brush to the slab; upon contact, the acid starts a chemical reaction within the concrete (or, more specifically, with the lime that’s in the concrete). The acid produces a variegated effect (the lime content in the concrete will vary across the surface of the slab), giving the finished product a unique, organic look. It’s also permanent, meaning it won’t wear away the way paint or traditional stain will. Stains are used most often on interior floors, with a smooth finish, although they can be used outside, as well.

Concrete floors can also be textured. For example, in a new installation, a contractor can emboss the mixed concrete with a pattern – your choices include bricks, stones or even grained wood planks. These installations are popular in patios and walkways and around pools, but have also been used in interior settings, such as a kitchen or even a living room floor. A contractor can also add texture by cutting the concrete. Any concrete surface – new or old – can be cut with special tools into any pattern: lines, curves, or geometric patterns like triangles or squares. Contractors can then apply colored stains to the cuts or sections to further enhance the pattern.

To treat an existing concrete floor, contractors can use special epoxy treatments or overlays. One example is a PCO, or polymer cement overlay, which can be applied to a floor in need of a repair (or just a facelift). Using this method, a cracked and dilapidated concrete patio can be transformed with an overlay that’s stained and stamped into a mock-wood, brick, stone or even tiled surface. And the repairs will last for years—perhaps even longer than the original.

Countertops and Sinks
Because it can be formed into virtually any shape imaginable, concrete is a logical choice for virtually any household installation – and it’s becoming increasingly popular for such kitchen applications as custom countertops, backsplashes and sinks. (Paulsen notes that his firm has had many requests for countertops with integrated drainboards.) Like your concrete floor (or any other concrete surface), these items can be custom-colored or –textured; contractors use a variety of pigments, stains and coatings to achieve various effects. Some contractors will cast your countertop or other item in their shop, while others will build it on-site. Most concrete items will include some type of reinforcement – steel, wire mesh or fiberglass, for example. Once they’re cast, the concrete objects will be cured for a period of a few weeks, then polished to a finish that suits any taste and décor – from a high-gloss, granite-like luster to the dull, soft look of soapstone. Finally, the concrete is sealed (in its natural state, concrete is porous, leaving it vulnerable to all sorts of stains).

Like almost any other countertop, a concrete surface is probably not the best place to chop your vegetables – but you can have your contractor build in a place for your cutting board. And as with other surfaces, don’t leave behind spills (especially acidic liquids, such as citrus juices and wine), don’t use abrasive cleansers and don’t place hot pans directly onto the countertop; these things can damage the sealant. To accommodate your pots, consider having your contractor cast a custom-made trivet, made of several raised strips of metal, directly into your countertop.

For more information on concrete countertops, floors and other surfaces, contact Stone Soup Concrete in Northampton (413-582-0783) or Distinctive Concrete in Rowley (978-948-2970)
.

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