Thursday, January 05, 2006


Sheltering Roof threatens to engulf entirety of Friendship Heights

Ever notice how people crouch over their food when they are eating? we like to protect it, and's atavistic. And the best dining rooms shelter you and hug you all around, like you are in the back of a instinctively know no one can sneak up on you and take your woolly mammoth chop away. (it's also how the sheiks assemble themselves in Iraq and elsewhere with histories of violence and treachery: backs against the wall so no one can slit your throat from behind. The Dons do it in mafia movies too. On a less gory note, it's also why your date should always let you have the banquette seat in the you can see the dining room. You are subconsciously watching for marauders, but you feel safe, and can focus on the talk and the food and the footsie without distraction. )

see the sheiks? ---->

Now, you can argue that it's so lovely to eat out under the stars with no restrictions whatsoever...and indeed it is. But put that same picnic table under the boughs of a tree, or pop open an umbrella (even at night, hang some candle lanterns off it) and you'll see what I mean. All of the sudden you are in an intimate place, you're protected, and your food just tastes better. You hang out a little longer, remember it as a magic albeit temporary space.

So I'm sitting around thinking about Liam's kitchen sheltering roof (see OCD-reference and drawings in last two posts) and wondering why on Earth I would not extend the roof all the way to the north wall of the apartment to cover the entire dining area? What was I thinking?

I visualized sitting in the dining area with the roof stopping about three or four feet from the kitchen, and I thought, if I am sitting under that and the person next to me is not covered by the same pavillion, I won't feel like we are in the same room. They'll feel exposed, like they could be rained on, and I'll feel like I've got a weight over my head...I imagined myself trying to swat away the roof like a buzzing mosquito. Not good.
But pull it all the way across and everyone is in its embrace. It is not a hindrance anymore, it's a unifying, architectural hug.

This plan is doubly brilliant because his place is currently entirely open -- there is no definition to where the dining room is and where the living room is. I don't want to change that -- it's a swinging 60s building, after all, when open plan was positively Revolutionary ("throw off the spatial shackles of those prudish, repressed Victorians!") -- but the roof will give the dining area a sense of place, of intimacy, and it will make it a retreat or a refuge off the wide open living room (like the alcove bed).
You can sit at the dining table and read the paper and still be within eyeshot of your honey in the living room (now conceptually 18 X 21 feet...still quite large),but not feel like you are all up in each other's grill. As I said, brilliant. Ditto for the alcove bed. Now you can have three people in that one room, each with their own space. Just don't turn the TV on too loud.

Sadly, received disturbing news today that the renovation may be scaled way back as Liam might be taking a job overseas. While losing Liam...and the summer rooftop swimming destination... would be tragic...MY SHELTERING ROOF may not live to see the light of day. APPALLING. We may still do the kitchen. I'll see if I can't talk him into shelling out for the carpentry for the roof, which will truly be magnificent and not too expensive and can stand alone without the other alcove. If he comes back, we can add the alcove bed and entry then. And do the master bath...sigh. A redwood-lined shower room..
I've done an elevation sketch of the new dining refuge...although ti tried to morph into a perspective drawing. You may post your pleas to Liam that he carries out this renovation fully if only so my genius can be recognized while I still draw breath. Famous after death holds no water for me.

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