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Monday, January 25, 2010

Storybook Architecture

Happy new year! I'm excited about my first post of the new year even though it's more focused on architecture rather than color specific. A holiday trip to Carmel-by-the Sea left me with an urgent need to explore one of my favorite styles. As a fan of modern and especially mid-century design, I'm a little perplexed about why I love this fussy, quaint architecture. The only roots I can find in this odd obsession is my travels to and love of the English countryside along with a probable childhood over-exposure to Fairyland in Oakland, Santa's Village in Santa Cruz (sadly, long gone) and the above mentioned, Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Fairyland Oakland

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This kind of architecture is often called Hansel Tudor style, Hansel and Gretel Cottage or Storybook Style but officially falls under the name of Cotswold Cottage. I half expect Snow White's Dwarfs or Hansel and Gretel to come bursting out of these homes! Even though, technically, the tale of Hansel and Gretal are Germanic in origin, this architecture is English and a subtype of Tudor Revival Architecture but with some similarities to Germany's Bavarian Style.

Although it dates back to medieval England, Cotswold Cottages became popular in the United States in the 1920's. This coincides perfectly with it's appearance in Carmel, which by the 1920's, was still a very young village of artists set in the magnificent presence of the Pacific Ocean. Hugh Comstock, neither an architect of builder, settled in Carmel and built his wife a small little 280 square foot cottage nicknamed The Hansel House, for her dolls based on illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

The charming , asymmetrical, rough hewn style is like something out of a storybook fantasy and quickly became popular in Carmel. Comstock built many others around Carmel, most of which are still around today, including the original Hansel House.

Hansel House, Carmel-by-the-Sea

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Other Carmel Architecture

The ADORABLE house we rented in Carmel looked like it had been there forever but was actually only 20 years old!

One of the many great things for me about living in Montclair Village in the Oakland Hills is that we boast our own storybook architecture. This old firehouse is not in use anymore but it always makes me smile when I see it.

Other over the top examples of Cotswald architecture:

The Fairytale House-Barcelona, Spain

The Spadena House in Beverly Hills

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Here are some other wonderful fantasy storybook buildings from early theme parks, many of which have been torn down: