header photo

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



Photo Source

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

Photo Source

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

Photo Source

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


8 comments:

Maria Killam said...

What a great idea for a post! Love these cute places!

Kelly, Arte Styling said...

super fun post, marie. and...omg!!! such a blast from the past with Fairyland. I was OBSESSED with that place as a kid. I, too, absolutely adore the Storybook style. i think my adoration stems from too many grimm's/disney fairy tales as a child. they were always filled with magic and romance and strange oddities- a fascinating mix. for me, this architecture has a way of bringing the stories to life again. of making those fairy tales seem just a little bit more real.

DesignTies said...

What a fun post, Marie! I lived in California as a child and I seem to remember my parents taking me to Fairyland ooooohhhh so long ago!! Mostly, Disneyland stands out in my mind though!! HaHa!

Thanks for dropping by DesignTies. I love the green vanity too. You know... Sarah purchased that in a standard wood stain then had it specially painted to match the tiles she used in the bathroom. What a fantastic difference it made - from okay to FAB! She has such vision!!

They have all the Sarah's House and Sarah's Cottage episodes on like at HGTV Canada - why not head over there and see what you can see? I know that I sometimes have problems viewing videos from the US's HGTV... they don't transmit outside the country. But maybe you'll be lucky and our channel WILL transmit to you! Here's the link: http://www.hgtv.ca/video/ Simply navigate to the tab that says Sarah Richardson. Let me know if it works!!

Victoria @ DesignTies

Rachel said...

fascinating article- i appreciate all the hard work that must have gone into this research. love the new look of your blog, too!

I just went to Fairyland in Oakland for the first time this past spring with a friend and her kid. Lived here all my life, and never visited, can you imagine? It's so cool, all these old fashioned wooden structures to play on and around. You can just -feel- the history, and I love that it's not all shiny glossy plastic/metal modern.

Marie Brady said...

My kids are almost too old for Fairyland now, but I'm always looking for an excuse to go! Much of it has been refreshed but a lot of it is just as it was back in the day. The Queen of Hearts card maze used to scare me, lol!

Kristie at makingarrangementsblog.com said...

I heart Storybook architectural style! I recently visited London and drove through the Cotswolds to get a glimpse of those delicious cottages. Our tour guide told us that there is a long history of wiccan community and witchcraft in the Cotwolds (which I had never heard), which may partly explain why that type of architecture was chosen to be home to the witches and such of our childhood fairytales. Anyway, I hope to some day visit Carmel so I can see those homes for myself. Are there many that are open for touring by the public?

Marie Brady said...

Hi Kristie!
Wow, I had no idea about the Wiccan history but that would explain it's placement in Fairy tales! I never got over to the Cotswalds but saw some storybook homes along the Devon coast that were amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if the original Carmel doll house might have occasional open house events. I would love to go on an open house tour of some of these homes. You planted that idea so I will have to keep current on any possible open house events in Carmel and I'll pass it on if I hear of anything.

kim23 said...

The Witch's House is my favorite!!! It looks like a Hansel & Gretel cottage. Its owner is the real estate agent, Michael J. Libow. love your blog!