Most of you are aware of the talented actress Andie McDowell. She is a dark haired beauty from Asheville, North Carolina. What you may not know about her is that she lived in the most beautiful home in Biltmore Forest in Asheville. The interiors of the home were mostly of arts and crafts design influenced by the Roycroft movement at about the turn of the century.
The Roycroft craftsmen are close to my heart because my very dear friend Sandy is from East Aurora, New York where the movement began. In fact, her two daughters were married there and we stayed at the very special Roycroft Inn. It is beautifully decorated in the arts and crafts style with many antiques from the period.
This Roycroft movement was fostered by Elbert Hubbard. He is pictured below.
Sadly, he and his second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard, died aboard the RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.
The name “Roycroft” was chosen after the printers, Samuel and Thomas Roycroft, who made books in London from about 1650–1690. And beyond this, the word roycroft had a special significance to Elbert Hubbard, meaning King’s Craft. In guilds of early modern Europe, king’s craftsmen were guild members who had achieved a high degree of skill and therefore made things for the King. The Roycroft insignia was borrowed from the monk Cassidorius, a 13th century bookbinder and illuminator.
The first time I saw this insignia it was branded into the side of a book case in the historical museum located in my hometown, Moulton, Iowa. The board of directors for the museum was interested in building an addition onto the rear of the musuem but they were short on funds. One of the directors happened to notice this insignia on the side of the afore mentioned book case. She astutely knew that it meant that the piece had come from the Roycroft community in East Aurora. After contacting the donor, it was decided that the museum could sell the book case and in turn use the money to build their addition.
The arts and crafts movement came about as an alternative to the elaborately carved furniture from the Victorian period. Artists proudly made their furniture, light fixtures, even jewelry by hand and with natural materials like hand hammered copper. The lines were more straight edged and the pieces more substantial than delicate and fanciful Victorian furniture.
Hubbard’s championing of the Arts and Crafts approach attracted a number of visiting craftspeople to East Aurora, and they formed a community of printers, furniture makers, metalsmiths, leathersmiths, and bookbinders. The Roycroft creed stresses the importance of the individual craftsman in the creative process:
“A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for helath and happiness.”
Now that you have a background on the arts and crafts movement and the Roycroft crafters, let’s take a look at the beautiful Andie McDowell home which exemplifies this design movement.
It was placed on the market and was sold in 2012. Although we do not know what it looks like today, this is what it looked like in the real estate photos.
As you enter the front door you cannot help be be attracted to the leaded glass windows and the huge corbels that hold up the balcony over the front door. The brick walk was laid by hand….no ordinary cement walk for this special home. The ceiling light over the front door is of arts and crafts design.
Inside the foyer, you can appreciate the beams, wrought iron chandelier, stained glass windows with a nature theme. The arts and crafts movement always stressed the beauty of nature.
Off of the foyer is the light filled conservatory. Note the chandelier here…the rod that suspends it from the ceiling is shaped like a branch. Gone are the heavy Victorian velvet drapes and potted palms that would have been in a Victorian dwelling.
The dining room has amazing hand made moldings on the walls and the ceiling. Notice the leaded transom windows in the design of a flower.
The kitchen with beamed ceiling, hand wrought chandelier, art tile over the stove, spectacular center island, wood floors and natural color scheme of green and brown says “arts and crafts,” in the most wonderful way.
An “inglenook” is a small alcove surrounding a fireplace where there are usually benches or wing chairs. People can sit in the inglenook to warm themselves and feel wrapped in the coziness of the design. This fireplace in the kitchen reminds me of an inglenook. Note the matte finish on the hand made green tiles. Another hallmark of arts and crafts is hand made pottery. The beautiful green urn sitting beside the fireplace is so appropriate.
Wooden pegs are also a mark of arts and crafts. The are used to hold up the CORBELS. Nothing small or dainty about ths design!
Wouldn’t you love to have a butler’s pantry like this one?
In the great room there is a soaring beamed ceiling, leather upholstered furniture, hand made oriental rug….just remarkable.
The level of craftsmanship on the ceiling and around the fireplace in the great room is extraordinary. I am happy to note that there are still craftsmen who can do this kind of work.
Pay special attention to the light fixture over the table in the great room. The metal work and the amber shades are very much Arts and Crafts…more than likely the shades are made from mica.
The television is not just hung on the wall but it is built into a surround made from golden oak paneling.
Please notice the carved newell post in the great room. It looks like a log from the forest and is embellised with what I think may be pinecones and twigs…hard to tell from the photo.
The gathering room fireplace is flanked by leather chairs and ottoman. Notice the design of the brick fireplace….very Arts and Crafts!
The wallpaper and print on the bedspread harkens to designs made by William Morris from England. Notice how the color scheme continues even in the master bedroom. Of course, there is a natural print on the chair and ottoman.
More hand made tile, and modified gothic arches in the master bath.
I hope you will agree that this is a very special home. It is spacious while being warm and inviting. Create and be happy!