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The King of Custom Castles.

Of late, all the people I’ve been visiting seem to live in humungous homes! Beautiful, fabulous, awe-inspiring…hats off to them! To maintain such homes can’t be easy. It takes a different mindset to keep the enthusiasm for ‘house beautiful’ going! I was just reading about the Canadian Architect, Robert Landry, known as ‘The King of Custom Castles’. Having left Alberta way back in 1984, as Canada was in the throes of a recession, the young architect made his way to Los Angeles, a city he’d decided to move to because of the weather and the Summer Olympics soon to be held there. Once there, he decided to make calls to architectural firms at random, asking to be interviewed at a potential candidate for the firms. His persistence paid off when R Duel & Associates, a company that specialized in designing theme parks like the Magic Mountain, hired him. A job that he described as ‘pure fun, pure fantasy’. He was to come into his own when he moved on to work for a small firm doing residential projects in a new community called Beverly Park, overlooking Beverly Hills. Then a treeless bowl of dirt, Beverly Park would come to epitomize the sealed-off rich person’s bubble – a smog-free haven for private equity billionaires, superstar athletes, and actors. It was almost as if fate conspired to bring him to the West Coast of America and gave him the mind and skill set to design dream homes for an age of economic exuberance. A very different mindset indeed!

One of the most sought-after celebrity residential architects, his homes would give feudal-age rulers ‘property envy’. Homes like Mark Wahlberg’s 30,000 sqft European Manor with a basketball court, in Beverly Park. Takes me back to the time Thomas Jefferson (author of the American Declaration of Independence) proudly built his Palladian Monticello – an architectural marvel of its time, all of 11,000 sqft. It was said to have operable, glazed windows, mostly imported from England, the rest, Bohemian. Makes me wonder how they cover the windows of these edifices. It’s a known fact that windows, while pandering to needs of feeling one with nature, lose heat energy from a home 20 times more than a wall-space of similar dimension. And while the rich and famous live on massive estates, surely they must desire some privacy? And what about energy considerations? Or the rich and famous do not make responsible considerations….is that it? Is saving the planet such a plebeian concept? Well, it certainly shouldn’t be, and while one sees pictures of homes with vast areas of uncovered windows, one hopes those are for the magazines only!


The Venetian Window Blinds.

Coming back to Thomas Jefferson’s, there are archived documents that show the good man’s fascination with ‘Venetian’ blinds with slats that moved on pivots or what we know as Venetian Window Blinds. He ordered them made to cover windows on the west side of the house, and the arched windows of the ‘Piazza’ as in his words they would serve ‘to give air and light’. Mind you, this was back in 1756, when I’m sure no one considered that the planet would need to be saved.

But how does one cover unusually large or unusually shaped windows? We can all envision large windows and even Cathedral Windows. The other shapes are the circular, octagonal, polygonal windows, peaked windows, windows that follow the shape of roofs or eaves. It is often difficult to cover these windows. Sometimes, window overhangs provide adequate cover but come summer and winter, nothing but appropriate window treatments afford protection from the heat and the extreme cold. Imagine windows that span the height of two floors! The energy that’ll be consumed if they aren’t covered doesn’t bear thinking about. Typically, windows of this magnitude are built for the superb view they give of the scenic outdoors, not disregarding the additional architectural element they provide.

But modern innovation has seen to it that every possible human need can be catered to, as does our eminent architect, Robert Landry, cater to every whimsy of the rich and famous. Huge expanses of window and doors can be covered with the roller solar shades from Graber. These shades can be used as external or internal covers – the least intrusive of all window shading. For those who don’t like the idea of window coverings for their plate glass windows or picture windows – especially in common areas like the living dining, family areas or the study – exterior shades can be used to provide optimal cover, in colors and openness of weave depending on requirements of view – the darker the material, the better the view and heat conservation; the lighter colored the fabric is the better the heat deflection and brightness for the interiors.

Specialty windows (odd-shaped windows), can be covered on top by suspending drapes from high above the top of the windows, only, this will mask the interesting feature that is its shape, when the drapes are drawn to the sides, or drawn closed. Alternatively, and better still, use Cellular Shades or Pleated Shades from Comfortex or Graber to cover these windows to mask the view from the top, but not the shape. This would even provide an added aesthetic appeal, apart from conserving your energy usage.

For those without budget constraints, go for wood blinds or shutters from Norman or Graber, to cover the tops of odd shaped windows. If your window treatments are motorized, you can even control the vanes of these covers to function as you want them, when you want them to. They add seamlessly to the beauty of your windows and provide great energy savings and privacy at the same time. Call Zebrablinds for a special consultation to outfit your windows with the best option possible.

1811 April 1. (Jefferson to James Oldham). “Judge Cabell having consulted me as to some things to be done to his house, I advised him to apply to you to make some Venetian blinds with moveable slats. the kind I had in view may be seen in a house Dr Currie inhabited in Richmond about a dozen years ago.”[15]
– Compiled by Ann Lucas, September 29, 1995
McLaughlin, Jack. “The Blind Side of Jefferson.” Early American Life (April 1989): 30-33, 70.


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