1.21.2009

Essays On Martha's Homes

I’m working on a series of mini-essays about Martha’s houses, primarily focusing on how the design and function of the house in question reflects Martha’s personal development as a tastemaker and homemaker: where she was in her life when she purchased and renovated a certain house, what her interests were at the time and how a given house embodies those tastes and ambitions.
I’ve given titles to the essays already, which hint at the themes the essays will cover:

Turkey Hill: Wicker, Gilt and the Birth of D.I.Y.


Lily Pond Lane: Teal, Taxidermy and the Editor’s Eye


Skylands: Inherited Elegance in Rockefeller Country


Cantitoe Corners: Gray Efficiency on the Corporate Farmstead


To get myself inspired to complete these essays I’ve designed booklet covers for them, which you can see below. I’m trying to keep the essays concise and relevant, making notes about the particular facets of the houses’ functions in Martha’s life, keeping track of the collections at each residence, the furniture, the palettes, the architecture, the restoration processes that were involved and, of course, some of the history associated with the properties. I intend to link these findings with the evolution of Martha’s personal taste and her corporate ambitions, drawing parallels between Martha’s exterior branding processes in the world of media and the quiet interiors of her homes: subtle and not-so-subtle reflections in the paradigm of her dual life.

It’s not easy and it’s not going to be a fast project, especially since I don’t have personal access to the houses or any of the documents associated with them. I am relying entirely on what has been previously published about them and then drawing my own conclusions based on my own observations of the numerous photographs I’ve seen over the years. (If anyone has any suggestions about where to find more raw material, please let me know.) All of this will be done in my spare time, which is minimal, so please be patient. I'll work on them one at a time in those rare moments when I can sit down alone and put pen to paper.
I really don’t know when these four essays will be completed. I probably shouldn't have said "coming soon" at all! My goal is to have them done by next fall. I did want to let you know that I’m working on them, however, and to hopefully get you excited about the prospect of reading them.

I may publish the finished essays here when they’re complete, or I may simply reveal excerpts. Either way, I’ll let you know when they’re finished and anyone interested in receiving the finished PDF can request it through email and I’ll send along the completed attachment.
I think they’ll be unique in the sense that they will be based primarily on the observations of an examiner and student of Martha Stewart’s residential holdings – all of which will be filtered through the previously-published material available on her homes. They will be the essays of a layman, a non-architect, an unaccredited interior designer who has never actually seen these places. They will be the essays of a curious reader, an astute observer and a great admirer. Hopefully they can be taken and appreciated on those levels and with that understanding in mind. I certainly hope that Martha will embark on creating her own book (or books) about her homes, as she said she was going to a while back, with a firsthand, inside look at the abodes with the owner herself as the guide. In the meantime, I will enjoy the process of doing my own little studies of their grandeur.

10 comments:

Kevin said...

Andrew, what a fun project you have embarked on! Please include me on the distribution list for these - I can't wait to read them! The covers are beautiful.

Kevin

Pru said...

Andrew,

Following (what I thought was me being well observed on Martha (the mirror thing in your blog about wardrobes)) I realise I have a lot to learn. I am always keen to know more about Martha's houses, and love her blogs about them the most. I can't wait to read your books on her homes.

What a wonderful project!


Pru

MarthaAndMe said...

You are truly a Martha scholar, in the best sense of the word. I think this is a fascinating project and I cannot wait to read all of them. You approach everything you do with such thoughtfulness and detail - I know this will be the same.

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Aw, thanks guys! I think it will be really enjoyable. I'm having fun already!

Joseph Patz said...

Andrew, I myself have admired Martha since I was 8 (Im currently 27) I have a very in dept knowledge of all her houses.While most kids were playing pokemon and power rangers I was recording every episode of her then weekly show.I recorded every msn, 20/20 interview anything about Martha item since 1993.Im amazed I have as much content as I do.Since this is from the days when there was no internet and all I had to go on was a tv guide.If she had a 20 second spot on cspan in 1994 I have it.I have her credit card commercials ext.. Before I had my own personal collection of all her books there was not a week that went by when I didn't have gardening month by month or new old house from our public library.I became OBSESSED with her homes, especially turkey hill.I think your project is interesting.I will be glad to see what you come up with.And if you need any help Im your man.I would pass the time in high school drawing floor plans out of her house and barns.It took 2 summers to map out the studio kitchen barn because there are two areas of it NEVER photographed or shown.So it meant a lot of slow motion watching.I'm only stating that I COMPLETELY understand your interest.I didn't have posters of n sync or Nintendo I had Martha Stewart as a child!!!

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Joseph, your enthusiasm is infectious! I would love your help! I'd especially love to see those floorplans. Please email me and we'll chat.

Anonymous said...

Andrew,
This is an awesome project. I've always loved reading about Martha's home(s), esp. of course Turkey Hill. I can't wait until I see your essays.
Cheers,
Vicki

Maureen said...

Andrew, you are a busy camper these days! This sounds like a good project to embark on.

P.S. I am still trying to organize my messy closet!! I will read your blog again for inspiration ha!

Anonymous said...

I second Joseph's comments. Although I was considerably older than he when I became a Marth admirer, I also was fascinated with her homes, particularly Turkey Hill. I hope you will include a lot of photos of the kitchens of each home, and the various transformations they underwent. I know you are busy, but please hurry with your project! As you can see from the many positive comments, it is highly anticipated!

DowneastVintage said...

WOW, Andrew!!


I absolutely LOVE the covers of your 4 essays! The covers are very tantalizing and I will try and be patient because I appreciate your work. Andrew, thank you so much for this wonderful blog.

Stay warm in Canada!
Gloria
Winterport, Maine