If you saw my house, it's nothing out of Architectural Digest—unless the magazine publishes a special issue about rental homes decorated with stacks of magazines, couch arms pixelated by cat claws and narrow closets built in the 1950s that hold no more than four shirts.
But really, your house is only part of your world; there's so much more to see. (Whoa, it's getting heavy: Cue flutes incense and tabla—or Mister Rogers.) In this edition of Places & Home, the aim is to change our point of view, to see our environment from the roof, from the ground, zoomed in, zoomed out. To explore our communities on foot.
In that spirit, I went on a walking tour of downtown Durham with Martha Scotford, an N.C. State professor emeritus in graphic design. She helped me see the city in a different light, in some cases, a neon light.
Building signs, logos, typefaces: They have their own language. They convey distinctive emotions. For example, the C in Carrack Gallery makes me feel playful, content. With its lettering—script, and a garnish of leaf—Scratch Bakery is sending a different message from a different era than the iconic Kress sign (Art Nouveau, from the early 20th century) at Main and Mangum streets.
Scotford also lives in a co-housing community, and she disabused me of the notion that it is a commune for extroverted senior citizens. You can be a young or middle-aged introvert, and still thrive in co-housing. You might even make new friends‚ but only if you want.
Oakwood, one of Raleigh's most prominent historic neighborhoods, has been in the news, even the national news, because of the dustup over a modernist house being built there. What's the fuss about? Aaron Lake Smith embarks on an architectural tour of the area to understand the context of the disagreement. He learns about the history of the homes and their newel posts and frieze boards—and why a modern house in the neighborhood is no big deal.
Now imagine placing a Lustron home in Oakwood. Oh, the horror! The post-war steel houses were shipped on trucks to lots and then built from a kit. Thirteen tons, 3,000 parts. Every drawer built in. My grandparents lived in one, and I spent many joyful hours eating homemade greasy food in a metal kitchen. Several Lustrons survive throughout the Triangle, and, they're for sale. Really, you want one.
Lest we not offer you, the reader, useful tips, Jane Porter writes about winter vegetable and herb gardening. We are fortunate to live in the South, where we can and buy local fruits and vegetables at the farmers market well into winter (and with climate change, the growing season is expanding). But what crops can home gardeners raise when the temperature falls, and per chance, it snows? Indoors, under lights, grow tomatoes. In a makeshift greenhouse, raise lettuce.
Finally, we round out the section with ways to sustainably rid your house of the dirty, obsolete junk that's harshing your feng shui. Like magazines, old, ratty couches and 20-year-old shirts.
Come with us, let's walk.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Come with us, let's walk"