Sunday, November 11, 2012

Country House of Character - "Coeur De Reve"

 What constitutes the perfect country house? Country Life asked this question of several of the leading architects in New York, and asked them to indicate some country houses which they had designed and which, in their opinion, made them distinctive from other houses. It was to make no difference whether the house were a marble palace at some fashionable watering place or a tiny bungalow in the foothills of the mountains. So long as the architect considered it a good example of a country house and, in his opinion it had character, that was all that we asked. ***1919***

                                                   ***Below is the selection chosen by Architect Aymar Embury II***

 COUNTRY LIFE has asked me for the drawings of the best house I ever built.   Alas!   I have never built my "best," house, because always limiting conditions of cost, of site of accommodation, and again of cost, have made the house less attractive than I wanted it to be.

 Last winter, after the Armistice, I found myself practically without any occupation except to stand reveille and retreat and make an occasional inspection of quarters, with nothing to read and without leave, and it seemed to me that this was the time for which I had always been hoping, when I should have sufficient leisure to design a house just to please myself. "Coeur de Reve' is that house.

 I assumed it was to be built for just two people and their guest; that one would enter from the street side on the north and that the south side would be reserved for a garden and space to play in. This is the way I think the ideal house should be. Being in France  I  naturally turned to French cottage architecture for precedent, for there is nothing in the world so lovely as the old country architecture of France except that of England; they are very alike.


 The most important thing in any house is the living room. I have always wanted a living room that should be long and narrow with a fireplace at one end without any openings each side of it, so that as one faces the fire there is no light in your eyes except the firelight and no openings toward you. The room would be very high; the windows on the street side would he high above the floor, but on the garden side there would be many low windows, some in an alcove near the fireplace and some beside the door to the garden. Across the end of the room opposite the fireplace would be a low balcony and below the balcony bookcases built into the wall. Into the living room would open the bed room so that when one might be too sleepy to sit up any longer one could tumble into bed without troubling to climb stairs, and this bed room is so arranged that in summer time the bed could be put at the breezy end of the room between the windows, and in the winter time out of draughts in the recess at the other end. Beside the bed room would be a good big dressing room with a fireplace and a door to the hall, so the maid could build a fire in the morning before you got up. The closets and bath room would open from this dressing room. Across the front of the house would run a long narrow corridor, shielding the living side from the street and at the end of the corridor opposite the living room would be the dining room, narrow and long with an alcove for the sideboard, and a refectory table and big mullioned windows opening to the garden. The house ought to have a good sized pantry, a kitchen, a maid's dining room, and a large closet with an outside window.


 Upstairs would be two guest rooms and baths, each facing out toward the garden and each with a separate stair from the landing leading to it. The maid quarters would have two rooms, bath, and closets.

 The outside I would build of terra cotta blocks and very rough stucco with occasional stones strengthening the corners and openings in the wall. The roof would be of heavy graduated slate and the wood work would be sandblasted hand-hewn oak, light gray brown in color. I would not spend much money on ornament because the perfect house is not too much ornamented, but I would spare no pains to get the color and texture of the walls and woodwork as perfect as could be imagined.

"COEUR DE REVE" Mr. Aymar Embury , II's, dream house
"Coeur de Reve" = "Heart of a Dream".


  1. He was right about the windows of the Living Room being high on the front. But it would probably have been an interesting room. Is it known if this house was ever built?

  2. Love!

    I love the way he thinks and plans since I think and plan that way too.

  3. TDC - I've never come across the actual house but have seen the slat and stucco concept in some of his designs - will post those in the future.