The last time I built gates, for my old home in L.A., I didn’t spend too much time on the design. My dog was jumping over the top of the old gates and I just wanted to get them built. But this time, with a cattle guard in front of the gate, I didn’t have to worry about the dog, and I wanted the gate to express what I loved about architecture, and I wanted the gate to express the style of architecture I enjoy most. With Todd Murdock’s help, I spent more than a month working on different designs.
Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to design. If you’re not a talented artist, you have to work harder to achieve something acceptable. I started with a crude idea and passed it around to a few friends. Most said that it looked too southwestern.
Then I remembered the Thorsen House, a Greene and Greene in Berkeley, CA, which has inspired several of the features I had already included in my home, especially the brackets under the eaves, the brackets that support shelving, and even the brackets that support the draperies in the living room.
I’ve learned a lot about architecture from reading books, but I’ve learned just as much from haunting historic homes and reviewing photographs from those homes.
|It wasn’t until I reviewed the photographs I took of the Thorsen House that I remembered the garden gate, which features an unusual combination of horizontal and vertical elements. In fact, before visiting that home with Jesse Wright, I had never seen vertical cloud lift panels before.|
With those vertical panels in mind, the design for my new gate began to take better shape. First, I came up with a tall version, with a straight top rail, with two sets of vertical cloud lift panels.
Then I played with a lower design, eliminating the bottom intermediate rail. But that didn’t seem dramatic enough for an entry gate, and besides, I’d be eliminating the intermediate bottom rail, and I would’ve lost that Thorsen-style impact.
I was getting pretty frustrated when I passed the drawing off to Todd, but I was thrilled when I received his interpretation. He centered the sculpted panels, making them the focal point of the gate, he incorporated the short rails I’d played with in my first design, and he added a cloud lift top rail. The minute I saw the drawing, I knew I had to build it.
And Todd made that easy, too—he sent me full-scale templates so I could print out patterns for the sculpted panels.
All I had to do was the easy part: build the gate….
Of course, no article would be complete without a picture or two of the finished product: