Monday, April 7, 2014

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS



Long before the world fell in love with Downton Abbey, they met the cast of characters featured in the British drama Upstairs Downstairs, the series that followed the lives of the servants "downstairs" and their masters…the family… "Upstairs." The series, which originally aired from 1971-1975 then reborn for the BBC in 2010, stands as a document of the social and technological changes that occurred between 1903 and 1930.  Lines were drawn in the sand…or, entry, as it were…one class went downstairs and one up, and they rarely co-mingled.  On another continent, several years later, architects began to design homes that would contradict the aristocratic way of thinking, blending upstairs areas with the lower level.  With that the raised ranch/split level/bi-level was born in the 1960's, mostly in the eastern United States, and thrived until the early 90's.  I'm as fascinated by these structures almost as much as I am with the cultures of the early 1900's in England, and both leave me asking, "why?"  While at first glance, in my opinion, the split level house appears to be sinking in quicksand, I'm a tad baffled by the design.  Then I step inside.  Again, slightly baffled, I start to understand the thought process…standing in the entry, one has the choice to go a few steps downstairs or a few up, all while pausing in an entry with a higher roof line (thanks to the "split").  What fascinates me by this somewhat strange design is that no matter what the size, price or location of the home, architects often borrow grand ideas and incorporate them into more simple designs.  And that, my friends, is what I try to do everyday…incorporate grand design ideas into whatever size castle you live in!