Soaking up the artistic expressions of ‘The Big Apple’

I am traveling to New York in a few days and the anticipation is overwhelming!

As a lover of architecture I am very excited to experience the variety of architectural offerings, like a grand buffet for my eyes as my daughter takes a million photos.

The expectation is that seeing the varied architecture will inspire and renew my design batteries. I plan to visit museums and of course spend time at the top of the tallest Art Deco skyscraper, the Empire State Building.

Art Deco arrived on American shores in the 1930s as an immigrant of France and has well established its presence in New York in towering structures such as the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center.

The style of Art Deco blends functionality, geometry and subtle glamour and is very distinctive; even if you aren’t familiar with this architectural style you would find it easy to group Art Deco items together.

Prominently displayed are buildings which are ambassadors of the Gothic Revival including many churches and believe it or not, the Brooklyn Bridge!

Soaring columns, pointed archways and ornate scroll detail are all hallmarks of this elegant period in architecture history. Our very own parliament buildings and many homes and buildings in New Orleans have been built in this style.

For those of you who are interested, Ken Follet’s book Pillars of the Earth is a fantastic work of fiction following the life of Thomas Builder who travels the land building churches. The descriptors in this book allow you to follow along with a primitive construct of the Gothic Revival era and style.

Brownstones are prevalent in New York and while they don’t follow always follow a particular architectural style, they are usually joined visually by the use of a stone face.

Historically brownstones were faced with….well, with brown stone, isn’t that clever? Hummelstown brownstone was very popular on the east coast and covered everything from apartment buildings to churches.

We have all watched Sesame Street, the most famous brownstone on TV where the people in that neighbourhood hung out on the front steps and chatted with people and monsters who happened by.

When you are on a street lined with brownstones you cannot help but be charmed by the grand staircases and friendly ‘faces’ of these buildings which loom very close to the street curb.

In Red Deer we are accustomed to larger front yards usually dominated by giant double car garages. The brownstone by contrast puts the living space front and centre right on top of the sidewalk allowing pedestrians to gaze directly into the living room!

I am personally looking forward to spying the many and varied gargoyles that New York is famous for.

It’s almost like a scavenger hunt to spy the different styles and clever placements of these stone and brick creatures which were originally used to divert water. These whimsical carvings are something very out of the ordinary for me and I look forward to seeing the various styles being used as embellishments.

So please think of me and my gathering of inspiration as I peruse the architecture and glamour of NYC, then lets have a visit about YOUR desire for change in your design when I am back and recharged! Thank you so much for reading, keep your homes funky Art Deco or decorate your Gothic Revival castle to be a glamorous retreat.

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Contact her at 403-343-7711 ext. 227 or email her at

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