Jason and Anna were generous and kind to spend the day with me. We took a day trip to Helensburgh, west of Glasgow, to see a house designed by renowned Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The house is set on a hill, which is why the house is dubbed, Hill House. It was commissioned by a Scottish businessman by the name of Blackie. He gave Mackintosh free rein to design not only the house but everything in it, too. This included built-in and freestanding furniture, rugs, drapery, linens, and light fixtures. It’s not very often a client offers an architect such an opportunity.
The drive was about one hour. We arrived around 1pm, which is when the house is open to visitors. The sky was cloudy and grey, and the air was chilly. We took a quick stroll around the house before we headed indoors. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted so there will be no shots of the many design elements I admired of the house to accompany this post.
Upon entering the house, I immediately recognized the dark wood-paneled walls of the main hallway. Though the ceilings in the hall were tall, the dark stain of the wood paneling made the hall seem intimate and somber. One of the rooms that flanked off the dark main hallway, is the family room. In contrast, the family room is light; a kind of warm off-white or cream color with accents like rose-pink and purple heather. The windows look out into the garden and flooded the room with natural light. Even on the day we visited, the room seemed pleasantly bright.
What I enjoyed about this room was seeing the Mackintosh’s designs in person like the banquets by the window and fireplace. The upholstered banquet featured original needlework that was partially frayed from use, and the fireplace had intricate details of tiles that I have seen in a book of Mackintosh’s work. I can’t help but feel a sense of surrealism when I’m in the presence of original great design. It’s as though Charles R. Mackintosh was in the room with me, examining the details and making sure they were fabricated to his specifications.
Another room that I found impressive was the state-of-the-art bathroom. The bathroom looked as though it could have belonged on some futuristic nautical vessel. The shower was made up of perforated tubes that either provided the bather with hot steam while showering, or water spouts for an all around cleansing.
The other room which I also enjoyed seeing is the master bedroom. The room was also decorated with a light palette, similarly to the family room. The master bedroom also had a more feminine character. It was great to physically see Mackintosh’s designs of the freestanding furniture pieces. I also found it amazing how well the pieces survived from the years of usage.
We took a last walk around to appreciate the masterful design of Mackintosh’s Hill House. It was the only opportunity to capture a few pictures of the magnificent house. As I walked around the estate, I wondered what thoughts might have crossed CRM’s mind before and while he put his designs down on paper. I think I enjoyed the house from the garden. There were a few spots that offered interesting vantage points of the house. The house itself is expressed with varied shaped volumes. And so, every time you turn the corner or stand somewhere on the estate, you’ll see a different but recognizable house.
I would love to return to Hill House again, and see the house with the sun shining happily upon it as well as covered with white snow. I think I would love to see and experience the house in the snow – it is set on top of hill, of course.
Thank you Jason (aka @abbozzo_) and Anna for a great day at Hill House!!