Thursday, December 22, 2011

Underneath the Mistletoe

Merry Christmas
Seasons Greetings
Happy Holidays
Decorating with mistletoe at Christmas is a custom that has survived from pre-Christian traditions that believed the branches had magical powers.  Kissing under the mistletoe was associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later, primitive marriage rites.  In 18th century England, a woman standing under mistletoe at Christmas could not refuse to be kissed;  sometimes this signified lasting friendship, but sometimes it meant a promise of marriage.  In the United States today, a kiss under the mistletoe is just a symbol of goodwill (or a sign of too much egg nog).

Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens is the native North American variety) can grow on its own, but it is usually seen in the South as a parasitic plant growing on the trunk and branches of a tree, its roots taking nutrients from the tree.  While the European variety rarely grows on oak trees, it is not unusual here;  apple trees are universally accommodating hosts.  Bulk mistletoe sells for about US $15 per pound, but it is usually sold by the sprig for a few dollars.

The Altos Del Mar historic district.
This past year, John Tackett Design was commissioned for a preliminary study to design a new oceanfront house to be built in Miami Beach, Florida.  7825 Atlantic Way is one of the few remaining lots zoned for a single family residence with direct ocean access, along with numbers 7709, 7715, and 7833.  Atlantic Way is a private street in the small historic district Altos Del Mar, the highest point (a relative term of course) on the island of Miami Beach.  The gated community of only twelve properties has homes ranging from Art Deco to Ultra-Contemporary with Spanish, Bermuda, and Florida Vernacular included as well.  The low density neighborhood is protected from further oceanfront high-rise development with North Shore Park immediately to the north and the new Altos Del Mar Sculpture Park to the south.  Cultural attractions, fashionable restaurants, and luxury shops are only minutes away.
The private individual who commissioned this preliminary design asked for a house in the classical tradition, yet respectful of the tropical location.  The round entrance hall, illustrated in the first image, adapted and reused with the kind permission of my client, features Regency style palm trees and a compass patterned floor.  The 8,000 sq. ft. house with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms would be built in the manner evocative of early twentieth century architects such as David Adler and Delano & Aldrich, yet having every modern technological convenience.  In association with an assembled group of experienced professionals, John Tackett Design provides a team for a full range of services for architecture, engineering, interiors and landscape design for classic residences, new construction or renovation, nationwide.
A view of the beach from the Altos Del Mar prospectus.


  1. John,

    Merry Christmas!


    The outside of the front door in the new house will be painted black. The inside of the house (entrance hall) is trimmed in off white. Should the inside of the front door be painted black or off white? We are having a big fight here, please help!

  2. Despite the black exterior face, which I presume is glossy, the traditional scheme for the interior face of the door in the situation you describe would be off-white, presumably semi-gloss or satin finish. A glossy black front door is very sophisticated; for any home out of the city center, I prefer a very, very dark green instead.

    That said, black (dark charcoal) interior doors can be very attractive if the decor supports them.

    And I have done many projects with off-white trim and natural wood finish doors.

    Best wishes in your new home!

  3. As always, this is a super post. I am astonished that there are any ocean front properties left in Miami Beach. The design for the main entrance is perfect. Hopefully you have secured the construction contract. Thank you for your posts of the last year. Wishing you the best for a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Mary

  4. Mary, the oceanfront project for me has been put on hold. Despite the virtues of the beach, having a home on an island in the bay, instead, offers the opportunity for a private dock for one's boat(s). I welcome the challenge of either option. Thanks and best wishes to you.

  5. I am in awe of your talent , sir. And I salute you for it!

  6. congrats dahhling on the new project. Beautiful drawing of the round entry hall! Loved the history of mistletoe..

  7. I have been watching this development with interest. It is beautiful. But with the ocean lots priced at $5.9 million, it could use a new house of your caliber to boost the cache. For everyone's benefit, I hope your design is realized, if not for this client, then another.

  8. Thank you, John...that settles it, in my favor of course!!

  9. Oh, and congratulations on the new project!!!

  10. Thank you, Reggie!

    HRH, your comments are appreciated.

    GC, those lots are so special; they will find appreciative owners before long, I am sure.

    Julietta, I am glad to help!


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