Confessions of an Interior Designer: Details

"The details are not the details.  They make the design."
-Charles Eames

As a designer you quickly learn that is it in fact the details that make the design and take up the most time.  I have that quote hanging in my office and it is so very true to every aspect of design, as well as a reminder that the details are worth the time.  

Not only do the details take up the greatest amount of design time, but they can also prove to be the most fun.  In interior and architectural design when we are working on construction documents we will literally have sheets full of only details.  Details for chair molding, stair treads, pilasters, millwork, material transitions, brackets, and so much more that really make a project come to life.

When I was in England this summer we visited the Ely Cathedral twice and each time we stepped on the property and inside the building it was breath taking.  To me, this building is the true definition of the details making the design.  When you walk through the cathedral there is so much to look at and experience that sometimes I would find myself just stopping in my tracks to take it all in.  From the intricate floors to the beautiful columns and walls to the stain glass and painted ceilings there is always something to keep you entertained and to inspire you.  

On our second visit to the cathedral we decided to take the octagon tour.  This tour is different than any other tour I had ever been on because it literally took you up in the building behind locked doors and we ended up on the roof at one time.  It was during this tour that the details truly came alive in this magnificent building for me.  

Our octagon tour started in the middle of the cathedral where the below photo was taken.  I was on the ground level when I took this photo and would soon find myself looking out the angel paintings you see way up there and then standing on the roof above the angels and stain glass at the very top a little later.    

The octagon from the ground level.

To get to the top we had to go up three small spiral stair cases.  We were warned before even starting to tour that they were small and the higher up we got the smaller they got.  At one point we even found ourselves going through a 24" x 48" opening. 

The first level we went up took us to a level that was open to the cathedral where there was some storage and the bass pipes for the organ.  I could not imagine being up there while the organ is played because I'm pretty sure the bass pipes would knock you over.  Yes, they were that big.  

From there we went up yet another small spiral stair case and it took up to one of the low roofs and we had to walk across the roof of the chapel, which is where the above photo was taken.  When we got inside I was blown away by the structure, which you see below.  Each corner of the octagon was constructed by single tree trunks that were over sixty feet long.  What I did not expect was for our guide to open the angel doors and for us to be able to look down at the ground level.  

The next four photos are taken from the second level we climbed looking down at the ground level.  It was breath taking and so neat to put into perspective where we had been, and still where we had yet to go.  In the picture with the lock you can see another open door in the distance where we were able to look out of.

The ground level from the octagon.

The last level that we climbed to was the roof of the octagon tower.  This was the smallest spiral staircase and smallest door to get through, but so worth it.  Up until this moment I just thought my breath had been taken away and I had been able to truly enjoy the details of the beautiful Ely Cathedral, but all of that didn't even come close to the roof.

It was a beautiful day and from the tower we could see so much of the area, but my favorite part was the details on the roof.  If you are an architect or interior designer like me you can probably imagine how quickly I turned into a little kid up there.  It is not often that ones gets to literally lean against and sit on a flying buttress.  My dad and I were running around and could not contain our excitement.  I was truly amazed by the details of the buttresses, the stain glass windows which I looked up at in the picture above, and the beautiful columns and railing around the perimeter.

One last picture to show you both the scale of the cathedral but also to show you where we went.  The tower on the right side of the cathedral is the one that we climbed up.  It may not be the largest of the two, but it was big enough for me!  After we got done with our tour and left looking back it was hard to believe where we had been that day.  This was one of the highlights of our two and a half week trip to England this past summer and this post is one of the first of my installments of sharing our trip with you all.

If you are ever in the Cambridge area, you must make Ely Cathedral a stop!  It was a wonderful was to experience God's house and an amazing way to experience design and one of my passions in a unique way.  

Perhaps this is just my way of sharing an awesome trip memory with you all.  Perhaps this is all about my love and appreciation for the details.  Or perhaps this is just a Confession of an Interior Designer.