The most appropriate comments regarding Phil Doubet's house would probably be very few comments at all. Minimal remarks, that is, for a minimalist home.
The most appropriate comments regarding Phil Doubet's house would probably be very few comments at all.
Minimal remarks, that is, for a minimalist home.
Doubet's home is a tall square of a house built of concrete blocks. The roof is a patio in progress. The fake front door faces the highway, while the real front door opens to the second floor.
In other words, Doubet may say his home reflects his bent toward minimalist architecture, but it offers plenty to talk about and a fair amount of insight into the man and his history - and that's before stepping inside.
Start with the location: a tree-studded lot on the welcoming edge of Hanna City's main drag. Why this particular space for a cube-shaped, concrete block of a home, alien from every other piece of property nearby, residential or commercial?
The answer is a bit romantic, a bit nostalgic. Twenty-five years ago, Doubet lived in an apartment across the street. He met a woman at the row of mailboxes on what is now his land. He married her; they had a son. After 16 years of marriage, she died.
"So when I saw this parcel of land for sale, I thought it'd be good to buy."
He got the idea for a cube-shaped, concrete block house from a book, "Minimalist Homes." He can't remember, but he might have also passed by the house in the book that intrigued him most - the so-called "cube house" built by the late artist/architect Simon Ungers in Ithaca, N.Y.
"I like the way it looked."
Doubet contacted building contractors, showed them photos of Ungers' "cube house" and told them how he wanted his version to be. After more than a few contracting headaches, he ended up working with P&W Builders. He moved into his new home in April.
On one scale, the house reflects the minimalist credo - to strip architecture and life down to its most basic necessities.
Doubet didn't want to worry about wet basements, so he nixed the idea of an underground floor.
Having been widowed and, later, divorced, he says he built the house knowing he didn't need walls. "I didn't need privacy from anyone."
He needed a kitchen area, with cabinets, an island, a stove and refrigerator. But he didn't need anything fancy, so he opted for functional fixtures equally suitable in a garage or Doubet's minimalist dream home.
The cabinets, kitchen island with built-in shelves and spice rack shelving, were custom-made of diamond-plated aluminum. He found a matching refrigerator and stove on a Web site.
At 1,200 square feet, or 600 square feet per floor, Doubet's minimalist design showcases uncluttered lines and wide open interior space. But it points out that minimalism, though simple, need not be austere or spartan. Doubet's minimalism flirts with the whimsical and the whimsically weird, both inside and out.
Take the main entrance.
There's the fake one. Drive by fast and the decorative red door appears to be part of the house. But it actually stands alone, a few feet from the house.
"I tell different people different stories," Doubet says. "But the real story is I just wanted to add a little color outside."
The real main entrance is on the second floor because that's where Doubet wanted it, just as he wanted his home's main floor on the second story. (His bedroom is on the ground floor.)
He wanted all-metal exterior staircases from the ground to the rooftop, but the price was exorbitant. He settled for metal landings at the roof and second-floor entrances. The stairs are a wood/plastic composite.
He also wanted - and got - the rooftop patio. The roof slopes just enough for water to drain out of several openings.
"It's nice to come up here on a dark night and look at the stars," Doubet says, noting the patio is slightly higher than the streetlights.
Doubet's penchant for whimsy extends beyond colorful fake doors and starry nights. For instance, the kitchen set, an Illinois Antique Center find, looks as if it would be more at home on 1950s linoleum than wood floors.
Artwork throughout his home begins with a sculptured face at the front door and pops up in unexpected places, like a corner on the main floor where a writhing, sculpted face and arms appear to coming through the floor.
The macabre, tortured faces, both in the sculpted pieces he has bought and the framed art he has created on computer software, are reminiscent of the distorted emotional agony captured in Edvard Munch's iconic expressionistic painting "The Scream."
But Doubet's explanation for his choices are as minimal as his style.
"I like dark art."
Peoria Journal Star
Pam Adams can be reached at email@example.com.