Lebanon is an old land, a well seasoned strip of earth separating the sharp-ridged Lebanon Mountains from the Mediterranean Sea. For thousands of years the region had been a crossroads of the Near East, vulnerable to the attacks of one alien race after another.
Houses, like people, are far more interesting when they have stories to tell. They link us to other times and peoples in a way no history book could.
My friend Larissa and husband Eduard bought an 18th-century house in the Lebanon Mountains. In historical perspective it was relatively modern, an intriguing survivor of a venerable past.
And a designer’s challenge. When the house was bought, only its walls where standing; its labyrinthine chambers where open to the sky. (When originally built, certain rooms were intentionally left unroofed as cool summer spaces.) The architecture was restored to its original design. We made no radical alterations and the results were a timeless oasis of simplicity, comfort, and practicality.
All the windows had a view of the brush-covered highlands. Each room of the house opened onto a central courtyard-enclosed from the world, open to the sky, an oasis within the oasis.
According to a French journalist, Lebanon is a “land of passage, land of refuge”.
Unfortunately, it did not prove so for my friends…