Dream homes: architectural rendering as escape


Recliner in a Sunny Courtyard. Marker Rendering by Nicolette Toussaint


Irregular readers of this blog may have noticed that its main author has mysteriously disappeared for a couple months.

I say “irregular” because the blog itself has been pretty herky-jerky this summer. Those who have checked in will have found some fine guest posts, but little content from me.

That’s a bit out of character for me, but at least I have a good excuse. Actually, several good excuses,  all having to deal with aging, real estate and home renovation.

These are common themes in Living in Comfort and Joy, and I will be reporting on my summer activities in subsequent posts. But this time, I thought I would share what I was doing to keep my sanity while doing home renovation and moving work that really should have gotten me a guest spot on Dirty Jobs.

The image above is a marker rendering (yes, like Magic Markers).  It’s where I would liked to have gone: Southern France? Perhaps a rented house in Tuscany? Maybe just a week at a four-star hotel in Sonoma, California. Those are the places I imagined that went while drawing it.


I painted Serdar Gulgun's color-saturated interior over the July 4th weekend after I broke the fingers on my right hand. Medium is watercolor.


Another of the places I went this summer was Turkey. The room at right is in Istanbul. It’s the home and the work of interior designer Serdar Gülgün, as featured in the August issue of Architectural Digest. I love Serdar’s use of saturated color, as well as the mixing of materials and artifacts from different cultures. The design, like Istanbul itself, sits at a cultural crossroads.


Interior rendering in marker by Nicolette Toussaint


I painted this Turkish interior in watercolor over the July 4th weekend. That was less than a week after I fell off a Razor Scooter (long story, not my clumsiness, and not my fault) and broke the third and fourth finger of my right hand. I am right handed, and thought maybe my goose was cooked. But looking at Serdar’s Chinese dogs convinced me that I was wrong about that goose; I have working in watercolor for many years, and it’s my favorite medium. (NOTE: About a month after this post was originally published, Serdar saw the blog and left a message in the comments section. I am truly honored to have such an important guest here on Living in Comfort and Joy.)

The book-lined room at left offers another great escape. I don’t know where this one is, but I’m imaging someplace like Aspen, Colorado. Maybe it’s Indian summer, the aspen leaves are turning gold, but the evenings are cool and crisp. We’ve rented a nice sunny condo with a fireplace, great places to take walks among the whispering aspens, and a sunny nook that just beckons, “come read a good novel.” (I love Barbara Kingsolver, and even if the reviews say it’s not as good as Poisonwood Bible, I’d love to read The Lacuna.)


Kitchen Rendering by Nicolette Toussaint. Watercolor.


Kitchens are always nice places to hang out, and over the summer, I dreamed up a couple. The one above, rendered in watercolor, is in Illinois. It reminds me of my former mother-in-law, Reina Krause, who was a wonderful, cordon-bleu trained chef. I spent many happy hours hanging out with her in kitchens in both Illinois and Southern California. In real life, the kitchen above is mostly black and white. I redesigned it in shades of green to bring integrate the indoors with that wonderful, arboreal scene outside.



Revit three-dimensional image with colored pencil.


Revit three-dimensional image with colored pencil.

The two versions of the kitchen shown at left are truly imaginary places – those wonderful places that exist only in the mind of the client and designer until a skillful contractor brings them to life. (I’m pleased beyond all measure that such a contractor has come into my life. Her name is Cynthia Casarotti, and her firm is called “Casarotti + Design. I seem to be the “plus design part,” since she and are collaborating on a couple remodeling projects. One of them is an accessible bathroom, and you will be hearing about it in subsequent posts.)

I designed the kitchen at left with Autocad’s Revit three-dimensional drawing program. I then experimented with changing the palette using colored pencil, another of my favored media. (While I love Revit’s three-dimensional abilities and its accuracy, I feel somewhat limited in its color and decorative abilities.) I used colored pencil to create two different palettes and styles for the same kitchen, one I designed in the spring of this year. I’m not quite sure how Revit creates its 3-D views; it doesn’t seem to use a typical one- or two-point perspective, and since it’s a software program, I can’t very well ask it.)

Which one of these ktichens appeals most to you? Is the red energizing? Or do you prefer the quieter green?

And if you could have a vacation trip to anywhere you wanted to go – for real – where would it be?


Sometimes I just paint for fun. Here’s an example. If you’re curious, you can find more of my watercolors on my website, a portfolio of pencil drawings on my website, and a portfolio of my architectural renderings on Behance. (And yes, I am very interested in freelance gigs for architectural rendering and for paintings.)


Cabin in Indian Summer. Watercolor by Nicolette Toussaint.



4 thoughts on “Dream homes: architectural rendering as escape

  1. I love the “cabin in indian summer” and I also paint murals, faux finishing etc. I am curious though, In your renderings I see your using a 2 point perspective but I am not understanding the flooring perspective, it looks to me as if you are not using an SVP from your vanishing point that is calculated from “the viewers distance” to obtain the correct tile spacing.

  2. That’s correct, Arthur. I believe that what’s throwing you are the renderings done on top of Revit drawings. Revit doesn’t use a 2-point perspective – nor 3 point for that matter. It creates a 3-dimensional database, essentially, an electronic model of the building. You can take a snapshot anywhere within the building, and Revit will show you what it sees. What it sees is an a view of the model that is more like an isometric model than a 2-point perspective. I have varied some of the line weights in the drawn and colored versions to give them more of the look and feel of two-point perspective, but they will never have the same perspective as the real thing. That’s one of the many reasons why a hand-drawn rendering is so wonderful. We haven’t been entirely replaced by computers yet.

  3. Dear Nicolette,

    Seeing the watercolor of my living room in Istanbul was a wonderful surprise for me. Congratulations , what a sense of depiction you have, you did the painting of the room with all its soul. Let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for such a wonderful work of my home.

    Hope to see you soon in Istanbul,

    With Love,

    Serdar Gulgun

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