In contrast to the ornate stone villas and baronial mansions with timber framing, Hill House is a simple massing of volumns that are accenuated by the plain harled (stuccoed) surface. The main entrance on the west side of the house is totally understated, especially when compared to the typical manor house of the period with their pretentious ornament announcing the wealth that lay within.
Walking up to the house from the train station there was a short but intense thunderstorm. By the time I reached Hill House it had already begun to break up and the sun began to peek through the dark clouds. When I reached the entrance door I turned around and this image greeted me. I always thought that it was a special welcome to Hill House.
From the vestibule, one is taken by the spaciousness of the main hallway, which is a four step rise from the vestibule. The colors of blue, pink, purple and green invoke a somber but luxurious feeling. Mackintosh once again uses room color to invoke emotion. In this instance, as in his apartment at Mains, this first impression of a somewhat somber room is immediately replaced by a sense of exhiliration when one enters the white drawing room bathed in natural brightness.
Off the right side of the hall one enters the drawing room moving from the somber to the sublime. The window bay is south facing, bathing the white room in sunlight. Directly in front of the visitor is a glazed bay that frames a stunning panorama across the distant waters of the Firth of Clyde. The square is present everywhere in the house. Nowhere is it used more beautifully than in the drawing room coffee table.
The drawing room is large and is actually divided into several different areas. The main space is the sitting area around the magnificent bay. The second is the sitting area at the west end of the room centered around the mosaic fireplace and the third is the east end with the grand piano.
The fireplace is set into a concave recess. Above the beautiful mosaic design is a gesso panel designed and executed by Margaret. On the left of the fireplace is a built in shelf with leaded glass and pink glass rose petal accents.
Once again Mackintosh plays off the soft sensual line against the harder straight edge. The shelves themselves have no real hard edge straight lines. However, at the top of the shelf and just before the leaded glass niche is a row of rose glass squares. Then in the niche itself the lead work is all rectlinear. To the right of the shelves are three square niches.
The east end of the drawing room was the music "chamber". One can close their eyes and just imagine Walter Blackie's guests sitting around the drawing room listening to a piano recital that was as lyrical as the room itself.
The main bedroom is as magical as the drawing room. It is also on the south side of of the house on the floor directly above the library and drawing room. It is a bright and luxurious room. The bed is nestled into a barrel vaulted niche making for a very cozy corner. Embroidered female figures by Margaret hang on either side of the bed.
This a more geometric version of the cheval mirror in Mains that the Mackintoshes took with them to 6 Florentine. Notice the decorative cut out squares that constitute a grid pattern. Also in this image one can see the reflection of the iconic black ladder back chair that Mackintosh designed specifically for Hill House.
Notice once again the square accents playing off of the sensual organic gestures of Margaret's figures, the wall stenciling and the relief carving on the bed. Arguably, in no other interior did Mackintosh play off the hard against the sensual as deftly as he did in Hill House.
Unique to this room is the addition of black furniture in the all white feminine domain. This seems to be part of Mackintosh's plan to add contrasting harder elements to the white rooms. Nestled between the elegantly carved closets is the enduring Mackintosh symbol-the high ladder back chair. It is actually a beautiful sculptural object, and it is quite possible that it was designed to be exactly that.
This is the cozy sitting corner of the bedroom. With a fire going on a cold winter night it would indeed be an inviting space to sit and talk or read. The small white table is another stellar design. The legs taper to a wider bottom and this references some Asian funiture. However, the legs are very thin rather than the more usual massive square crossection. At the bottom the legs are connected with a structural bracing that bears a square surface with four square cut-outs.
The rear entrance from the north-east. The juxtaposition of the door and adjacent windows suggest the shape of a Japanese kimono. Once again Mackintosh uses the square to great advantage here referencing a Japanese shoji screen.