My bucket list of the top six places I'd like to visit

This year I turned 59 and so with my next big birthday milestone within sight I started to realise, without sounding morbid, just realistic, that time is not finite and that there were a lot of places that I wanted to see and so I’d better start making a plan.

I’ve never had a bucket list and that maybe is where lies the problem. I’ve always been quite flexible when making holiday plans, partly maybe because for the last 21 years, since having my youngest child, I’ve either been unemployed, although working really frickin hard as a full time mum, or freelance, since changing careers and becoming a stylist. So making plans a year or so in advance, as many people I know do, has never been a luxury we have afforded.

It’s always been let’s see how much money we’ve jointly earned and how much my tax bill is in April, before booking anything and so plans have always been a bit more fly by the seat of our pants, kind of plans.

Well now that big birthday is looming, I’ve decided to get my act together and be more thoughtful about where I actually want to travel to and why. My why has been boiled down to architecture I want to see. Buildings that I’ve always longed to walk around and within and so this year I’ve made plans to tick two of these much revered buildings, in my mind, off my list.

1.Building number one is Eileen Grays E1027 modernist villa in Roquebrune- Cap-Martin, built in 1929. Agreed she’s not a household name, known mainly perhaps for her furniture designs, but Eileen Gray was the first designer I wrote an essay about in my first semester at uni and I learned that she had not only designed this building, with her partner, as their holiday retreat, but had also designed every piece of furniture and textile within it and she had also mightily pissed Les Corbusier off in the process. His cabana was situated opposite and when she split from her partner and left the property for good, Les Corbusier famously went into it and defaced it with his own paintings on the white walls, whilst getting a companion to photograph him in the process, in the nude, doing so. The ultimate two fingered salute? Jealousy? (Le Corbusier was obsessed with the building)  perhaps a distaste for women architects and designers that might just have rivalled his talents? They were different times then as we know.  In more recent years the house has been completely renovated by French Government agency Conservatoire du Littoral, along with Le Corbusier’s cabana and I can’t wait to see what this Irish woman,so ahead of her time, created.

Eileen Gray E1027 House-Dezeen

2.Building number two, that I’m also visiting later this year, is more familiar to everyone and although I’ve often been staying near enough to visit, I’ve never quite made it there. It’s the formidable Moorish palace, The Alhambra in Granada. The first time I wanted to visit was when we were staying in Nerja on the Costa del Sol. I tried all week to drag our son, who was then 5, out of the pool at the villa, that we were staying in, but he’d made so many friends, that I was wasting my time and over the years we’ve never been quite so close to that area again. So this year we’ve booked a week in Malaga and we’re going to get the train to Granada, visit the Alhambra and then stay over night to explore the winding streets of the old city.

The Alhambra Palace - BBC image

3.Building number three on my new bucket list is Mies Van De Rohe pavilion in Barcelona. Again I’ve been to Barcelona 3 times but never made it this pavilion, as I’ve always visited Barcelona for other reasons, such as exhibitions, birthdays etc. The glass pavilion is a 1986 reconstruction of the original designed in 1929, for the Barcelona International Exhibition to showcase the talents of German design and architecture. Again this building was first introduced to me whilst I was studying at Uni and we were asked for one of our modules to design our own exhibition pavilion and build a model of it. Don’t be fooled into thinking an interior design degree is all about colour and decoration. As an interior designer it’s vital that students understand space and form and this is a masterclass in just that.

Mies van de Rohe Pavilion Barcelona-Iconic Interiors

4. Building number four is Frieda Khalos The Casa Azul (blue house). Since I watched my first documentary about this incredible artist in which the viewer was taken on a tour of her home which she shared with her husband artist, Diego Rivera, I’ve been obsessed with visiting her beloved Mexico City and her home, which also houses a collection of clothes, shoes and head pieces from her wardrobe. I’ve heard conflicting reports about the danger of visiting Mexico City though and so that is slightly putting the brakes on me booking a visit there. If any of you have been and had a great experience or have any tips for travelling there safely, I’d love to hear from you. There is also the amazing Casa Barragan to visit if I make it to Mexico City. The house and studio of architect Luis Barragan built in 1948, which is a tour de force in the use of colour with light.

The Casa Azul-Getty Images

Inside frieda Khalos blue


5. Closer to home now and a house co designed and lived in by one of our most revered designers, William Morris. Red House in Bexley London, is the family home of Morris and the place where his friends, such as pre raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti often visited. It’s also the house in which Morris lived when he launched his design company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, decorating the building with his various wallpaper and furniture designs. It’s now owned by The National Trust and has undergone a project of maintenance and preservation so that you really get a sense of how it looked when Morris lived there.

Red House the home of William Morris-RIBA

6. Finally in my top six is Hill House, just outside Glasgow, designed by architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, for his client publisher Walter Blackie. The house, the furniture and even the every day objects such as the cutlery, were all designed by Mackintosh in his now inimitable style. However, Mackintosh’s designs became a bit of a cliche in the 1990’s when they became so popular and over used, on everything to stationary and note cards, that the house fell out of fashion and into disrepair. But in 2017 The National Trust of Scotland ran an architects competition to build a visitor centre for Hill House and the new addition and the updated facilities has been so successful that visitor numbers are now much increased. I listen to the Podcast The Modern House and Matt Gibberd, the presenter and director of the Modern House estate agents, said it’s a must visit building for any architect or designer. Right enough said Matt, I’m booking my tickets! 

Hill House-Wall Street Journal

Ok that’s my top six, what are yours? Where is the most incredible building that you’ve visited or where do you want to visit? Or if not buildings or places, then what's on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments or via dm on my instagram here. I’d love to know.


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