Author Archives - Courtney
Scandinavian inspired Scandi House created by Lifespaces Group to harness minimalist and scaled back beauty of the style in Australia
By Courtney • May 9, 2019
In the rolling green grasses of Barwon Heads, Australia, innovative designers at Lifespaces Group recently completed a stunningly wooden minimalist dwelling dubbed Scandi House for its clear Scandinavian influenced style, aesthetic, and layout.
In true Scandinavian style, the house is exemplary in its simple geometric shapes and pared back decor schemes and colour palettes. The gabled roofline might be typically Scandinavian in shape, but designers also blended a sense of local architecture into the building by constructing that shape from Australian timber, creating a facade that suits the surrounding natural scene beautifully.
The structure of the house is extremely unique in the way it features over hangs at the end but also fully glass walls that extend floor to ceiling. The tall windows let lots of natural light in while the overhangs give the patio spots created by the inset window alcoves some shade and provide a solid sense of privacy, show almost nothing of the inner house to the public area outside.
In the private entry courtyard, which runs the entire length of the house, dwellers are afforded a space of lush greenery that bears a rather serene atmosphere. This is where much of the daylight that naturally and passively brightens and warms the inner spaces flows in front, as well as the breezes that access the rooms when the large windows are slid open.
Inside the house, cathedral ceilings make both the social and private spaces feel tall and spacious. This suits well with the modernity and clear functionality of the service spaces inside, particularly in the kitchen. Here, materiality changes a little from the lovely stained wood for a bit of natural stonework contrast. The layout of the rest of the social spaces is just as open concept as the high ceilings, fostering a good space for family bonding.
In the private volume of the house, four very large bedrooms are nestled together, each one featuring its own built-in wardrobe. This is a clear example of the value of good storage in a Scandinavian family home. That theme is continued throughout the house, with subtle cupboards and storage solutions secrete throughout social and transitional spaces as well.
Under one of the wooden overhangs at the back, you’ll find more than just a pleasant patio to sit on. Here, designers built an actual outdoor living space designed to be enjoyed all year round, no matter the weather. This, along with the free-standing limestone bath and the impressive formal guest powder room, give the house a unique sense of near novelty that guests will always appreciate.
Photos by Stefani Driscoll
Peaceful Vietnamese dwelling called To’s House created by A+ StudiO to give owners a quiet, tranquil escape
By Courtney • May 8, 2019
Although it is located in the centre of a city, the recently finished home called To’s House is a peaceful haven. Specifically created by A+ StudiO to create a space for quiet and tranquility, this home in the city of Dalat, Vietnam, is an angular and relaxing space.
Rather than being located on a large, loud, or busy city street, To’s House is fortunate enough to have been built on a small plot in a quiet, pleasant little alley that is removed from the city centre. Already, this helps create a feeling of peace and privacy. Modelled after the concept of building a little house in the bed of a valley (which is what this city’s land used to be before it was populated), the whole shape and decor scheme of the house is centre around wanting visitors to feel peace and quiet with every visit.
Because the project is built on a very small area of land, it only occupies 200 square metres. A consequence of this is that the floor plan and shape is limited to having been formed entirely out of non-square lines and angles. Far from being constraining, however, this characteristic is actually one of the best aspects of the entire house.
Inside, the house is both divided and connected at once by a void-like duplex space. This spot serves a number of functions. Firstly, it connects the kitchen and dining rooms at the same time as it delineates them from the casual seated living rooms. Designers have purposely used open space as a marker here rather than solid walls in order to keep a sense of flexibility, openness, and free flow about the place.
In the centre of the house, a green space forms a relaxing hub around which much of the rest of the house is organized. Here, a series of trees and shrubs sits in an open central “lung”. This is a space that is open air so it can capture the breeze and sun. This does more than just look night; it also helps passively regulate temperatures inside the house.
In total, the house consists of two floors. The ground floor is home to two bedrooms, to bathrooms, and living room, and a dining and kitchen area. Continuing the theme established with the green lung in the centre of the house, these rooms feature large opening glass walls the let the kitchen and dining room blend almost completely with the patio, where more greenery sways serenely in the breeze.
Above these rooms, on the second floor, is a room that looks like a small attic from the outside. In reality, it’s actually home to a quietly breathtaking indoor garden! The space features lovely skylights that let in plenty of natural daylight so it feels like being outside in an open air garden despite the space being completely indoors when the windows are closed.
Part of this room features a glass covered void in the floor that opens into the central green courtyard on the bottom floor. This lets sunlight flow through the house from room to room a little better, regulating the indoor space even more and contributing to the fact that the garden feels so much like an actual outdoor garden.
Photos by Dung Huynh
High end V2 House modernized by Studio Guilherme Torres from original dwelling built by owner’s grandparents
By Courtney • May 8, 2019
On a spacious plot of land in one of the most high end neighbourhoods in all of São Paulo, Brazil, innovative design teams at Studio Guilherme Torres have recently completed a modernization project on the locally known V2 House, updating it from the original design chosen and contracted by the owner’s grandparents.
The impressive 1100 square metre residence has been recognizable in the area since it was first erected in the 1960s. It was designed to present a neoclassical style of architecture and decor, which is something the younger generation appreciates stylistically, but they desired a change to the slightly outdated floor plan, which was quite closed off and compartmentalized feeling.
The first step in redesigning the house was to reconceptualize the distribution of rooms and spaces inside the home. All parties involves wanted to open up internal spaces and create several new inner and outer structures that might render the house not just a home but, in fact, a piece of contemporary art suitable to the tastes of the new owner, a young DJ and music producer.
Certain elements of the original home’s very sophisticated and informal style were still preserved despite the younger owner’s more cutting edge tastes. For example, the materiality of certain spaces in the house is still heavy in timeless materials like ebony woodwork and white Brazilian marble.
In the interest of putting local talent and resources to good use, all of the stunning contemporary furniture now featured in the home was actually designed by the architect himself, who is also an innovative interior designer. This includes the fabric and leather covered modular sofas in the living and family rooms, which can be rearranged and reconfigured to suit the owner’s needs at any time.
Perhaps the most breathtakingly artistic piece featured within the house is the dramatic and loudly patterned dining table, which is purposely only accompanied by one singular chair. With visually interested pieces like this, the owner thought it best to keep artwork sparse save for a few of his favourite pieces from his personal collection. This lets artistic furnishings draw the eye and hold visitors’ attention.
In the hallway, which manages to stay bright thanks to the stark white floors despite the fact that it also has ebony walls, doors leading to extra features like the wine cellar are secreted along the dark vertical surfaces in a way that’s discreet and hardly noticeable to guests. Wine is one of the owner’s greatest passions outside his work, so the cellar is an integral feature of the home.
The upper floor is home to a master bedroom that is actually more of a multi-purpose suite. Integrated into the bedroom, the owner has a closet, a sprawling bathroom, and even a terrace, with hardly any divisions between them save those needed around the terrace for privacy from outside eyes. This privacy is provided by black perforated metal panels.
These panels, which are featured all around the top floor and not just near the sleeping area, give the upper floor a sense of adaptability and diverse space. Looking through them gives the world outside an almost pixelated quality, providing a nearly surreal feeling experience.
Photos by Denilson Machado
Concrete, cubic Cientocinco House create by JAMStudio arquitectos + Ivanna Cresta with a stunning blend of modernist looking and natural materials
By Courtney • May 7, 2019
Near the San Martin Nature Reserve and a series of ravines in Cordoba, Argentina, the Cientocinco House was recently finished by JAMStudio arquitectos + Ivanna Cresta. This house, built primarily from concrete, is cubic in shape and combines it’s hard materiality with sleek, natural wood for a modernist but relaxing aesthetic.
The house is located in the northwest part of the city, which is partially responsible for its stunning views of the reserve and the nearby ravines. These natural features of the landscape appear to add breadth and charm to the surrounding area extending beyond the house, giving it an increased sense of character before other, manmade elements are even considered.
While designers were planning the home, there were several elements of the plot’s natural land that they were determined not to alter or interfere with if possible. They wished to build a house that had a foundation that worked with the land, rather than cutting into and disturbing the ground on which the house sits.
Building a foundation of cast concrete let it mould to the land in a way that could be built upon sturdily without vastly changing the overall landscape surrounding the house. Designers opted to continue these concrete themed further until it become the majority of the structure. Its natural beauty once it was polished was so immense that they kept it as a main element and embellished it with softer accents to create the bulk of their modernist aesthetic.
This is how smoothed wood became the secondary element of the impressively stacked looking, cubic inspired house. Doors, window castings, ceilings, and furnishings all bear a wooden nature that adds a sense of warmth to the concrete and steel found elsewhere in the home’s interior and exterior.
Inside the house, the home continues the same straight edged, cubic inspired shaping as can be seen in its actual shape from the street. Furniture is boxy and pleasantly symmetrical. Stairs are solid and made of concrete blocks. Windows are neat and even (though big enough to let in wondrous amounts of natural light, which also assists in warming the concrete spaces).
Even the relaxation and leisure elements of the house follow that same cubic shaping. The patio where outdoor lounge chairs sit has a curtain frame that forms a steel cube around it. The patio itself even possesses a grid texture with greenery sprouting from each squared off space. Even the pool itself has a right-angle in its angular L-shape!
The grass growing from the grid-like patio isn’t the only greenery involved in the house. Decor teams made sure to incorporate plants throughout, which brightens the place even further than the high windows already did and adds a sense of nature and cohesiveness with the environment surrounding the plot. Towards the back of the house, on the opposite side of the pool and patio, sits a row of lush trees, providing a fresh, relaxing atmosphere and shade from the summer sun.
Overall, between its sturdy frame and inclusion of greenery, this cubic house has a sense of privacy and tranquility despite its close proximity to a busy city street.
Photos by Gonzalo Viramonte
By Courtney • May 7, 2019
The neighbourhood of Vilnius, in Raugyklos, Lithuania, a dilapidated local warehouse has been transformed into a beautiful building of studio apartments by DO Architects as part of a revival project.
Besides simply updating the local landscape and making better use of space, this particular project was designed to prove how low-value architecture might be upgrade into inspiring new spaces with a bit of forward thinking and conceptualization. Now, buildings like the one in Vilnius revitalize several local streets where before their abandoned frames made them look run down.
This piece is particularly exemplary of this because instead of choosing to demolish the warehouse and simply start again with a new structure where it once stood, this architectural team opted to use strong qualities of the existing building to their benefit. For example, good outer space around the warehouse has been turned into space for private entrances and public terraces for ground floor apartments that enhance co-living for those units.
On the second floor, draw is created by the sprawling loft-style apartment rather than access to outdoor terraces. These units are still afforded the appeal of outdoor space, however, in the form of direct access to a share rooftop terrace, which is gorgeous and enjoyable to experience despite it not belonging to one’s unit alone like the others.
Certain aspects of the warehouse that withstood the test of time and didn’t show too much wear and tear can be seen throughout t the building, letting its new layout feel authentic to the project’s goals. For example, exposed concrete columns and ceilings remain and are now an important part of the slightly industrial chic aesthetic throughout the building. New walls have also been built, and their shining smoothness creates an appealing contrast with the rough texture of the original concrete ones.
In the common spaces outside the units, views of a lovely, lushly green inner courtyard are afforded through continuous glazed walls, where sunlight floods in freely and lights the inner spaces naturally. The idea here was to allow family life to include a sense of flowing seasons in their daily routine, as though their regular tasks are one with their environment.
Upon entering each apartment, dwellers and visitors are welcomed by more large windows in each unit, continuing that sense of cohesive environment. Common living spaces for each unit sit not far off, designed to act as the heart of each apartment thanks to how they’re situated. Aside from this space, other spaces that, in a large house, might be distinct rooms are fit together cozily with a free flow of space.
This is how the upper apartments maintain their loft influence. In these units, you’ll find the kitchen, dining area, and more social seating to be a continuous space that allows free movement and presents differences in texture to delineate between “room” functions, rather than actual divisions breaking the apartment into stifling compartments.
Still on the upper floors, each unit contains its own tiny patio, which is where access to the larger rooftop terrace is found. This makes the common space on the building’s top feel like an extension of each person’s private home and enhances the relationship between interior and exterior spaces.
In terms of materiality, a great contrast exists between the warehouse’s facade and the warmth found inside each unit, which was precisely the intention of the designers. On the outside, dwellers are confronted with authentic industrial materials, primarily stainless steel, glass, and exposed concrete. Inside, however, ongoing concrete is balanced by wooden details and even a fully wooden wall in each unit, which grounds the space.
In each unit, designers opted to include precious art pieces, particularly ones from local artists. These are placed sporadically and strategically but are also essential to the design of each apartment and the dwellers’ experiences of those spaces. Designers wished for people to feel like they have constant access to art that is worth their appreciation.
At one end of each apartment, the first real delineation is found in the form of a white painted brick wall. This helps the apartment continue to feel open and bright but still keeps the more intimate spaces, the bathroom and the bedrooms, private. The bathroom is accessed through semi-transparent glass doors, keeping it well lit, while the bedrooms are afforded all possible privacy, unlike the rest of the spaces. They are purposely modestly sized to let dwellers focus wholly on their main function: resting.
Photos by Laimonas Ciūnys
The Ibiza Campo Loft created from an old, transformed warehouse by The Nieuw + ibiza interiors in Spain
By Courtney • May 6, 2019
In the rolling hills of San Juan Bautista, Spain, The Ibiza Campo Loft was recently completed by The Nieuw + ibiza interiors as part of a transformation and upgrading project in the local area. What was once an abandoned warehouse is now a beautiful contemporary home.
The house sits on a remote mountain towering from the centre of an island. The rugged landscape was once home to workshops and storage warehouses but these structures were long ago abandoned and left to degrade and become dilapidated. This particular warehouse was actually 100 years old before it was even scouted to be turned into a stunning modern guesthouse.
Although designers were intent on updating the space, certain aspects were actually preserved as they are in order to keep some of the original industrial integrity. Some of the concrete columns and steel beams that supported a typically Ibizan ‘sabina beam’ roof, for example, were deemed solid even after all that time and were incorporated right into the new home’s design.
The home’s unique mix of industrial framing and rustic detailing provides a comforting and authentic feeling character and atmosphere that can be seen in countless places throughout the house. This contrast is how the guesthouse was afforded its name, which essentially translates to “industrial open living space on the field”.
Although they changed certain aspects of the inside, designers really strove to keep as much of the outside fo the building as unchanged as possible in order to stay true to the typical character of Ibizan architecture. Most materials used in the creation of new spaces and renovation of old ones were locally sourced whenever possible to keep things authentic.
Even some authentic building techniques that are typical of the local area were used. The walls, for example, are chalk and mud plastered stone. This contrasts beautifully with more modern elements like a powder coated steel around the windows and a custom raw steel kitchen.
In the original building, electricity, water, and sewage systems were not present, so these were all added new upon redesign in order to make sure the new building has all the amenities of a contemporary home. Now, the water coming into the house comes from a private well. Much of the electricity, on the other hand, is sourced by solar panels that also contribute to water and floor heating.
The beauty of these new systems is that they were installed in efficient ways that make the house independent of the main grid like houses in cities would be attached too. This makes the house not only low impact on the environment, but also a lot more sustainable and self powering.
Working within the directions that were already already established by the building’s original floor plan, designers aimed to harness as much of the stunning view afforded by how the building is situated as possible. part of their efforts culminated in the building of a big, stunning private terrace where the sun hits and spills into the main living space.
In contrast to this, the bedrooms are situated in the north side corner of the building in order to keep hem as dark and cool as possible, since the local weather is so bright and hot year round. The bedrooms become a relaxing, cool escape. In the dining room, however, light is allowed to spill in to its full capability thanks to a skylight that sits level with an upper loft.
In the bathroom, guests are usually thrilled to find a a freestanding stone bath with low windows that preserve one’s privacy while still providing a breathtaking view of the nature surrounding the house while bathing. The bath is also cozily close to a fireplace. on the floor, the bathroom features a herringbone pattern constructed in terra cotta tiles, which is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Spanish floor designs.
In the loft, comfortability and modern living are prioritized explicitly. At the same time, local materiality that provides a serene, almost rustic atmosphere is found throughout every room right down to the beds. This, combined with the presence of art pieces created by local artists, fills the house with character. The effect is the contrast of old and new, light and dark, and so on.
As if the atmosphere of the whole house has been building up to it, visitors can climb to the highest point in the house and discover that the roof actually features its own yoga platform! Between that, the stunning pool below, and the yard’s many fruit trees, accompanied by a whole vegetable garden, the whole place bears the air of a small paradise.
Photos by On a Hazy Morning
Colonial style De La Huella House created almost entirely from recycled materials by NBBO Arquitectos
By Courtney • May 6, 2019
In the neighbourhood of Parque Leloir, deep in the city of Udaondo, Argentina, innovative designers at NBBO Arquitectos have finished the De La Huella House, an updating project that involved creating a stunning new colonial style house from the recycled parts of an older home that previously stood in its place.
The new home sits on a large expanse of land that was recently declared to be ecologically protected by the local environmental authorities. The vegetation in this part of the city is valuable to the area’s plant life ecosystems and efforts are being made to preserve it. This meant that designers were tasked with taking its protection into consideration wherever possible within the renovation process of this house.
On the ground floor of the well contrasted, stacked style house, visitors encounter a living room, dining space, and kitchen not far from the door and spacious entryway. Just beyond that sits a large games room designed for more active friend and family bonding than the cozier interactions one might have on the living room couch.
The first floor is also home to a generous guest bedroom, a laundry room, and even the home’s own art gallery! Two bathrooms are available on this floor as well for convenience, since it is quite spacious. The aesthetic in these spaces is a mixture of smooth wooden facades and furniture with white base features and shining marble floors, all appearing quite sophisticated in combination.
On its upper floor, which sits slightly higher than the average home measures, this house boasts a stunning master bedroom with an expanded closet and its own en suite bathroom. There are three other bedrooms for the family’s children down the hall, a full sized shared bathroom for the kids, and a work study space that’s fully equipped for home office use.
Although this house has been changed and built upon, designers set one main goal right from the outset: to preserve as much of the original house as possible in their updates. Besides the removal of unnecessary walls to open up and expand some interior spaces, the only larger structural changes that took place involved adding more windows in order to increase the home’s view of the stunning preservation park just beyond its plot borders.
These windows can be seen in the primary living space, which is now wonderfully open and double height thanks to the removal of an unnecessary central slab that closed its ceiling off originally but served little other structural purpose. Now, there is plenty of room for tall indoor plants to adorn the ground floor while light and air circulation spill through the floor to ceiling glazed walls in the summertime.
Besides the white and wood finishes, a series of light colours have been chosen as accents and pops in the living spaces throughout the house. These were chosen carefully to work with the natural sunlight and give clarity to the spaces they’re present in. The stairway, which acts like a transitionary space between house functions, is the only place clad in a wood that’s slightly darker, making it feel like a sort of central anchor within the home’s interior.
Things are kept as light looking as possible on the outside of the house as well, despite the fact that blending the new pieces added on like extensions was a high priority. Designers chose to add unique character and increase a sense of lightness around the new upper volume by cladding it entirely in sheet metal that glints prettily in the sun.
One of the more practical changes that took place within the house is the adjustment of heating and cooling capabilities to updated, more eco-friendly systems than were available when the original house was first built. Now, the house is much more sustainable and features thermal insulation that works to reduce energy consumption while heating and cooling the house.
Photos by Javier Agustin Rojas
Concrete Bielmann House created by Rob Dubois as a modernist, sunny getaway with incredible unobstructed views
By Courtney • May 3, 2019
The Casa Bielmann, or the Bielmann House, is a iconic look single family dwelling located in Santa Maria de Palautordera, Spain. Visually, it catches attention from passersby on the street for its uniquely blended materiality that makes it look, all at once, both solid and light or limitless.
This innovatively built house sits on a sloping land plot of about 700 square metres not far from the city borders of Barcelona. It boats two above ground floors and a large basement, as well as a sunny outdoor pool on its south side. From the outside, the ground floor makes the upper volume appear almost as though it’s floating thanks to the completely glass walls surrounding it.
These walls are partially for impressive aesthetic, but they also bear several functional purposes as well. Besides just providing views that are practically unparalleled for their lack of limit and obstruction even from inside the house, the floor to ceiling glazed glass windows that stand in place of traditional walls help keep the house lit in a more efficient way as sunlight pours into every corner.
The glass walls of the home’s ground floor also contribute to its eco-friendly heating and cooling systems. The house is built with systems that are passive and self sufficient, saving owners money and creating less waste or energy use as a result of running the house like a functional family home year round.
The views that we’ve spoken so highly of surrounding this house are both near and far. In the distance, a clear view of the Montseny can be appreciated from almost anywhere in the house thanks to the way the ground floor’s perimeter feels limitless. Closer to home, the plot’s own garden right outside the windows gives the place a feeling of serenity and green tranquility.
The fully windowed volume of the house is actually record setting in its beauty and construction; to the designers’ knowledge, it was the house to possess the most possible glass surfacing in a facade of any house documented and recorded at the time that it was finished. This is part of what makes it so impressive! The fact that it makes the living spaces feel spacious and nearly boundery-less certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Continuing that sense of extreme spaciousness despite the house not being one that physically sprawls is the double height section of the main living room. This space faces the home’s own garden, extending up past the higher floor of the house for a certain width. The ceiling, like a concrete overhang that makes space for the upper rooms to sit on, provides inner spaces that have a little more shade and privacy, in case one prefers a quieter, cozy spots away from bright, open windows.
The higher floor of the house, which sits on this shading interior concrete we’ve just described, is home to the more private and intimate areas of the home. This is where the master suite and bathroom, as well as guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom, all sit. This level of the house is encased in a layer of concrete similar to that on which it sits.
Like the interior concrete, this layer has a functional purpose on top of being a decorative facade for the building’s exterior. The way the top floor is folded over into the same material actually protects the inner area from the summer heat. This is bolstered by overhangs at the edges of the building that protect the windows from getting too much heat as well, despite still letting all the light the interior could possibly want in.
Inside the house, in its actual construction, designers built a geothermal energy system and heat pump under the floors, behind the stunning minimalist furnishings and decor schemes that feature neutral tones and pops of red and blue hues. These systems heat the house thoroughly from the ground up in the winter time and keep it passively cool in the summer.
All the while subtle solar panels installed on the roof keep the house powered with electricity in a way that is low impact on the surrounding environment. This also gives the house an electric network that is independent from its municipal power grid. Besides providing electricity, the roof also collects rain water. This is collected in a tank that is buried in the garden and used for irrigation there.
Photos by Jordi Miralles
Mexican holiday home Aculco House created by PPAA Pérez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados as a private escape completely surrounded by nature
By Courtney • May 2, 2019
In a serene and tranquil rural area of Mexico, innovative designers at PPAA Pérez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados have recently completed a stunning holiday home that is designed to blend into its surroundings and provide its dwellers with as authentic and relaxing a natural experience as possible.
The house is intended to be a home away from home that feels completely disconnected from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Aculco project was specifically designed to be used as a resting space, taking full advantage of the scientifically proven calming effects of natural environments. Here, those are provided by a lightly wooded area and a series of extremely impressive cliffs.
Originally, this structure was an abandoned old stone house that stood on land with absentee owners. Two brothers who were out on a climbing trip stumbled upon it by accident and fell completely in love with the area. They soon purchased the plot and home and hired this team to transform it into the holiday home it is today.
This, of course, was not before they cared for the land around the building for a number of years until they felt it was rehabilitated and ready for respectful change. Having reforested the area, they were able to replenish the natural setting to its peak lusciousness. By starting with the land and adjusting the house later, the brothers and their design team built a dialogue between the building and the land.
As the team tackled the house, they opted to interfere with its natural beauty and history as little as possible. Of course, maintenance was done to ensure that the house withstands the test of time and weathers well from here on out. Construction that did take place was done using locally sourced quarry blocks of the same kind that were there already.
These same blocks were also used to cover the floor of the house, which was a mud floor when the brothers first encountered it. Wood framing and detail and glass windows have been added, but the materiality that was already there has been largely preserved in the state it was already in, so long as that state was good and solid.
Now that the home is finished, it presents a stunning space that opens out entirely into its natural surroundings thanks to opening wooden shutters and sliding glass doors in each wall. The house is linear in shape with a bedroom that leads around a separating wall into a main living space and finally into a fully equipped kitchen.
The spaces in the homes interiors are wide open and have simple, easy flow throughout, with simple markers that delineate the rooms by their function without actually blocking them from one another in any way. This helps with air and sunlight flow as much as movement, letting the natural light from the wide open doors and the big, new windows reach every corner.
Photos by Rafael Gamo
On the Northern slope of a lake in Rinihue, Chile, is the recently finished House MP of Rinihue Lake, designed and created by Del Campo – Labbe. This house sits on a remote road that starts right at the mouth of the San Pedro River. The house bears a stunningly wooden interior that contrasts well with its darker metal facade.
Building a house on this particular plot of land was desirable because of its beauty but challenging for several reasons. The first was that the best view the land provides is to the south but the best light pours in from the north, making angles and window placements require special consideration.
The second challenge the plot presented comes in the form of its sizeable slope. Where the land slopes downward, it also features two incredibly large and extremely old oak trees. Designers chose to respect this space as much as possible, avoiding building too close to it by marking it out specifically as a place for outdoor activities and relaxation.
In addition to these special considerations related to the land, designers wanted to take the owners’ priorities into account throughout their whole process planning process as well. The owners made it known from the beginning that they wanted to designate equal space in their home’s interior for hosting guests (the public and common spaces) and for enjoying time to themselves (the private spaces).
The intention here was to give themselves a home that feels equally social and serene, with free connection between the two spaces but also enough delineation that a true sense of collective or relaxation can be achieved whenever it’s needed. The house spans 160 square metres with the private areas raised slightly, accessible by stairs both inside and outside.
From those outdoor staircases to the private spaces, owners can also access a stunning outdoor space that gives them a lovely view of greenery surrounding the house and its land. This space is a sort of covered patio that is created entirely from the same smoothed wood that the floor, walls, and most of the furnishings and surfaces are also made from.
This patio, like the house at large, is clad in dark metal on its outside, like it’s been fully wrapped in something almost protective. This overhang structure gives the patio seats a comfortable shade that can still be reached by the warmth and breeze on a pleasant summer day.
The outer stairs that don’t lead to outdoor patio spaces like the one we’ve described or outer access doors for the private space lead to the parts of the land near the ground floor that are level, making the slope easier to climb so that the leisure space near the trees can be accessed more safely.
Overall, the house is decorated in a way that’s intended to emanate warmth. This is perfectly depicted in the main living room, where mid-century inspired seating is covered in throw pillows and faux furs, surrounding my smooth wood, and situated perfectly for socializing, all centred around a fantastically rustic influenced but modernly shaped wood burning stove.
Photos by Francisco Delpiano
By Courtney • Apr 30, 2019
On the first floor of a Pombaline style building in the middle of Lisboa in Portugal, innovative architectural and design teams at SER-ra recently refreshed a stunning apartment called The Apartment in Santa Apolonia.
In its original condition, the apartments in this building had fallen entirely to the whims of time, showing great marks of wear and tear or the ways that owners from days auld had made changes according to their needs. Not that this particular apartment had been taken on by brand new owners from outside the area, it was time for a fresh start for both them and the space.
Because the apartment was being all but stripped and rebuilt in terms of materiality and aesthetic, owners and designers were quite free to establish the kind of space they pleased. They opted for one that is slightly Scandinavian inspired, with lots of clean, white surfaces and smooth wooden details and finishes.
The combination of stark and warm materials creates a stunning contrast within the space before it’s even been furnished or decorated. Character is added by cross braced wooden columns that hearken back to older styles of interior decor in the area but look more like a modern throwback against the white around them here in this context.
These crossed columns might look like they’ve been installed for support, but that’s not entirely the case. At the same, they’re not purely decorative either! These beams are demarcations of space; rather than install doors that might close off living spaces from private spaces in a small apartment meant for singular persons or those who want to share closely, these beams provide visual delineation from room to room.
In fact, the emphasis on openness and freedom of flow in this apartment were so important that flexibility and transparency were listed as the top priorities. Even so, everyone involved understood that sometimes privacy is absolutely necessary, so sliding doors between the living room and bedroom are installed, left to recede into the wall more often than not.
On top of being flexible, the space is also very bright. This is helped along by the presence of not just sizeable windows but also glass doors leading to a small private balcony. This little outdoor space ensures that the apartment gets enough fresh air and natural light and, despite the fact that the apartment is only one floor up from the ground floor, it provides a lovely urban view of the buildings surrounding its inner space.
Photos by emontenegro / architectural photography
Stilted V|M House created by WINTERI Arquitectura to overlook the water just beyond its grassy slope
By Courtney • Apr 29, 2019
At the basin of a lake and high up on wooden stilts, the V|M House, a house designed and built by WINTERI Arquitectura, provides a relaxing space specifically intended for relaxing escape and meditation.
The house is located in El Totoral in Chile, on the edges of Lake Llanquihue. It perches respectfully and light on a large slope lush with greenery and surrounded by agricultural fields that have a long history of generous crops behind them. The area isn’t actively producing crops anymore, but it still has a sense of farming charm about it; many of the original warehouses have been preserved where they’ve always stood.
The warehouses in the distance of the house do more than just contribute to the character of the area. They also hearken back to the history of the local land beyond its involvement in farming and crops. They also serve as a staunch reminder of the colonization of the area. In less melancholy terms, they contribute depth to V|M House’s view of the lake below it and the volcanoes by the horizon beyond.
In building the base structure of this house, designers wanted to work with the state and natural curvature of the land wherever possible, rather than building into or against it. This is how the raised and stilted form of its base was conceptualized. The house sits aloft on a metallic post and platform structure that provides stability and comfort to its inhabitants but also prevents it from interrupting the land with its foundation. In short, the raised end accounts for the land’s slope.
Regarding its interior functions, the house has two volumes. The lower floor is dedicated to daily life, shared spaces, and all the common activities of a regular family and their friends or guests. On the upper level, however, you’ll encounter calmer, more private spaces that are geared towards escaping busy routines, reaching a state of true relaxation, and facilitating meditation before sleep or starting one’s day.
In order to contribute to the home’s sense of relaxation and escape, designers wanted to maximize on the level of calming views and natural sunlight might be gathered into the house itself from any room or direction. This goal played a huge role in determining how the house is situated and where the windows sit. Good orientation was paramount in its design.
For the home’s exterior, designers provided a bit of weather-proofing by encasing it in corrugated zinc. This facade gives the home a strength and durability required for the weather in the area, but it also helps to camouflage the house a little more successfully into its surrounding environment. This metallic finish is paired with beautiful cypress wood, matching it to its environment even more effectively.
The interior scheme is heavy on wood as well. These are also light in tone because designers deliberately used locally sourced manio and cypress woods. These materials enhance the landscape, provide strength to the house, and contribute to the home’s decorative nature.
Outside, surrounding the end of the home that just out onto posts over the slop of the land, the house features a lovely porch that turns into a wrapping deck. The windows all along this section of the house light particularly the upper meditation volume in a breathtaking way while the deck itself provides nearly unparalleled views of the environment just outside the home’s doors.
Photos by Sofia Mezzano
1960s social housing project Virginia House reinvented by 2712 asociados to mirror the neighbourhood’s economic growth
By Courtney • Apr 26, 2019
Located in Vitacura, Chile, the Virginia House update was recently completed by 271 asociados to ensure that the structure, which has stood in the neighbourhood since the 1960s, keeps up with the impressive economic growth of its surrounding area.
Standing proud in a social housing neighbourhood, the building was originally constructed using prefabricated panels of concrete and saddle roofs featuring large wooden trusses. Since it was build, however, the area of the city it calls home as undergone continuous change for the better, leaving Virginia House as one of the only dwellings left in its original condition.
Upon decided to update the space, contractors carefully considered how they might expand Virginia House. They opted a horizontal expansion that adjoins the eastern and western edges of the building’s plot, and then moved on to plans for a vertical expansion. The latter part they chose to do in light steel to avoid adding more heavy wood and concrete to the already extremely solid aesthetic of the structure.
Despite their desire to expand, design teams also made explicit efforts to maintain space in the front and back of the newly updated structure. This gives dwellers simple access to parking on the back side of the building and makes room for a wide, stunning garden around the other side, offsetting the heavy city look that was there previously.
Inside the building, interior rooms were redesigned holding feelings of expansiveness and access to natural light as the utmost important priorities. Part of this open concept aspect is achieved through the way double story vertical spaces are included in the main social rooms, connecting the two levels of the house visually. A light, open step staircase connects the two floors physically, with light wood keeping colour schemes just as airy as the atmosphere the stairs are situated in.
The besides opening up the main social spaces for more natural lighting from large surrounding windows, the empty vertical space we’ve described also helps communicate the different volumes of the house to visitors. It articulates the rooms of the first floor, presenting them in a nice, blended way that gives dwellers free movement while also setting the upstairs rooms off to one side above, giving them an increased sense of privacy or intimacy.
Throughout the entire house, materials have been chosen and blended together strategically to give a good variance or texture within a relatively neutral but pleasantly friendly colour scheme. Light woods used in surfaces and panelling contrast well with black steel braces and frames, while bright yellow doors throughout the whole space give things a personality-filled pop of colour.
Besides being cheerful and sunny, the house’s update is also energy efficient. Windows are featured liberally, but only towards the north side, whereas the west side of the house is more closed off. This enables good passive heat control and works in partnership with strategically placed ventilators that help regulate the temperature based on where the sunlight falls most.
Speaking of energy efficiency, even the wooden cladding you see on the home’s exterior is actually a ventilated wall system! It both gives the home an elegant outer finish and stops loss of heat from the home’s exterior on colder days. The overall effect is cost effective and quite sophisticated looking.
In short, the updated house communicates much more cohesively with its surrounding neighbourhood visually than it did before the designers’ intervention, providing dwellers with a space that’s both sustainable and fitting of its immediate urban context!
Photos by Pablo Casals Aguirre
By Courtney • Apr 25, 2019
In the city of Tuzla, in Turkey’s Tepeören Region, a beautiful new apartment project was recently completed in a lovely modern complex by theCATwork. The newest interior dwelling, which was updated from the original 1990s space, is perfectly sized for a small family. It is also the stuff dreams are made of for those who adore marble finishes!
The complex itself is comprised of approximately 100 different spaces constructed within impressive looking light steel buildings. The way the clean, white marble interiors contrast with the outer steel frames of the building itself are nothing short of breathtaking. Inside, conceptions of where certain rooms and functions should sit in the average house have been handled flexibly, giving the space a bit of a sense of unconventionality.
For example, rather than establishing the kitchen as the central functioning room of the ground floor, like you’d see in most homes, designs chose to create an open concept, free-flowing, and flexibly functional space that allows dwellers to drift easily between the drawing room and dinner area, which are connected entirely. Rather than creating a lack of delineation, this space builds a sense of cohesiveness between the home’s rooms.
Despite the emphasis on open spaces in some rooms of A 620, there is clear, effective delineation of space and function elsewhere. The drawing room is the perfect example of what we mean! Here, a lovely atrium is separated from a social lounge room by a beautiful raise fireplace, creating a difference in space even though the rooms are not closed off from one another.
This sense of lovely finishes, cohesive aesthetics, and free flowing space doesn’t just exist within the walls of the home; it actually extends into the outdoor spaces as well. The veranda, which sits off the social living areas, is a semi-open space with a barbecue station and swimming pool. The doors leading to this space open fully wide, giving the indoor areas amazing natural light and allowing the indoor and outdoor spaces to be melded together as one on warm days.
The materials used to build this home were selected carefully and chosen based on their natural qualities. Obviously breathtaking grey marble was a huge feature, but light wood and darker granite are also alternated in certain spaces to give a sense of balance and grounding and give the marble something to stand out against so its beauty shines even more.
To keep things looking homey but modern, designers purposely changed aesthetics in certain rooms to really delineate personal spaces and add a pop of personality depending on who will dwell there. This is evident sweetly in the use of pastel pink in a little girl’s bedroom; aesthetics from the rest of the house can be seen but her own style is prominent as well.
Despite the emphasis on natural light, which is abundant in A 602, designers also chose to include several unique and modern looking light fixtures in all kinds of places; as wall mounts, ceiling pendants, and even under some stairs. This keeps extra light bounding off the pristine marble in a way that is subtle and glamorous.
Photos by Altkat Photography
Angular House GM in Chile designed by EXTCO to work with the local topography, instead of against it
By Courtney • Apr 24, 2019
In the rolling rural area of Puerto Varas, Chile, the stunning House GM, which is just as angular and decorative as it is solid and comfortable, was recently completed by cutting edge design teams at EXTCO.
Technically, the area that the house actually sits in is part of a city. Because it sits on the outskirts, however, the atmosphere is a little more rural and country inspired, which is part of the reason for the home’s unique shape and foundation. The land rolls and dips in several places but designers wanted to build something that interrupted the natural habitats there as little as possible, so they chose a structure that works with the landscape instead of digging into it.
The shape and materiality of House GM was also chosen in part to account for the fact that it is located in an area know for being quite rainy and humid in terms of climate for most of the year. This particular spot also typically experiences high winds, so there was quite a large need for a solid foundation and strong material choices. Making these decisions as also influenced by the fact that the project had a relatively low budget and required cost efficient choices wherever possible.
To keep the house level across uneven land, it was built raised slightly on stilts, like a wooden deck but all throughout. In some places the stilts are very short and the house sits low to the ground, while in others it looks as though it is raised very high up. This keeps the interior floors and the deck space surrounding the outside of the exterior even for walking on and furnishing, while letting the land slope below the only available spot to fit an entire house relatively uninterrupted.
In this way, the structure of the house provides quite a lot of visual appeal without even really trying to be decorative. So does the way floor to ceiling windows are featured in each end of the house to keep it well and naturally lit with sunlight, but decks and those same windows are simultaneously shaded from wind and rain by large alcove style overhands in the peaked roof.
The way the roof itself peaks upward, standing so tall in its solid frame made of reclaimed local wood throughout the interior and exterior, is more than just nice to look at; it’s also an homage to the typical architectural style of the area. Designers added a few extra, super fun touches to the outside to make it stand out, though. For example, a kids’ slide hooks to the edge of the deck at one end, letting dwellers slid down from the raised portion of the house rather than just using the stairs. These neat, modern details create a cool contrast with the seemingly rural wooden style and cultural shape of the rest of the house.
Because the house was built for a busy young family, the layout of its interior was pegged as needing free flow and open spaces that are good for moving between rooms, communicating, and bonding. The light shades (primarily white and light, natural wooden colours) of the interior decor scheme contrast well with the darker wood of the facade outside, making the rooms feel like and airy in combination with those lovely big windows we mentioned earlier. This helps the atmosphere stay cheerful during long, grey days of rain during certain seasons.
At the same time as the light interior benefits the family, the dark exterior does as well! In certain places, black plates have been place to absorb as much heat as possible from the day’s sunlight in order to keep the house’s temperature regulated as well as possible, making the house more green and less reliant on mechanical heating and cooling systems.
In the event that a chilly day means the black insulation plates aren’t enough, the family can gather around the central wood burning stove that sits in the middle of the primary social space. Besides looking fantastically decorative in a sort of locally rustic way (you might notice the lumber piled on the deck to keep the stove running adding a particular character to the outdoor space as well), this piece also heats the inside from the centre outward whenever necessary.
Photos by Marcos Zegers
Classic examples of traditional Scandinavian architecture styles in apartments across the world get raving acclaim worldwide
By Courtney • Apr 23, 2019
Across the world, stunning Scandinavian style influenced apartments have been garnering praise for their layout and decor. Innovative designs in new cities have been harnessing lovely traditional techniques and pieces in order to create apartments and living spaces that are charming, comfortable, and nothing short of stunning.
Although there are hundreds of apartments across the world that might fall into this unique category, three in particular stand out as shining examples of Scandinavian architecture and decor located in other countries. While an apartment in Vietnam employs typical Scandinavian colour schemes like pops of teal mixed with deep browns, another located in Poland interprets the same style through darker colours blended seamlessly with natural wood tones. A third space keeps that classic wooden element in place but replaces the bright and dark colour hues with brushes of soft greys and blush pink, for a modern take on the style.
The first apartment that beautifully exemplifies Scandinavian influenced styles in international spaces is this on in Vietnam, designed and created by Puzzle Studio.
Here, stunning pops of bright, jewel toned teal contrast starkly and beautifully with rich brown shades and finishes, adding dept to the space in a way that’s very typical of Scandinavian inspired home decor techniques. Geometric shapes are also paramount to the style and this is incorporated here in the form of several uniquely shaped coffee tables.
Straight-edged geometry isn’t the only shaping typical of a Scandinavian home, however. Many contain rounded, circular, and spherical shapes instead of or alongside those angular pieces. This particular apartment features both themes, as you can see in the circle pattern backsplash in the kitchen or the elliptically shaped wall sign that’s been hung for a bit of whimsical detail.
To take the element of rounded shapes and lovely curved lines even further, designers included several stunning arched panels that make up a decorative screen as you move towards the dining room. Rather than contrasting, for once, these complement a lovely modern chandelier that hangs over the dining set and features spherical glass globe shades that mimic the shape of the table.
That arched shape concept extends from the dining room and flows down the hallway in the form of pretty alcoved entryways from room to room. Similarly to how the chandelier lights the arching table, now some wall cupboard lighting gives a warm glow to alcoves and spaces elsewhere while also providing mod looking storage.
In the kitchen, the warmer shades in the fantastically visual backsplash are highlighted by the warmer tone of the kitchen cupboards. Contrasting light and dark tones is, of course, are another central tenet of Scandinavian style, and this space is a fantastic example of those. White shelving units provide storage along the full height of the room but also created balance with the darker base cupboards we mentioned previously, both making the backsplash pattern pop.
Sitting right between the actual cooking space of the kitchen and the lounge where the colour pops draw the eye is a casual island that is often used as a breakfast spot. This space features high bar stools that are very mod looking and convenient, but is also home to a wonderfully bright teal shelving unit. This piece gives a sort of decorative transition between the kitchen and living room, blending teal tones in before you get to the bulk of the accents or the place where they phase out.
This next stunning apartment was a collaboration between several different designers, furnished with their most recent works created in the proper decorative style to suit the aesthetic. Located in The Ukraine, it was put together by entirely local teams who wanted to showcase their work but all sought to work with minimalism as their core concept besides Scandinavian style.
In this home, Scandinavian influence is primarily seen and felt in the way that colours, textures, and lighting are played with and contrasted throughout each room. Created for a young, female professional, the space was designed to be efficient and well organized but still youthful and a little bit whimsical. The multicoloured sofa, in stunning soft greys and blush pinks, is the perfect example of pieces that were chosen to hit this balance.
An opening of space also took place within this apartments renovation as well, which makes even the layout a little more typical of truly Scandinavian styles. Rather than a thin, closed off hallway, a more open space now exists that enables freer flower from room to room without sacrificing privacy. This also makes the living room feel more spacious!
To add some extra pops of colour, that same stunning blush pink that you see in the mixed hue couch is mimicked throughout the house in decor and accessorizing. A wonderfully modern looking accent chair, for example, sits perfectly placed to visually divide the entryway from the living room while still remaining a key element of the seating area. It is, of course, entirely upholstered in that same dusty pink we love so much!
To keep the heavy versus light and colours versus neutral contrast alive, since its so pivotal to the Scandinavian style, we’re in love with the way darker grey lead columns define the living room area, with that grey mimicked elsewhere in several lattice appliques and veneer panels throughout the apartment, like in the decorative but functional shelving unit used to house some stunning greenery that contributes to how the place feels light and lively.
The third apartment in this feature is the stunning Scandinavian Apartment by Karolina Wekko, located in bustling city centre of Warsaw, Poland. This space plays with shape, texture, and visual pattern in myriad interesting ways, keeping that deep Scandinavian wood element all through the rooms
Although the primary feature of the living room, which is the focus of the social space, is a very dark section of wall near the sofa, a light paintwork piece has been included directly across from that, in the kitchen, for balance. This contrast wall is a mosaic effect granite piece in the kitchen that is repeated again in the bathrooms for continuity. Although the kitchen and living rooms are different spaces in terms of functionality, the open concept floor plan lets them communicate.
One of the first things that will draw your eye when you walk in is the stunningly sculptural Shell chair by design Branca Lisboa. This is, in fact, the centrepiece that much of the apartment was designed around. Around it are several multipurpose furnishings that are quite innovative indeed, including a narrow bench near the TV that can support media consoles or be used as extra seating when guests come to visit.
In the dining room, that same Scandinavian idea of light and dark contrasts continues in the way dark chairs surround a lighter wood table. The space is further lightened by a long, full length mirror that catches natural sunlight from the picturesque windows and reflects it even further, making the space feel very bright indeed and causes it to feel perhaps a little bigger than it really is.
Smaller decorative details are paramount to the space as well. Around the kitchen, where a dark island contrasts with light cupboards, you’ll also find an impressively lush number of lovely green plants to make the space feel lively, and several light and somewhat delicate decorative elements, like a hoop pendant in fine gold in the bedroom that plays off the bigger, bolder shapes of the contemporary furniture.
This apartment truly is a case of all things in balance!
Photos provided by the designer.
By Courtney • Apr 22, 2019
Every once in a while, a home that is quite correctly named comes onto the market and impresses everyone with its accuracy, but none are quite so aptly dubbed as the truly sunny and ever cheerful Sunny Apartment, recently completed by Svoya Studio. This space prioritizes sunlight as it plays off colour pops and stunning patterns and lets the beauty of natural light work its magic in every space available.
In the construction of this apartment, sunlight was literally the muse of the designers. The warmth provided by it as it streams through the massive, pristine windows even played into the way the heating systems work. In fact, designers actually originally referred to their plans for this apartment’s layout as Miracle Morning, that’s how big a priority the sunlight was!
Stemming from the idea that the morning is the most special time of day, designers made sure to situated windows and rooms so that sunlight is able to hit just about any corner of the apartment. Even in places where the light can’t directly reach from the windows, like the small entrance hall, some solution has been found; here, it’s a stunning hanging mirror ball that catches an edge of light and reflects it down the hall off its mirrored surfaces!
Traveling from that hall and down to the private areas, you’ll follow along a concrete hallway that, in its own polished shine, also carries light quite well. These floors mimic the cityscape right outside the windows, making the space feel urban and modern despite its whimsical concentration on sunshine. At the end of the hall, a sprawling master bedroom features a beed in front of a beautifully decorative partition, all facing towards huge picture windows that, once again, showcase the morning’s first light.
Throughout the rest of the apartment, including in the kids’ room, the colours of a sunrise and the warm hues of dawn are dotted throughout the apartment in the form of decorative pieces. The sofa, for example, is upholstered in a breathtaking sunrise orange that draws the eye immediately, which is lovely since that same sofa actually divides space between the lounger and the kitchen and dining areas. Pristine white cushions rest atop the orange fabric for contrast, playing off the matching bright white of the kitchen cupboards in order to tie the open concept space together and as it’s divided by function.
To play on the sunlight themes, interior decorators made sure to include all kinds of plant life as they completed the apartment. They chose plants that thrive in sunny indoor spaces, so the greenery is lush and vibrant even though you’re sitting several floors up in the middle of a city. Between the bright natural light and these, it’s as though the plants are breathing life into the room.
These plants also service to soften up the more industrial and city inspired parts of the urban living setting. A concrete column in the middle, for example, looks less harsh thanks to the way a planter sits next to it, with leaves fanning out against the concrete.
Plants and bright pops of colour aren’t the only elements that work with the concrete to keep things urban but cozy and homey. Wood is a large component of the space as well! For example, wood effect cabinets to the side of the kitchen, which contrast well with the main white cupboards, add a little warmth to the space. All of the apartment’s doors and some panels down the hallway are made from a matching wood, creating a sense of natural continuity.
Photos provided by the designer.