Author Archives - Courtney
By Courtney • Jun 20, 2019
In the sunny suburb of Campinas, Brazil, artistic designers at Padovani Arquitetos Associados recently completed a contemporarily stunning residential project for an adult family, calling it the Marubá Residence.
Sitting at the top of a small rise, the home suits its lush, green surroundings quite well. With its foundation and facade of natural, locally sourced concrete and stained wood, it appears not to interrupt the skyline of the neighbourhood despite the fact that its shape and structure are much more modern and geometric than most of the homes surrounding it.
The materiality that you see outside actually follows you into the interior as well; floors alternative between a polished version of that same concrete and perfectly stained floors made of the same wood you saw outside as well. This creates a sense of consistency between the inner and outer parts of the home, as thought they’ve been in communication.
The fact that the house sits on the highest point of the street’s land afford it quite a lovely view indeed. the area around the house, though quiet, has an urban influence, but the vantage point from the top of the rise through the home’s windows is still sunny and inviting, worth relaxing by the floor to ceiling casings in the bedroom or out on the patio for.
While most homes in the area are two storeys high like this one, they’re usually structured like semi-detached town houses. This home, however, stands alone and has a stacked, modular look about its top floor, rather than simply growing vertically in a way that’s seamless and more typical.
As is common in the area, the social and leisure aspects of the house are located on the ground floor, where visitors might easily come and enjoy those spaces with you. Here, you’ll find the living and dining rooms, the kitchen, and access to the backyard, which features a stunning blue pool that gets lots of sun. This poolside, however, is still afforded some shade thanks to the overhang at one end of that stacked top module we’ve spoken so much about.
Upstairs, in the top storey of the house, you’ll find the private resting areas. Here, the house features three bedrooms for their owners’ children and a master suite, with a bathroom at one end of the hall and an en suite for the parents. The bedrooms are designed to get as much sunlight as possible with more floor to ceiling windows, but they are also afforded privacy by a screen of movable wooden slats built into the home’s facade. These can be seen all across the long, flat side of the top module outside.
In terms of decor, designers aimed to keep things bright and cheerful but still sophisticated. Furnishings and decor details alternate between light and dark throughout each room, creating a sense of balance where things are at once uplifting and also grounded. The effect is a truly stunning contrast that suits the one created right away by the light wood and dark concrete both outside and in.
Photos by Evelyn Muller
Charming wooden Cainã Refuge created by Bruno Zaitter arquiteto as part of a Brazilian farmland resort
By Courtney • Jun 19, 2019
In the Brazilian state of Paraná, in the Campos Gerais region, there is a farming town called Balsa Nova. Here, a stunning farmland refuge serves as a resort getaway for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature. Recently, Bruno Zaitter arquiteto was brought on by the resort owners to add another private building for accommodation; this is the stunning wooden yet modern Cainã Refuge!
The farm hotel and its various lovely little buildings are located right on a geological fault called the “Escarpa Devoniana”. This gives it a raised vantage point from which guests are treated to a stunning view of the surrounding forests, as well as a distant sight of the city skyline where the borders of Curitiba lie. Even further in the distance lies a mountain range, like a shadowy backdrop.
The terrain surrounding the new building is Brazilian countryside through and through; it is uneven and a little rocky in some parts, but wonderfully lush and green all around. Because the refuge is fortunate enough to have such a stunning setting, designers aimed to do as little as possible to interrupt the landscape and nature surrounding it. This partially explains its emphasis on natural, locally sourced wood, which makes up almost the entire module.
The new building is simplistic in its shape and natural in its materiality. It is minimalist in its approach to space and decor, and yet it still offers all of the modern amenities one could wish for on a relaxing holiday, where they should want for nothing. The matching wooden interior and exterior creative a calming sense of cohesiveness while also making the refuge feel like it could be one with the land on which it’s situated.
At the same time as the building seems to harmonize with nature, it also stands out once you’ve taken note of it. This is thanks to the way the straight lines of its cubic structure differs from the natural curves of the land surrounding it. Whether you want to call it contrast or balance, the effect is quite beautiful and surprisingly organic.
At it longest point, the building only stretches 12 metres. A back wall is made entirely of wood, as are the floor, ceiling, and most of the furnishings. On each end and along the long Eastern side, however, glass walls provide almost constant views and visual connection to nature, as well as a breathtaking view of where the stunning sunrise takes place over the land.
Each of these windowed walls can, of course, be closed off with lovely cream curtains for privacy. Sitting back in the more wooden part of the refuge is a living room space, kitchenette, dining table, and miniature office space. Extending from that, like it’s own little box, is a sort of glass room where that glass sunrise wall sits, enclosing a bright, relaxing bedroom.
Now, contrasting with all of the natural elements of the refuge that we’ve mentioned so far is one key detail; the metal pieces of framework you see supporting the skeleton of the house are actually upcycled from a repurposed shipping container! This allowed for a lot of the construction of the building to be done offsite so it could be brought in pre-fabricated, minimizing the often harmful effects of construction on the land. Now, thanks to green power systems, the whole little building continues that theme of being low impact.
Photos by Bruno Zaitter
By Courtney • Jun 19, 2019
In the mountainous lands of Bozeman, Montana, designers at Locati Architects recently completed a clearly rustically influenced but overall wonderfully contemporary vacation home called the Rocky Mountain Retreat.
This particular design studio specializes in luxury custom home architecture and sophisticated interiors and that’s precisely what they gave the owners of the Rocky Mountain Retreat, but with a unique twist inspired by the home’s surroundings! The home stands two storeys tall, nearly engulfed by lush greenery and forest. Thanks to where it stands atop a small crag, it is afforded a view of the mountains in the distance that is nothing short of breathtaking.
On the outside, the house is truly a rustic mountain home through and through according to materiality. The facade is clad entirely in stacked stoning while the siding and frame details are made from a perfectly finished and locally sourced wood. This makes the getaway look warm and inviting but also somehow as thought it really belongs there with the trees and mountains.
Because it’s a space meant to be enjoyed mostly in the winter, large windows were prioritized. This was intended to let in as much natural sunlight as possible during the day, maximizing what daylight the short winter hours give. This also helps keep things a little warmer during the day, reducing the need for power and making the home a little more energy efficient.
That’s not to say that the getaway can’t be enjoyed in the summer too! Those daylight-flooding windows just help the interiors feel even more cheerful when the days are longer. There are also just as many outdoor activities for families to do in warm weather around the vacation home as there are in the winter, making time spent there irresistible all year round.
The nearly-rustic but fully equipped style of living that the house offers is apparent guests approach the large wooden doors and covered entryway. From there, one can see the great room; a sprawling living space with a deep sofa and a cozy gas-powered, stone clad fireplace that’s perfect for gathering family and friends around.
Throughout the social spaces on the bottom floor, the house has impressively high ceilings, especially in rooms that aren’t actually double height all the way past the top floor. These ceilings give the room a feeling of being airy, spacious, and bright. That feeling of spaciousness is helped along by more than one glass wall, double paned to provide stunning views of the seasons outside without either losing heat in the winter or letting too much in when the days warm up.
The best part of these glass walls, besides the sunlight they provide in the winter, is that they slide back to offer a nearly seamless indoor-outdoor experience when the days get warm enough! Under an impressive pair of rustic wooden ceiling trusses, one can pass through onto a patio space with enough comfortable outdoor seating for everyone.
The kitchen is perhaps the place where the contemporary and rustic elements of the house are the most pronounced amidst each other, in direct contrast. It is spacious with large stainless steel appliances, which play off things like the stone backsplash that extends to the ceiling. The huge accompanying dining area features a huge fur rug sprawled across rustic wooden floors, on top of which a more contemporary looking dining table seats ten.
Getting rustic once more, a wooden staircase that is new but looks wonderfully weather leads to the second floor of the house, where the private areas lie. A very modern looking glass guardrail accompanies you up the stairs, ending where several bedrooms sprawling behind grand wooden doors lie.
The upper storey also features the master bathroom, where grey stone tiled floors and walls appear rustic while a stunning vanity contrasts more contemporarily. To the side, a freestanding tub sits in front of a large window, faced so that no one in the world could see you bathe, but so you can relax while you soak up both the water’s warmth and the stunning mountain view.
The master bathroom is also a place where modern and rustic elements confront each other much more explicitly elsewhere, just like in the kitchen. The way worn looking wooden beams support the ceiling and door frame plays against the very contemporary looking sculptural hands on the wall.
Photos by Gibeon Photography
By Courtney • Jun 18, 2019
In the heart of Los Angeles, California, innovative and creative designers at LA Build Corp have recently completed and impressive walled and gated structure called the Breezy LA Home, providing a haven-like getaway behind its fortress features that truly exemplifies the joys of California living.
Contemporary in its shape and style, the home is cubic in its outer appearance. Streamline vertical and horizontal lines are established at street level with the walls and mimicked in the similarly straight walls and roof shapes. That sense of contemporary style continues inside as well, but this time with a slightly softened edge for comfortable living.
The home is generous in its space, covering just over 6000 square feet. Besides prioritizing Californian style and modern living on the inside, designers also wanted to put a healthy emphasis on spaces that allow indoor-outdoor living, since the city does provide nearly perfect weather for breaking down such limits.
These blended indoor-outdoor spaces include a rooftop deck that spans 1057 square feet. Adorned with outdoor furniture comfortable enough that we’d almost be tempted to use it in our living room, the rooftop space provides panoramic city views dotted with palm trees through. The space is perfect for quiet personal time in the morning and hosing friends at night.
The boundaries between the indoor and outdoor social spaces within the home weren’t the only ones designers were hoping to break down. That’s why the common and shared spaces inside have such a free-flowing, beautifully open floor plan. Spaces are multi-purpose without losing their clear function or feeling like there’s a lack of delineation and privacy.
Part of what helps this process along was the choice to include several clear glass walls in the home’s interior design. These, many of which are also part of pocketed sliding door systems, allow owners to open or close certain spaces off when they please without cutting off sunlight and views around the house, which helps things feel open and spacious even when things are closed up.
In fact, the house has so much emphasis on open concept layouts that even the staircase leading up from the ground floor to the private and sleeping areas upstairs is open to the air and spaces around it. Wooden stairs turn a corner and span upwards, appearing to float, with no solid wall separating the view as you travel from one floor to the other.
Perhaps the most contemporary spaces in the house, which also reflect the outer shape of the house very well, are the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen is clean and modern, following that open concept layout found everywhere else. The bathrooms, while still very contemporary, have a slightly more stylized look to them, featuring gorgeous imported tiles and custom hardwood floors that ground the otherwise very modern aesthetic a little.
On the ground floor, another indoor-outdoor space forms a nearly seamless transition area between the interior living spaces and the backyard. On the far side of that patio, you’ll find a combination lap pool and relaxing spa that catch the most sunlight in the yard. This outdoor space even has its own outdoor movie projector for entertaining guests and family bonding. A gorgeous wooden deck boasts its own bar, fire pit, and barbecue area, all fit for use year-round in LA’s mild climate.
Photos by Jeff Ong
By Courtney • Jun 18, 2019
At the edge of a peninsula in Newport Beach, California, and shockingly beautiful and expansive family beach house has been built up from the remains of a previously demolished house by Sinclair Architects & Associates in order to give a large family a fully equipped, contemporary version of their ideal sunshine escape.
Just like the original house did, this new beach house sits nestled snuggly between a lovely, sprawling beach and the edge of the bay at the Newport Peninsula, with a fantastic view of the boats docked at the pier. At a jaw-dropping 12,610 square feet, the house almost looks more like a resort hotel than a single family dwelling, but it’s rare that friends and extended family aren’t joining the owners, who extend invites with open arms.
Before this impressive structure was contracted, the plot of land it now occupies was actually separated into three separate lots. Now that those spaces have been amalgamated into one, the house is afforded a whopping 90-foot bayfront spot that provides sparkling views of the water and easy access to all kinds of sunny sports and activities.
When the owners first purchased the space, they originally intended to simply renovate the house that was already standing on the biggest central plot. After consulting with designers and discussing goals, however, the whole team decided it would be best to demolish the house and leave only the spacious basement, which the new house now stands on top of.
In total, besides the basement we’ve mentioned, the new house boasts five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a home theatre, a home office, its own gym, two on-site bars, and even its own games room! Additionally, it has an attached garage that spans 1,533 square feet of its own.
The first thing people notice about the house, besides its size, is usually the views that it offers. Because sunlight and beach atmospheres were such a high priority, the house is positively filled with glazed floor to ceiling glass walls, doors, and windows, making the views essentially constant from every room before you’ve even ventured into the amazing outdoor living spaces.
After that, the blended feeling, open concept connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as the open concept layouts of the interior spaces themselves, are usually next to catch a guest’s attention. This creates seamless flow of sunlight and keeps every space in the house bright, cheerful, just warm enough, and well lit. One can easily wander from room to room and out onto the sprawling patio, rooftop deck, or glittering poolside without feeling cut off from other spaces or isolated.
The beach-like atmosphere of the house, both inside and outside, is bolstered by the very intentional decor scheme, rather than simply being left up to the location itself. The entire house has been decorated to adhere to a casual, stylishly established “beach-chic” scheme, right from furnishings to small decor details. The effect is warm and welcoming, as well as somehow at once sophisticated and grounded enough to make guests and owners feel immediately right at home.
Where natural, beachy finishes aren’t centre stage, the house is otherwise clean looking and streamlined, keep its modern feel thanks to shining white surfaces and light marble accents, particularly in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bar spaces. The social spaces, like the living and games rooms, are adorned with seating designed for comfort and bonding, making them exciting but still relaxing to spend time in with friends, unwinding and having fun.
The bedrooms, on the other hand, are entirely centred around concepts of relaxation. The space are light, airy, and filled with sunshine, with curtains at the beds and windows in case one needs some privacy or a little alone time. Overall, there is a sense of being to reconnect, with others and one’s self, and also to benefit from the natural water and sunlight all around. A stay at this house is good for the mind, body, and soul.
Photos by Ryan Garvin Photography
By Courtney • Jun 17, 2019
In a residential area, on a quiet suburban street in Bordeaux, France, a thoroughly modern house that is eye catching for its simplicity has been completed by MORE Architecture and dubbed the ALY House.
Entirely cubic in its outer structure, the ALY House is a concrete building that discerns itself simply but beautifully from the houses around it. In fact, this was the entire point; designers originally built and conceptualized the house specifically to stand out from its neighbours and add something a little different to the scape of the street it calls home.
Rather than making the house so ornate, grand, and alluring by adding details and making it look like “more”, like so many designers are wont to do, this team decided to scale the outer embellishments and frivolities back and pare the details down. In this way, the block house attracts the eye for a lack of distraction and ornate detail that somehow, in itself, ends up looking beautiful.
The concrete materiality of the house doesn’t end once you’ve entered through the front door. Inside, this polished concrete also makes up the floor while slightly more natural and unfinished concrete composes the walls and ceilings all throughout the home’s two storeys. This is consistent through the common living spaces, hallways, and even on into the bedrooms.
The effect of this continuity in the use of concrete gives the house a monochromatic element that is actually quite calming. To break things up a little, designers included furnished features in a light reclaimed wood, furthering an atmosphere that is a clean looking combination of natural and contemporary.
The plot of land on which the house sits is conservative, but this suits the space efficient layout of its interiors quite well. The shape of the house reflects the long, narrow shape of the land, giving off a satisfying sense of symmetry. Because it is also on a slight rise, the view around the house is veritably 360 degrees, making any window pleasant to look out without sacrificing any of the family’s privacy.
On the ground floor of the house, guests encounter an open living spaces that flows well in terms of function, air ventilation, sunlight, and simple movement. This greenery rich living area features abundant bookshelves, a kitchen, and a family seating space that extends almost seamlessly onto a lovely patio.
On the patio, an energy efficient swimming pool makes hot summer days a welcome thing. Thanks to the home’s vantage point on a small rise and the wall-like structure of the house itself, the poolside and water are entirely private from not only the street, but the eyes of neighbours in other directions as well. Despite that, the space is far from feeling closed off.
Upstairs, the master bedroom features an en suite bathroom and a large, picturesque window while the children’s rooms, which follow the same minimalist style as the rest of the house but with more cheerful pops of decorative colour, engulf a spacious playroom on either side.
Photos by Edouard Decam
Family vacation retreat called Edwardian Home created by Gast Architects boasts four impressive floors
By Courtney • Jun 17, 2019
Where an old townhouse used to stand, right in the heart of San Francisco, California, creative contemporary designers at Gast Architects have recently completed the Edwardian Home; a modern take on the architectural era of the same name.
Now a contemporary living space through and through, the Edwardian Home was renovated from an older building that once house several separate apartments split throughout a tall townhouse. Instead, the team turned it into one cohesive home to give a large family the ideal vacation retreat away from their busy daily lives in another big city.
Part of the reason the building was re-conceived to involve all four floors as part of a singular, cohesive family dwelling was because of the structure of the unique family who bought it; they have four different generations of family who wanted a place where they could gather together under one roof! With each different unit of the family living all over the world, the group wanted to built a spot in a world-class city where they could all be together and bond somewhere they love, from youngest to oldest.
Although much of the inside of the building has been modernized and now has quite a contemporary quality, designers chose to restore the original shingle style facade of the house in order to pay tribute to and keep it blending well with the scape of its street outside. Although they did wish to give the building a new lease on life, they also wanted to keep its Edwardian authenticity.
Not everything on the outside was left untouched, however. Large repairs included the roof where a flared lower edge provides shade during certain parts of the day to impressive bay windows on each floor. Changes were made, however, where brick classing was integrated lower down the facade on the lower level in order to give it a little more sturdiness and a better chance of withstanding natural wear and tear for the many tears the family intends on gathering in the home.
The home’s interior, which is much more contemporary than the Edwardian facade, features a deliberate contrast of tones. Designers chose a palette with a balance of warm and cool shades, with simple materiality and a homey, neutral aesthetic that hearkens back to the original Craftsman style of the home before renovations.
Within the decor pieces, artistic elements, and fine details, the family and designers deliberately chose an Asian influence when it comes to patterns and shapes. This is partially responsible for the subtle sense of elegance the house exudes despite also feeling like a comfortable place to gather and spend time with loved ones.
Perhaps our favourite aspect of the house is the fact that, because of how it’s situated on the street and thanks to the rolling hills of the city’s landscape, each and every floor gives guests a different panoramic view of the city skyline. Whether one is sitting outside on the porch, reading on their own in one of the quiet, relaxation rooms, or bonding with family around one of the fireplaces, the stunning atmosphere of San Francisco can be see easily, comforting those who look.
Of course, the height of the house provides the family with plenty of space for hosting as many of them as can visit at once, but that’s not all the four floors are good for. They provide the chance to build rooms into diverse social spaces while still maintaining ares of privacy and quiet for those who need it.
Aside from the modern amenities added to the home and the light, contemporary furnishings chosen for the interior, one of the biggest updates that wouldn’t have been typical to the original Edwardian structure is the lovely back deck. This spaces is designed to open wide right into the ground floor common spaces and blend indoor and outdoor experiences so the city really feels like part of living there.
Now, we’ve called the deck one of the biggest updates to the old fashioned inspired house. That’s because the biggest update is undoubtedly the steel system elevator that rises up to each of the four floors to the core of the building! This makes every single storey accessible to every member of the family, no matter how old or young, meaning they can choose to spend their stay sleeping in whichever room they find most comfortable regardless of how many stairs they might otherwise have had to climb to get there!
photos by Aaron Leitz Photography
Contemporary Brazilian SR32 Residence created by HARDT Planejamento created on a slope overlooking a landmark park
By Courtney • Jun 14, 2019
Nestled into the woodland areas of Curitiba in Brazil, the beautiful and newly completed SR32 Residence created by HARDT Planejamento was a chance to test the design team’s skills in building on sloping land and lowering process impacts on nature while still creating a contemporary living space.
Covering 240 square metres of land, the house sits singularly on a slope; and standalone structure that is not built onto the boundaries of another building like so many in the nearby local areas are. The vantage point at which the house sits affords it a view of the nearby Bacacheri park, a local landmark, that is nothing short of breathtaking.
From the outset, designers decided to incorporate this closeness to such lush nature right into the home’s layout and structural plan. Besides aiming to include an amount of greenery within the home’s decor itself, they also wanted to emphasize those green views as much as possible. This is how the finished product ended up featuring its three full glass facade walls!
Of course, the house is still a residential home and (even legally) that requires a degree of privacy, so designers also custom built a useful blond gable on the south side, where passers by might otherwise see into the house a little too easily. Elsewhere, however, the home is almost entirely visually open to the greenery surrounding it.
The view wasn’t the only thing designers wanted to work with! They also opted to work with the last of the land instead of against it, incorporating the slop of the hill into the home’s structure and layout. They did this largely by deeming the highest point of the slope as the perfect spot for the ground floor and using the slope downward as an opportunity to build a basement below.
Besides the basement on the slope, the rest of the house is arranged vertically on top of the ground floor. This gives certain rooms a different but equally stunning view down into the park. While the basement plays home to a garage and storage space, the ground floor features social areas and the kitchen and dining room. Upstairs, you’ll encounter personal rest space, as well as a comfortable rooftop patio for family activities, hosting guests, and relaxing with that infamous view.
Access to each floor of the house is provided by one of the design elements that actually contrasts greatly with its naturally surroundings, as well as different more neutrally toned features of the house. This is a steel staircase all along the one closed wall, extending from the basement completely upwards through the ground floor, past the bedrooms, and right to the rooftop.
Of course, the square footage of the actual ground level is quite small, even though that means the house isn’t thanks to the way it expands upwards. This small base means that the goal of building a strong green element right into the house wasn’t as easy as it might have been otherwise. This is why designers chose to not only build a small garden on the round level, but also allow it to climb up the side of the house onto the rooftop patio and barbecue area as well.
Whatever other small spaces in the house that don’t feature their own elements of greenery, like the bathroom and a small ground floor office off the kitchen, are purposely situated to face the back garden so that they don’t miss out entirely. This ties the atmosphere of the house into its park and woodland view, making it feel pleasantly engulfed in nature.
In terms of materiality, most of the things used in the home’s construction are natural and were locally sourced. This is perhaps most evident in the heavy use of wood within in the home and in the outdoor spaces, but is also true in the exposed bring and many of the metal details. The polished concrete that makes up the base of the ground floor was locally sourced as well.
Across the floors and up the stairs, both inside and out (with the exception of where polished concrete was used as an alternative), pressure treated pine with a burned finish, a wood that suits both summer and winter, was used. A sense of cohesiveness was created when the leftovers of this wood were used for the countertops in the kitchen and several tables through the house. Pops of colour in the decor scheme, mostly in yellow and blue, create a stunning contrast with this wood.
The heavy emphasis on glass and feelings of limitlessness through the house do, of course, do more than just provide a constant good view. The glass walls in most areas, as well as a glass ceiling over the staircase, also ensure that the interior of the house is constantly well lit. This, in turn, helps increase the home’s energy efficiency during the day.
Photos by Jefferson Carollo Filho
By Courtney • Jun 14, 2019
In the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada, innovative social space designers Partisans have returned to the area following a few successful previous projects, this time to complete the interior renovation of a restaurant space to make the new Quetzal Bar!
Quetzal Bar is not these designers’ first project in the neighbourhood. A number of years back, they were also the driving force behind Bar Raval, a critically acclaimed Spanush “pinto boite”. Now, the same design team has reunited with the same food and drink experts to create a second collaboration with a unique structure and atmosphere distinct from their first.
Quetzal Bar was conceptualized to celebrate and preserve Mexican recipes and cooking techniques from across the country’s various diverse regions. Many of the recipes selected from the menu area generations old and have been passed down with unique changes from family member to family member over the years, making for a truly authentic and delicious dining experience.
The space that the restaurant calls home is a stunning vaulted room that pays homage to certain eras of traditional Mexican architecture. Despite being small, the space feels luminous and welcoming, partially thanks to the lighting choices made by designers and how the light bounces off the unique curved ceiling, and partially thanks to the fragrant, mouthwatering scents wafting from the kitchen.
To make those delicious traditional meals happen, designers and resident chefs alike decided that it would be best to power the College Street bar entirely by a wood-burning fire. This isn’t always typical of how Mexican restaurants cook their meals, even though it’s common practice “back home”. In this way, Quetzal Bar is redefining how Mexican food is both experienced and prepared in Canada itself.
From the outset, restaurant owners stated that they wanted the interior structure of Quetzal Bar to hearken back to the billowing tarps of the market stalls in Mexico. This is where the curvature of the rippling ceiling’s shape came from, as well as the emphasis on organic Oaxacan pottery in the decor details.
Letting these shapes speak volumes within the room, designers chose to keep much of the rest of the space quite simple. The materiality of the furnishings and interiors follows suit, being primarily made of wood, concrete, and plaster. Overall, the space feels breezy and welcoming, blending two cultures in a unique and festive way.
The bar, of course, isn’t free of local Canadian influence either. Owners chose Canadian maple from right there in Ontario to punctuate the rolling ceiling in places that its unique design needed additional support. The concrete of the floor is also locally sourced, letting the Canadian influence ground the space while the Mexican cuisine carries diners away.
Although it is very decorative and reminiscent of Mexican architecture, the ceiling we’ve raved so much about also has a very practical functionality as well. At the same times is it reminds diners of market stalls, or perhaps even snow drifts or sculpted ivory, as employees have suggested, it also hides the industrial air circulation system the restaurant requires to safely ventilate the grill, particularly on bust nights (which there are many of).
The stunning wooden bar is another place where the Canadian element of the space gets to shine. Here, guests can order either cocktails or ceviche, stopping at whichever side they need like they truly are at a Mexican market visiting different stalls. Diners might also visit the comal corner, where the traditional clay ovens used in Mexico are set up for all to see. These spots break down the division between cook and diner, making the meal something to be experienced rather than just consumed.
Photos by Doublespace Photography
Australian Maximus Offices created by Siren Design to give business consultants a dynamic, modern workspace
By Courtney • Jun 13, 2019
In the heart of Melbourne, Australia, innovative designers at Siren Design have recently completed an entire office wide renovation on the newly improved and wonderfully contemporary Maximus Offices!
From the outset, the goal of this renovation was to improve the sense of space for employees. Company heads wanted their business management consultancy team to feel a sense of individuality even while the office itself bears several similarities with the Sydney location, for the sake of cohesiveness and brand consistency.
The first decision designers made was to open up the space completely, both in terms of its layout and in terms of its own framework. Now, the floor plan of each room is open concept and the “bones” of the building, in its supports, ceiling, frame, and details are visible in a way that, rather than looking unfinished, looks minimalist and modern industrial chic.
Another update that had perhaps the biggest effect on employee moods and productivity was the decision to open up as much of each room as possible to ensure that just about every corner is flooded with natural sunlight. This contrast well with the raw elements of the redone building even as it lifts the spirits of those working in the offie and creates and inviting atmosphere typical of more modern office spaces in wider Melbourne.
Another priority shift in the office’s redesign was the way designers opted to explore a sort of blurring of space and traditional boundaries between work spaces, break rooms, and the parts of an office that visitors would normally see. By amalgamating some of these things in one place, keeping designated areas but not closing them off, designers and company heads aimed to make the space more collaborative, friendly in its professionalism, diverse, and welcoming in the way the space works and flows. There’s also a touch of novelty here; now, visitors see some consultants at work to some degree, giving them a sort of “behind the scenes” sneak peek.
Overall, the whole environment was created to feel relaxed. In the entryway, guests are immediately encountered with a welcoming space that, though separate for employee concentration, gives people an easy view into some of the collaborative workspaces. This immediate connection is great for outside collaboration as well as creativity.
Increasing the option of collaborative spaces for the employees themselves was a huge priority as well. The first way in which the company decided to work towards this was by designing a shared cafe, situated near the entrance where guests might join. This space is also often used as a training zone for new employees, making it one of the most diversely used spaces in the whole office.
Now, as we mentioned, the Melbourne space is cohesive with the branding and style of the Sydney location, but it still has its own charm and individualized style, as influenced by its particular employees. Though company values and colour schemes are consistent between the two cities, the new Melbourne spot has a slightly more relaxed, almost residential feel. Where Sydney is rather sophisticated, Melbourne is built to make people feel a little bit more at home.
Photos by Cheyne Toomey
Craftsman’s Farmhouse created by Brandon Architects to provide a beautifully blended and unique family experience near the seaside
By Courtney • Jun 13, 2019
Along the stunning Californian coastlines in the seaside town of Corona del Mar, Brandon Architects has recently finished a stunningly modern take on the idea of building one’s dream country farmhouse, this time with a beachy twist.
The careful craftsmanship that went into planning, building, and decorating this home is evident before you even step through the door. Inspired by the country farmhouses found elsewhere in the country, designers chose to recreate and modernize the aesthetic of such a thing a little bit, making it exude that down-home atmosphere in a way that still suits its seaside location.
The plot on which the house sits, which is nestled onto the coastline of a little Californian beach town called Cameo Shores, is the stuff dreams are made of. The newly built home relies on natural, traditional materials and architectural techniques for that authentic farmhouse feel, particularly on the outside. Designers then used certain areas of the interior to introduce a contemporary element, creating a perfect blend of eras and aesthetics- all while emphasizing those unparalleled seaside views!
While modern technology adorns the kitchen, bathrooms, and shared living spaces and beach life rules the outdoor living spaces, what the designers called “old-world craftsmanship” is evident in the home’s exterior and all of the bedrooms especially. The effect is a truly unique aura of coastal living spanning across the home’s five bedrooms (which are accompanied by six and a half bathrooms). That’s over 7,248 square feet of living space!
Because of the varying design elements that have been incorporated in one place here, the living spaces provided are particularly welcoming and warm feeling. They’re also literally pleasantly warm thanks to the way glass doors, floor to ceiling glazed windows, and skylights allow natural sunlight to flood just about every corner of the house, helped along by the stunning open concept layout. Air circulation and ventilation benefits from this as well, making the home a little less reliant on heating and cooling systems and therefore a little more energy efficient.
The open concept layout we’ve mentioned so many times is particularly noticeable in the ground floor’s primary social spaces. Here, the cozy living room blends seamlessly into a formal dining room with lots of space for guests, and on into a stunning chef’s kitchen that features an island for easy flow but a bit of visual delineation. On the edges, you’ll find a large pantry and a quiet home office, which is afforded a bit more space to itself without feeling too isolated.
The living room itself is a pleasant blend of contemporary and rustic elements, truly embodying the term “modern farmhouse”. It is fully equipped with stylish furniture and cutting edge media and entertainment systems, but it also features reclaimed wood ceiling beams and some stunning built-in wooden cabinetry that surrounds a gorgeous fireplace. It really is the perfect spot for gathering the family to unwind together after a long, active day.
Just in case relaxing outside is more your speed, there’s a sprawling private terrace that sashays guests and dwellers out to a sparkling negative-edge swimming pool that catches glorious amounts or sunlight and warmth. This pool ends in a heated spa pool and both bodies of water are positioned perfectly for soaking in island and ocean views that are nothing short of mesmerizing.
Just in case you’e looking for a statement piece or two ta really scream “farmhouse” to you, we’d love to direct your attention to the large wooden doors featured in both garages, each one made from locally sourced reclaimed wood. We think you’ll also appreciate the very authentic looking reclaimed wood sliding barn door that gives owners the option of closing off the dining room. This door isn’t just built as a simple, stylized element inspired by a bar door; it is literally a barn door that designers installed to work like it would have in its original location.
Photos by Jeri Koegel Photography
Nestled in the trees above a lake in Keowee Springs, in the heart of South Carolina, innovative designers at Johnston Design Group recently completed the unique, cutting edge, and rather divine looking Sustainable Lakehouse.
What makes the house so incredibly unique is the way designers combined the most modernized and state of the art home sustainability technology with architectural techniques and decor choices that give both the facade and interior a pleasant, nearly old fashioned feeling aesthetic despite the fact that the house is newly built.
One of the primary foals in building the house was to create a space where the stunning views its location is afforded can be seen from just about any place, inside or out. This explains the many beautiful outdoor living areas and balconies varying in size, as well as the large windows found all throughout, on every floor.
Because the house sits atop a rocky hill, the view of the surrounding greenery leading down to the lake’s edge is practically unparalleled. It stands several storeys high in addition to the heigh it’s already afforded, meaning that every different window and balcony or outdoor living space it offers gives guests a slightly different angle or view from which to enjoy soaking in the countryside.
In terms of its aesthetic and decor scheme, designers have stated that their choices in materiality and style were inspired by the English Arts & Crafts movement. The intention is for the home to appear hands-on, stately in a way that might have been built by one’s own efforts, and comfortable, while still bearing an air of sophistication.
Regarding the systems that make the home so sustainable as to be name after its leading features, designers installed systems and analyzed local standards in order to make the way the house runs and saves or uses energy meet the USGBC LEED for Home list of standards and requirements. This means the building is truly one that qualifies as being part of the “green living” movement.
Entering the house through a beautiful reclaimed wood door, the first thing guests encounter is the impressive great room. This is comfortable and traditional looking in a comfortable way, and leads right outside onto a beautiful ground level terrace. This is the first spot where picture perfect views of the lake are offered. On chillier days, one can stay inside and see a similar view through high, bright limestone cased windows.
On one side of the great room is a towering floor to ceiling fireplace clad in the same coursed limestone featured on the walls. The chimney section of this is adorned with a decorative and ornate looking 19th century iron door imported from Italy. This feature makes the space look nearly medieval, anchoring the sitting area in a space that, as you move towards the kitchen, starts to look a little more contemporary.
In fact, the energy efficiency systems that start in the kitchen and move throughout the rest of the house are so contemporary and up to standard that the house was awarded the US Green Building Council LEED Silver Certification. There might only be a few telltale visual markers of these things on first glance, but that’s part of the charm!
As you begin to move throughout the house, you might notice just how diverse but still rooted in nature and tradition the materials used in building the house are. The roof is a dark slate that ties things together visually. The walls and porch are a smooth limestone accented with intentionally weathered but impressive cedar siding on the inside. Other details are finished and added in metals; in different places, you’ll encounter copper and reclaimed wrought iron.
Both outside and inside the house, most lighting, heating, and water systems are solar powered, thanks to subtle panels installed on the side of the slate roof that gets the most light year-round. The house also has a rainwater harvesting system and Low-E aluminum clad windows.
In addition to the things that make the house energy efficient and globally low impact, designers also made several choices during the building and landscaping processes that lowered the localized impact on the environment. They made very intention choices in sourcing natural materials from the local area and they also used native plants that fit the plot’s ecosystem in putting together the yards and gardens.
Perhaps the best place to truly appreciate the mountain lake view we’ve raved so much about is the middle terrace, which is a cool stone spot amongst the trees that feels just secluded enough to be relaxed but not so much that it appears isolated. Here, a wonderfully old fashioned wrought iron staircase spirals upwards to the patio doors of the master bedroom, truly resembling something out of a fairytale.
Photos by Rachael Boling Photography
Texan Hill Retreat created by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture to combine contemporary living with the true feeling of the state
By Courtney • Jun 12, 2019
In the charming desert climate of Llano, Texas, a stunningly authentic and yet beautifully modern escape called the Texan Hill Retreat has been finished for a family by creative teams at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.
The large two story holiday home boasts several immediately noticeable walls of glass. Whether you’re standing outside or in, these will undoubtedly be one of the first things you’ll notice because of the way they contrast with and add and intriguingly modern feel to the otherwise traditional looking stone and brickwork of the home’s materiality.
These windows do more than just look nice in the walls, of course. They also provide breathtaking views of the warm desert greenery surrounding the house and its land, as well as increasing the home’s energy efficiency by providing the rooms inside with plenty of natural daylight and passive heating on cooler days, making it rely less on heating and cooling systems.
In the great room, which you’ll encounter nearly right off the entryway, the impressive windows we’re referring to are actually double heigh, as is the room’s ceiling. This makes the shared living space feel large, airy, and in tune with the landscape around the house.
A suspended metal fireplace that appears to float over a freestanding concrete hearth sits in the centre of the living room, with chairs arranged all the way around for coziness and easy socializing. The shape and construction of this central piece appears quite unique and modern, which makes it all the more interesting that the materiality of the same piece is quite rustic and old fashioned.
The use of natural, rustic materials throughout the house continues, rather than stopping with the walls and the fireplace. Wood siding is a heavy feature throughout the whole ground floor, lending another layer of rusticity to the home. This contrasts well with the furnishings that aren’t styled along the same vein; designers specifically chose more contemporary looking pieces in modern, alternative shapes to make a comfortable but attention grabbing dissonance that really works.
Of course, that might sound like a lot to pack into one decor scheme, but they’ve made it happen without creating a space that’s too busy or a look that’s overwhelming or tacky. The layout of the house is simple and sensical and so are the details of the decor scheme. In fact, some rooms in this clean, streamlined yet traditional home border on minimalism, particularly those with polished concrete floors. These spaces, however, as given extra character by the inclusion of a piece or two of local culture decorum.
Like the windows, the concrete floors we mentioned above do more than just look nice. They are also actually part of the passive heating and cooling in the house that makes it less reliant on active energy using systems. At the same time as they make everything look smooth and clean, they also keep the home cool in hot weather.
With plenty of comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms, lots of yard space leading down to a local lake, and more than one space both inside and outside in which to sit and spend some bonding time with family and friends, this house truly is the perfect spot for not only unwinding with loved ones but also getting a feel for the local Texan experience while you’re at it.
Photos by Casey Dunn Photography
By Courtney • Jun 11, 2019
In the heart of the city of Paris in France, creative design teams atStudio Combo have created a unique open concept working office with an even more unique location: the rooftop of an old French theatre!
This contemporary office, designed for a group of freelancers and contractors who desired a professional but shared cost workspace outside their homes, was built on top of the Élysée Montmartre theatre, which is a monument on the back of the historical Sacre Coeur.
Rather than detracting from the history of the buildings, it brings a sense of charming modern feeling to the day to day activities that happen in and around the theatre. The look of the windowed walls, which provide workers with a view of the city that is nothing short of stellar, contrast beautifully with the otherwise classic architecture in a way that is downright fascinating.
From the outset, designers were determined that this office wouldn’t be anything like the standard corporate offie most people are used to, for reasons besides just its location. That’s why the office is comfortably open concept instead of having a central isolated office and cubicles like most other corporate offices might feature.
Even just visually, the office is nearly a work of art compared to some. Its geometric shapes and high windowed walls with metallc frames allow the perfect amount of sunlight into the space even as the facade twinkles in that same light during the day. Spanning only 300 square feet, the offices look almost as thought they’re floating on the rooftop, like an ethereal, playful tetragon.
Inside the office, white painted metal frames have been left exposed supporting the roof like a subtle, lighter take on the current industrial chic trend. Desks are angled well compared to where the sun might hit computer screens and both collaborative and individualized work spaces are organized in a way that makes the flow of people and ideas simple and effective.
While a wood floor keeps things comfortable and homey, white furnishings keep things looking contemporary and streamlined in a way that suits the historical context of the office’s location specifically because it’s not what you’d expect to find sitting up on top of the theatre at all!
Photos by Guillaume Guerin
By Courtney • Jun 11, 2019
In the lush woodland greenery of Lake Tahoe in California, the Luxury Lake Lodge was recently completed by Ward-Yonge Architecture for a family seeking a sophisticated holiday home that might also help them share authentic, old fashioned experiences and benefit from nature with their friends and loved ones.
Built like a gorgeous sprawling lodge, this impressive stone home is located just north of primary Lake Tahoe itself. Spanning 8,900 square feet, its traditional looking expanse lets guests take in gorgeous woods filled and lakeland views from just about every room in the house. The location is secluded but relaxed rather than isolated, while the atmosphere inside the house is grand but comfortable.
Boasting five bedrooms, five fireplaces, a four car garage, and more than one stunning outdoor living space, the house is more than equipped to host all the guests the owners could wish for. The central spiral staircase that leads from one floor to the other is an attention grabbing piece every time, but not as heavily as the stunning main terrace that gives easy access to swim in the lake.
On the outside, the house features traditional Vermont style slate roofing, high copper panelled turrets, and a stone exterior that, despite being quite typical of the area, is breathtaking in this layout. Massive reclaimed wooden beams frame the house and mirror the wood in the door while wrought iron details make up the metal features. The material choices in this house were intentional, designed to reflect old fashioned craftsmanship of eras gone by.
Part of the appeal of the natural materiality this luxury home has to offer is that it blends wonderfully into the overall scenery and manages not to interrupt the view from other places nearby. It suits the landscape but, once you’ve laid eyes on it and identified its formidable structure, you can’t hardly look away from the feat of architecture that makes up its different parts.
The way that the same materiality follows you inside is intentional and impactful as well. The stone makes things feel authentically rustic and suitable for the setting while the wood draws together a send of warmth. Ornate decor pieces and state of the art amenities create a blending of aesthetics and establish that sense of luxury designers were aiming for from the outset.
Up the winding staircase, expansive bedrooms with kind sized beds covered in soft cushions make every guest feel like the laird of a medieval royal lodge. Despite the fact that most decor is set to adult tastes there are certain elements, like the authentically carpeted wood and wrought iron bridge that leads from one wing of the upstairs to the other, lined on each side with ornate wrought iron railings like something from a castle, is sure to enamour even the youngest visitors.
Photos by Vance Fox Photography
Daodao Coffee built by HAD Architects& EPOS in Japan as a relaxation space in the middle of a busy day
By Courtney • Jun 10, 2019
Smack in the middle of the shopping district in Chengdu, China, a lovely two story coffee shop called Daodao Coffee was recently complete by HAD Architects& EPOS with the intention of giving weary shoppers, groups of friends, and quiet individuals a place to gather and find that they’re looking for in one convenient place, without interrupting one another.
Photos by ARCH-EXIST
Flavin Architects renovates Bostonian residential plot to create the Natural Mid-Century Home for a busy family
By Courtney • Jun 10, 2019
In the quiet suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, just out of reach of the city noise, creative architects at Flavin Architects recently completed a renovation project called Natural Mid-Century Home, in which they overhauled a 1950s house to boast modern amenities and layouts with all the charm subtle kitsch of its original version’s era.
Weston is a small town just off the borders of Boston and it is home to many houses that were designed and built by big names in the architectural world between the 1930s and 1950s. Now that the street scape has started to change and those houses have experienced enough wear and tear to need updating, contemporary design teams face an interesting dilemma: do they wipe out what they see to give families the modern homes they need, or do they stay true to the mid-century origins of the building?
In this case, the designers and new owners alike decided for a blend of the two options. While they did choose to quite heavily renovate the original 1958 house to make a home with more physical longevity, they also opted to give it a structure and decor style that clearly hearken back to that time, so the whole place has a modernized mid-century twist.
The owners also had one other special request that resulted in a particularly unique finished product. Having previously lived in Hawaii, they wished to have an outdoor patio space that is reminiscent of their terrace there. Designers opted to use materials that complimented the land, making the patio blend well into both the plot and the living room it extends off of within the interior, making it the perfect open-air transitionary space.
Designers also chose to work with the land in particular ways because the home’s plot is on a small slope. Rather than digging into the ground to anchor a patio, they built a natural rock foundation to create a level surface on which to resurrect the newest parts of their mid-century inspired haven.
Much like the original house and many houses of that time, this new building resembles the ever so common split level in some ways. Once you’ve arisen from the entry, however, things get much more open concept in a way that is far more contemporary and allows good flow of movement, energy, and natural sunlight from stunningly large new energy efficient windows.
Contrary to fully storied houses, the main living spaces in this building sit on the ground level that requires you to rise from the sizeable entry, while the private spaces like bedrooms and master bathrooms are below, lower down the slope. This gives the family a calming sense of privacy while letting the social spaces where guests will visit enjoy deeply sunny afternoons.
For the most part, the house is heavy in a beautifully stained wood that was locally sourced to help it blend, once again, into its surroundings. The shapes and lines chosen for furnishings and finishes, however, are one place where that iconic mid-century sort of “mod” style begins to show through. Beyond that, things are kept quite clean and minimalist, giving the atmosphere a sense of perfectly blended modern nostalgia.
Under the brand new (but definitely vintage styled) slate floor, which has a lovely, kitschy purple-green hue to it, designers also installed a modern update in the form of radiant heat. In combination with the passive heating and cooling of the floor to ceiling glazed windows and the ability of the terrace doors to open one wall entirely, these systems are quite environmentally low impact.
Overall, the house is afforded a sense of having transformed and adapted to its surroundings and new owners’ generation, rather than having lost its authentic charm and been overhauled without regard for its history.
Photos by Nat Rea Photography