Dream homes – everybody has one. From cliff-side modern marvels to majestic traditional mansions and waterside homes with enviable views, a dream house has the elements to elevate your lifestyle. Look through HomeDSGN’s collection of featured dream homes and be inspired for your next upgrade or remodel…or just fantasize about living in them!
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
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
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
Mississippi’s Gator House created by emerymcclure architecture to emulate owners’ childhood summers by the river
By Courtney • Apr 16, 2019
Have you ever had fond memories of a beautiful summertime getaway that you remember visiting and adoring as a child but that you haven’t been back to since? Well, that’s exactly the kind of nostalgia that motivated emerymcclure architecture‘s latest dream home project in Mississippi!
The Gator House is a stunning, sprawling Southern ranch style house that is modelled after the riverside escapes that the owners’ remember spending their childhood summers running along. Located in a slightly remote location off a busy state highway, the house was created alongside a false river that happened to present the perfect site for building.
In reality, the “little river” that Gator House sits along is actually part of an oxbow lake that was created naturally by the uneven flow of the much larger Mississippi River. This serene piece of waterfront lies in a skinny inlet in the river bank, surrounded by cypress trees that are at least 100 years old.
From the road leading up to Gator House down to the little lake, a slope steeps quite sharply towards the water. This slope is why one end of Gator House, which is a long, narrow building, stands on stilts! This way, designers were able to build with the natural terrain rather than cutting into it, while also keeping the floors of the house even and flat for comfortable living.
Gator House was designed as a sort of camp house for spending hot summer days in. The owners’ frequently spend weekends there and make visits during fishing season, staying for long periods of just a few days, depending on their schedule. Their space is fully equipped for permanent living but simple enough to clean and care for that it’s also the perfect place for mini stay-cations and bonding with family during special times, like an escape from everyday life.
Since the whole point of the lovely house is to emulate summers spent outdoors, doing things like camping, the house has been built with quite an open concept structure so that as much fresh air and sunshine can be sought as possible. A long deck, for example, provides a semi-outdoor social space where people can draw back the walls entirely for a warm breeze but also seek some shade from the hot Southern sun.
Indoor and outdoor bonding spaces like this are dotted all throughout the ground floor and all around the completely wrapping deck space. Inside, bedrooms featuring bunk beds and lots of room for guests can be found, decorated in a comforting, homey way. These things are part of what make Gator House the perfect summer retreat with family and friends.
Photos by James Osbourne IV
By Courtney • Apr 15, 2019
Under the sunny skies of Haifa, Israel, the stunning indoor-outdoor residential retreat called House F was recently finished by A.M.N Architecture. The primary goal with this lovely, sunny project was to created a modern, simplistic space that has all the amenities of contemporary living while still harnessing the beauty of an outdoor space on a warm, sunny day.
Though quite minimalist in its lines, colours schemes and shapes, House F is not the kind of home that is so modern that it sacrifices comfort. Instead, it uses light and wide open spaces, along with the occasional unique shape to contrast its modern straight lines, to create a blended experience that draws attention and makes fresh air and enjoyment of private greenery part of the experience.
Possibly the most noticeable thing about the space is the emphasis on windows. In every room of the house, floor to ceiling windows lets natural sunlight dazzle just about every corner (but, thanks to modern glass finishes and good air flow, without heating the place up beyond comfort). Because of the open concept layout in most of the house, this light can spill through from room to room, flowing just as easily as movement or conversation does between spaces.
This sense of easy flow and blended space carries on past just the borders of the house itself; in more than one place, walls actually slide back almost entirely to transform interior spots into an indoor-outdoor experience, allowing natural light to travel even further!
On the ground floor, for example, a stunning social seating area off to the side of the kitchen turns into a veritable patio when the floor to ceiling glass doors are recessed back to make it feel as though the wall has disappeared and the room extends right into the gorgeous yard by the poolside.
Despite all this wide open space and visibility, House F doesn’t actually rob dwellers or intimate spaces or private experiences either. Instead, easy to use shades are installed with most windows and glass walls and bedrooms are well equipped with pristine white doors despite the open concept layout elsewhere. Designers understood that, even in a place where the goal is shared space and blended rooms, sometimes a little alone time is important.
Besides being open, modern, and well lit, House F is also energy efficient! A lot of the temperate regulation and air flow takes place naturally as features like the indoor-outdoor patio are used during daily life routines. Opening the glass walls releases how air and allows a rush of cool air and ongoing circulation. Designers also built a perfectly angled shade structure into the facade of the house on the South side to hide some of the biggest windows from the sun’s direct rays during the hottest part of the day without really sacrificing any of that beloved sunlight.
During other parts of the year, the smart glass windows keep the inner spaces a little more heated while solar panels run what systems must be used. These various features reduce the frequency with which heating and air conditioning must be used, while the panels reduce the need for electrical power use in the house overall. It’s a truly green space!
House F might look extremely modern, but many of the materials used to create it are actually quite natural and more in tune with the outdoor space surrounding it than its actual modern aesthetic. For example, natural concrete is used to make up many primary features of the structure, such as the entrance and the stairs, while other parts of the home are finished in lovely stained wood to create a contrast. Most furnishings are made with reclaimed white oak, finishing off the natural colour scheme quite nicely.
Photos by Uzi Porat
Stunning South Korean home Yongin Dongsanjae built by Lee.haan.architects around a beautiful private garden
By Courtney • Apr 11, 2019
Standing on a unique site in Yongin, South Korea, the Yongin Dongsanjae home by Lee.haan.architects was recently created around the kind of private garden so beautiful you can hardly believe it’s real. What’s even better is that the house itself is breathtaking too!
The house stands in a city, but it’s lucky enough to be located on a plot that has the buffer of larger, quiet, and quite lovely apartment buildings on each side. This affords is a slightly quieter and more private location than most city dwellings have, giving it a sort of buffer on one side where a lovely green space of its own can be enjoyed.
This brand new house was built for a busy, social couple in their 50s who have two grown up children. Hosting friends, family, and guests is a big part of their lifestyle and that was heavily kept in mind during design and conceptualization. Among other priorities were a free flowing layout, lots of natural light, and, of course, fantastic outdoor space.
To account for the fact that the house is surrounded by other buildings on three of its four sides, designers chose to arrange this new dwelling in an L-shape, thereby creating private space in the centre that can be enjoyed like a private oasis in the back and middle. The garden that was established in that space opens towards the already existing green space that runs along the open side. This makes it feel bigger without sacrificing any of the privacy that makes it feel like its own little getaway. A stunning cherry blossom tree grows in the centre, giving the green space some focus.
On the ground floor of the house, the living room and kitchen blend with each other, delineated by furniture and function rather by walls that cut off sound and visuals. This space also opens out fully into the garden thanks to a set of floor to ceiling retratcing glass walls that keep the space bright and cheerful even on gloomy days. Even the staircase leading up to the private rooms feels open, thanks to it awesomely modern “floating” style.
On the second floor, besides large bedrooms, you’ll find a private upper terrace that sits tucked away from neighbours’ eyes thanks to the way designers kind of tucked it into the hallway’s space. This terrace gives additional laters to the very indoor-outdoor theme throughout the house and provides a lovely view of the neigbouthood past the house’s sloping roof. A skylight in the corridor works with more floor to ceiling windows to provide the whole upper floor with as much light as the ground floor.
In term of materiality, the house is made primarily of stone and wood for durability. The exterior will weather the changes in climate well throughout the year but the house still has a calming, natural sense to it thanks to these materials, despite its quite modern features. Both the stone and the wood have been left with quite a bit of their natural texture purposely for a homey, friendly atmosphere.
Photos by Youngchae Park
House by The Forest by cakov+partners is a natural wood and concrete haven outside historical Prague
By Courtney • Apr 10, 2019
Just outside the limits of the stunningly historical city of Prague, in the Czech Republic, sits a newly finished house that blends well with and fully takes in the beauty of its forest surroundings. The appropriately named House by The Forest is the latest residential creating from cakov+partners.
The small, rural area that the house actually stands in is a charming town called Ostružná. This house was built for a young family whose ideal living situation was to have direct contact with the landscape and a relationship with their natural surroundings. The first floor is constructed using brick tiling that is typical of the country houses in the area, but it’s placed on a visible concrete base for some slightly more modern looking but still natural stability.
The house, though stunning, was actually created on quite a strict budget, since the family is quite young. Even so, designers worked with their clients to achieve a space with beauty, functionality, and longevity. The house, though spacious, was kept quite small compared to the plot of land it sits on, giving the family plenty of outdoor room to enjoy together.
Another huge priority in the building of this house was natural light and windows. Slats in the walls are filled with crystal clear windows all around the home’s border and the living, kitchen, and dining room even features floor to ceiling glass doors that slide open all the way and further blend this open concept social space with the fresh air and yard outside.
Because the plot is at the end of the village, the family is afforded a decent closeness to neighbours but quite a lot of rural space and privacy. It is set back from the street and blinds aren’t necessarily always used because the area beyond the plot’s limits is a seemingly boundless stretch of nature. This house, made primarily of concrete and wood, rises up from the landscape without seeming to interrupt it harshly.
Between the quite, natural location, the big windows, and the wonderfully green view, just about every room in the house is afforded a quiet sense of serenity, like you’re alone with nature for miles around (even though civilization is quite accessible in case of an emergency). The way the house is situated lets the big windows bathe just about any corner in natural light, even on a gloomy day.
Despite the fact that the house is built with such hefty, durable materials to ensure that its care is low maintenance, it’s not without its whimsical aspects. The stunning window bench topped with a comfortable cushion is the perfect example of what we mean. It sits nestled in a particularly sunny corner of the main living space with a perfect green view outside, a great spot for catching a nap or reading a book. Nearby, some modern and unique ceiling lights are mounted for those rare days when the sun isn’t doing the trick.
Photos by Metodiy Monev
By Courtney • Mar 27, 2019
In a small village in the North of Spain, designer and architect Jesús Castillo Oli discovered a simple, ruined structure that, though inhabitable the way it was, held a lot of potential. That reinvigoration project was how the Transformed Ruins Loft was born!
Nestled on the outskirts of Porquera de los Infantes, in a rolling green meadow, the rehabilitated home still bears the original walls and bricks that were originally discovered by the architect. He wanted to preserve as much of the history of the place as possible in order to pay homage to its little local area, where only 32 inhabitants reside.
Despite the desire to keep the old elements of the loft as an explicit part of the new house, the design team allowed for, and even embraced, a demarcation between where those stones and bricks stop and where new, more modern materials begin. This creates a stunning contrast that shows the flawless blending of contemporary housing with historical buildings and areas.
Now that is is finished, one of the most striking features of the house (besides the loft itself) is the way the windows sit in the old brick. They are large, pristine, and framed in black, designed to let as much natural sunlight into the home as possible. The way these modern fixtures nestle into the old red wall of the original ruin is nearly breathtaking and highlights the beauty of the winder glass walls in the modern part of the house as well.
Another extremely notable feature is the inner courtyard. Despite the sprawling lands around the house, which are also taken advantage of in the form of outdoor seating and lovely patios, design teams wanted to build a calmer, quieter inner space that’s still out in the fresh air but a little more private. That’s how the brick walled and sunny rock garden became a little pocket of zen in the centre of the new house.
Even inside the much more modern interior of the house, which obviously had to be built completely anew as the interior of the original was worn away, certain details blend historical and contemporary beautifully. This is perhaps best seen in the way the red bricks are left exposed inside the house as well, or maybe in the thick, reclaimed wooden beams that line the peaked ceiling.
Decor is kept natural, homey, and war, but with a sense of rustic luxury. The open concept layout lets sunlight hit every corner of the room and allows the view from the inner loft pass right through the glass wall, past the inner zen courtyard, and into the fields beyond the house.
Photos by Ángel Baltanás
On Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the St Andrews Beach is a secluded seaside area that’s popular with some families despite its lack of amenities; it’s truly a natural experience that lacks the impact of busy human life. That’s precisely what attracted Austin Maynard Architects to the area, and also why they decided to keep their lovely St. Andrews Beach House as small and minimalist as possible!
Though stunning, this little beach house, which is designed to emulate an old beach shack despite its modern take on materiality and decor, is actually only five metres in radius. This makes it look less like a retreat house and more like an object nestled into the sands. It’s a modest affair, but it still provides everything you might need in a small beach shanty on a simple getaway.
Although he is Australian, the designer of this innovative little retreat used a New Zealand word as the inspiration for his concept; there, the word “bach” describes a very modest, small, and basic shed or shack. This word resonated with him because he saw how many Aussie homes and, following suit, beach homes have become huge, sprawling structures in recent years.
One the idea of building something more primitive but still livable had entered his mind, finding a suitable and similar location was the next challenge. The particular plot where the beach house now sits was selected specifically for its lack of nearby shopping and restaurants, which he acknowledges is the direct opposite of what most people would seek. There is a smart little brewery and a corner store not far off, but not much else can be seen for miles around.
The motivation behind seeking a place that offers seemingly “nothing” was to harness the beauty in what that kind of lovely natural seclusion really does have to offer. The breathtaking coastline, towering sand dunes, and nearby parkland were much better alternatives, in his mind, to shopping strips and bustling eateries.
The St Andrews Beach House is a two storey dwelling that’s entirely circular in shape on each floor, so it looks like a cylinder from the outside. This shape is to allow guests to take advantage of the remote location’s stunning views, which are 360 degree around it and worth taking in from every single angle.
The house stands on its own, blending in quite well to the wild bushes of the immediate terrain. The team’s utmost priority during their building process was to interrupt the land as little as possible, since the sandy location is quite fragile. The house respectfully integrates itself as best it can into the local nature thanks to minimalism and smart material choices.
Part of the freeing sensation of choosing a remote location was that designers didn’t have to work with any neighbouring building’s whose aesthetic their own creation might be influenced by or respond to. The two-bedroom dwelling is free to keep things simple and pleasantly wooden, inside and outside, concentrating on useful space to the point that it doesn’t even have corridors!
In addition to be rounded and subtle, the shack is also low maintenance and quite self sustaining. It is not, however, without creature comforts, particularly since the part of its whole purpose is relaxation! Rather than being entirely primitive, the shack instead feels informal, comfortably weather worn even though it’s new (thanks to the use of reclaimed materials), and blissfully private.
On the ground floor, you’ll find the public spaces, like the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The shack is also equipped with a laundry to make longer stays comfortable. Within the tube of the main building, on the outer border, sits an open deck area that doesn’t protrude at all from the main structure, at all. Instead, it nestles into the outer surface of the house so that the verandah space feels like a blend of indoor and outdoor elements.
To get from one floor to the other, the house features a centra spiral staircase that leads right up the middle to the second floor, where you’ll find the bedroom and bathroom space. Rather than being separated into traditional bedrooms, the area is like an open concept bunk room that is still afforded privacy between adult and kids’ areas by thick curtains that can be easily drawn or pulled back.
The goal was to keep things casual and relaxed, so the spacious bedroom floor features some open, nearly empty spots that also function as extra entertainment and games room spaces when guests visit. If too many guests arrive, the sand outside is soft and lovely and the weather is warm, so the owners frequently encourage visitors to pitch a tent outside under the night’s sky.
In terms of sustainability, the house is quite efficient and low maintenance once more. It features passive solar panels that fit subtly into the shape and design, eliminating the need for fossil fuels and gas to power any part of it. Outside, a cylindrical concrete water tank collects rain water during the wet season, which is used to water the garden and flush toilets.
Photos by Derek Salwell
Montreal home La Cardinale renovated by L. McComber to bring it back to life after years of young kids and extensions
By Courtney • Mar 22, 2019
In the Ville-Saint-Laurent neighbourhood of Montreal, Canada, innovative designers at L. McComber recently completed heavy renovations on a semi-detached Tudor home called La Cardinale, bringing it back to life after years of loving wear and tear.
Originally built in the 1950s, the house was long a home for young families with many children. It underwent several extensions without update to the old, main house, limiting the light that enters from outside and causing a disconnect in aesthetic and materiality. Once the children of the final owners had grown up and begun lives elsewhere, the decision was made to give the space a completely new look.
From the start, efforts were made to preserve some of the original Tudor charm that came with the house itself. Sure, updating and a facelift were necessary, but elements of the facade were untouched and already stunning, so it was agreed that they would be kept despite other structural and aesthetic changes taking place elsewhere.
First, old, slightly more clumsy extensions were removed from where they blocked sunlight entirely from entering the back of the house. New extensions were rebuilt, but they were strategically place to extend where they might connected already existing parts of the original building, rather than sticking so far out the back that the sunlight and yard disappeared.
Materiality was considered heavily in this process; original elements like plaster, stone, and red brick were kept but black geometric metal framing near windows and black sheet metal cladding were added to improve curability or energy efficiency. They contrast well with the light grey walls elsewhere, creating a sense of added modernity to the more classic facade. In certain places, pops of more contemporary colour were painted for personality.
Inside, the new extensions enabled designers to build a much more open concept layout where previous, older extensions had actually broken up the house a little and created more walls. This theme continues outside now as well, as a brand new black deck extends the kitchen right into the yard when the lovely, large glass door is opened entirely.
Despite the main living spaces and the yard making for a nearly entirely open plan ground floor, some delineation of space still exists so that the home feels sensical and organized. The large kitchen island is a great example of this; it marks a change in function from room to room without cutting off conversation and social time.
Between both floors of the house, unnecessarily filled space has been opened up to create a double-height open area above the living and social spaces below. This makes the whole house feel opened out but without losing the privacy of the intimate areas above. Instead of being fully closed off, a simple corridor along one side of the double-height space leads to the master bedroom and its ensuite bathroom.
This corridor is actually quite an experience to walk down because it’s fully opened, making it feel like you’re traveling across a bridge to reach the deep, relaxing bath. On one side of this corridor the owners are afforded a view of the lovely backyard from big, clear windows. On the other side, they can see right down into the main social areas.
Although the grand and rather rich looking exterior of the house was largely preserved for traditional style, the inside of the house now looks much more simplistic and neatly pleasant in terms of colour and materiality. It’s clean, white overarching palette is minimalist but elegant, like much of the decor, while floors, cabinets, and other details provide a sense of warmth thanks to their stained red oak panelling. A subtle sense of contemporary sophistication comes through in the black and white marbling of the countertops and bathroom finishes.
Photos by Raphaël Thibodeau
By Courtney • Mar 21, 2019
On a spacious plot of luscious green land in Bansberia, India, Abin Design Studio has recently completed a design intervention project in order to create the ultra contemporary and extremely unique House of Sweeping Shadows.
Originally, the plot contained a smaller structure already existing on the land, but the rest of the property was largely empty and unused. It bore a small, two story structure and a little mad-made ponds, but these weren’t being taken advantage of. Clients and designers alike decided that keeping the existing structures was a good idea, but that creating extensions to link them and build an unparalleled leisure zone was the best strategy. Establishing an impressive contemporary look was of the utmost importance to both parties.
First, they tackled the outdoor elements. The old brick lined pond, for example, was turned into a lovely swimming pool. The empty two-storey structure, on the other hand, now houses a gym, changing rooms for the pool area, and an innovative media lounge for when the owners host guests. The whole building has a lovely view out over the pool and surrounding grassy area.
Not far from the pool sits an outdoor leisure sector of a different kind; here you’ll find a barbeque station, a sunken seating area that recesses into the patio and gets lots of sun, and even a small aviary that draws huge, beautiful contrast with both the hard concrete spaces nearby and the softer, greener spaces to one side. The whole yard is an open area hub for entertainment and calm.
Regarding the original residence, the idea of keeping the existing structure was good but that didn’t mean it couldn’t receive a facelift! Designers opted to give its unremarkable facade a makeover by encasing it with a self-supporting metal screen structure that’s very modern in its shape and construction. The light metal used only required minimal anchoring to the building, meaning it was low impact on the original structure, particularly for the massive change it provided.
Thanks to the dreamy way it curves around the house, this metal screen facade casts interesting shadows on both the outdoor spaces below and the interior spaces behind its slats. These shadows change, particularly inside, as the day wears on and the sun’s angle moves. The spaces between the frames are large enough that they don’t inhibit the lovely view but small enough that they afford open-air verandahs on the inside some calm privacy.
The contemporary style that was so pivotal to the plan continues on the inside. Mod inspired furniture sits on a bright, daring red floor while the rest of the home’s surfaces stay rather neat and white. Air flow inside the home is breezy and pleasant thanks to the open facade near the verandahs, as is the level of natural light in the main living spaces.
Overall, the level of contrast in colour, materiality, and contemporary versus natural spaces achieves a careful balance in aesthetic and function that makes the whole area feel quite serene. The house is more than just visually impressive; it’s an entire experience.
Photos by Ravi Kanade
Industrial Style Architect’s House created by Nadine Engelbrecht in South Africa using a barn as inspiration
By Courtney • Mar 19, 2019
On the outskirts of the city of Pretoria in South Africa, designer and architect Nadine Engelbrecht has built a sprawling, borderline luxury dwelling called Industrial Style Architect’s House. Despite its clear urban and industrial influences, the house actually has an unexpected inspiration behind it: an old barn!
The lead architect on site actually designed this lovely home for her parents using the kind of small barn that would have stood on their childhood farms as the basis for the new house’s shape and structure. Despite that rustic motivation, the overall aesthetic choice and materiality is far more industrial influenced than farmhouse themed, making for an extremely interesting and visually beautiful contrast.
The central portion of the house, made primarily of black steel and glass that lets in plenty of natural life, is the clearest portion bearing barn-like inspiration. Wings for additional living space are built off of each side, one part of which includes a loft with a stunning view and a unique layout.
In the long central space, you’ll find a reception room with a high cathedral style ceiling that peaks in the centre above. This entire space is bright and naturally lit, heavy in windows and glass doors, and quite breathtaking in its clearly industrial simplicity. At the far end, where doors open onto a patio and lawn, is the large family dining table, where things stay the brightest.
The parts of the house that aren’t made from glass and black metals are kept a little more natural and slightly more rustic feeling, without feeling very “farmhouse chic” like you might expect a home inspired by a barn to be. Instead, design teams used concrete, exposed brick, and exposed carpentry made with reclaimed wood.
Moving from the well lit reception hall and dining room into the kitchen, you’ll find a continuation of these material contrasts, as well the way windows are a huge priority. Here, a stunning wooden island acts as a central hub of the kitchen space, while a large, wooden trap door leads down into a temperature controlled wine cellar. This door closes flat into the floor but still stands out as a nearly decorative piece because it’s the only other part of the house besides the shape that explicitly looks like it might have been part of a barn once upon a time.
On the second floor of the kitchen volume to the side of the sunny hall you’ll find guest bedrooms and the master suite. The colour palettes here are simple, pleasant, and minimalist, comprised mostly of neutral shades and cream tones. Although each bedroom has a clear priority in windows and bright, natural light, the master suite is really the room that takes this concept further on the top floors.
At the end of the master bed, where you’d first look when you wake up in the morning, stand a stunning set of floor to ceiling windows. These can be covered by a horizontally sliding shade to reduce the light they let in or left open so you can gaze upon the nearly-rural view of grasses and trees beyond the property. Besides this breathtaking view, the room’s decor is quite pleasantly simple in a way that is classy and sophisticated.
On the top floor of the volume built on the other side of the reception hall, sitting high above a comfortable but stylish living room and social seating area, is an activities space. This bright, wide open room features art, gallery lighting, and bean bag chairs for reading. The family often uses it for entertainment or hobbies and creative endeavours.
Photos by Marsel Roothman
By Courtney • Mar 14, 2019
In the lush tropics of Yakarta, Indonesia, The Upstairs House was recently completed by Wahana Architects to give its residents unique and modern living amenities in a truly innovative way. In a townhouse complex in South Jakarta, The Upstairs House occupies 560 square metres in a lovely, tropical townhouse complex. Because the house sits in such a busy and densely populated area, one of the main challenges for designers was to create a space that matches the impressive nature of the interior areas despite the fact that no real natural view exists around the building.
To do this, teams asked the clients what they’d desire to see most. It was decided that the creation of a natural environment and lovely green landscape would be a central priority. Now that it’s completed, the outdoor space around upstairs house is nothing short of stunning, chalk full of plant life that makes it resemble a holiday resort.
Besides greenery, the clients listed building a pleasant social space that friends and family will want to spend time in as being another high priority. This is actually part of how the house got its name! Rather than placing all of the private spaces upstairs and leaving public and social spaces on the ground floor, designers inverted the house’s format and place bedrooms below and entertainment spaces above.
This way, the busy family who owns the house is able to access their calm bedroom spaces immediately upon arriving home after a very long day. When they have guests over, however, a sort of house tour (which, thanks to the layout of the bedrooms and hallways, is minimally intrusive to the most private spaces) takes place on the way to the final destinations, living and dining rooms where chatting, eating, and other bonding activities take place.
One of the prettiest spaces in the house is actually located right near the entrance, greeting guests with its calm, spa-like atmosphere. This space is an indoor garden and reflection pool near an open staircase that leads upstairs to the group spaces. All around the entrance and stairs, you’ll find a stunningly natural finish created by the fact that reclaimed teak wood is featured heavily throughout the house.
The purpose of using teak in this way was multifaceted. It creates texture, harnesses a lovely natural colour scheme, creates cohesiveness with the lovely outdoor area, and allowed designers to put money back into the local economy because all of the reclaimed teak used was sourced locally.
Because the upper floor is made of only social spaces, designers were able to build a layout that is quite wonderfully open concept without interrupting or flowing into rooms the family would prefer to keep as their own rather than have quite so easily accessible to guests. On its borders, the upper floor is surrounded by glass and wooden lattices, a combination that provides floods of natural light and makes the space feel even more open while also providing a bit of privacy from the outside.
Those same wooden lattices we just mentioned are mirrored downstairs as well, this time used as delineators of space to create corridors towards the bedrooms. These lattices allow a natural breeze to flow through the downstairs area and even lets the bubbling sound of water from the reflection pond drift towards sleeping dwellers. These atmosphere elements calm the sense of those in the private spaces and lull them after the hustle and bustle of their day.
Furthering the sense that indoor and outdoor spaces are connected throughout the house, the children’s bedrooms downstairs each feature their own wooden deck style courtyard. These courtyards are filled with trees that are afforded the space to grow high towards the second level, where they provide some nice shade through the glass walls. The master bedroom, located on the other side of the house, has its own courtyard as well, and this features its own reflection pool, as well as a stunning vertical garden. The entire overall effect is wonderfully serene.
The wooden decks and courtyards we’ve just described are what really makes the difference between building a home in the middle of the city and building a spa-like tropical oasis in the middle of a densely populated area. These spaces and the way they extend into the semi-closed home areas of The Upstairs House are key in making it feel like a beautiful resort.
Photos by Fernando Gomulya
Résidence in Stoneham, created by PARKA by Architecture & Design, exemplifies modern cubic beauty in Canadian nature
By Courtney • Mar 13, 2019
In the luscious green areas of Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Canada, design teams at PARKA by Architecture & Design recently completed the beautifully modern housing space called Résidence in Stoneham.
From its conception, this house was intended to be a space that feels as though it’s integrating into its own landscape. Particularly because it was created for a young, busy family with an affinity for the great outdoors, the house has several features that help blend inside and outside experiences, creating an effective way to live in nature while also living in a modern abode.
Besides the emphasis on large, stunningly clear windows that flood the living spaces with natural light, there are two main features in the house that blend indoor and outdoor spaces particularly well. The first is the garden-level backyard which is accessed by fully opening patio doors leading to the swimming pool and a rolling, lush green lawn.
The second spot that gives especially easy outdoor access to the dwelling’s indoor areas is the large balcony style deck that sits off the master bedroom. This lets dwellers enjoy the fresh air from a raised point that gives them a particularly stunning view of the surrounding forest. It’s like you’re sitting amongst the treetops!
The cubic structure surrounding the balcony we’ve just described, which just out from the house, does more than just provide shade on sunny days. It also helps focus the view by framing the horizon in the distance perfectly and even adds a little bit of privacy from the surrounding area, just in case the owners feel like having coffee out there in their pyjamas on a warm morning.
In terms of materials, textures, and colour schemes, designers took a contemporary and natural approach all at once. The use of gleaming reclaimed wood and slate bring an element of decor that makes the house feel cohesive with its surroundings while star white and black surfaces and finishes give a slightly more stark atmosphere to certain rooms that seems to mirror the surrounding mountains of Stoneham while still looking quite modern indeed.
As it all of that wasn’t enough to really create a sense of indoor-outdoor harmony, the way designers included expansive, clear windows from floor to ceiling in most walls really ties it all together. These flood private and social spaces alike with sunlight and natural warmth no matter the season, providing a homey glow that makes some of the more modern shapes you see feel softer.
Photos by Jessy Bernier Photography
RIKAS, an ultra-modern family home created by 3DM Architecture, looks like the ultimate ‘slice’ of contemporary Heaven
By Courtney • Mar 12, 2019
In a sprawling land plot in a neighbourhood of Maliena, nestled in the heart of Swieqi in Malta, innovative designers at 3DM Architecture have created the RIKAS project, an ultra- modern home that looks like a feat of artistic but contemporary angles and shapes.
From the very conception of the design, the architectural team and the clients (a busy young couple with two lively and active children) aimed to create a space that looks pure and neat but incredibly bold and fun. This resulted in the decision to create a house with a shape that is, at its roots, basically a visual reaction to the plot of land it was built on! It mimics the overall shape and sturdiness of the land it stands upon.
Inside, the decor is one that is designed to build a relationship between aesthetic and function. Rather than just being incredibly modern like its shape and outer appearance but too rigid or cold looking for comfortable living, the team hit the mark between natural finishes and contemporary shapes and surfaces, creating a space that is no doubt very modern but also still suits a family lifestyle.
Because the very building itself plays with shapes and angles in such an interesting way, the opportunity arose inside for designers to play with light and shadow throughout. This gives the inside a slightly Renaissance period inspired element because much of the way lights and windows have been placed follow an old architectural style called the Chiaroscuro technique. By this, we mean that the ground floor of the house is flooded with natural light thank to floor to ceiling windows and apertures that create a sort of blended effect between indoor and outdoor areas, as though they are one.
Despite this open, well lit characteristic, however, designers still made sure that dwellers can be afforded more privacy and shade when they choose. They gave the well lit ground floor a bit of flexibility by installing remotely controlled fabric screens. When these are lowered the space becomes much more intimate. Of course, because of the way it’s raised and its peaked shape, all four floors of the house are most often flooded with natural sunlight, but the ground floor stays particularly naturally lit.
In terms of decor, designers had two distinct goals within the house (besides keeping a very contemporary yet livable feel) that, despite sounding at odds at first, actually work well together. Firstly, they wanted to use materiality and colour or decor schemes to differentiate between spaces. When the decor scheme changes, so does the function of the room.
At the same time, they wished to maintain some static elements that can be found all throughout the house so that some cohesion and decorative sense can me maintained from room to room. They aimed for securing a balance between the desired design aesthetic and what the clients’ daily needs might be living there with their family.
Finally, several features of the house were chosen for their sense of functional luxury. Sure, they were designed to be modern and impressive, but they aren’t frivolous details that a busy, social family wouldn’t use. For example, the indoor and outdoor pools and the sunken circular couch are fantastic spaces for bonding time, while the underground garage provides a space for family cards and activity supply storage that is secure and easily accessible.
Photos by Miguel Petrovic
Although it still sits on a street filled with classic turn-of-the0century limestone and weatherboard cottages, the newly renovated Silver Street House, recently completed by creative design teams at EHDO, is no longer just another example of that style amidst the rest! Instead, this home in South Fremantle, Australia was redone for a semi-retired couple in order to give them a contemporary looking yet cozy home escape now that they’re winding down their daily routines.
From start to finish, the Silver Street House took five years to complete. At first, small changes or renovations were made here and there until it was decided by both the designers and their clients that a full overhaul to make a stunning new space that still fit well in the old plot should be done. The idea was not without challenge, however. The plot where the house stands is quite narrow, measuring 368 square metres, but it’s also divided almost completely in two by a diagonal skewer easement that will not support permanent building.
Rather than feeling stunted by this slight hitch in potential building plans, the designers decided to take it as an opportunity to get creative. Ideas for different ways to blend engagement between domestic places and the public street, as well as internal and external home spaces, began to arise and a lot of discussion about the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces emerged.
To account for the easement, the home is built in two separate volumes that are linked by indoor and outdoor spaces where dwellers can travel across the space that cannot support a building. The ground floor, which is built on the lower side of the plot, features walls that are basically removable in the way they can be thrown open and slide back entirely, blending indoor spaces like the living room with the patio and yard.
The upstairs volume of the house, which sits at an angle to the ground level, is where the sleeping and private retreat areas reside. These were designed and decorated to be a sort of private relaxation space when the plethora of social and hosting spaces are not being used. The upstairs volume is extremely thick walled, which keeps it cool, quiet, and very private indeed, without feeling closed in. Large windows that open entirely and some balcony seating make sure it can still be blended with the outdoors as well.
The materials used throughout the house, as well as in the exterior, were specifically chosen for the way they created a sense of communication with nature. Sure, the street is a residential one in a city, but it’s still quiet and features lush greenery and designers didn’t want to lose that in building a sense of updated modernity. They locally sourced wood and granite, for example, accepting pieces with visual marks from wear and tear or weathering rather than looking for ones that were nearly pristine.
In addition to wood, which you can see was used liberally, this house also features natural and locally sourced off-form concrete, brickwork, and even a few Australian Cypress trees planted in the yard that, while not used to build anything, were transferred safely and kindly from another place in the local area and planted to flourish here and create even more cohesiveness between the house and its surrounding environment.
Thought the volumes of the house are quite large and the shape might look intimidating from the outside, there’s a sense of playful comfort one can feel as soon as you’ve passed through the doors. This is partially thanks to the way natural light is prioritized and allowed to flood into just about every space from floor to ceiling windows or fully retracting doors that make certain rooms, like the living room and kitchen, feel like you’ve truly taken out an entire wall to let the fresh air in.
The house is also quite green when it comes to heating and cooling systems! For example, high insulated R9 wall panels surround the upper volume, giving it increased thermal stability so that mechanic heating and cooling systems aren’t often needed. There are also several places where polycarbonate core-flue walling provide a type of shade from angles where the hottest, most direct sunlight might hit, reducing heat in the midst of summer but still giving a sort of ambient glow as far as light is concerned.
Of course, we’ve talked a lot about the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces and the prioritizing of plant life and surrounding nature, so we’re sure you’ll be less than surprised to hear that a stunning yard and lushly surrounded patio can be found out the back of the house. Trees and climbing plants give a sense of serene privacy while a lovely pond serves as a centre piece.
Photos by dionrobeson.com.au