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First-time home buyers and veteran home owners alike look for ideas and vision when it comes time to look for a new house. Remodeling projects can also benefit from a spark of creativity spurred by viewing great houses that you love. HomeDSGN has gathered fabulous homes from across the world and design style spectrum to feed your need for beautiful house inspiration.

Texan Hill Retreat created by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture to combine contemporary living with the true feeling of the state

By • 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

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Flavin Architects renovates Bostonian residential plot to create the Natural Mid-Century Home for a busy family

By • 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

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Dodged House, created by Leopold Banchini + Daniel Zamarbide, is a contemporary marbled haven

By • Jun 7, 2019

In the heart of Lisbon, Portugal, a uniquely contemporary home was recently completed by Leopold Banchini + Daniel Zamarbide to combine the beauty of marble with the sweet simplicity of minimalism.

Dodged House was built in one of the countless abandoned spaces that resulted from Portugal’s past decade of economic crisis. Cities like Porta and Lisbon itself became home to closed down buildings and ruined structures that intrigued the international community because of the beauty and potential their original traditional architecture maintained.

With a great sense of southern romanticism, this particular design team decided to revamp a dilapidated building in Lisbon in order to create a shockingly but wonderfully modern looking home within the walls of something historical with need for a new lease on life. As with most others in the area, the renovation was completed with the utmost reverence for the building’s historical and spatial context.

Mimicking the typical architecture in the area, the facade of this building remains quite closed, concealing most of the interior from the prying eyes of the busy city streets outside. At the same time, large, beautiful windows have been added in certain spaces to open the space up and signify the new life the building has been given. At the same time, it gives new owners a stunning view of the city streets as they come back to life.

In addition to paying tribute to the history of the building itself and the surrounding streets, Dodged House is also an homage to the particular style of modernity established by architect Irving Gill; a style often mimicked and harnessed in modern Portuguese architecture when new structures are built.

Inside, the house is quite unique indeed, especially for the area. While the opaque facade outside might be somewhat typical, designers made the inside all about space. Hardly any opaque barriers exist inside the outer walls; instead, rooms and spaces of different function are separated by bright, clear glass. The home takes full advantage of the building’s generous height, expanding upward without growing in width and interrupting the original frame or land it was afforded.

While the void of the interior stretches high, the designers did take advantage of the small original courtyard outside to give it a little more natural space despite the calm, ethereal feeling of the otherwise quite closed off home. A spinning glass door gives easy visual and physical access, blending the two areas beautifully and saving the interior from feeling too closed off.

The house boasts three bedrooms which are arranged within four superposed floors; these look like layers of the house stacked one on top of the other. The materiality on each is simple and helped keep the renovation affordable. The tiles and stones featured in the walls, furniture, and floors were all sourced locally. The presence of concrete contrasts cleanly with that of white marble.

The beauty of the inner area, including the lovely quiet space that is the home library, is only bolstered further by the contrast between its shining new modernity and the fact that the facade outside has been largely left in its original, historical state. A light cleaning to extend its life did nothing to take away its status as a reminder of Lisbon’s history amidst what is now a fast changing and ever modernizing cityscape.

Photos by Dylan Perrenoud

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TTK Represents completes update on Midcentury Getaway with a fantastic sense of mod style

By • Jun 6, 2019

Under the beautiful, bright sun of Joshua Tree in California, design teams at TTK Represents have completed a fun, stylish updating project on an old home, the newly named Midcentury Getaway.

From the very beginning of the project’s plans, designers prioritized creating a unique combination of classic midcentury minimalism, lovely bright and natural light, and sweeping view of the deserts surrounding the house; the kind of views that can truly only be found in Joshua Tree.

The original house, which was built in 1961, was a standard midcentury desert home situated not far from downtown Joshua Tree. The plot it stands in affords the house lovely views of a close by national park and surrounding valley areas. These stunning natural views through the windows contrast wonderfully with the sense of chic flair one encounters on the inside.

Covering 1,307 square feet, the Midcentury Getaway house can be easily distinguished by its recognizable brise-soleil. This is the stunning cutout concrete work that provides a sort of privacy screen and provides shade to the patio and even part of the inner living space through the large front window, preventing the space from heating up too much in the desert sun.

The house is a simple L-shape but its interiors are still quite open concept and free flowing, without harsh divisions of space. This helps keep things nice and bright while the colour schemes and decor give the place a cozy feeling. Perhaps the most notable feature in the living room is a wood burning fireplace, faced so that it overlooks the patio and it’s lovely desert view.

Next to the fireplace, which keeps the house warm on those surprisingly cool desert nights, the house actually features a rectangular cutout in the wall specifically designed to store firewood. When wood is placed there, it suits well with the little wooden writing desk fitted in perfectly to its own window, where the view can inspire whatever work is being done on the desktop.

Past the living room, with its mod looking, midcentury style furniture and colour pops, is a cozy dining nook and an efficient looking, minimalist style kitchen. Walnut, which can be seen in furnishings dotted throughout the house, is featured here again in the custom made cabinets, which contrast nicely with the quartz countertops.

Past the common spaces, there are two bedrooms- a master and a guest suite- and a bathroom. Beyond that, around the back of the house, sits a unique “guest pod”. Depending on the dwellers’ needs, this might serve as an additional bedroom or perhaps some kind of studio, art space, or writer’s retreat.

The master bedroom features the same kind of bright floor-t0-ceiling sliding doors as the living, each leading to sunny patios. On days when the doors must stay closed for weather, the room still gets plenty of light thanks to a long rectangular window set into an intriguing textured wall. In the master bathroom, to the side, radiant heating warms the space from the floor up to combat the cold of desert nights and the winter season.

Photos by Chris Menrad

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The Ribeirão Preto Residence by Perkins+Will São Paulo

By • Jun 5, 2019

Amidst the abundant greenery of Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, a stunning rectangular home blends beautifully into the natural environment surrounding it. The Ribeirão Preto Residence by Perkins+Will São Paulo  features a beautiful green rooftop that makes the dwelling look like it grew right out of the land.

Besides the lush grass covering the whole top of one roof, the most notable feature of the house is undoubtedly its dramatic looking, rectangular cantilevered roof, which provides shade to several areas of the house and yard, including an equally impressive pool that overhangs in another rectangular volume, just like the main portion with the green roof.

Another notable feature about the house is its stunning and seamless feeling indoor-outdoor layout and connection. The interior of the main living spaces is quite open concept already and that theme is actually extended beyond the home’s border in the way stunning full glass doors slide open entirely to merge spots like the living room with the sunny patio outside, creating flow.

Initially, besides making sure that the home would be stylish and yet suitable for a young family with kids, designers’ biggest challenge was working on a plot of land with a natural slope. Though not dramatic, the slope still changes the landscape enough to require special consideration in building and design.

Intent on being as respectful of the countryside as possible, designers opted to structure the house so that it works with the slope, rather than cutting into it and interrupting the natural landscape in the area. This is what inspired the home’s two volume L-shape. One volume contains the public spaces where guests might be entertained while the other houses private spaces with their own connection to the sunny outdoors.

In terms of materiality, the Ribeirão Preto Residence is heavy in concrete dotted with warm wood accents, creating a comforting contrast. Each volume appears as a single solid block of concrete, like a pair of monoliths. The place where the cantilevered roof hangs over the lower volume appears to connect the two parts of the house visually right where they’re actually connected on the inside.

Because the common spaces of the house are situated on the upper block, they’re afforded stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. This arrangement also increases the privacy of the bedroom spaces, creating a sense of relaxation and pleasant disconnect in the private rooms. This isn’t to say, however, that they feel secluded; every room in the house has open access to the fresh gardens surrounding it, after all! Designers were positively intent on building a strong relationship between the home and nature.

Wooden screens featured in certain places on the home’s facade and within its interior do more than just contribute to the serene aesthetic and provide increase privacy; they also allow for some ventilation in a place that gets very hot in the summer. Together with the lush grass of the green rooftop above the bedrooms and the way the pool extends towards the slope to disappear into the tropical foliage at once end, the whole area within and surrounding the house feels almost spa-like.

Photos provided by the architects.

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Candy Loft by StudioAC

By • Jun 3, 2019

Amidst the bustling streets of Toronto, Canada, StudioAC has created a contemporary apartment that is nothing short of darling. The Candy Loft is the perfect space for anyone whose tastes fall somewhere between cutesy and sophisticated.

The loft is situated in the second story of a hard loft conversation project, with lobby access that exits onto a busy city street in the middle of Toronto’s West End. Beyond just being wonderfully decorated, the loft was created with the foal of providing its owner with an escape space that feels private and calm within the big city and all the demands on city life.
Upon entering the apartment, visitors experience an entrance space that, besides welcoming friends and family, serves to provide more private spaces in the home a bit of delineation, away from the front door. The aim of this corridor was explicitly to buffer the owner’s living spaces from the rest of the building outside its limits.
While this separation already increases a sense of tranquility throughout the home, it also situates the living spaces perfectly at the back of the apartment so as to afford them the best view. Throughout the living room and kitchen, beautiful floor to ceiling windows overlook not just the city skyline, but also a canopy of green trees directly below the apartment.
Within the living spaces of the apartment, designers sought to hit a perfect balance of spacial layout. While the overall aim from conception was certainly to create a feeling of tranquil privacy all throughout, they also wanted to give the most commonly used rooms good flow without leaving them entirely open concept.
To compromise between all of these goals in a way that contributes to the decor, designers opted to build a series arched hallways leading from room to room. These are open and inviting but still create visual buffers between one space and the next. These arching halls are what lead dwellers from their public, common, and hosting spaces into the private areas of their home.

Down each of these hallways, floors made of smooth, solid douglas fir are warmed by and reflect the light of soft LED lights featured all along the base of the walls. These create a sense of tranquil comfort and made the transitions from room to room feel almost ethereal. The upward flow of the light spans around you towards the curved ceiling of the archway like a fairytale spot.

Overall, the Candy Loft was a foray into exploring materiality and blended aesthetics for both owner and designer. It at once achieves a sense of formality and of whimsical comfort. Copper is added to the light wood and clean, white surfaces in places like the kitchen for a contemporary sheen that contrasts well with the playful glow found elsewhere throughout the home.
This copper was actually chosen intentionally to add a sense of planned change over time. After some use, copper begins to show charming signs of weathering over time. Rather than looking like unappealing wear and tear, it can add character to a room, which is precisely the goal here, in this space where aesthetics and atmospheres are blended in unique ways. The Candy loft exudes intimacy, a sense of the natural, and an escape from city life, all in one place.

Photos by Jeremie Warshafsky

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Contemporary Project #3 created by Studio Wills + Architects to provide a visual “break” on an old city street

By • May 30, 2019

On an fairly new, busy street in Singapore, architects and designers from Studio Wills + Architects have completed Project #3 in an interesting looking and impressive attempt to break up the visual line of standard, similar townhouses all along the sidewalk so the eye’s palate gets a little something different as the public passes by.

The Project #3 house is a lovely, spacious bungalow in an exclusive and calm residential enclave. The neighbourhood consists of 106 semi-detached homes and three bungalows. The intention of including these bungalows along the street from the very beginning was to break up the repetitive look of the many semi-detached homes in each row with a big of height and width difference.

The image designers had in mind placing so many nearly identical homes together and then breaking them up periodically with the three bungalows was that of a necklace with different kinds of beads strung periodically to break up smaller repeated ones. Think of big rounded beads string between smaller pearls!

The area of land that the enclave occupies is a long and quite thin, keeping in a straight line all the way down in a linear manner. This is another place where alternating lower standing bungalow houses with taller semi-detached houses was a purposeful design choice; the difference in levels between the houses helps stop the street from feeling like an opaque wall all the way down.

Amidst the semi-detached homes, several courtyards were built into the ground covered by the smaller dwellings to ensure that each home gets some kind of outdoor space, as well as lots of light. The courtyards present increased surface area for bright windows in both the back and front, keeping all of the houses, no matter their structure, comfortable and well lit.

The courtyards serve several other purposes as well. Adding more window space provides additional ventilation along with the abundant natural light. The convenient outdoor spaces between the technical plots of the semi-detached houses also make the space that belongs to each feel more distinct, autonomous, and independent of each other despite their close proximity.

In terms of their style, both the bungalows and the semi-detached houses were specifically designed with a combination of features that might make them suit multi-generational families. The homes are fully equipped but also quite open concept, with diverse spaces that might be used for all kinds of communal or private activities. This theme extends into the outdoor courtyards, which feature relaxing patio spaces, greenery, and small swimming pools.

Between the intentionally differently levelled houses and the additional visual breaks provided by the sunny courtyards, the taller semi-detached houses appear like small towers. The skyline of the street takes on a prismatic quality that creates a stunningly interesting silhouette from a distance.

In terms of materiality, the towers are constructed from 2-stone sand shades, with surface textures akin to that of a rock face full of crevices. This contrasts with the bungalow’s black, slightly more sleek appearance. In the low home’s interior, the intention of the decor was to create a balance of void spaces and solid spaces, which naturally creates contrasts in dark and light.

Photos provided by the architects.

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1960s home updated to create the contemporary Bent Annexe by BENT Architecture

By • May 24, 2019

In the mid-century neighbourhoods of Melbourne, Australia, a lovely old 1960s home called Bent Annexe has received a stylish updating by BENT Architecture that has brought it into the contemporary age in terms of architectural design and style.

The primary change in the home is an extension that was directly inspired by the layout and concept of a traveling caravan. The home is fortunate enough to already be surrounded by lush greenery from the natural environment around it and the installation of wonderfully large floor to ceiling windows draws in abundant amounts of natural light. These are partially intended to provide light and lovely views, but they’re also part of an energy efficient system in the home based on passive solar principles.

The extension was built for the new owners who recently purchased the original home; a young family of four with two dogs and a huge love for all things outdoors. This partially influenced designers’ choices to incorporate as much sunlight and blending of indoor-outdoor space as possible. They also prioritized an improvement on ventilation than what the original midcentury home had to offer.

In the new iteration of the home, the primary living spaces of the house now sit in the addition or new annexe. This left increased space elsewhere in the house for more diverse and flexible use, so designers took the opportunity to update parts of the existing dwelling to take better advantage of that space.

As a result of these updates, the finished house now has much larger bedrooms than before, a large family bathroom, and a whole second living space that functions more as a casual family and media room than a formal living room. The larger, new living spaces sit further towards the original backyard and garden, but the annexe doesn’t take up so much space as to consume the home’s entire available outdoor area.

Instead, designers put in great effort to make the annexe actually feel like part of the garden. They blended it, rather than just popping it in the middle, by creating new green spaces on both sides around it. Now, the green space down one side of the annexe juts inward to separate the original building from the far wall of the addition, creating a sort of calming inner courtyard.

This courtyard is an enjoyable place to spend time together outside for the owners and their family, but it also serves practical functions for the home. Now, the master bedroom has an extra outer wall with large windows that give it much more natural light, as do both of the living areas. These huge windows create the illusion of continuous space, which lets them feel blended with the greenery outside, making them feel spacious and welcoming.

In order to make sure that the house doesn’t let is so much light as to get too hot, designers also installed a built-in shading system over several of the largest glass encasements. This is where the caravan inspired element is perhaps the most visually apparent; these retractable shading devices create cool spaces on the deck and outdoor dining area while also working with the louver style windows and thermal mass concrete floors to passively heat or cool the house at large.

Photos by Tatjana Plitt

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Unique wood and concrete fortress called Private Residence created by Trípólí to play with shapes and contrasts

By • May 21, 2019

In a quiet suburb of Reykjavík in Iceland, called Garðabær, a midcentury private residence was recently renovated with a modernist twist by innovators at Trípólí. The Private Residence home now stands tall and unique in the street’s visual fabric.

New owners of the original home ordered not just a complete renovation of the space, but also a drastic expansion. When it was first built in 1966, the house was a simple, cubic looking unit that featured a flat roof, which looked quite contemporary for its time. Additions were added to the home a decade later and then, in 1994, a pitched roof was added on top of the flat one.

Around that same time, a facade was added to the exterior walls. These were clad with Steni facade panels which covered most of the original architecture form the 60s. Now, even more decades later, the new owners wished to bring the house back to its roots a little and re-centre some of that original modernist style. At the same time, they wished to adjust the layout of the main volume in order to add several new rooms entirely.

These brand new spaces include a family room in the centre of the house, as well as a south addition that is now home to a new dining room, high tech kitchen, and floor to ceiling glass wall that opens onto a sunny patio below a cantilevered roof that provides some pleasant shade.

In terms of materiality, the house feels very modernist indeed, but not without contemporary updates or nicely contrasting blends in texture and visuals. The bulk of the house is created from polished concrete with thermal absorption properties that help passively heat and cool the house. In many places, the wood panelled facade is mirrored throughout the house in flooring, furnishings, and inner facades as well.

To save the space from looking too concrete, designers also put an emphasis on some low maintenance plant life, particularly near entrances where guests and visitors will most often see the house from. Lovely concrete planters are home to colourful green succulents with red and purple glints and highlights, warming the space and making sure it blends with surrounding nature well.

Between the dining and living rooms, a glazed glass slit was created. These rooms are on two separate but close by levels and the slit, which sits near one of the succulent planters, is recessed slightly, designed to bring natural sunlight and that sense of nature a little further into the house. The glass here helps light and warm the entryway and wide staircase that leads to the main social rooms.

For something extra unique and wonderfully calming, designers built a kind of spa space right off the garden area. Here, a sauna provides a warm, private place for relaxation and reflection while an outdoor hot tub provides a more social space that heats itself efficiently using geothermal systems.

Photos by Rafael Pinho

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Bashirul Haq & Associates builds a combination of family home and studio space

By • May 20, 2019

In the busy urban setting of Dhaka in Bangladesh, creative designers and teams at Bashirul Haq & Associates have created the Architect’s Family Home & Studio as a combination of private and creative space for one of their own!

The home and studio structure sits in the downtown core, on a busy city street with lots of activity out from. From the outset, the plan was to create a housing and workspace that spans the available 670 square metres of the chosen plot. The home was planned to have two floors in total for the primary living space with an additional mezzanine floor extending above the garage to house the studio space.

In order to give the home a little more privacy from the busy public street (and also reduce the harsh winds that blow through the neighbourhood), the house is constructed in an L-shape. This shape also creates some clear delineation between the parts of the building that make up the home and the parts that are used as an office and workspace.

This separation of functional spaces is beneficial for more than just the mental health perks of differentiating between work and family life. It also influences the structure of the house, as the joining portion between the private and work volumes of the L is a beautifully vaulted space that gives access to different areas and rooms.

Above the vaulted area sits a room that is primarily used as a study. Here, exposed brick walls that match the home’s stunning facade enclose most of the room in order to give it privacy and quiet. Even so, designers aimed to give it lots of motivating natural light as well, featuring a set of historical looking wooden windows. These are set deeply in an opening to protect them from rain and wind.

This recessed structure in the office also isolates the space a little more from the noise pollution coming off of the busy street outside. Beyond the windows, a front courtyard also provides more space and takes on the brunt of the area’s often harsh weather, giving another buffer to the study space and rendering it even more of a quiet work haven.

Moving back into the main house past the vault, a wonderfully decorated void separates the work and living spaces even further without interrupting flow and easy movement from one to the other. This void space has a skylight set into the roof to keep things bright inside the brick building, which lets the weather outside shift the light so it plays across the furnishings and decor details there.

A similar skylight keeps the main living room well and naturally lit. Just like the one in the voice space leading from the study, this skylight lets light play across the furniture, varying as the daytime sky changes. The shadows cast throughout the day contribute to the decor scheme of the room and keep things looking dynamic.

Photos by Al Amin Abu Ahmed Ashraf (Dolon)

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Mole Architects turn old, Edwardian British garage into contemporary, energy efficient dwelling called Fijal House

By • May 17, 2019

In a central conservation area in the village of Ely, United Kingdom a new house has been built from what was originally a garage built in 1905 when the street was first laid out. Now, Mole Architects‘ Fijal House sits looking modern and stately between two detached Edwardian houses that provide impressive contrast.

The house is brick clad but the bricks are angled in such a way that one must look twice to realize what the facade is actually made of. Set on angles so that they create almost zig-zag looking ridges, the bricks create a visual appeal that designers created as an artistic and contemporary interpretation of the older houses that flank it on either side, which are made of classic brick.

The actual vertical shape that designers chose to create in their offset placement of the facade’s white bricks was inspired by another much older local landmark. The shape is an homage to the stone columns that mark the entrance of the Ely Cathedral! On the house, the bricks are at at 90 degree angles to each other to get the right visual texture.

The entrance of the house is set into the brick, recessed underneath a modernist looking lintol made of precast concrete. This slab provides shade to the small porch and the entryway’s front window. For even more visual appeal that the facade already provides, the space below the lintol is adorned with colourful tiles creating a pattern in cream, green, and blue.

In terms of its construction, the house was created around a prefabricated frame. The ground floor and internal walls were constructed using concrete screed, with dense concrete block work included around the base for extra thermal mass. Skylights in the roof, particularly those on the south side, bring sunlight into the house all day long, spreading to every corner from the dining area and staircase in particular.

The upper floor of the house sits under a roof that features exposed rafters on the inside and a steeply pitched shape. Once again, this element was inspired by the local cathedral; the angled is modelled after its nave. The angled interior effect is that the modestly sized bedrooms below have a cozy sense of scale and lots of old fashioned character typical of original houses in the region but unusual for more modern houses built in the surrounding suburbs more recently.

From the outset, designers wanted to give the home’s interior layout a bit of flexibility, allowing good flow and movement and enabling rooms to be used in diverse ways. The owners wanted a space that could feasibly balance hosting large social gatherings but also suits regular family use, with decent acoustic separation between rooms, particularly those with differing private and public functions.

In terms of decor, the materials used inside the house are simple and modest. Floors are made of smoothed dark stone while pale ash lines the walls for natural contrast. Upstairs, floors are carpeted for comfort in the bedrooms on chilly mornings. In direct contrast to and communication with the angular lines in the home’s exterior facade, smooth curves are featured in the home’s interior wherever possible, adding a sense of comfortable flow.

Photos by Matthew Smith

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Bornet House is a stunningly rustic barn turned into a beautiful little home by Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes

By • May 17, 2019

Thanks to innovative designers at Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes, a beautifully rustic and vintage original barn has been transformed in a minimalist but luxurious way and renamed Bornet House.

Located in the countryside of Ollon, Switzerland, the Bornet House is a former barn that still bears a lot of its original masonry which adds historical character despite the fact that much of it resembles stylized rubble this many years since it was first built. The barn actually sits at the centre of the tiny village of Ollon, which is quite dense in terms of where the buildings sit in reference to each other.

On the ground floor of the barn house is a singular, open concept space where all of the functional parts of the house are featured. Here, the kitchen, living room, and dining room blend together but in a way that makes sense and enables free movement. Closer to the entrance, the main bedroom actually sits on a higher level but only slightly, built up on a sort of central wooden pedestal.

The difference in levels between the bedroom and the functional and public spaces gives the sleeping space some uniquely situated privacy, as though it’s its own little escape. At the same time, the fact that it sits only slightly higher than the other rooms and isn’t closed off at the top affords the living room double the height to the ceiling, making it feel even more opening.

In terms of materiality, the inside of the house bears a sort of cohesiveness with the outside. The tones of the natural materials chosen suit the outside of the house, matching the stone of the original work quite well. Inside, the natural concrete floors match the ashy tone of the natural ceiling while the wooden walls match the bedroom platform and frame of the kitchen.

In terms of the physical structure of the building, designers opted to stay true to the history by refraining from altering the walls and openings in drastic ways. In one spot, however, the west wall needed to be rebuilt to maintain the integrity and strength of the building and preserve it for years to come.

Despite the fact that they maintained the building to its truest form as much as possible, they also accounted for the way it sits on a slope as well, particularly when it came to filling the floor on the inside. In the rebuilt wall, however, designers did take liberty in the revived space to add a window that runs the whole width of the building, harnessing the power of the slop once more to provide a breathtaking and totally unobstructed view of the Rhone Valley.

In order to keep incorporating the beautiful outdoor setting the barn house is afforded, designers also added a small terrace right off the side of the bedroom platform. This gives dwellers another way to enjoy the old fashioned setting of the tiny village, contrasting well with their experience of the freshly modern interior of their new house.

The final area of the house, not always visited by guests, is the basement. This area houses a useful home office and even a plant room, which is actually partially under ground thanks to the way the land the house sits on slopes.

Photos by Kristyna Strejcovska

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Clean, bright Wye River House, set high above the water, built by MGAO to provide breathtaking Australian views

By • May 16, 2019

Located right along the river that gives it its name, the Wye River house in Australia was recently completed by design teams at MGAO to give owners unparalleled views and the brightest of naturally lit home spaces.

This particular house actually arose out of some misfortunate originally. In 2015, a bushfire became beyond control on Christmas day and swept through the little township of Wye River, leaving great damage in its wake. Over 100 homes were lost entirely and various social and housing projects have happened in the years since to replace the damaged dwellings for those families.

The Wye River house is one of those replacement projects! It is located on a plot of land that slopes quite steeply, giving it a dramatic view of the Bass Straight. Fro, below, the house looks as though it’s perched lightly on the hillside, standing tall amongst the greenery of the brush that is still growing back where a canopy of trees once stood before the fire.

In order to give it some locally referenced character and style, designers chose to model this house after the typical beach shacks that were dotted so consistently along the coastline in the area in the 1960s and 70s. This explains the boxy shape and modest material choices, and the repetition of this inspiration in other homes applies that same aesthetic to much of the village.

Besides its basic rectangular shape, the most direct references this house bears to its beach shack forefathers come in the form of the Skillion rook and the several cantilevered balconies. The way that the external cladding, which gives the house that warmly dark facade and makes it stand out against the countryside, is also an influence. This makes the building look monolithic, just like the beach shack towers it was modelled after.

Perhaps this exterior cladding and the clearly high quality glazing in the floor to ceiling windows are the most modern aspects of the Wye River house. These windows let the area’s high amounts of gorgeous natural sunlight flood into each room, practically lighting each corner, giving the interior a wide open and comforting feel and letting the greenery outside appear as though it’s part of each space.

The way the greenery and the ocean are framed by the windows was actually a very important priority to designers. After all, these trees are something the locals fought extremely hard to save, preserve, and revive during and after the devastating fire. It’s only fitting that they get their moment to shine each and every day.

In contrast with the dark exterior of the house, most of the indoor spaces are incredibly clean, bright, and near flawless looking. This, in combination with the windows, helps the space feel limitless and even bigger than its generous square footage actually is.

Photos by Paul Hermes

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Yin Residence created by TACK architects to blend with historical neighbourhood despite its modern architecture

By • May 15, 2019

Just south of Omaha’s downtown core sits a brand new private residence, at the heart of a neighbourhood that’s bears historical note of its own. The Yin Residence, recently completed by TACK architects, was specifically designed to provide all of the amenities of modern living without interrupting the atmosphere of history and authenticity in the streets around it.

In fact, this house is a sort of tester building, designed with the open intention of being a prototype for ongoing residential construction. The house was meant to distinguish itself as something new but still suit the historical buildings around it, creating a blended atmosphere that feels natural and comfortable for dwellers in the area and visitors alike.

Designers were fortunate with the location because it was already afforded a stunning setting within which to work. The historical context that the new house sits in provides an already established tone that sort of set the scene for the building’s exterior, even though the interior appears much more modern then one might expect or witness in older surrounding homes.

Within the home, designers wished to give visitors a new outlook on the city. This intent is partially responsible for the pleasing minimalist aesthetic featured within the home’s walls. On the outside, the building’s exterior was created from cement board with a prettily contrasted cedar siding. Inside, the materiality is lighter and more simple, designed to mirror ideas of a contemporary lifestyle.

In terms of its layout, the house is organized into three sections, situated by function. To the north lie the master bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen, all spaces that are most regularly used by the family. Designers chose to put each of these close together to enable easy, free movement from one place to another on the inside.

Towards the south end of the house, you’ll find two additional bedrooms and a three-car garage. The guest bedrooms are spacious and friendly, giving visitors a sense of luxury and “escape from the norms of home” without being too formal or cold. They’re intended to make one feel like a guest while also feeling completely comfortable and welcome.

Between these two parts of the house lies a sort of transitional space, leading from one to the other. This is a vertical volume that extends upwards, linking modules of the building together. This linked space holds a stunning staircase that leads onto the roof, where dwellers and visitors can enjoy a beautifully sunny rooftop patio that feels fresh and open but is also high enough to remain quite private.

In terms of the decor, colour pops are quite important to the home’s atmosphere and aesthetic. In contrast with the more neutral and grounded looking exterior, the inside bears several furnishings and decor or art pieces that create an exciting burst of energy here and there, keeping the place feeling bright and modern despite its historical setting, but also without interrupting it.

Photos by Tom Kessler

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Cleanly modern A5 House refurbished by Raz Melamed Architects to put a contemporary spin on an historical building

By • May 15, 2019

In the historical city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel, the fresh and modern  A5 House was recently completed by Raz Melamed Architects as part of an ongoing project to refurbish older buildings in the area for easier modern living without disturbing their outwards historical context.

In reality, the A5 House is a modest but still impressive 70 square metre studip apartment that has been redesigned into a modern getaway. It lies at the centre of Tel Aviv’s historic Neve Tzedek neighbourhood, which is part of the reason it was chosen for this refurbishment project. Despite the fact that designers on the project had previous experience with authentically and respectfully redoing historical buildings, this particular spot presented a unique set of challenges.

Previously to being redone, this property as derelict and abandoned for many years. When designers arrived on scene, they found what looked like a collection of ramshackle shacks, all hacked together in a way that appears shoddy and unreliable. The effect of this construction was to make an inner space that appear like a sort of dark, disjointed maze with only a hidden back patio for private outdoor space.

Additionally, a slanted wall that divided the main inner spaces presented something to think about and work with or around. In short, the space needed thorough renovation. Within that, however, it was essential that contractors remain diligent and careful, since they were, in fact, working in an historical space. The team aimed to work carefully enough to protect the building’s outer shell and preserve the home’s historical integrity.

In the early planning stages, designers came up with three distinct potential layouts that might work within the unique space. Each of these accounted for the sharply slanted wall in different ways; one tried to hide the wall to create an illusion of wide open rectangular space, a second worked it into the plan in a way that was subtle, and the third made is a central part of the layout, relying on it quite heavily.

In the end, designers went with the first plan, option for openness and free flowing space with as little slanted interruption as possible. They did this by taking advantage of both horizontal and vertical space, eventually dividing the apartment’s interior into four distinct spaces, each one rectangular in shape.

Now, the spaces are organized into a sleeping area, a living room, and kitchen, and a stunning outdoor patio. Each of these are divided by beautifully intersection vitrine windows that open from room to room or onto the patio using a Belgian style pivot door. The patio is accessible from both the living room and the bedroom, while the bedroom is separated from the two inner social spaces by an additional wall of windows.

The use of only glass walls within the apartment itself and surrounding the patio has a practical function as well as a decorative one. This way, natural light is permitted to flow freely into the rooms, reaching just about every corner. The same goes for fresh air when the windows are pivoted open. The stone wall surrounding the patio, however, keeps the inner space nice and private despite the clear line of sight from the patio inward.

In order to keep the flow of space and open concept construction of the inside rooms even and symmetrical, designers opted to hide the apartment’s bathroom behind a subtle door in the kitchen. This stops the apartment from having an uneven visual space and makes it feel like a standard modern one-bedroom, despite its old fashioned courtyard and lovely historical outer aesthetic.

On the more public side of the house, which faces the street, designers opted to glad windows with wooden shutters that are more standard of the buildings in the area. This gives the inner spaces privacy without interrupting the visual aesthetic of the local area. The effect is that the modern appearance of the apartment inside and the way it contrasts with the exterior is sort of a surprise for visitors entering for the first time.

The clean, simple layout plans might make the apartment look like it was easy to manifest, but that’s not so. First, designers had to essentially rebuild and replace the original infrastructure due to rotting beams near the roof. The original flooring, worn and unsuitable after years of both use and neglect, also needed redoing.

Each of these radical project aspects, of course, had to be completed within the parameters set out by local preservation authorities. Designers could not, for example, change the height of the building. Any changes or updates that were made to the outside fo the home were done using locally sourced supplies that would have been authentic to the area in any era.

This sense of natural, raw materiality continues on the inside of the apartment as well. A calming grey colour palette was chosen as a happy medium between old fashioned and minimalist, modern aesthetics. The bathroom features grey tiles while the kitchen and bedroom boast impressive woodworked details that have been painted a matching grey.

In contrast, the kitchen island, granite countertops, and steelwork around the pivoting glass doors were all done in black in order to ground the space and create periodic focal points. Greenery in the serene, old fashioned patio completes the space, bringing that sense of a natural escape home.

Photos by Amit Geron

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Cubic looking Mariana House created by Laboratorio de Arquitectura [mk] with bright glass walls to create feelings of limitlessness

By • May 14, 2019

In a generous corner plot in the midst of a calm neighbourhood in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico, the impressively cubic Mariana House was recently completed by Laboratorio de Arquitectura [mk] to blend stunning outward views and calming intimate spaces.

Casa Mariana, or Mariana House, is built on the corner of its street in a space that bears quite a number of strict building regulations, making it the culmination of designers having overcome several challenges and constraints. Throughout the entire building process, they found themselves juggling the two main goals of preserving the breathtaking views afforded by the location and creating a sense of relaxing intimacy and privacy within the home itself.

This is how the home’s unique L-shaped layout was conceptualized. Two main corridors help organize the home’s public and private spaces, which are joint in the centre by an impressive stairway that connects the building’s two storeys.

On the ground floor, designers sought to create a distinction between public and private spaces so that each feels easily understood and sensical to use independently of one another. At the same time, they wanted to maintain a free flow of space and establish a relationship between spaces so that the room inside don’t feel too isolated or closed off.

Part of this spatial priority was established using a sequence of sliding doors, clean glass walls, and pivoting glass partitions. These make the spaces feel adaptable depending on the situation or needs of dwellers and visitors. Rooms might be closed off for privacy and quiet or opened entirely for air flow and feelings of limitlessness.

On the home’s upper floor, the space is more classic and straight forward in that the master suite is slightly removed from the guest bedrooms to privacy. In contrast to other homes, however, this house features a common intimate living space where the family might bond or spend quiet time alone. This space overlooks the storey below, sitting under a sloped ceiling.

The materiality and aesthetic inside the house, on both floors, is quite natural and suited to the environment surrounding the house. Greenery is made a huge part of the inner decor thanks to the way large fronds rest against the glass,  like the hallways are deep within a forest or jungle. This lets glass walls enable floods of sunlight while also hiding intimate spaces from view.

Wood and concrete make up most of he space where glass isn’t present.  On the facade, however, an aluminum screen is featured where the house takes the brunt of the sun. This provides privacy but also helps with passive heat regulation, without blocking light from entering the spaces inside so that things can stay beautifully bright.

Photos by Alejandra Urquiza

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Angular, open concept Gwaneum-Ri House completed by Architecture Studio YEIN to put a modern twist on local living styles

By • May 14, 2019

In the mountain village of Gangneung, South Korea, the Gwaneum-Ri House was created by Architecture Studio YEIN only feet from where the ice skating heats of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics took place. Named for the Korean Buddhist term Gwaneum-bosal, the house embodies the values that the local people hold dear.

Besides being a previous Olympic site, the village was also the site of a terrible forest fire in May 2017. This rendered the area quite vulnerable thanks to dry mountain winds and harsh weather coming in off the Easy Sea. Many of the forests and high numbers of houses were damaged in the fire, including the family of home a young couple with a brand new baby. This family’s house has now been rebuilt on the same site where the ashes of their lost shelter once stood, like a symbol of hope.

The site on which the original little wooden house stood is small but held a lot of potential for innovative contemporary designers. The plot is decently sized but triangular in shape, leaving the only space that’s suitable for a yard quite narrow. Teams accounted for this by building a triangular house that nestles comfortably in the back of the plot, leaving the forward strip free for a yard.

Inside, the slightly trapezoidal house is split into two functional spaces. One is intended for the couple and their daughter for everyday use and the other is more suitable for guests and visiting family, sitting closer to the central courtyard. Between the two volumes sits a triangular transitional space that’s specifically intended for sharing and bonding.

An apple tree was planted here in this serene common space, taking advantage of the slight difference in level between the home’s two halves due to the fact that the plot sits on a bit of a slope. Designers took advantage of the land’s natural slope in another way. Ramps were built into the home’s front deck and inner space to make movement through the house friendlier for the couple’s elderly parents and even themselves as they age within the home in years to come.

To the right of the house and its entrance ramps sits a lovely garden. The roof of the house slopes towards this garden, creating a natural visual flow that’s pleasing to the eye. Close to here, the wall of the guest room has a window to keep things bright, but it is minimal in size in order to block noise from the road and keep the guest bedroom comfortable and private.

In contrast, the living room has a large window that perfectly frames stunning views visible from the home’s slope. This window is set right into a corner, accounting for the house’s triangular shape. This corner is also situated such that it becomes a kind of vestibule between the kitchen and the living room.

From the kitchen, the central garden is clearly visible. This was specifically placed so that the owning couple, whose favourite things are gardening and cooking, can enjoy the flowers growing in the garden while they cook together. Their bedroom is located at the furthest back point of the plot so as to block out noise from the road but still provide it with a view of the central garden too.

Between the bedroom and the public spaces sit the master bathroom and a dressing room. An impressive staircase leads upwards from this dressing room into a sunny, quiet loft that might be used as a diverse space depending on the family’s needs. The materiality of this and each of the other rooms in the house reflect their mountainous setting, using a neutral colour palette and placing locally sourced stonework detailing at the forefront of decorative built-in features.

Photos by Joonhwan Yoon

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