Home Design Find - Interior Design, Architecture, Modern Furniture - Part 3

Home Design Find


No Comments »

A Traditional and Serene Japanese Garden Space in Busy Fujieda

611 architecture

An almost invisible house that seems to disappear into the sky represents an increasingly typical new Japanese design vernacular, building on ancient traditions.

This one is from mA-style Architects.

712 architecture

A courtyard entirely surrounds the house, distilling nature into a controlled artifice that plays out light and shadow on the surrounding walls.

162 architecture

The surrounding wall is suspended about two feet above ground.

1010 architecture

Rough rocks transit under the surrounding suspended wall, blur the boundary from both sides.

136 architecture

Very controlled naturescapes are very engrained in Japanese architecture.

A long tradition of minimalist interiors have a peculiarly Japanese quality of calm.

144 architecture

Sliding panel doors to access nature are a traditional intervention moderating the transition between the indoors and outdoors.

99 architecture

But these new walled off courtyard houses update these Japanese traditions to find a way to bring composure in a frantic and congested modern world.

811 architecture

By surrounding the house with daylight inside its walled enclosure, composure is reached.

511 architecture

With daylight on both sides, the kitchen and living space feels abundant and livable.

312 architecture

Is the bathroom outdoors?

The lighting suggests so, as does the encounter with real, uncompromising nature in these large rocks extending further out than than the wall.

172 architecture

Large rocks continuing beneath the hanging wall create the sense that you are outdoors.

181 architecture

As does a glass roof above the sink – giving you the sense of leaving the main house roof.

plumbing architecture

Indeed, a closeup of the intriguing bathroom section shows that the sink is up against the perimeter wall.

1210 architecture

Viewed from the minimal kitchen, it feels outside.

212 architecture

A table against the perimeter (right) off the tatami mat sleeping room – which gets rolled up during the day – is also a daytime study off the living room.

153 architecture

Although the design solution looks super modern, it actually builds on ancient Japanese traditions.

1113 architecture

This new form of Japanese architecture increasingly takes account of the extremes of congested living, and finds resolution by retreating behind a blank wall.

But by suspending the wall, they emlarge the apparent space within, so instead of feeling claustrophobic, the walled space is quite pleasant.

No Comments »

Design Trend: Tired of Granite? Try a Glass Countertop!

Vesna7 uncategorized

Visit a few new kitchen remodels these days and you’ll quickly notice they have one thing in common: granite countertops. In fact, the look, which you’ll see everywhere from luxury model homes to modest rentals and mobile homes, has become so ubiquitous that it’s also  become, frankly, boring.  So if you’re about to remodel your kitchen and you’re looking for a look that is a little less run-of-the-mill, we’ve got a suggestion for you. Try glass!

Check out how great glass countertops look in two kitchens, above and below, by CGD Glass Countertops. The first glass countertop incorporates an opaque, frosted look. It is sleekly minimal, extremely elegant, and it makes a statement without looking desperate.  The second glass kitchen countertop, below, uses more texture and sheen for a splashier look, suggestive of water. A glass backsplash lends added punch.

Enns kitchen2  uncategorized

Glass has a lot of advantages compared to many other materials. It’s easy to maintain, is not porous, is hygenic, and stain resistant too! That means, unlike a porous stone like marble and granite that needs to be resealed from time to time, you’ll never have to worry about wine stains, tomato sauce or water marks. And though you might think of glass as a delicate material prone to cracks, chips and breaking, it turns out that glass is highly durable, equivalent to the strength of marble and granite. And if, by chance, you should accidentally sit a hot pan on your counter, you won’t have to worry about scorching, burning, or melting. The only other product that compares in durability is quartz.  And here’s another major plus: glass kitchen countertops are easy to customize. For example, CGD Glass Countertops allows you to choose between glass types (aqua clear glass or ultra clear glass) as well as  nearly a dozen types of texture (sandstorm, pixel, linear, to name a few) and nearly 50 different colors. You can often get a more varied look with glass than you could get with stone. Below, see two examples. The first appears to be “Sky Blue” in a “Melting Ice” finish, which is backlit for a little more drama.

roger1 uncategorized

The second look is a very smooth and polished and appears to be back painted Dark Beige, with nearly a metallic look:

glass kitchen countertop1 uncategorized

The amount of variation in looks is pretty amazing, isn’t it? And just because we’ve only looked at kitchens so far, don’t think that glass countertops are limited to the kitchen. You can use them on any counter, from kitchen islands, bars and tables, to bathrooms. Below are two bathroom looks. The first, a textured green glass is suggestive of a refreshing dip in Caribbean waters, not a bad way to be greeted every morning!

glass bathroom countertop uncategorized

And below, the turquoise blue of this glass bathroom countertop is like taking a dip in a pool!

large uncategorized

Finally, there’s another major advantage to glass: Unlike granite and marble, which involves carving a limited resource out of the earth, glass is a recyclable, sustainable material. If you should ever change your countertop, you can take satisfaction in knowing that it will not be headed to a landfill. So not only will a glass countertop help you stand out from the crowd, but you can also feel good about doing your part for the planet. That makes glass a “clear” winner!

No Comments »

Earthy Luxury in a Dutch Afrikkaans Bush Escape

138 architecture

INK Design Lab created this glamourous neo-primitive resort in South Africa’s northernmost province of Limpopo.

215 architecture

The exterior manages to hint of both an immigrant Dutch ancestry and an indigenous African design vernacular.

315 architecture

Set in 12,000 acres of wilderness, the intriguing boutique hotel houses up to 26 visitors at a time.

413 architecture

Every detail is earthy and primitive, yet with an air of comfort and luxurious welcome.

514 architecture

Curves easily define all of the spaces, public and private, without strain.

715 architecture

The most surprising example: a well appointed library.

911 architecture

Perhaps because each guest room is centered on a fabulous oval or circular soaking tub, all the curved spaces never seem strained or at odds with the furniture.

614 architecture

Comfort and serenity imbue a soak in the contemporary bathtub in the glorious natural setting.

1012 architecture

Intricately carved double doors (with more circular designs carved into them!) lead to a completely circular free standing soaking tub in this circular room.

1115 architecture

In another, a richly polished mahogany floor and earthy plaster walls play against a refreshing contemporary oval bathrub.

814 architecture

After a day exploring the Savannah, how magical would be the comfort and charm of this earthy retreat.

1211 architecture

The sheer romance of a canopy bed with gauzy white curtains would offer refuge and repair to pamper battered senses.

139 architecture

You’d even return to a roaring fire that perfectly offsets the dreamy canopy bed in the distant African bushlands.

A study in contrasts.

No Comments »

Design Dilemma: Passively-cooled homes

modern exterior how to tips advice

In many Mediterranean climes, it has been the norm for centuries to build homes that stay cool even under a hot, boiling sun. Thick stone walls, small windows, wooden shutters, cool tile floors and windows placed on the northern side of homes have been time-tested ways of keeping a home in a hot climate cool. In fact you’ll find in most warm climates that builders have learned how to enhance the coolness of homes. In the Southern United States, for example, wide porches, tall windows, and high ceilings have been used to keep the temps down.

traditional porch how to tips advice

Above, a wide porch helps shield windows from direct sunlight. A screened in porch provides optimal ventilation, without worry about invading insects from open windows. Ceiling fans keep breezes moving. Ceilings are high, allowing plenty of room for hot air to rise.

In the Southwest, thermal mass in the envelope (adobe brick walls) provides a buffer against the intense summer sun, similar to the thick stone walls seen in the Mediterranean.  See below:

rustic family room how to tips advice


In more temperate climates, a mix of these strategies works best. Including:

  • Cutting down on direct sunlight in warm months
  • Drawing warm air out of the interior
  • Tightening a home’s envelope to keep heat from infiltrating
  • Designing spaces that keep the air cool in the “occupied zone”

For example, the two houses pictured at the beginning of this post are from the “From the Ground Up” competition. They are passive houses using very tight envelopes and heat-recovery units. The upper floors sport openings that allow the interior to act like one big chimney. The pop-up that caps the house has a south-facing window that heats up this zone, helping to draw warm air up and out of the house.

contemporary home office how to tips advice

For those not yet willing to stray too far from traditional forms of architecture, a “ranch-style” home oriented with the length from east to west can successfully work for passive cooling and heating. This design minimizes the home’s direct gain from the summer sun while maximizing its winter solar exposure.

Thermal zoning is important to getting a passively-cooled home to work properly. Living spaces should be placed in an area of the home where they will be cool or warm depending on the time of year. In hot climates, main living areas should be clustered along the cooler north and east sides of a home. Buffer zones like garages or porches should be placed on the home’s west side to protect interior living spaces from gaining too much heat.

The north-facing living room in the Australian home below attempts to work just that kind of magic.

contemporary living room how to tips advice

Another important component of a passively cooled home is the windows. Think carefully about where the dominant summer wind comes from, so you can use the prevailing breezes to your advantage. You should also give some thought to the type of window. Casement, jalousie, and awning windows can act as air scoops, channeling breezes into a home. Windows placed on opposite sides of the house aid in cross-ventilation, routing air through the home instead of letting it stagnate.

In addition, basics like insulation and a reflective roof can help out quite a bit.

If you’re smart about your home’s design, it can be surprisingly easy to survive the summers without air-conditioning. Your home will stay naturally cool with maybe only a bit of help from ceiling fans. You’ll stay comfortable, help save the planet and save a few bucks at the same time!

No Comments »

Swahili Traditions Blend Harmoniously with Art Deco in Kenya


140 architecture

A traditional Swahili house is scattered along a natural clearing in the coastal forest of Lamu in Kenya by Urko Sanchez Architects.

515 architecture

The client, Fernando Torres, wanted a house that would be in contact with nature.

He had a passion for architecture, and for Swahili traditional construction.

716 architecture

He needed a home that could host family gatherings but feel equally comfortable when he was alone.

216 architecture

The result, an outdoor pavillion on on sandy ground, reflects the client’s love of Swahili traditional construction and craftsmanship, as well as his enjoyment of outdoor living close to nature.

414 architecture

He wanted to preserve the forest as much as possible, so the house winds along within in a small natural clearing.

20 architecture

A series of curved exterior planters that extend inwards to become the smooth and cool concrete floor repeat the curved footprint of the outdoor “house”.

912 architecture

Cool breezes supply natural ventilation.

Construction had a low impact because only local materials were used.

173 architecture

The high arch of the traditional makuti roof effectively keeps out the bright sunlight and is also a good thermal insulator.

191 architecture

In Swahilli architecture this kind of makuti roof is used as a separate structure over the roof of the house or detached as a temporary construction.

815 architecture

Electricity to run the fans and lights is supplied by a solar power system out of sight.

1013 architecture

Rustic and lovely hand-shaped concrete sinks define the inside bathroom, but it is far from rudimentary.

Dignified Art Deco details like the lighting and the plaster decorations on the wall seem oddly fitting.

1212 architecture

Outside the shower room an al fresco bathtub in the same hand-shaped blond coral stone concrete makes bathing a natural delight in the midst of the forest clearing, for the grandchildren, or for Fernando when he is alone.

1116 architecture

Another outdoor bathroom offers a rustic privacy for visiting family members

1310 architecture

A sense of Kenya’s colonial past infuses the architecture.

Local craftsmen were used to create all of the intricate handiwork.

146 architecture

There is a seriousness to the incongruity of placing chandeliers in such a rustic natural setting.

154 architecture

The house could easily seem incongruous, with two such contrasting styles; urbane Art Deco played against the rustic Swahili.

182 architecture

Yet there’s nothing self consciously whimsical about the mixture of the highly civilized and the rustic traditions of Swahili construction.

It works.