AQ Arkitekter has created an intriguing vacation retreat that completely shuts up like a clam when not in use.
The center of Studio Furellen in Sweden is open, creating a central lightwell under a green roof “frame.”
The central atrium floods the silky interior with natural daylight even when the “clamshell” is tightly closed.
Completely unseen from outside, this sky lighting at its heart defines the interior light.
The minimalist shiny white interior is industrial, uncompromising, brisk.
A cool and crisp bedroom awaits its secretive visitors.
On each of the four corners, hydraulic and mechanical terraces can be opened out to the world.
Levelers under the deck extend down to keep the decks level on the varying terrain.
The detailing is brisk, efficient and very chic.
By contrast with the rugged and weathered exterior, the interior is like the inside of a clamshell.
This is an odd and yet very intriguing hidey hole.
In the age of huge, expansive houses, one thing remains very near and dear to our hearts: the cottage home. The dictionary definition of a cottage is “a small home, usually of only one story.” There is no hard and fast rule about what “small” actually is, but for many, anything less than 1200 square feet would fit this definition.
It seems there are not many homes of this type being built these days, and too often, those in existence are being knocked down to make way for McMansions that are two or three times the size. Given this, we thought it worth posting a celebration to the cottage home.
What’s so great about cottages? For one, they cost less to buy, decorate, heat and cool. In other words, a cottage is naturally “green.” Carrying costs, like taxes and insurance are usually much lower, and so is maintenance. Cottage owners are a relaxed lot, since they have less to stress out about. And families living in a cottage often report a feeling of closeness, since there’s not much room to separate in tight quarters. That’s how owning a cottage can actually improve your quality of life! Plus, while cottages can serve their purpose as a family home, they also provide a great place to grow old. Small and single-story, there’s no stair-climbing when the knees start to give out!
Here are two quintessential cottages as viewed from the outside:
Inside these homes, owners often opt for a cozy traditional look. Something like this:
The “shabby chic” look — painting everything white and throwing in a few distressed antiques, always seems to work in this context. However, even shabby chic can seem a bit too sweet and trite as the years pass. And so, more and more, cottage owners are going streamlined and modern.
We found one fantastic example of exactly this direction in Texas, where a tiny bungalow got a makeover. The idea is to keep a few cottage elements in place, beadboard, for example, or industrial lights, but to streamline things, declutter, and inject an element of surprise with color. Take a look:
This cottage kitchen feels simple, but utterly modern, thanks to the bold mustard floor color and the removal of the traditional upper cabinetry. The industrial pendant light keeps things feeling rustic, but the open floor plan and light feel current. The effect is fresh and now, but still in keeping with the simplicity of cottage life. Here’s another view:
The owners kept the cottage style paneled cabinets and opted for Carrera marble counter tops. Among other things, we also love that these owners didn’t feel the need to replace all the white appliances with stainless steel!
Small doesn’t have to mean boring and it doesn’t have to mean cluttered. Take a look at the living room from the same Texas cottage:
It’s simple, sleek, uncluttered and soothing but still comfortable. No shabby chic for these homeowners! And, from the same home, a cottage bathroom:
And here’s a front porch view:
What in our view makes this cottage so successful?
- A small space is kept unified by using the same gray and mustard color combination throughout, both inside and out.
The effect is quite soothing and makes the space work as one.
- Antiques and traditional furniture styles are used right along side more modern and “transitional” styles. In the kitchen, a farmhouse table holds sway, but in the living room, a mid-century modern chair feels right at home.
- The palette is unique, but still bright and cheery, in keeping with the cottage ethos. Mustard was a brilliant floor choice, as it has the happy, relaxed quality that is so much a part of cottage decorating. But the soft grays used on the walls feel very comforting and cozy.
- Clutter is kept at bay. This is no overstuffed cottage! Cottage owners may be tempted to fill up on flowered pillows and tchotckes but these owners resisted, and we’re glad they did!
Is this a desert mirage?
The platonic idea of a house?
What seems to be a transparent house is in fact strips of mirror reflecting a 360 degree view from the center of a vast desert plan.
The reflected view is virtually identical on every side, creating the illusion of transparency.
The strips of mirror are interspersed with knotty old wooden planks.
A 70 year old hut forms the armature of the strange edifice.
Artist Phillip K Smith III created the piece: Lucid Stead.
The strange house exacerbates the solitary nature of the desert, creating a greater awareness of its loneliness.
Even its own shadow is roped in to add to this surreal creation.
The measured pace of the lonely setting is increased somehow by the mirroring of the vast empty surround.
As dusk falls, Smith engineers a delirious, almost spiritual experience, adding in a playful use of color.
But what a long lonely drive with water for the artist to keep these mirrors clean.
Here is another al fresco beauty from Guz Architects with their signature elegance and ease; the Willow House.
Like their Fish House, this outdoor living home for a young family in Singapore has a soaring parabolic roof shape.
Discrete and private, the entrance embraces the visitor with a civilized welcome.
What lovely proportions in its gateway, draped in Singapore’s lustrous tropical greenery.
As if dropped from the circular hole above it, a circle of greenery mirrors a cutout above, letting you experience that you are under a roof garden.
Water surrounds it, creating cooling breezes.
The view back down through that circle cut in the rooftop garden is quite surreal.
Languid fronds drape from the garden above and are reflected in the serene waters below.
The rooftop garden is amazing in its resemblance to an earthbound lawn garden.
It is reached by climbing stair treads that are themselves all miniature “green roofs” – each one sown with closecut groundcover.
These green stairs pierce another frame-shaped square opening of the roof garden.
Outdoor passageways maximize the enjoyment of the garden fragrances, in Singapore’s balmy climate.
The most extraordinary view is at night, where the glass-edged pool makes it seem as if the house floats atop a solid rectangle of green gel.
Air-conditioners. Radiators. Water pipes. Electrical cords. Even badly-placed electrical outlets. It doesn’t take much to introduce a note of ugliness into an otherwise pristine home. It can be a frustrating problem for design-conscious homeowners who have labored to make their home environment as beautiful as possible. Yes, you’ve invested in a B & B Italia sofa, but what can you do about all the computer cords behind your desk?
Take heart, because there are some inventive solutions out there to banish ugliness. For instance, can you spot the air-conditioning unit in the living room above? Yep, we missed it too.
Let’s take a look at a few ideas:
Can you spot the interior air conditioner in this Paris apartment by Pascal Grasso Architecture? Neither could we!
LIGHT SWITCHES, THERMOSTATS AND AWKWARD ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
Sometimes, light switches, thermostats and electrical outlets are stuck in strange places. One clever way to address this problem is by creating a gallery wall or some artistic interest that totally distracts from the awkward outlet. Something like this:
Here the same principle applies. The outlet was wallpapered in the same paper as the wall:
And here’s a mirrored plate that works masterfully at concealing a plate in a mirror:
And in the kitchen below, the radiator is incorporated into a window seat:
Below an air return is cleverly concealed to become just part of the architecture: