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An Ageless Beauty in the Valle de Bravo Mexican Jungle

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Mexican firm CHK arquitectura have concocted a dwelling that is quietly absorbed into the surrounding forest like an ancient ruin.

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The Maza house is like an apparition in the forest of Valle de Bravo.

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Parts of the naturally weathered concrete exterior look as if the house has been long abandoned to weeds, like a ruin that has seen better times.

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But its cascades of terraced green roofs sprouting weedy growth top fully glazed interiors.

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It is a restrained and elegant house that is full of surprises and contrasts.

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Stained concrete gives way to the warmth of travertine floors and the civility of built-in dropped seating.

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A bedroom is both completely in the jungle and is completely sheltered from it by the thick timber cladding.

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Abundant use of heavy timber creates an almost cave-like shelter, rich with contrasts.

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The monk-like simplicity of a serene listening spot for the call of the cicadas buzzing outside in the jungle.

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The warmth and elegance of a utterly primitive and yet completely contemporary fireplace.

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The warmth of wood in the open plan dining area is reflected in the recessed lighting in the heavy beams overhead.

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Like the cascading roofs above, the open plan living/dining/entertaining space descends in levels.
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The sunken entertaining space is the last of these, opening out to the ground level.

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A natural pool outdoors suggests the peace and quiet of a slow moving stream in the forest.
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Peaceful even is the complete lack of man-made landscaping.

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Contrasting with the green-tinged glass and the weathered concrete, the quiet exterior features bookish wooden screens of dark teak.

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It is a look at once unkempt and civilized.

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Design Dilemma: Stylish Home Offices

modern home office how to tips advice

Remember the days in which the home office was that barren little room off the garage that got very little love? There was the leatherbound encyclopedia set ensconced in a laminate bookcase, complete with a matching laminate desk and a battered office chair? Occasionally, you’d catch the scent of motor oil.

Well, today’s home office has come a ways from those days. In part, that’s because technology today is light and lean, allowing us to transform any corner of our homes into an office with ease. It’s also because more of us are actually using the space, and not just to pay bills on Sunday evenings. Enter the home office of 2014.

First and foremost, today’s home office exudes personality. It’s easy to do in a new paperless environment. Fewer of us have books that need shelving or stacks of papers to file. So out with the bookcases and files!

Above, check out a modernist office in Palm Springs that runs very efficiently with a simple table, a comfortable chair and a good light. What helps with the sense of light and ease in the space is the wall-mounted lamp which saves on desk space.

 

industrial home office how to tips advice

Today’s home office can take on the style of the rest of your home. And it can also hide in plain sight! (Thanks to laptops). Take the office  above. Actually, it’s is just a corner of an industrial loft. It doesn’t stand out as a home office because it’s simply a desk on wheels accompanied by a vintage office chair.  Industrial-style ceiling lamps complete the look, without a lot of fuss or to-do.

 

Below is another home office (actually a corner of a room) that flows seamlessly in style with the rest of the home. Part of the coolness are the seating choices. Instead of the large, overbearing office chair, we see a molded acrylic chair. The Jacobsen egg chair plays wonderfully against the organic forms of the desk chair.  We sincerely hope it belongs to either a graphic designer or a jeans manufacturer!

home design how to tips advice

Do you hate that feeling of being stuck inside having to work on a beautiful day? In the home office below, you can work and still feel as if you’re enjoying the outdoors. Again, notice the simplicity.

modern home office how to tips advice

Feel like you need more of a “real” office? There are some traditional offices, with shelves and file cabinets that still offer a lot of style. In the office below, there are shelves available for books, a small file cabinet for desk supplies, a cubby hole for printers and modems, and even a television which can stand in as a larger monitor when necessary. True, everything is much reduced in size from the mega-desks of yesteryear. And that’s a plus in our book.

contemporary home office how to tips advice

What else should you consider when setting up a home office?

  • If you can, go for natural views. According to psychologists a window on trees, a gurgling brook or some other bit of nature helps make you feel less stressed. If you don’t have a window, try adding a plant.
  • Use convertible furnishings. In other words, choose  work surfaces that can be easily rearranged to suit whatever your current need is.
  • Put some thought into the art and colors. The color of the walls, the pattern of the rugs, the wall art, all contribute to a sense of well-being in your space. If your office feels cozy and welcoming, you’re more apt to work well in that space.
contemporary home office how to tips advice

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Playa Vida Residence by Casis Architects Meets Unusual Brief

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In Panama, Casis Architects have built four residences in the Playa Vida Residences to meet an unusual requirement.

They must have timeless beauty.

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So the architects work from the theory of “La Idea Construida” of the Spanish architect Alberto Camplo Baeza, who exemplifies eternal beauty in architecture by taking light seriously as a construction element.

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Luxury and elegance is explored throughout in the simplest of spaces, all beautifully lit.

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The architects paint with light.

Direct unfiltered daylight is seen through a frame that itself diffuses light bathing it from the side.

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The deliberate placement of light achieves a serene and eternal quality.

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The tropical setting is an advantage, with its light in different qualities and quantities.

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At the entrance, a soaring outdoor atrium shelters a stand of palm trees, and in its formal architecture suggests a Victorian conservatory.

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This amazing four-storey niche for the mature trees becomes the defining image seen from the street.

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A separate dialogue with gravity is created with indoor/outdoor spaces hung within the overarching roof frame.

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The architecture is careful, formal; treating both light and gravity as basic construction elements.

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Filtered light glides through the weight of stone.

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Timeless beauty? Yes.

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Gorgeous Tree House Hideout Above the Costa Rica Jungle

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Architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture creates a tree house effect for a family home perched above the Costa Rica rainforest.

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To access the glorious ocean views, the home is perched high above the tree canopy.

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On the steep site, this sort of pole construction barely disturbs the forest floor, which was important to the client and the architect.

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The resulting design has a wonderful Swiss Family Robinson appeal – it is more like a secret tree house hideout than a family home.

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This treetop hideout quality is emphasized by the steeply angled supporting columns and angled-up roofs.

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Both angles also reinforce the sense of looking out from an open yet protected space.

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The house is made up of three consecutive cabins with a linking outdoor corridor in front.

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The interior and the exterior is all merged into one single platform launching ground above the rainforest, with bi-folding shutter doors that are very rarely if ever closed.

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From this amazing perch, the family home has a real feeling of warmth and shelter.

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The master bedroom embraces the ocean views.

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Locally harvested bamboo lines a back passageway connecting the childrens’ bedrooms.

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Accessed along the back bamboo walkway, the childrens’ bathrooms are colored in a traditional green stucco.

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These bathrooms face and reflect the jungle behind the house.

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Bamboo is also used to make these beautifully crafted sliding doors, using local construction techniques.
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Rainwater is harvested from the roof and returned to the under forest allowed to grow beneath the house.
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Unlike some of the neighboring homes, Casa Flotanta is is an ecologically sensitive house that sits lightly on the land.

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Style and Balance – and Surprise – in Miami Villa Fendi

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In 2013, Villa Fendi sold for $14 million, breaking a record for the Venetian Islands.

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The sedately beautiful house was designed by rGlobe for the grandson of the founders of Fendi, the Italian fashion house.

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The garden side of the house faces the ocean, here suggested by a view through to the pool.

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The huge glass case above the garages has a surprising purpose. It serves as both entry (via elevator) and – in front – an occasional guest bedroom.

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So it is a curiously exposed room to be a guest bedroom.

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To get to the main part of the house, one steps out into the open air.

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This entry leads right past a bathroom, that has a wonderful open view but lacks privacy.

Perhaps the window can be opaqued when needed?

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At this height, the extended view past the guest bedroom is largely of the neighboring tree canopy.

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On the ocean side, the master bedroom repeats the extension of the guest bedroom, but it cantilevers out over the garden pool.

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In fact, as the plan shows, this echo is not an exact recreation, just a hint of the shape.

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Although this pure glass extension is a beautiful space, knowing that it is a guest bedroom combined with an elevator stairwell from the garage below takes away some of the charm.

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As does this surprisingly dreary kitchen.

For $14 million, this seems surprisingly lacking.