Home Design Find - Interior Design, Architecture, Modern Furniture - Part 2
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Operatic Beauty of Modern Singapore Mansion

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Cooling pools top a first floor in the latest glorious Singapore dwelling from the always brilliant Guz Architects.

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The luxurious three story house offers a stunning and impressive showcase of intelligent solutions to the issues of constrained property space and close neighbors.

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Rooftop lawns create large outdoor recreation spaces at high levels — while blocking views to the neighboring houses.

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Vegetation edging these green roof lawns also helps to create privacy from the smaller surrounding single-story homes.

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A key feature is a vast stairway in glass, creating the sense of a very open glass house, seen here across a courtyard from atop the first floor green roof.

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This stairway-cum-art gallery is enclosed in an astonishing three stories of glass.

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All the rooftop lawns provide outdoor green views and a sense of connection to nature that supersede the view of neighboring houses that would otherwise dominate sight lines.

The staggered rooftop lawns and pool create the sense of ground level – but it is a ground level suspended above the neighbors.

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Only one neighbor’s house can be seen in the distance far below.

Even from this highest point, privacy isn’t compromised nearly as much as you might expect, because these all-glass walls only border the walkway – art gallery.

An astonishing and elegant solution from Guz Architects.

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Design Dilemma: Preparing for the Entertaining Season

traditional dining room how to tips advice

It’s that time of year again, when the festivities move indoors and increase in number.  Are you prepared? Whether you love to entertain or you’re a bit shy about doing so, it definitely helps to be organized. Your goal: to enjoy throwing a party as much as you enjoy attending one! In order for that to happen, it helps to plan ahead. Once you’ve gotten a few bashes under your belt, you’ll become an expert at knowing what you need to do and when, and throwing parties becomes easier and easier.  So here are a few quick pointers to ease you through the entertainment season:

 

1) Stock up in advance. Make an investment in party items that you can use again and again. Essential elements to keep on hand in your home include:

For a party atmosphere:

Tea lights and candles are important for creating a mood. Vases with flowers add a touch of elegance. Lights on dimmers or low wattage bulbs are critical. A go-to music playlist for a quiet dinner and a more lively party is also important. Once you’ve got these essential items on hand, you’ll always be prepared, whether it’s an impromptu dinner party or a large holiday bash. You’ll know that you can set the scene at a moment’s notice, which definitely reduces stress levels.

traditional dining room how to tips advice

For the table:

You need a good set of wine glasses, cocktail glasses and water glasses. Be sure you’ve got wine and bottle openers and ice buckets.  When it comes to glasses, its best to invest in several sets, enough so that you can host at least a dinner party for 12. When parties get larger than that, you’ll probably want to switch to plastic glasses. If you love to throw dinner parties you should invest in enough tableware for at least a party of 12. Yes, you can do paper or plastic plates for larger bashes, but it will definitely up the elegance factor if you can offer real glasses and china for guests on special occasions. If you’re into cloth napkins, make sure you have enough. If you prefer paper, invest in the heavier weight premium napkins.  And, by the way, just because you offer real plates and glasses doesn’t mean they have to be your best china and crystal like the exquisitely elegant table below.

traditional dining room how to tips advice

 

You can create a wonderfully creative table with mismatched plates and mason jars as glasses! Just have fun with it and let your imagination run wild.

eclectic how to tips advice

2) Think ahead to guest comfort. Invest in an extra set of folding chairs if you don’t have enough normal chairs to get you through the night. They will come in handy again and again. Scope out a coat rack or a bed that can serve as a place to put jackets (same for shoes if you ask that guests remove them.) Make sure there are guest towels in the bathroom as well as extra toilet paper that guests can access if it runs low.

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

3) If you’re not a big cook, it’s possible that you may fall short on serving dishes adequate enough to get you through a dinner party. Invest in the following items and you’ll never have to worry how to serve the soup or slice the cake at Thankgiving.

  • Boards, platters and trays, which can be used for everything from appetizers to desserts.
  • Serving bowls in various sizes, not only for side dishes, but also for peanuts, olives and other pre-dinner snacks.
  • Large serving spoons
  • Lidded soup tureen and ladle
  • Large salad bowl and tongs
  • Several trivets, to protect your table
  • A nesting set of classic white oven-to-table casserole dishes
  • Cake stands — for cake and other desserts, fruit or appetizers

4) Shop ahead and make lists for food preparation.  Your goal is to avoid that last-minute pressed and harried feeling. Devise your menu at least a week ahead of your gathering and do as much shopping early on as you can. Think through festivities from cheese plate and cocktails straight through to after dinner drinks and desserts. You can ease the burden of food preparation by:

  • Hosting a potluck. Ask your guests to bring in their favorite dishes to make the cost and time burden a little less. Potlucks up the novelty factor as well.
  • Cooking casserole dishes ahead of time. Large one dish meals can really cut down on time and cost. Good ideas: lasagna and similar substantial casseroles and chili are perfect, as they can be made a day or two ahead of time, and they only get better for it.
  • Taking advantage of catering and dishes available at your local grocery store or favorite  restaurant. Maybe you don’t have the time to slow roast a pig to create your favorite pulled pork dish. But you can certainly order it from your favorite barbecue restaurant. Don’t feel bad if you opt for catering. If you choose your caterer well and you fill out the offerings with some signature cocktails and a really special dessert, your guests will not complain.

Good luck this holiday season!

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Charm Revisited in Old Rio de Janeiro

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Brazilian architect Gisele Taranto has sensitively renovated the Itiquira House in Brazil.

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The house looks out on sublime mature gardens originally designed by the late Roberto Burle Marx.

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An extraordinary, dramatic three story rise in the interior serves as a gallery for the client’s modern art collection.

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Located in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, the house really inhabits the site.

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Un-selfconscious design simply exists in its own eternity here.

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A high skylight gently illumines a tranquil semi-indoor therapeutic pool.

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The house has a sense of history, with space to enjoy the art collection and the beautiful mature gardens.

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The client’s mid-20th century art collection is seen throughout the house, here braced by two enormous dome lamps.

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There’s drama in a bathroom with a glazed wall overlooking the lush gardens.

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But it’s also a comfortably unpretentious house, designed to be lived in.

Warm lighting engulfs a study that is comfortable and easy.

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A bedroom is unabashedly geared towards watching a favourite on TV.

A gentle renovation.

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Lovely Minimalist Home Maximises Tiny Footprint

The Jesolo Lido Pool Villa in Italy is a great example of good design that creates many views out of few spaces.

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Because of the small space on the lot, JM Architecture formed the house as a L shape.

The indoor living area at the bottom of the “L” has transparent sides which opens towards two different-sized patios.

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Its central core is glazed on both sides.

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On each side of this fully glazed space, the view out to each patio changes as the light changes.

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Floor to ceiling light-diffusing blinds can block these views, creating a completely different sense of the space.

A completely new space that includes the smaller walled garden is created with the blind up.

The largest patio hugged by the “L” is to the west, and its dramatic swimming pool takes up the entire length of the space.

The smaller patio, to the east, also features two planted inserts with another olive tree to counter balance the other side.

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The long side of the “L” shape hugs the perimeter of the lot to enclose the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The bedroom wing presents a blank face to the pool area, with three floor to roof windows that yield no clues about the space behind them.

The light from each of these windows is filtered by a filmy light-diffusing blind.

The outdoor areas, as a client’s main request, needed to be low maintenance, so most of the surface was paved and the plants in the inserts where selected in order to live with the least care possible.

Energy-saving high standards include double glazed windows with argon gas for almost zero costs throughout the four seasons.

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A deep 12 foot roof overhang on the west side creates a comfortable shady outdoor porch.

On the roof, 10 kw of solar panels power all of the electrical needs of the home.

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These include floor to ceiling motorized roller shades which disappear into the dropped ceiling for maximum continuity of indoor-outdoor areas.

Both the air-conditioning system in the dropped ceiling and the radiant floor is powered by the solar panels.

 

It is difficult to make every view lovely.

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Here is a house that succeeds.

 

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Design Dilemma: Managing A Round Room

contemporary family room how to tips advice

Rooms that diverge from the usual rectangle or square are not all that common, but they exist. Frequently, you can find them in residential condo complexes and apartment buildings that have been converted over from a different use. Former churches, hospitals, schools, factories and industrial buildings sometimes have oddly-shaped room that don’t fit the norm. This can mean circular rooms, rooms that are triangular, or even something more exotic still. One of the most common oddly-shaped rooms is the circular one, so we’re taking a look at how homeowners handle what could be a problematic situation.

In the San Francisco home below, the homeowners have gone the full distance in embracing a circular shape by finding furnishings that exactly mirror the room’s roundness. This means a rounded custom-made couch a circular rug, and a nice round ottoman. Even the coffee table and side tables maintain a softened organic form — in the case of the coffee table, perhaps not round, but close enough with an oval.

modern living room how to tips advice

Here’s another view:

modern living room how to tips advice

Solving the round-room dilemma can be simple if that round room happens to be a dining room. All you need is a circular dining table, and you’re good to go!

traditional dining room how to tips advice

 

Although seeking out rounded shapes can be one way to address the rotundity problem, it’s not the only way. In the living room below, the homeowners simply opted for a sectional which, without going the full circular distance, does provide something of a sense of closure in the way that a semi-circular couch might.

traditional family room how to tips advice

 

You’ll notice in this shot of the same room that although the couch is a regular sectional, there are circular and oval elements in the room that can help pick up on the theme, namely the side tables and rounded glass coffee table:

traditional living room how to tips advice

Sometimes a room isn’t circular but semi-circular. And sometimes, folks who have a circular room make it semi-circular by erecting a wall that can dissect the space, providing that one wall which might anchor a couch or bed. Take a look at the Tel Aviv apartment below:

 

industrial living room how to tips advice

Even with the use of a wall, the owners still kept “round” in mind by opting to group two chairs and a couch around a circular coffee table.

The other half of the room uses a circular dining table to pick up on the theme:

industrial dining room how to tips advice

Because of the circular configuration of the apartment, the owners had to get creative when it came to the kitchen. They angled the kitchen island to create a triangular space within the circle that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

industrial kitchen how to tips advice
Other tips for handling a round room:
  • Keep the furniture arrangement casual and conversational. Have chairs and couches floating in the room and facing each other.
  • Consider built-ins and custom-made furniture to echo the shape of the room.
  •  Consider creative ways to give yourself a few right angles, including constructing walls and partial walls or bookcases.