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Sweet Dutch House with a Secret Underground Space

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A most unusual design by Dutch firm Hofman Dujardin Architects hides second storey bedrooms completely below grade.

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The long and wide concrete ramp brings warm sunlight down to allow all four kids’ bedrooms to directly access the outdoors, as well as a glassed-in walkway to stairs upstairs.
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From nearby, the Villa Geldrop appears to have just a single storey and a dormer in part of its steeply pitched roof.

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As simple and charming as a child’s drawing of home,  the house is flooded with natural light.

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On the main floor housing the public spaces, the entire front is fully glazed.

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The sweetly childlike gable and the fully glazed front results in a home full of airy sunshine.

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Each panel of glazing opens up entirely from floor to ceiling to the clean fresh air outside.

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An elegantly unobtrusive fireplace avoids that forlorn look of an unwanted fireplace in summer. A tiny TV suggests homework is the priority here.

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The steep pitched roof has two dormers; one in front that houses the parents bedroom, above the kitchen.

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Another dormer is in the back of the house, housing a family room up above the living room.

A pleasant and modern Dutch home in Geldrop, The Netherlands, with an interesting secret.

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A Magical Dream Resort on Xálima Island

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Daniel Martin Ferrero, principal of Martin Ferrero Architecture, designed the dreamlike Xálima Island House.

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Ferrero created the astonishing render as “a poem to the horizon framed by the sea.”

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The building sits atop a rocky cliff on an imaginary island created by the artist.

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The atmospherics are extraordinary.

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The incredible renders of the impossible structure suggest a future in sci fi movies.

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Perhaps a Shangri La set for a new James Cameron movie.

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The design is just totally over the top… a sort of all-out fantasy architecture.

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A video that swirls you on an amazing tour through the entire place can be seen on Youtube.

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Every spot is set to stun.

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Each of its fantastical places are almost realer than real.

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An over-the-top fantasy architecture full of a surfeit of incredible spaces.

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What fun.

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Design Dilemma: 5 Ways to Up Your Home’s Cozy Factor for Winter

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As we move into chillier, darker, shorter days, we naturally start considering ways to make home feel warmer, cozier, more comfortable. And cozy, in our opinion, has everything to do with comfortable surfaces to curl up on, as well as softer textures and textiles everywhere to soften hard edges. The idea is to create a nice, fur-lined box for icy winter days. So here’s what’s on our wishlist this winter:

1. A  big comfy sectional.

Nothing is better at breaking that winter chill then having a large, comfy couch to curl up on. One, of course, that is large enough to accommodate several people! Sectionals like the ones above and below perform a number of functions that can improve the cozy factor of a room. In a large space where a couch must float, a sectional can provide room definition. It can also help fill up a large space without inducing a feeling of clutter. Sectionals are also the most comfortable way to sprawl out before the TV, a roaring fire, or to curl up with a good book. Add plenty of pillows and a nice warm throw, and you’re all set for the coldest, bleakest days!

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2. A rug in the kitchen. Normally, rugs in kitchens seem kind of superfluous. What do you do when you inevitably spill a pot of spaghetti sauce? And yet, we’re willing to suspend our suspicion for the coldest, darkest months of the year.  There is truly something appealing about the sense of warmth, color and texture that a rug can give a very practical, and often very sterile, space. Take a look at the examples below:

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The oriental rugs above and below add elegance and warmth to all-white looks that would otherwise feel cold.

transitional kitchen how to tips advice
transitional kitchen how to tips advice

3. Good lighting. Imperative to a cozy home is good lighting. And this doesn’t necessarily mean only bright lights — rather it means lighting that can perform a number of functions, from task lighting to mood lighting to general room lighting. Your home should have it all, and in winter, there should be an emphasis on mood lighting that can create an intimate atmosphere.

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The Philadelphia rowhouse above and below is a perfect example. Recessed lights perform the general lighting function, but can be dimmed to soften the atmosphere when required. A pendant over the dining table and over the kitchen island serve as lighting for meals, and can also be dimmed or brightened, depending on what’s required. They also provide a sculptural feel that is beautiful to look at, even when the lights are not in use.

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Remember, lighting can extend beyond just overhead lights and reading lamps. Lighting artwork instantly provides a room with atmosphere.

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4. Plenty of sheepskin. Nothing feels cozier than soft, embracing textures on furniture or floors.

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Bathrooms are a particularly great place for a sheepskin rug.

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And so are bedrooms!

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5. Add some culture.

Spending a lot of time indoors? Well, you need something to do there! The last important addition for a cozy home includes tons of books.

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A large screen TV, or a projector screen that can descend from the ceiling doesn’t hurt!

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Artwork gives you something to look at and reflect on.

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Are you ready for winter? We say, bring it on!

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Olson Kundig Live-Work Studio in Spain

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Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects has designed the live-work home of a photographer and his family in the Spanish coastal town of Sitges.

In Studio Sitges, Tom Kundig pursues his macho signature; large scale, raw concrete and rusty Corten steel.

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The entrance in rusted Corten steel offers a large — or a normal size — entrance.

A huge door pivots on its center while a smaller door pivots inside it.

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The inventive and macho door captures the casual energy of this cosmopolitan beach town thirty minutes from Barcelona, and just three blocks from the Mediterranean sea.

Kundig adopts his industrial bohemian material palette, avoiding the cloying local traditions of stucco and tiled roofs.

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But a peek through the giant door reveals a reinterpretation of a more local tradition; windows framed in the small black muntins that represented the technical limitations of glass technology in the fourteenth century.

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The difference is that these sweet traditional muntin windows are floor-to ceiling walls of glazing and, like the front door, pivot out on giant hinges.

The master bedroom cantilevers out over the garden patio.

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Indoor or outdoor dining is an option in the balmy climate, under a cantilevered guest suite.

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Down a concrete driving ramp underground are two huge double-height raw concrete spaces designed for the client’s large scale photography studio.

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Each detail shows the tough, no nonsense Olson Kundig design signature.

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The house is designed vertically with four floors.

Spare furniture in the double height spaces includes restored teak tables and comfortable and unpretentious leather armchairs.

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A Magnificent Porch Renovation on Fire Island

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NYC architecture firm Bromley Caldari Architects razed the original front of a small house facing the beach on Fire Island and rebuilt it as a double-height cube containing an air space with hefty framing timbers.

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Inside the big macho rough-framed porch is a more delicate internal porch-like space – its delicate bleached color palette suggesting driftwood and pearly shells.

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Beyond that, an open plan great room for cooking, eating, reading, talking and hanging out, is also now completely open to the seascape in front of the house.

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At the far end is the kitchen, where a side wall of numerous small windows now establish its casually beachly bona fides.

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The magnificent renovation is of an unambitious little vacation house; a small, dark box divided into a front and back by a bearing wall/fireplace, with two bedrooms at each end.

Now it is nearly transparent.

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Approaching the original back of the house, you can now see the great room and out through the new porch front to catch a glimpse of the sea.

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A short barefoot walk at the back of the house now takes you to a painting studio.

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What were dark bedrooms at the back have been clad in warm timber and filled with light from a full height parade of windows behind a big soft white bed.

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The back yard is now an invitation to paint in the circular studio or lazily lap in its sweet sun-drenched pool.

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The site is a wooded, narrow lot on the Great South Bay in the resort community of Fire Island Pines.

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Like vacation homes in many now popular beach resorts, the original cottage didn’t do justice to the glorious scenery.

Now it does.