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Design Dilemma: Eclectic Small Space Living with a Euro Twist

eclectic living room interiors

 

In July, we visited the apartment of interior designer Robert Holgate, who impressed us with his eclectic, layered style artfully laid out in 600 square feet. This week, we decided to visit an apartment of a similar square footage, also eclectic, but more “Euro/Scandy” style. That is, it’s eclectic and visually rich, but also pared down, and of course, white.

This week’s small space belongs to Kees de Zwart, 53-year-old financial service employee who lives in a 549-square-foot Amsterdam apartment. de Zwart enlisted  interior designer Anja Hesp and contractor René Koomen  to  create a masculine, but not a heavy, dark space.

As with Holgate’s space, de Zwart’s apartment liberally mixes an array of styles and periods to create a space that feels intensely personal, even while retaining a spare, minimal look. Above, a 50s style Smeg refrigerator and classic subway tiles in the kitchen work add a little bit of retro punch to contemporary kitchen cabinets. Also in view in the photo above is a sideboard from Bo Concept.

 

Here are more kitchen views:

 

eclectic kitchen interiors
eclectic kitchen interiors

 

Above, de Zwart painted a vintage cabinet he already owned the same color as the fridge, to continue the vintage vibe. Below, a distressed green desk is paired with a sleek copper stool.

 

eclectic kitchen interiors

 

And to introduce a bit of an industrial vibe, in keeping with the desire for a masculine feel, the designer left copper heating pipes uncovered. The copper color has been repeated again in wall color and some furniture selections.

eclectic  interiors

And talk about eclectic! Here vintage plates work with a modern sofa and contemporary lamp. A contemporary bookcase rests below a vintage crystal chandelier.

eclectic living room interiors

Here’s another view of the living/dining room:

eclectic dining room interiors

And here, two more views of the dining room:

eclectic dining room interiors
eclectic dining room interiors

Why does this space work so well?

  • Although the space is small, it has a collected feel because furniture styles are liberally mixed.
  • All objects are treated as sculpture, not just furniture. Interesting lines instantly make the apartment visually stimulating, even while objects are kept to a minimum.
  • Keeping the floor and walls white keeps the space light and bright, despite a masculine feel.
  • The space feels casual yet curated, adding to its appeal.

The look is sparer and more minimal than the small apartment we featured earlier in the summer, but these two apartments actually have a lot in common, thanks to eclectic choices that throw all the standard design rules out.

 

 

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The Six Courtyard Houses Project in Tucson

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An urban infill project by from Ibarra Rosano Design Architects in Tucson respects the private courtyard-based architectural traditions of the region.

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At the heart of each of the Six Courtyard Houses is a private courtyard.

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The project is sited in a desert town that is plagued by sprawl and lacking in public transportation.

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The architects demonstrate the possibilities for higher density, urban infill desert development that is respectful of time and place.

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It takes cues from Tucson’s architectural past; plastered masonry walls, central courtyard, and minimal western exposure.

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Each of the six looks out onto its own private courtyard.

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The courtyard is a traditional concept long employed in hot arid regions.

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But the vernacular tradition is updated in this modern interpretation.

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A gigantic metal door is hinged from a perimeter wall.

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The same internal pivot point is repeated in the entry door.

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Bath rooms look onto small private outdoors spaces, giving one the sensation of bathing outdoors

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The project is marked by a cool and clean cut aesthetic.

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Its tall windows and clerestory windows bring in light in abundance.

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While central courtyards, low-rise masonry construction, and thoughtful solar orientation are part of the historical architecture of the region, this project is a new and updated version.

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Wood inspires Fujimoto Inquiry Into the Fundamentals of Shelter

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Located in Kumamoto, Japan, is a curious structure from Sou Fujimoto Architects.

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The unique house is sited in an area of great natural beauty.

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The building looks as artless as a child’s play with blocks.

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According to the architect, it was conceived by just mindlessly stacking 350mm square.

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Across a rope bridge from some equally curious buildings, the structure seems strangely appropriate.

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At night, it is lit up from within unevenly like a jack’o'lantern

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Its guiding principle was the creation of a harmonious entity before various functions and roles differentiated.

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It is of an existence akin to primitive conditions before architecture.

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The floor levels are relative and spatiality is perceived differently according to one’s position.

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There are no separations of floor, wall, and ceiling.

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A place that one thought was a floor becomes a chair, a ceiling, a wall from various positions.

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Rather than just a new architecture, says the architect, this is a new origin, a new existence.

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A Glamourous Pad on the California Coast

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Designed by Jonathan Segal, Lemperle Residence is a striking entertainer’s home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, California.

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The three-storey structure looks like a series of glass boxes set one atop the the other.

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Beautiful custom seating is simply low flat slabs of thick creamy-white cushions.

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On the ground floor, the public area includes a glassed-in walkway suggesting a pool.

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While atop it on the second floor the master bedroom overlooks the ocean from above.

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A must for any luxury master suite, its bath overlooks the ocean.

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Behind it, in the masculine all-wood bathroom a shower is built in to an alcove in the wall.

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On the top deck, a dip pool under a sky frame allows for oneness with the vast sea beyond.

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On this public floor, designed for entertaining, lolipop-inspired gel seating seems attached to the floor by a suction-cup.

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Altogether a glamourous and luxurious retreat.

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Design Dilemma: Decorating with Dark Hardwood Floors

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

Dark hardwood floors have been in vogue for several years now, but the problem is that many of us still haven’t figured out how to show them off to best effect. Yes, dark hardwood floors can feel elegant and sophisticated but they also can feel… dark. Pair dark wood floors with dark heavy furniture and you could be in for a very gloomy existence.

So if you’ve got dark hardwood floors, or are contemplating getting them, here’s what you should keep in mind to prevent the darkness from overtaking your space.

Keep the walls light and bright.

As you see above, dark hardwood floors shine in bright, white spaces, where the contrast comes off as chic. This Georgetown townhouse, also pictured below, keeps the walls very white or a pale cream for an airy feeling. You’ll also notice that when dark wood floors are used in kitchens, they are usually paired with white cabinetry to lighten up the whole effect.

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

Here’s another interior, this time a very modern one, that uses dark wood with bright white walls.

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

Sometimes, what really helps to offset the heavy feeling  is going with a cheery color on the wall. For example:

contemporary living room how to tips advice

Lean toward the minimal

There’s something else we’ve noticed about homes that have used dark wood floors well —- they tend to go light on the furnishings. The star of the show is the dark wood itself, so too much furniture only detracts. Take a look at the spaces we’ve featured so far on the page. Not one of them is overburdened with too much furniture.  And the furniture that is used is relatively small in scale.

contemporary family room how to tips advice

Warm things up with rugs.

Although it’s true that the dark floors are the star of the show, they can be a rather overbearing star, prone to scratches and specks of dust. One of the best ways to counter these issues is to show off your rug by a throwing a colorful area rug over it. A beautiful oriental or kilim rug has the effect of making your dark wood floors that much more dramatic. Plus, they protect your floor from scratches and prevent the build-up of dust and dirt.

 

eclectic living room how to tips advice

Opting for a light color rug is another strategy for offsetting the heaviness of the floors.

traditional family room how to tips advice

Don’t be afraid to mix up your woods.

Just because you have dark hardwood floors doesn’t mean that every other wood surface in your home has to match. In fact, that would be a recipe for disaster. Take a page out of the book of the kitchen, below, which has mixed dark wood floors with birch cabinetry.

modern kitchen how to tips advice

And in the cottage below, homeowners have mixed dark wood floors with a lighter oak table and painted wooden chairs for a breezy, beachy, informal look.

traditional dining room how to tips advice

Think all light furniture would look strange in a room anchored by dark wood floors? Think again!

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

The home above also makes use of the fuzzy white rug trick, to lighten up the solemnity of the wood.

So you see, dark hardwood floors nee not be forboding or heavy in feeling. Lighten up, keep furniture at a smaller lighter scale, and your dark hardwood will be the star of the show.