Home Design Find - Interior Design, Architecture, Modern Furniture - Part 3
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Kidosaki’s House in Yatsugatake Perches over Nagano

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The House in Yatsugatake presides like an eagle over breathtaking views of the city of Nagano spread out below it.

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Up close, its sharp outline juts out like a sharp beak from the towering Yatsugatake mountains.

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From within, it appears to be flying slowly over the distant mountains.

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The subtle palette of the surrounding vegetation add to a suspended, dreamlike feeling, which the house nurtures with its quiet coloration.

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Designed by Kidosaki Architects Studio, the very unique house is entirely glassed-in on three sides.

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A glass-framed door opens to an exterior balcony that almost entirely wraps the house.

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The balcony surrounds three sides of the floating structure.

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The wide walking balcony completes the zen vibe of the home.

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Nagano is well known for its Japanese cultural landmarks like the 7-th century temple Zenkō-ji, and the quiet interior reflects these traditions.

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Japan’s traditional craftsmanship is evidenced in this door with its centered horizontal handle.

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Beyond the door, black veined marble is used to continue the peaceful tranquility of the mountains in the dining room.

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The construction of the house is very sculptural and elegant, with half of it simply sitting on a large structural column built into the mountainside supported with two diagonal bracing cylinders.

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Kidosaki is one of the few Japanese architects who really embraces the great traditions of Japanese architectural sensibility: for example, in this detail – rather than employing the thick slab shape found in contemporary architecture – drawing a sharp point with the construction technique.

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A Home of Sensual Textures in Sonoma Wins an Award

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With expansive views over the vineyard and the valley beyond it, a monastic stone and steel residence by Aidlin Darling Design  is a 2013 NDA award winner.

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This is a house built with walls of stone, built the way stone buildings have been built since ancient time.

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Huge stones flank the space both inside and out, and are grounded by richly patina’d timber floorboards.

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Yet the very old building technique is adroitly married to the most elegant of contemporary construction – like these sleek center-swung glass doors.

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The design quietly reciprocates the complexities of the site, capturing a serene spirit of place.

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“The visual, tactile and acoustic qualities of each material contribute to a mnemonic mapping of the house and its landscape,” say the architects.

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The velvety carpet repeats the grid of the oiled wooden screen doors.

The muted greys of the soft grey weathered wood in the chairs prepares the eye for the much richer woods in the table and the screen.

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There is a boldly stated contrast between the dry rough-hewn stone and the reflective glossiness of glass and water.

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Light is further used to enhance this textural feast, raking across the rough stone walls, and echoing off the smooth stone floors.

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Sonoma’s vineyard proprietors embrace a certain fustiness, where dark interiors are contrasted against the vineyard’s hot sun.

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The design asthetic resists noisy or trendy decoration.

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The house is staged accordingly; earthy but tasteful, and never loud.

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While the home’s meticulously choreographed arrival sequence strives to achieve modesty…

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… in its totality, this is a rich feast for the sense of touch.

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Design Dilemma: No-Mow Lawns

contemporary landscape how to tips advice

In many parts of the country, the day of the lawn has passed. That’s because too many of us are experiencing extreme drought. We can no longer count on unlimited quantities of water to supply our daily needs, much less the needs of our lawn. In other cases, we may have plenty of water, but no time or will to mow each week. And thus, coming into vogue are lawn alternatives. After all, we still want green. We still want pretty. In some cases, we still want a patch of space for the kids to play. And there are several options out there for those who want all that, but not heavy maintenance. Take a look at these ground coverings if you’re looking to ditch the lawnmower:

Sedges.
Sedges are plants with grasslike leaves that grow in clumps. They come in a wide variety of sizes and textures and grow in all types of soils and USDA hardiness zones. The sweet thing about this planting: You can leave a sedge completely unmowed for a taller, more meadow-like look, or break out the mower a few times a year if you want a lawn feeling. Sedges also are a good choice if you have children, since they can handle light foot traffic. For best results, mow your sedge lawn in the spring to remove any winter burn, and let the seeds drop after they have finished flowering to allow for the sedge to fill in more thickly. Plant it in spring or fall, or even in the winter in a very warm climate.

contemporary landscape how to tips advice
contemporary landscape how to tips advice

Mondo Grass

Mondo Grass, otherwise known as Ophiopogon japonicus,  grows up to 6 inches tall in zones 5 to 9. You can also opt for dwarf mondo grass, which is just 2 inches tall, and never mow again. If you choose regular mondo grass, mow it annually in late winter to keep it filled in and healthy. Mondo Grass, like Sedges, can handle light foot traffic.

mediterranean landscape how to tips advice

Moss
If water isn’t your problem, you might think about moss instead of traditional grass. Moss grows in moist, shady areas and acidic soil. Because it does not grow tall, it completely eliminates the need to mow.  It needs no fertilizer and very little water once it’s established, but it does not handle heavy foot traffic well. If you want to walk through it daily, plan to add a flagstone walkway to avoid damaging your lawn. Depending on the variety, moss is adapted to zones 4 to 10. It’s best to plant it in the spring after the last frost and you can count on it taking about a year to fill out.

traditional landscape how to tips advice

White Clover
Clover or Trifolium repens, has that very natural, meadow-like look. It is a member of the legume family and grows abundantly in sun to partial shade.  A big plus of this plant is that it requires no fertilizer and can survive in a wide range of soils, although it is best  adapted to zones 5 to 8. Although it can withstand a bit of foot traffic, it’s not great for those with small children or dogs who are looking for a ground cover that will stand up to playing and running.  Sow seeds in the spring after nighttime temperatures are consistently higher than 40 degrees. Keep the soil moist until the clover germinates (sprouts).

 landscape how to tips advice

Dwarf Myrtle
We all know myrtle but we may not know dwarf myrtle. This plant is a low-growing evergreen shrub that, left to it’s own devices will grow up to 2 feet tall. However, you do have the option to shear down to about one foot. It takes full sun and, once it’s got growing,  is drought tolerant. This covering works best for those in milder climates (zones 8 to 9b) and in areas with drought or low-desert regions. It’s got cute little white flowers in the spring, an added bonus, but will not stand up to foot traffic.

contemporary landscape how to tips advice

As you can see,  there’s no need to spend every weekend mowing. With a little research you can come up with a beautiful, practical alternative to your lawn!

 

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Elegant Contemporary on Ibiza from Blacam and Meagher

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In the center of the Spanish island of Ibiza, a sublimely proportioned house replete with outdoor arcades and double-height porticos enchants the viewer.

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Blacam and Meagher Architects designed it on a completely modular grid, both in plan and in section, juxtaposing cubes and spaces throughout.

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This modular grid extends throughout the interior spaces as well, both vertically and horizontally.

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The contemporary beauty graces Ibiza’s Morna Valley, a region that in ancient times was terraced for growing crops.

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There is an undeniable grandeur matching the vast silence of the surrounding forested hills.

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Perfectly proportioned within the portico columns, glass boxes encase a single light bulb.

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Because of this elegantly witty touch, the spaces created are sweet and charming, despite the grand proportions.

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In fact, the architects were responsible for all the furniture and fittings, including lighting, making for a cohesive experience.

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The construction is all of local limestone, using traditional methods, plastering it over concrete blocks.

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The luxury property also includes a number of small residential annexes for guests.

Cross ventilation is utilized throughout the basically simple structures, obviating the need for mechanical air conditioning.

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Rain water is collected on the flat roof tops and stored in a centralised tank to be recycled, as traditionally done for this kind of payesa.

Outdoor showers complete the sustainable picture in a very delightful retreat.

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And its ancient surrounding terraces contained by local stone walls now grow herbs and olives within its garden.

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Casa Jondal Celebrates the Good Life on the Magical Island of Ibiza

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The surprise of an empty volume is placed to one side of an extremely ceremonial entry staircase reminiscent of an ancient Mayan pyramid.

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Once through the grand doorway, you are released into this open glazed living room with custom designed low-slung bamboo-framed seating and tables…

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…and overlooking a truly stunning turquoise pool.

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A smooth creamy blonde concrete continues inside and out for a seamless flow, and the bamboo is the perfect foil for the turquoise waters.

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So the glass box foyer offers a glimpse of the beauties beyond, before continuing on down stairs to the private bedrooms.

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The staircases inside also suggest Mayan pyramids, all molded from the same creamy blonde adobe mix.

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The floors, the bed platform, the stairs, the levels are shaped from the same material.

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Even including a generously proportioned bathtub for two and a contemporary sink in the master bedroom.

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The subtle creamy blonde color is perfectly offset by the soft turquoise and the flashing white adobe outside.

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The contemporary home subtly incorporates Mayan influences, such as this earthy sculpture laying on its side by the pool.

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Another sculpture dominates the entry foyer.

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The sumptuous design comes from Jaime Serra of Atlant Del Vent on the sybaritic island of Ibiza in Spain.

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Casa Jondal is very special piece of heaven on earth.