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Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-01 03:16
“They tell a story in your home,” says his daughter, Wendy Umanoff, who helped the Danish brand bring these obsession-worthy pieces back to life.
American-born industrial designer Arthur Umanoff worked prolifically during the midcentury period, wielding cutting-edge materials with a forward-thinking attitude that helped forge the sleek, simple aesthetic of the era. Nearly 70 years later, Arthur’s approachable designs have proven timeless: On sites like 1stDibs and Incollect, his pieces are highly prized by midcentury-modern collectors.
Arthur launched his career in the 1950s at The Elton Co., designing pieces such as walnut-veneer, modular storage cabinets and the Swing Chair, which had a shifting seat made possible with ball-bearing swivels. For Shaver-Howard Furniture in the 1960s and ’70s, he left his mark with furnishings constructed with jet-black wrought iron frames, slatted wood, and natural fibers. And for Contemporary Shells Inc., there’s his reinterpretation of the famous fiberglass tulip chair and table, along with his burl wood-and-chrome tables. The Pratt Institute graduate also designed clocks for Howard Miller.
Now, midcentury-modern aficionados won’t have to look too far to own one of Arthur’s streamlined, accessible designs: Copenhagen-based company MENU has licensed five of his most celebrated pieces—a trio of planters, a pendant, a side table, a candle holder, and a wine rack.
The collection, which replicates his work from the 1950s and ’60s for companies like The Elton Co. and Shaver-Howard Furniture, was launched in early September. It’s expected to arrive in European stores in October and November, and will make its way into stores stateside in the next few months.
"I think some of his best designs were done in the 1950s for Elton," says Wendy Umanoff, who’s based in Richmond, Virginia. Arthur’s daughter, she’s the lighting designer behind Umanoff Design, helping MENU get the collection off the ground. "My father’s earlier work wasn’t very ornamental. It was no-frills, and there was a simplicity in his designs."
"The mix of materials is so intriguing, and the way that his products stand out, they are iconic in a way and don’t really look like anything else," says MENU’s design and brand director Joachim Kornbek Engell-Hansen, who has always been fascinated with the midcentury aesthetic. "That made me really interested in Umanoff."
The partnership between MENU and Umanoff is a natural fit. Upholding the modernist principle of stripping away unnecessary ornamentation and focusing on the product itself, MENU’s designs are straightforward and beautifully executed, much like Umanoff’s midcentury pieces.
"The principle of ‘less is more,’ Umanoff managed that in a super-fine way for a lot of his products," Engell-Hansen says. "His designs stand out as icons even though they are simple."
Engell-Hansen refers to Arthur Umanoff’s wine rack, which is one of his favorites in the new MENU collection, as exemplary: "It’s super simple. It’s just a few lines and a mix of three different materials."
Bringing his classic designs back into production, MENU has created a dialogue linking midcentury and contemporary design.
"His designs and the materials he used are still really prominent today," Wendy says. "Organic materials are so popular right now. Natural materials don’t go away, and he was in touch with that early on."
For companies like Shaver-Howard, Arthur used wrought iron to create the framework for his pieces, ensuring hardiness while maintaining a restrained silhouette. He also incorporated natural materials like rattan, woven fibers, leather, and wood, which gave his pieces an affable warmth and approachability.
"Modernism isn’t considered warm and fuzzy, so these materials helped to warm up a house," Wendy says of pieces like his iconic lounge chair with a contoured birch slat seat and woven fiber backing for Shaver-Howard.
"The objects that [MENU] chose, they tell a story in your home," Wendy says of the collection. "They are intimate pieces, and personal. There are special moments that happen around pieces like that. And it’s interesting that they are midcentury designs, but they feel so present."
Learn more about the Arthur Umanoff collection at MENU, which is slated to expand in the future.
Related Reading: A Design Duo Made in Heaven: Norm Architects and Menu
Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-01 00:06
Located in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, the garden-level apartment features a modern, glass-walled addition.
At the height of his career in the late 1800s, Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde lived along the now-famous Tite Street in London. Oscar and his wife, author Constance Lloyd, purchased a townhouse on the street shortly after their wedding in 1884. Although Oscar lived at the property on and off in the subsequent years, he maintained his residency there until his infamous arrest in 1895. Today, the four-story building consists of several individual flats—one of which just hit the market.
During the decade or so that he owned the property, Oscar wrote his acclaimed and only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as his play The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar and Constance also raised their two children in the home.
The property was repossessed during the two years Oscar spent in prison after being found guilty of sodomy and gross indecency—charges for which he was posthumously pardoned only recently, in 2017.
The approximately 960-square-foot flat comes with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Most of the home’s interior has been modernized, although some of the building’s original features remain intact.
One of the home’s most alluring features is its location—not only is it Oscar’s former home, but it’s steps away from other properties once occupied by literary giants such as Mark Twain and Bram Stoker. Keep scrolling to see more of the property, currently listed for £1,695,000 (approximately $2,190,000).
Located along Tite Street in Chelsea, London, the flat is currently listed for £1,695,000 (~$2,190,000) by Hamptons International Sloane Square.
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Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-30 22:57
Set in a grove of coastal oaks, this art-filled home by TOLO Architecture has survived fire and flood.
When Cathie and David Partridge set out to build their own home in Southern California, they sought to create a contemporary dwelling that responded to their love of art and design. They wanted it to be open and airy, have a connection with the outdoors, and celebrate natural materials. It was also essential that the home accommodate the couple’s extensive art collection, which they had amassed over three decades.
The couple found a one-acre site near San Ysidro Creek in Montecito with an existing single-story 1960s ranch house amidst a grove of native coastal live oak trees. "The trees are sacred here, and you’re not allowed to touch them when you build," says Cathie. "I thought, since I’m in the trees, why don’t we build a tree house?"
They approached Peter Tolkin and Sarah Lorenzen of TOLO Architecture, and together they decided that in order to realize the vision of a tree house, it would be necessary to build a new home rather than renovate the existing one, which was typical of American suburbia and the period in which it was built.
Since the oak trees are protected, it was impossible to build a conventional home within the drip line of the trees. TOLO Architecture suggested floating the home above the ground to enable building as close to the trees as possible without damaging them. "We saw this project as a bit of a restoration project in terms of this almost mythical native landscape of California," says Tolkin. "It was about letting the oaks breathe again."
The home has what appears to be a free-form plan, and it’s conceived as a series of pavilions connected by a glass circulation spine that also acts as a gallery space. The design team developed the plan by layering different pragmatic requirements—the drip line of the trees informed the location of each pavilion; the orientation of each pavilion responds to the movement of the sun throughout the day; and the function of each pavilion was driven by the clients’ requirements, such as space for family to stay and an art studio.
"I think it’s an architect’s fantasy to build a series of volumes clustered under the trees with an exterior circulation space—you could do that in Southern California, but you would be exposing people to the elements," says Tolkin. "We had this notion that the connection between the pavilions could actually be this really amazing space for art—so it’s not just a circulation space, but also a gallery."
While there is a conventional front door that faces the street, there are also three other doors that lead into the landscape as you move through the circulation spine. The front door leads directly into a glazed entry foyer that looks through the home to a new oak tree that was planted at the end of the project, marking a desire to give back to the site.
To the left of the entry foyer is a living room and dining pavilion, which is oriented to take advantage of the evening and afternoon sun. To the right is a kitchen volume with a space for breakfast dining that is oriented toward the morning sun. "My background is in photography, and there’s this notion of being like a photographer and taking a series of pictures," says Tolkin. "Each volume has a privileged view out to the landscape, and then another view up into the sky."
As you move back into the site, the spaces become more private—a powder room, the principal bedroom and bathroom, a guest bedroom, and an office that doubles as another guest bedroom. At the rear of the site is a separate studio used by Cathie for her art practice.
"You move through the gallery to get to these spaces, and the doors could be closed off if you really want to understand this circulation spine as a continuous space for art," says Tolkin. The polished concrete floor and simple, white walls provide a neutral backdrop for the artwork that evokes the feeling of being in a gallery.
The interior showcases engineered laminated veneer lumber (LVL), complete with visible lamination lines and stamps. The material is usually used for rough structural framing, and it would typically be clad. "We tried to take something that was rough, and not normally very visible in most projects, and let it be exposed," says Tolkin. "It has a rustic quality and a rough precision that, in my mind, relates to the kind of things that have come out of California—plywood skateboards, the Eameses’ plywood furniture… it ties back to a history of craft. That’s very much part of this house."
The wet areas in the home—the four bathrooms and the kitchen—sit as a series of colored ceramic vessels against this backdrop of raw, natural materials. Each of these rooms is entirely clad in handmade tiles of a singular color—salmon pink in the powder room, pastel yellow and grass green in the bathrooms, ocean blue in the master bathroom, and electric blue in the kitchen.
Originally, when the clients said that they wanted a tree house, Tolkin had considered a timber-clad exterior. As California is at high risk for wildfires, however, they wanted to create a fire-resistant armor. While they initially considered fire-rated timber, and then zinc, they eventually settled on copper.
"The bark on these beautiful oak trees has a color that is sometimes silvery, and sometimes warm and almost coppery because of the way the earth reflects the light and the leaves flicker," says Tolkin. "We also wanted a cladding that would change and develop a patina over time, much like the trees change their color and transform."
"I was horrified initially," says Cathie. "I didn’t want a shiny house! I knew it would turn dark, but what was shocking is how it happened in just six months. Now it’s a very dark, almost purple color. It blends in, and it looks fantastic."
This protective approach to the design of the home—both in the cladding and the raised platform on which it sits—is essential given the volatile nature of the region, and it has already saved the home on two occasions. The fireproof cladding protected the home from the devastating bushfires that ravaged the area in 2018; and the following year, the raised concrete piers saved the home from floods and mudslides, which damaged many of the neighboring homes. "My house survived both the fire and the mud, which is incredible," says Cathie. "It’s a miracle."
"This home isn’t designed to be seen from one vantage point as a complete object—it’s seen as you move around it," says Tolkin. "It’s about assembling something new from many different influences—the architecture of the ’60s and ’70s, the California Arts and Crafts tradition, the architecture of Southern California that pays homage to the modernists... It’s also about letting the relationship with the client filter through in a way that really affects the project. That relationship with the clients was really my favorite aspect of this whole project."
Construction: RHC Construction
Structural Engineering: Joseph Perazzelli Structural Engineering
Civil Engineering: Michael Viettone Civil Engineering
Landscape Design: Wade Graham Landscape Studio
Lighting Design: Lighting Design Alliance
Energy Consultant: Monterey Energy Group
Photographer: David Hartwell
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-30 21:27
eMZed Architecture builds a sustainable, durable, high-performance residence and storefront in Portland, Oregon, for $950,000—an impressive feat given the challenges.
Keyan Mizani and Alexia Zerbinis, the husband-and-wife architects behind eMZed Architecture, have grown accustomed to passers-by pausing on the sidewalk outside their home and studio in Portland, Oregon.
"I’m just thrilled by the number of exclamations I hear, how intrigued people are," Keyan says. "We did build this as a demonstration house. We wanted to show what you can do with limited means."
Deconstruction & Salvaging (After City Grant)
Zehnder Energy Recovery Ventilator
Cabinets & Counters
9.5 kW Solar PV Panels (After Rebates)
|Grand Total: $950,000|
With its pitched roof, inviting front porch, and lush landscaping, the Treehouse, as its designer-owners call it, fits well into its leafy neighborhood of early 20th-century bungalows. Looking closer, though, reveals not only an ultra-green home with a carbon footprint dramatically less than that of a conventional design, but also an architectural Swiss Army knife of indoor/outdoor configurations, spaces within spaces, and creative use of materials to save money.
The couple’s ground-floor architecture studio not only has its own glass storefront entrance, but can be converted to either an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or a garage. A sliding exterior sunscreen on the top floor helps minimize summertime heat gain.
The cantilevered front balcony can become an extended part of the living room thanks to a sliding glass partition behind it, and its automated roll-down screen can make it feel even more like interior space. A guest room and full bath on the ground floor can be closed off with pocket doors to create a private suite in keeping with barrier-free design principles, should the couple need as they age.
Yet those neighbors pausing on the sidewalk may miss Treehouse’s most important design feature: its achieving net-zero energy.
While the couple readily admit their $950,000 budget doesn’t seem cheap, the amount—$250 per square foot—represents a home and a separate design studio (as well as potential revenue if the space is leased as an ADU). But more importantly, Keyan and Alexia pay nothing for electricity or heating while staying comfortable year-round. That’s because the house has as robust a building envelope as a certified Passive House.
"We focused on creating a sustainable, highly durable, high-performance building shell," explains Keyan, "which costs money: specialized windows, an extra layer of insulation wrapped around the outside of the structure, and super energy-efficient HVAC equipment and lighting. The challenge was, ‘Can we do this for about $250 a square foot?’"
The couple, who share the five-bedroom, 3,200-square-foot home and office with two teenage sons (along with Keyan’s mother for several recent months in the guest suite), estimate they spent about $10 extra per square foot on the thermal envelope. This allows their 9.5-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system to supply the home’s total electricity and heating needs throughout the year (more than they need in summer and slightly less in winter, equaling out over the course of a year), save for a $12 grid-connection fee.
To offset the investments in insulation and other high-performance systems, the couple found other ways to save. They used HardiePlank fiber-cement lap siding for much of the exterior instead of wood. What appears to be Japanese-style shou sugi ban charred siding on the balcony is actually just stained cedar.
Inside, walls are mostly simple drywall, and the kitchen makes use of IKEA cabinetry as well as simple birch plywood. They also made creative use of color, creating a green, blue, and orange painting scheme to further break down the house into parts; outside, plants like tangerine scream, witch hazel, and Washington Hawthorne trees were chosen in part for their matching tones.
While the house can be sealed as tightly as a Thermos, the design is all about fresh air and natural light. Glass patio doors at the rear dining area act in tandem with the front-balcony movable glass to make the inside feel like an extension of the outdoors. Above each doorway is a transom window.
"We always try to paint with light," Alexia says. "Make the shapes simple and beautiful, and let the light make them sing."
The Treehouse design may stop pedestrians in their tracks not just because it balances traditional and contemporary sustainable design principles, but also because it reflects Alexia and Keyan’s complementary architectural skills. It’s teeming with ingenious design moves, but also retains a visual clarity.
"It would be easy to say that we split by personality into big picture, pattern ideas (me) and precise, detailed ideas and project execution (Keyan)," Alexia adds, "but that would be missing the alchemy of how it gets mixed up between the two of us. Keyan is good at generating many options; I’m often useful in paring them down. We both like residential projects as an act of technical problem solving and tailoring to merge the pragmatic and the poetic."
More Budget Breakdown:
Architect: emZed Architecture
Builder: Birdsmouth Construction
Structural Engineer: BK Engineers
Energy Modeling and Net-Zero Certification: Earth Advantage
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-29 22:36
Just a couple miles from the Steamboat Springs Resort, this mountain retreat nestles within an aspen grove.
Conveniently located four miles from downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado, this newly remodeled home is in a prime location for skiing while offering lush forest views and upscale living year round. Built with reclaimed materials, the property echoes the aspen trees just outside while enjoying privacy and seclusion on its site within an expansive grove.
With a design that nods to the quintessential log cabin, the 2,717-square-foot residence borrows its interior scheme from the natural colors of the gray aspens. Elegant steel finishes elevate the kitchen, bath, and living areas, which also complement the pale wood exterior and interior.
While cooler wood undertones make up the majority of the home, the contrasting floors feature radiant floor heating that visually and literally warm up the interior.
For any mountain escape, outdoor views are a must. Large picture windows invite in natural light and feature the natural surroundings.
In winter, the property is an ideal home base for snow activities by being just a few miles from the local Steamboat Ski Resort. After a long day on the slopes, residents will be able to wind down in the spa or hot tub, or warm up by the gas fireplace and fire pit. And during the summer, the property features a large, wraparound deck to take in the fresh mountain air.
With three bedrooms, three full baths, and partial bathrooms, this refined home offers a taste of log-cabin living with refined amenities.
43370 County Road 36 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is currently listed for $2,399,000 by Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-29 22:25
ODDO Architects creates a spacious and airy home that’s just under 14 feet wide.
ODDO Architects describe Hanoi as a city dense with people, traffic, and air pollution. They say it lacks parks and public spaces, but it’s strong in Vietnamese culture and tradition. In 2019, they designed the CH House for a family of six spanning three generations, drawing on tradition to create a tranquil refuge in the middle of the bustling city.
The project started with "a typical plot for long and narrow local tube houses," says the firm. The site allotted them enough space for a home measuring just under 14 feet wide and 114 feet deep. In order to admit enough light and air flow into such a long and narrow footprint, the firm drew inspiration from traditional Hanoi houses with interior courtyards.
To create that same courtyard effect across the elongated, five-level plan, the firm formed empty voids by stepping the various floor plates. The volumes are capped with sections of clear roofing (notably where stairs are located) that allows light to cascade deep into the center of the home. "This design makes the space properly open, and provides an unexpected spacious feeling, despite the limited width of the house," says the firm.
On the exterior, a perforated cement block screen overlays an internal framework of steel and glass. Opening the glass panels allows air to flow throughout the entire house. Exterior terraces (one is located at the rooftop) offer even more access to the outdoors.
Inside, integrated planters are interspersed at every level of the home. Filled with trees, trailing vines, and clusters of tropical houseplants, the planters offer a lush green contrast to the spare material palette, and the plants cast a tranquil effect.
"Nature is an important element that provides a positive effect on people’s mental health," notes the firm. "However, the rapid development of large cities has resulted in a lack of green spaces for people to relax. That is why planting trees and plants inside the house is necessary—and it helps create a peaceful living space to release stress."
The constrained material palette—from the cast concrete stairs and minimal metal railing, to the simple wood accents—further instills a sense of tranquility.
The five-level floor plan is divided into two zones, with a commercial business occupying the lower two levels. The staggered floor and ceiling heights create intimacy in the private quarters and a sense of openness in the main living spaces.
"The common spaces of the family area (such as the living room, library, dining room, and kitchen) are positioned at different levels with varying ceiling heights in order to compose an open, continuous space that facilitates ease of communication among the family members," explains the firm.
After all, the firm’s ultimate goal was to create an urban refuge where the family could slow down, rest, and more easily connect with one another. "In the world of modern technology, with smart phones and televisions, family ties are weakened," says the firm. "The space design emphasizes connections among the family members, especially in the context of today’s hurried lifestyle."
Architect of Record: ODDO Architects
Construction: B-Up Construction
Structural Engineer: Ngo Anh Tuan
Civil Engineer: ODDO Architects
Landscape Design: ODDO Architects
Interior Design: ODDO Architects
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-29 20:42
Architect Gus Stamos built the canyon home for his family in 1968—and not much has changed since.
Available for only the second time since its construction in 1968, a recently listed home in Glendale, California, is a haven for someone seeking a retro-style interior. Designed by architect Gus Stamos for himself and his wife, Sophie, the family reportedly lived in the home for decades. The current owners, who purchased the home in 2002, retained most of the original finishes, replacing only the flooring and painting some of the concrete block walls.
According the listing, the home's original details include tongue-and-groove ceilings and formica counters, as well as wood-paneled walls clad in an array of cabinet doors salvaged from the stereo manufacturing company where Gus's wife, Sophie, once worked.
The upper level features the main living and dining area, as well as the kitchen and laundry area. Downstairs, a split-level floor plan divides each of the three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a family room. Both an upper-level balcony and lower-level deck are accessible from multiple spaces throughout the home.
The home offers nearly 2,500 square feet of interior space and sits on a .28-acre lot. With only a few neighboring structures, the location affords privacy while being just a few miles from central Glendale and Eagle Rock. New solar panels and some updated utilities complete the package. Keep scrolling to see more the home, currently listed for $1,198,000.
1105 Outlook Lane in Glendale, California, is currently listed for $1,198,000 by Jacqueline Tager of Sotheby's International Realty.
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Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-29 20:25
For little ones attending class online, a well-designed space can make all the difference.
Those of us working from home during this pandemic know that it can be a challenge, to put it lightly. Now, try being in third grade.
As schools around the world integrate or mandate at-home learning, millions of families are adapting—for better or for worse—to the new reality of distance learning.
For most, maintaining life, work, and school under the same roof is less than ideal. But just as our home offices can benefit from good design to make the best of a bad situation, so too can kids’ workspaces.
So we reached out to a roster of interior designers—all with children of their own—for their study-space wisdom. Here’s how to design for your little learner’s productivity and focus, and build a positive homework/life balance for the whole family in the process.
Whether you’ve got a spacious home or a studio, it’s essential to carve out a space just for learning. Consistency is key, says Sara Barney of Bandd Design in Austin.
"Be sure that the space that you are turning into a workspace is a designated spot that won’t change from day to day, so that your child knows that it’s time to work when they are there," says Beth Dotolo, co-principal of Seattle- and Dallas-based Pulp Design Studios. Dotolo has her kids roll over their own IKEA carts of school supplies to the dining table at the beginning of each day to set up and start learning time. When the school day ends, everything goes back in the cart and rolls out of sight.
Sourcing ergonomic furniture for a kid who’s not done growing can be tricky, so seek out adjustable furniture that keep up with growth spurts. For non-adjustable pieces, work out conversions to help them sit comfortably: Learning cushions can double as a booster for smaller bodies and a way for them to, as Dotolo puts it, "get their wiggles out."
If you’re struggling to find a place to put a standard desk, a wall-mounted option is a great alternative. A small desk could replace a nightstand in the bedroom (where you can still put a drink or lamp for bedtime). Or, for younger kids, a play table can do double-duty as a desk and a surface for games, crafts, or snack time. "Monday to Friday, my daughter ‘goes to school’ at this Willy table from Crate and Barrel," says L.A. interior designer Kate Lester. "On the weekends, we can clear it off and do crafts and play games."
Take distractions into account right from the start. A workspace in a room full of toys and games, like a bedroom or a playroom, is going to be a tough place to concentrate. Instead, if possible, set up a desk in an under-utilized space—a mezzanine, a reading nook, or even a large stairway landing.
Gentry and Dotolo swear by noise-cancelling headphones for the whole family to block out each others’ Zoom calls. Visual distraction can be eliminated by simply orienting the desk away from the action, toward a window, a corner, or a wall. (This also allows parents to keep an eye on the screen.) And the simple act of keeping things out of the sight line can work wonders. "Putting too many things out can be easily distracting, so we keep the storage and display minimal right at eye level," says Lester.
A magnetic board or bulletin board is a great place to display information (assignments, the agenda for the day, et cetera), but it’s also an opportunity for kids to express their creativity and make their work space their own.
"Kids love to participate in the design of the room," says Nataly Bolshakova of Ukraine’s Bolshakova Interiors. "Magnetic or bulletin boards allow them to change up the look by themselves easily and create a custom space."
Of course, online school doesn’t just spell lectures and computer work all day long: Consider designating space for art projects and reading assignments, too. "It allows kids to get a change of scenery, which with their short attention spans can be extremely helpful," says Barney.
But you don’t need a lot of space to create something special. "What I’ve noticed is that children don’t like big spaces," notes Bolshakova. "They prefer to have places to hide." Some floor pillows behind the sofa, or a cozy spot with blankets and pillows in a converted closet, for example, might be the dreamiest place to read.
For one family with three tight-knit girls, Pulp even turned a Jack-and-Jill closet between bedrooms into an art station, with a long desk at one wall, and lines with clips strung up to showcase their artwork.
"Lighting is just as important for kids as it is adults," says Barney. Task lamps, floor lamps, and ambient lighting are all vital to incorporate for a well-lit workspace.
As the weather starts to turn, Bolshakova suggests lamps with programmable timers to make sure they flick on each evening even if a little one is engrossed in a project. Choose bulbs with a high color rendering index to imitate natural light, and create a warm, inviting space, even on dark nights.
"Having [kids] be part of the design process—like letting them pick the folders or desk lamp—will make them more proud of their space and want to keep it nice," says Lester. Taking the time to create organization systems together that are easy to use and access will enable kids to keep their own space neat and take pride in it.
Ultimately, kids are the ones who will be using these spaces, so why shouldn’t they be involved? "I think it’s important to listen to your small clients. They have no influences—no magazines, no resources—just pure imagination," says Bolshakova. She’s seen sitting areas ignored in favor of sprawling on the carpet to read and draw…and that’s just fine. "Just use washable finishings and leave them to their childhood."
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-29 19:26
If the pandemic put your summer travel on hold, consider bunking in one of these affordable retreats for some much needed rest and relaxation.
With many venues closed, restricted, or limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are spending much more time at home. And while home is a lovely place to be, we all want to venture out and see and do more. These tiny homes, which are available to rent via Airbnb, provide an accessible respite from daily routine.
This secluded tree house retreat, located minutes from downtown Atlanta, features a bed on casters that rolls onto the deck, allowing guests to sleep outdoors beneath the treetops. $389 per night
The one-bedroom, one-bath tiny home in Austin, Texas, features a bright and airy interior and an expansive deck that connects the house to the verdant landscape. $105 per night
Located 30 minutes from the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, this tiny home offers breathtaking views of the natural surround, including mountains, trees and the bright blue Montana sky, and resident wildlife such as deer, moose and elk. $125 per night
This compact rental—located within walking distance to the beach—is complete with access to a pool, a hot tub and a fire pit. Small families and pets are welcome. $95 per night
The Blue Riverview Tiny House perches above the Clutha River in Otago's countryside and has panoramic views of the river and surrounding alpine mountains. The home is also a 20-minute drive from the lakeside towns of Wanaka and Cromwell. $100 per night
The Oceanside, California, property includes a one-bedroom bungalow and a tiny guesthouse that are located across the street from the ocean. An enclosed backyard with a hammock allows guests privacy while they listen to the sound of crashing waves. $208 per night
Built in 2015, this dark green tiny home offers two loft areas for sleeping and lounging, an outdoor dining area and a fire pit. Guests can take beach walks and hikes and view wildlife, which includes eagles and deer. $105 per night
The two-story, one-bedroom cylindrical cottage, formerly a sculptor's studio, is located on the Santarella Estate in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. $248 per night
You can hear the sounds of birds and distant cattle—and the odd koala during the right season—from the two-bedroom Byron Hinterland Tiny House in New South Wales, Australia. A large deck on the front facade encourages peaceful outdoor time. $129 per night
Grünen Tiny House features a porch, a wraparound deck, a greenhouse, and a garden. $47 per night
The East Side Beehive in Austin, Texas, is wrapped in wood shingles and is marked by its idiosyncratic form, sunlight-filled open-plan interior and outdoor shower. $177 per night
An off-grid tiny home located in the Rocky Mountains just 25 minutes from Vail, the Snow Cross Tiny Home is surrounded by mountains and national forest land. $154 per night
This 120-square-foot home is nestled among the trees in Durham, North Carolina and has a rustic, cozy quality. $78 per night
The Kiwi Chalet, noted for its angular form, is located six-minutes from Historic Arrowtown and is surrounded by a peaceful natural landscape. $124 per night
The interior of Unique Tiny House in Atlanta, Georgia, is wrapped in white-painted shiplap and features two bedrooms and large kitchen with wood counters and a backsplash covered with subway tile. $94 per night
This Hawaiian tree house is perched on stilts and clad with bamboo. A trap door access the upper level, which is surrounded by treetops. The bottom level is a pavilion-style living area with a hanging bed. $300 per night
Two Cedar Tiny House in Winthrop, Maine, is an off-grid retreat on 20 acres of woodland with lake access. $95 per night
Cactus Jack is an off-grid tiny house on 5 acres just minutes from Joshua Tree National Park. The house uses solar power and a generator and there's an enclosed outdoor shower with hot water. $62 per night
This tiny house in the Adirondacks in Wilmington, New York, is conveniently located near Adirondack activities, including biking, hiking, kayaking, fishing and swimming. $93 per night
This 200-square-foot tiny home in Damascus, Oregon, sits on the bank of the Clackamas River, 3o minutes from Portland. $160 per night
This two-bedroom tiny wood cottage in Broager, Denmark, features expansive views of Flensburg Fjord. $68 per night
The Sapling Tree House is a luxury cabin stilted among young oaks on the slice of Hill Country called HoneyTree Farm. It overlooks the south bank of Palo Alto Creek to the distant hills beyond. It has a king bed, a well-appointed kitchenette, and a large master bath with a double rain shower and soak tub. The home also features a modernist gazebo on its large private deck. $252 per night
Full of natural light, Portland Tiny House is located just steps from the Alberta Arts district. $83 per night
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-28 22:56
Colorful, reclaimed teak windows and doors punctuate a renovated home for a Pilates instructor and her parents.
When architect Goy Zhenru was introduced to this terrace house in Singapore, it was dark, cloistered, and suffered from many poorly designed spaces: The kitchen was small and narrow, and rooms—while spacious—were awkwardly shaped.
"It was previously renovated to maximize the floor area within the house’s envelope," says Zhenru, founder of Goy Architects. "An additional mezzanine reduced natural light and ventilation into the house, so the former owners would switch on the air conditioner all the time."
The current homeowner, Sandra Heng, lives with her parents. On weekends, she holds free Pilates workshops for people with mobility issues caused by injury or old age. Her father volunteers with prison services and meets weekly with former inmates to reconnect them with the local community. Sandra needed a studio for her work, and her father required a space that could accommodate large gatherings or simultaneous intimate groups.
To bring a sense of harmony to the home, Zhenru looked to vernacular kampong (or village) houses whose simple, passive cooling techniques would allow occupants to feel comfortable for long periods.
A new, central skylight and courtyard open up the interior. Here, planters and built-in seating frame a welcoming indoor garden. Zhenru also restored an existing louver window in the attic, which helps cool the interiors.
"It is beautiful in the afternoon when you see sunlight passing through the house, as it brings a sense of life in," says Zhenru.
The kitchen was shifted to the front of the house, which was an unconventional but highly functional maneuver.
"Sandra iterated that most of their daily interactions involving food and conversation were mostly done in the kitchen," says the architect.
The dutiful daughter wanted it to be connected to the other spaces so that her parents would spend more time interacting with each other and other family members while preparing food or reading a book, instead of watching too much television.
Visitors enter the front door to an open-plan area comprising the dining area, and dry and wet kitchens. At the latter, concrete breeze blocks create a privacy screen and filters the harsh, tropical elements. The back facade is equally porous to enhance cross ventilation.
As the house has dual access, Zhenru placed the parents’ quarters at the rear, so they can have an alternative entrance should Sandra be holding a gathering up front.
The house’s common areas are subtly segmented into several "micro spaces" through furniture and changes in floor levels. For example, visitors can gather around the large dry kitchen island counter, sit at the courtyard steps, or convene at the wet kitchen’s sitting area.
The courtyard is a particularly effective visual and sensory conduit between the first and upper stories. It also offers a clear view of the striking montage of reclaimed teak timber windows at the front facade and the room overlooking the double-height wet kitchen.
"It started when I showed Sandra a reclaimed Javanese door and window set," says Zhenru of the design. "We both loved the intricacies of the timberwork and felt compelled to use them in her new home."
Like the concrete breeze-block screen, the wooden louvers manage light, wind, and views. Added color enlivens and unifies the various elements.
It was not easy sourcing the timber doors and windows from different timber collectors in Yogyakarta, Java. Zhenru also had to track down local carpenters who could put together these delicate, aged elements.
"It was important that the pieces retained their function and were not purely decorative," she says, who used 3D modeling to work out the puzzle of parts. "The entrance door and window set were reclaimed from a 1950s family house in East Java. It is made of jackfruit tree wood, which was widely used alongside teak," she adds.
Javanese artisans restored the closed lotus bud motif carving on the transom. It symbolizes the innate potential for enlightenment in humans, which aligns with Sandra’s life philosophy and the project’s ecological roots.
The upcycled aspects of Heng House showcase the feasibility of making good use of what others perceive as waste. This, and the house’s passive methods, is proof that sustainable living does not always have to be high-tech.
The home’s clever redesign proved especially vital during Singapore’s two-month partial lockdown due to COVID-19. "The natural light and breeze gave a sense of well-being compared to air-conditioned spaces, especially when practicing Pilates at my second-story studio," says Sandra. She also found different pockets of space to work in.
Meanwhile, her father happily honed his green thumbs. "The pockets of green in the front, middle, and back of the house provided great reprieve from being confined," says Sandra. "My father kept himself busy growing bananas, papayas, and garden herbs. We even started fermenting and composting."
Now, the home not only hosts Sandra and her father’s clients, but also visiting family. The adults can whip up a meal in the kitchen while watching the children, who gleefully bustle about the open spaces.
Project Team: Goy Zhenru, Dessy Anggadewi, Sam Loetman
Builder: Towner Construction Pte Ltd
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-28 20:55
Nwankpa Design reimagines a tired coastal home while helping their forward-thinking client plan for the future.
Magical things can happen when a renovation considers not only the owner’s present living situation—but the future as well. That’s exactly what happened when Susan Nwankpa Gillespie of Los Angeles–based Nwankpa Design connected with a recent NYC transplant who had moved out west in search of a more laid-back lifestyle and a place to put down roots.
Nwankpa Gillespie was introduced to the client, an entrepreneur, via a mutual friend on his real estate team. She was originally brought on to consult on the site and its potential for future development, however she soon took on the task of renovating the home to suit the needs of the client’s bachelor lifestyle, while remaining flexible enough to one day evolve into a comfortable living space for a young family. "Our shared goal was to create a space that felt contemporary and masculine, but also cozy and inviting enough to eventually be a family home."
Dating back to the 1920s, the existing 1,300-square-foot bungalow had undergone recent updates that had definitely run their course. The layout was composed of small and segmented spaces with low ceilings that made the two-bedroom, one-bath home feel cramped. However, the bungalow had good bones—and by uncovering the potential of the existing structure, Nwankpa Gillespie was able to create a contemporary bachelor pad that could one day evolve into a cozy family home.
"The biggest transformation involved opening up the ceilings to reveal the shape of the existing roofline," explains Nwankpa Gillespie. "It was a bit of a risk, with the different shapes of a pitched and flat roof coming together, but cladding the ceiling with cedar planks unified and celebrated these moments."
The additional height gives the living space an airy and expansive feel, while the tongue-and-groove ceiling creates "a feeling of intimacy and refuge." Nwankpa Gillespie loves how the material palette came together, and the way the light "dances across the surfaces." "It just feels good to be in the space," she observes.
However, the most unexpected source of joy has been the improved indoor/outdoor connection. "My client’s been pleasantly surprised by the front windows that replaced the screened porch," says Nwankpa Gillespie. "They create a vast connection to the outdoors, and have a very dramatic feel to them."
Builder/General Contractor: THC Venice
Cabinetry Fabrication: Avonce Cabinets
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-28 20:22
For a limited time, save 30% on plush, handcrafted upholstery.
After months spent indoors, you’re probably ready to rejuvenate your living room, dining room, bedroom, or home office. Thankfully, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is holding their Custom Upholstery Sale in stores and online. Open exclusively to their Comfort Club members, the sale runs from September 28 through October 12.
By joining, you’ll not only gain access to the 30% off upholstery sale (and 0% financing for 24 months for those with a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams credit card), but you’ll also receive 25% off everything, every day. Plus, for the long weekend from October 8 to 12, enjoy complimentary white glove delivery on orders of $3,500 or more.
Extensive customization options—the company offers 575 fabrics and over 40 leathers to choose from, including eco-friendly and velvet performance fabric selections—ensure the perfect match for your sofa, sectional, chair, or bed.
Staying true to their mission of quality design, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has been preserving the craft of furniture-making at their own North Carolina factory, which they’ve been using since 1989. Their upholstery is hand-crafted by skilled artisans they call their "Artisans of Comfort," many of whom come from families that have been making upholstery for generations. Their commitment to quality inspired them to offer a lifetime warranty on upholstery frames, springs, and cushions.
Their products are kind to the planet, too: All cushions are free of fire-retardant chemicals, use ozone-friendly foam, and are wrapped in 80% regenerated fibers. Frames are sourced from domestic suppliers, compliant with the Forest Stewardship Council. Springs are made from 65% recycled metal. Their sustainable practices also include upcycling fabric and leather scraps, shipping in recycled packaging, and conserving energy in their factory.
To make your decisions easier, the company offers the option to receive up to 10 samples of their fabrics and leathers, free of charge. To order, email VirtualinHome@MGBWhome.com or call 1-855-730-9999. Or, you can explore their fabrics and leathers in their stores and take free samples home with you. Find a store here.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-28 19:33
Forte purchased the home before joining SNL in 2002, and later came up with the idea for his apocalyptic hit sitcom while sitting in the dining room.
If you're at all familiar with Saturday Night Live, you likely know some of the characters played by Will Forte. Perhaps most famously, his eight years as a SNL cast member brought us "MacGruber"—a parody on the '80s TV series MacGyver—that later became a movie and was recently approved for a season on NBC's new streaming service. For the last 18 years, Forte's home base on the West Coast has been modest Craftsman bungalow in Santa Monica, California, but he's now ready to hand over the keys.
Forte, who purchased the property in 2002, originally split much of his time between living in Santa Monica and New York City, where SNL is filmed. His departure from the show in 2010 coincided with the launch of the MacGruber movie that same year, with Forte and fellow SNL writers reportedly writing much of the screenplay in the home's dining room. Forte and his other collaborators, filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, also came up the idea for his end-of-the-world sitcom, The Last Man Standing, while sitting in that same dining area.
Originally built in 1913, the two-level home offers just over 1,900 square feet of interior space. The lower level features a pair of wood-trimmed bedrooms and a charming bathroom, while the upper level offers a sunlit principal suite with beamed ceilings and a second full bathroom. Outside, the characteristic front porch is complemented by a large rear deck, with lush landscaping adding privacy to the corner lot. Keep scrolling to see more of the property, currently listed for $2,450,000.
2660 4th Street in Santa Monica, California, is currently listed for $2,450,000 by Jagger Kroenner and Michael Grady of The Agency.
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Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-28 18:48
A new suite of prefab timber cabins welcomes guests at the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel.
Waking up in an alpine wonderland with warm croissants delivered to your doorstep is just one of the many charms of the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel—and the resort recently debuted a new set of timber chalets that are prefabricated and energy self-sufficient.
Lausanne- and Los Angeles–based Montalba Architects designed the new additions to provide mountain housing for groups and families. The cabins complement the resort’s existing 18 geodesic dome–shaped tents—known as "Pods"—one of which was also designed by the firm.
The sloped terrain and the resort’s dedication to sustainability informed the architects’ decision to prefabricate the timber chalets off-site for quick and easy assembly atop foundation slabs poured on-site.
The eco-chalets, the majority of which are still under construction, will be available in two layouts: a single-story 1,010-square-foot unit, and a two-story, 2,150-square-foot unit that takes advantage of the sloped landscape with living areas on the lower level and the bedrooms up above. It takes about three months to construct each single-story chalet, and it takes four to five months to complete each two-story chalet.
"The completion of the remaining chalets will give the image of a mountain village that blends seamlessly into the sloping landscape while mirroring the traditional chalet villages found nearby," explain the architects. "Multiple chalet exteriors have been completed with wood paneling to further blend the structures with the mountainous environment, while also evoking the design of a traditional Swiss chalet."
Inside, the chalets are divided into "day" and "night" zones separated by a central volume containing all the service equipment. The day side holds the entrance, a spacious dining area, and a living area with a kitchenette. The night area on the other side contains three bedrooms and two baths, with each bedroom comprising a king-sized bed or twin beds to accommodate a maximum of six people per chalet.
The larch-clad chalets are minimalist in design so as not to distract from the spectacular alpine landscape. The interiors are lined in OSB wood panels with polished concrete underfoot. Large, triple-glazed windows frame views of the mountains and open up to let in natural ventilation.
Decorative boards, external laths, OSB panels, a wind membrane, a wind barrier, and two layers of heat insulation keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum. This envelope is bolstered by an in-wall active thermal regulation system and a heat pump powered by local hydroelectric turbines to keep each chalet toasty and warm all winter long.
Whitepod’s eco-chalets are now open for booking, and stays begin at 650 Swiss francs ($700 USD) for a minimum of two nights.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-25 21:52
After a year of ecological calamity, experts wrestle with whether or not we should rebuild in risky areas—and who will pay for it if we do.
From Tornado Alley to the burning West, from the saturated South to the nor’easter-prone North, natural disasters are bearing down on the U.S. with disconcerting regularity. But these natural disasters are disastrous only because we are in their path. With the bill for 2017’s hurricanes, wildfires, and other catastrophic weather events hitting $306 billion in damages, perhaps it’s time to reset our expectations about how and where we build.
On the East Coast, "there is no conceivable way to get around the fact that eventually we will have to retreat," says Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of geology at Duke University and coauthor of The Rising Sea. "Sea levels will rise at least three feet in this century," he says, citing a majority consensus among the scientific community. Under these circumstances—hurricanes or no—cities like Miami and Charleston are gone.
Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, whose district includes part of Charleston, isn’t ready to order the U-Hauls quite yet. "Where there is no man-made investment, let nature take its course," he says. But it becomes more complicated when facing the prospect of "substantial levels of public and private investment" being lost, he adds. Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami wants solutions to sea level rise now: "Among the many legislative and policy options available, such as elevating roads and expanding the construction of dykes, we should discuss a managed coastline retreat," she says. How that could happen is a key question. Says Sanford: "What you can’t do is say, ‘I’m going to save my beach house at all costs, and I’m going to use your money to do so.’"
Taxpayers are footing much of the bill to help California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and other places recover from 2017’s fury. But questions are growing louder as to why they are paying to save homes from recurrent wildfires and rebuild condos that flood year after year. "The question is the degree of repetition," says Sanford. But deciding where to restrict building isn’t easy: Almost 40 percent of the country live in counties prone to coastal flooding, and a third of all housing developments are adjacent to combustible wildlands, including 60 percent of new housing.
In the West, the question of repetition is becoming more pressing. Sonoma County’s 2017 Tubbs fire burned thousands of homes built on the ashes of a community destroyed by the Hanley fire in 1964. "People thought, ‘Oh, there are really nice views here—we’ll rebuild,’" says Bill Stewart of UC Berkeley’s Center for Fire Research and Outreach. David Ropeik, author of How Risky Is It, Really?, says, "If there’s a benefit to living in a place, we downplay or ignore the risk." From natural beauty to family history to the financial hardships of resettling, there are many reasons people refuse to leave their communities. "Even if one has the option to move, there are disincentives," says Ropeik. "We lose the empowerment of familiarity. Familiarity means control, comfort."
If giving up on coastal cities and keeping California development out of forestland isn’t likely to happen any time soon, we could start by building smarter and stronger. According to a study of three federal agencies by the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 the state invests in disaster mitigation saves $6 in future costs. "If our taxes are not being spent to mitigate risk, they’re being wasted," says James Whittle of the American Insurance Association.
Experts also agree that we need to start pricing in the risk of where we live. While the FEMA-managed National Flood Insurance Program currently offers protection to homeowners in flood zones, its $25 billion debt is not sustainable. "I’ve warned people on the coast to watch out for escalating federal flood insurance prices," says Sanford. In California, Stewart has already seen private insurance policies cancelled after wildfires, in some cases forcing the state to step in. Whittle says, "If the rates don’t reflect risk, somebody is paying. The question is, who is that somebody?"
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-25 20:00
Whether they’re tucked away under a stairwell or squeezed in between two rooms, these powder rooms prove you don’t need a big footprint to make a big statement.
Hear the phrase "powder room" and images of tiny (maybe even bordering on claustrophobic!) bathrooms spring to mind. But just because these small half-baths—as they're sometimes called—aren't known for being spacious doesn't mean that they can't be some of the most characterful rooms in a home. Without the issues of humidity that arise in full bathrooms that are equipped with showers and bathtubs, powder rooms actually have even more design freedom, enabling the use of saturated colors, vivid wallpaper, and moody lighting to create an otherworldly feeling. We've gathered up 22 powder rooms that go bold, luxurious, and exuberant despite their small square footage—take a look below!
Related Reading: You Don’t Have to be a Narcissist to Update Your Vanity
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-25 19:18
A textural herringbone weave highlights a refined blend of organic cotton and organic linen. The combination of yarns and fibers brings dimension and drape, with large hand-knotted tassels that showcase the full array of colors at each corner. Self-backed pillow cover is secured with an envelope closure in the back.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-25 19:02
Step into this waterfront home in Prince Edward County, and find an instant reprieve from the city.
Anyone who’s been on holiday—whether a weekend road trip or a multi-leg international journey—knows the "We’re here!" feeling well: that moment where you feel like the journey (and real life) are behind you, and you’re officially, truly, on vacation.
It’s a sensation of letting go, and entering into a new frame of mind—at least for a little while. And it’s exactly what homeowners Aaron and Orlee (and their kids) wanted to amplify in their own vacation retreat, the Ell House.
"They just really wanted to arrive in the space," says Montreal-based architect Ravi Handa, who collaborated with AAmp Studio on the couple’s 2,240-square-foot getaway on the shores of Lake Ontario. "They want to just put down their bags and forget about the city."
It’s easy to do just that, as you step through the house’s massive vestibule, which acts as a literal and metaphorical buffer zone between the home and the rest of the world. From here, a sweeping view of the water is the first thing to greet you: welcome to vacation mode.
The property is in Prince Edward County, a region popular with vacationing Torontonians. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s rural, it’s waterfront, and just down the road from Ontario wine country. "It’s a bit of a rural paradise," says Handa.
But while the building takes some cues from an agrarian architectural tradition, this is anything but a country shack: the modern cottage features four bedrooms and two baths in one wing, in addition to the open-concept common area with the kitchen, dining room, powder room, and living room on the other side.
The exterior is clad in burnt cedar, and the carbon-colored building pops against the sun-washed grass and blue sky. ("Lake Ontario is so vast, it looks like an ocean, so we really wanted a sharp contrast," says Handa.)
But inside this black box, conversely, it’s pure light. "The idea was to have the whole place as outward looking as possible," says Handa. So he and the AAmp Studio team went through, room by room, to determine how to maximize the views at every moment.
Wherever you are, so is nature: a sliver of the water, grass, or sky is visible from almost anywhere in the home. "From an architectural perspective, you’re in connection with the outdoors always," adds Anne-Marie Armstrong, co-principal of AAmp Studio. Even the interior reflects the colors and textures of organic materials—from the pine slat ceilings to the concrete floor to the stone countertops.
The walls are painted a soft white, and white-washed pine lines the ceilings to draw attention to the cathedral ceilings and amplify the natural light that pours in. The minimalist finishing also acts as a quiet backdrop for the changing seasons on view via the dozens of windows, with each vista framed by warm pine like a veritable work of art.
In the process of accomplishing that "arrival" sensation, the design team created another feeling, too: that of never wanting to leave. "The family love going up here, and the peace they get," says Handa. "Every time he’s in the living room, Aaron sends me a picture of the view."
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-25 16:52
The film exec’s collection of art and curios helped inform the design of this gallery-like home.
Los Angeles–based interior designer Mandy Graham transformed this classic, Mediterranean-style villa into a chic, contemporary home for film industry executive Roeg Sutherland—who happens to be the son of legendary Hollywood actor Donald Sutherland. Set within a private compound just above the Hollywood Dell, the home was crafted to display Roeg’s collection of artwork and curios.
The collection, which Roeg says "predates the furniture," was essentially the starting point for the project. "It gave Mandy an opportunity to merge her love of furniture design with the playful art that surrounded it," he shares. Graham designed custom pieces for the 4,434-square-foot home while paying careful attention to the volume, light, and proportion of the white-walled interiors.
The villa’s highlights include sleek concrete/epoxy composite flooring on the lower level, oak hardwood floors on the upper level, high-design touches throughout, and a stunning minimalist kitchen—which also happens to be Roeg’s favorite part of the home.
Graham designed the kitchen with a custom-made, freestanding, ebony-stained oak storage unit. The clean-lined silhouettes of the storage unit and the kitchen island even served as the inspiration for Graham’s most recent furniture collection.
The home also features are multiple indoor-outdoor entertaining spaces and thoughtfully-landscaped grounds that unfolds to reveal a wooden barrel sauna and an Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool with breathtaking views that stretch across the city.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-24 22:47
Originally built in 1939, the main house was renovated by renowned interior designers Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe.
A recently listed home in Los Angeles embraces its hillside location with rambling walkways that unfold from the street. Located in the Silver Lake neighborhood, the .25-acre property is marked only by a detached garage at the end of a cul-de-sac, with stairs and paths connecting the main house with a sparkling pool and guesthouse at the bottom of the lot. Inside, a chic interior renovation by L.A. design house Nickey-Kehoe offers warm colors and wood tones mixed with starkly white spaces.
Offering nearly 3,000 square feet of living space, the two-story main house features three bedrooms and four full bathrooms. The sunlit main level offers numerous picture windows overlooking the lush yard and Silver Lake's Ivanhoe Reservoir. Also on the main level, the master suite features a small seating area and covered balcony, along with a clawfoot tub in the en suite bathroom. Downstairs, a sunny family room offers an additional space to relax, while a timber bar top provides an expansive spot to work.
Outside, multiple patios and a poolside deck await. Leading from the back porch, yet more stairs and walkways lead down past a hot tub to the pool and guesthouse, which features an additional bedroom and full bathroom. A small lawn, vegetable beds, and fruit trees round out the landscaping. Keep scrolling to see more of the property, currently listed for $3,750,000.
2503 Silver Lake Terrace in Los Angeles, California, is currently listed for $3,750,000 by the Tracy Do Team at Compass.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-24 21:33
Without adding square footage, Re:modern enlivens and streamlines a jumbled 1959 Eichler in Northern California.
When Sudipta Bhowmik and Dwipal Desai first reached out to architect Mona Ying Reeves, the couple were only calling about a potential bathroom remodel for their Eichler home in Palo Alto, California.
"They bought their dream bathtub," says Reeves. "And then it showed up behind their garage. And they realized, ‘We don’t have a bathroom plan. We don’t have a contractor yet. And we need to fit this into a tiny bathroom.’"
During that initial conversation, Reeves learned that it wasn’t just a small bathroom that troubled the couple: "We realized that there were many little, modern amenities that they wished to have." Reeves, who founded the San Mateo design firm Re:modern, worked with Sudipta and Dwipal to reconfigure the first floor of the home to eke out bigger living spaces within the existing footprint and fully embrace the indoor/outdoor vibe that Eichlers are known for.
In the original plan, the kitchen was in an odd spot, positioned in the middle of the living spaces and blocking views to the backyard on one side, and to the atrium on the other. The layout cramped the floor plan, creating a series of small rooms "which seemed to go counter to the open, indoor/outdoor feel of the home," says Reeves. Despite floor-to-ceiling glass, the solid mass of the kitchen also prevented natural light from flowing throughout.
The team took down the interior walls and swapped the location of the kitchen and dining room in order to create one fluid great room that accommodates living, dining, and cooking areas. This was done without moving any exterior walls. "To start off with such a compartmentalized house and open it up without adding square footage was quite a bit of a challenge," says Reeves.
Another key to modernizing the home was reconfiguring the number of bathrooms on the main floor. The team forfeited a bedroom in order to enlarge the bathroom attached to the primary bedroom, create a suite for the second bedroom, and add a powder room. (The home now has six bedrooms instead of seven.) "That was really the heart of the project: how to give them bigger rooms without adding on to the house," says Reeves.
The new plan creates two bedroom suites on the main floor. While one is a child’s room for now, the setup can be flexible in the future to accommodate visiting family and international houseguests who stay for extended periods. Now, family members can retreat to bedrooms yet come together easily in the great room; previously, "you didn’t know where you were in relation to anybody else in the house," says Reeves.
Fitting for a midcentury remodel, cheerful colors now accentuate much of the main floor. "[The homeowners] were drawn to really deep and saturated colors, and also midcentury classic colors," says Reeves, pointing to the cobalt blue in the kitchen, the sunny yellow in the main bath, and midcentury mint in the kids’ bath. "There [are] lots of moments of color now."
More Before & After:
Builder: California Home Improvement Solutions
Structural Engineer: Rick Lennen
Interior Design: Re:modern
Custom Cabinetry Design: Woodmaster Custom Cabinetry
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-24 19:17
This family getaway—which is only accessible by boat—has a bunk room below and a mess hall above that takes advantage of spectacular views.
Back in 1987, architect Tom Knezic’s parents bought a plot of land overlooking Kahshe Lake, in the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada. They built a small "bunkie" on the land and planned to build a lake cabin for family holidays. Then, the 1989 recession hit and their plans were put on hold. More than three decades later, Knezic and his wife Christine Lolley—co-founders of Solares Architecture—have finally designed and built the cabin of their dreams.
Over the years, the family had developed the land into an outdoor haven, with various amenities—including a fire pit, slacklines, bike trails, and a hammock zone—built around the bunkie. "Back then, all four of us slept in the tiny bunkie, and I have a lot of memories growing up on this land," says Knezic. "I watched my father build the stairs going up the cliff, and even helped build parts myself."
The intention had always been to build the cabin in a clearing by the lakeshore. However, when the family began to start thinking about building again around 10 years ago, regulations had changed and it was impossible to build so close to the water. "We also realized that if we built there we would destroy the open piece of land that we had been using for gatherings and play for so long."
They considered building at the back of the property, and also discussed replacing the bunkie. "That really upset my mom, though," says Knezic. "By then, my father had passed away and the bunkie represented a very happy period for them. We then looked at ways to expand the bunkie, but none of them worked." After a year of discussion, Knezic’s mother suggested approaching the owner of the neighboring plot of land, which was disused, with an offer to buy.
"All of a sudden, the problem solved itself," recalls Knezic. "We decided to push the cottage to the very north edge of the property to preserve as much of the south edge as possible, and to raise it up on a large rock outcrop. We wanted the building to feel like a summer camp, with a bunk house and a mess hall—so we just put one on top of the other, with a deck leading from the public upper space out over the rock to the very edge. It was all about having an immediate response, and making it as simple as possible. The concept didn’t change, which never happens!"
Knezic’s mother handed complete creative control over to the design team, with a simple brief that called for a place where the family could come together that would last for generations. It was also essential that the home embraced the morning light from the east. "One of my mom’s rituals in the bunkie was to stand in front of the cabin and enjoy the morning sun through the forest," says Knezic.
The experience of the home begins when you arrive at the dock, and cross the landing to the stairs built into the cliffside by Knezic’s father. From here, a path zigzags through the forest toward the house. "You pick up all sorts of leaves, pine needles, and twigs on your feet," says Knezic. "So, we put a pad of gravel between the two lower decks, which acts like a natural doormat to scrape off your shoes as you arrive. It’s important, as it’s meant to be a ‘shoes on’ house."
A deck leads into an entrance foyer on the ground floor. Six small bedrooms and two bathrooms are located on the ground floor and a central stair leads to the shared living space on the first floor. "I love the contrast between the upper and lower levels," says Knezic. "The ground floor is compact and feels a bit like being on a boat, while the upper floor is as open as possible."
The exterior is a dark timber that allows the home to dissolve into the woods—particularly on the southern facade, where the narrow windows create a vertical rhythm that mirrors that of the trees and breaks up the bulk of the built form. "A lot of older cottages were painted black to preserve the wood," says Knezic. "I really like the look, and it’s effective at hiding the cottage in the forest. It’s very hard to spot from the water."
One of the biggest challenges throughout the build was access to the site—all materials had to be shipped over on a barge and carried up the cliffside stairs. This also meant that it took two years (rather than eight months) to complete the build, as the lake completely freezes over in the winter. Fortunately, the home was completed in early 2020 before the pandemic, and the family was able to use the cottage during periods of lockdown.
"That first weekend that we were all there together, I was in the kitchen and looked around at everyone doing different things—the kids were playing in the forest, there were people out on the deck—and I thought, this is fantastic," says Knezic. "There were so many people coexisting, and everything was working in this really magical way. The building had come to life."
Architect of Record: Solares Architecture
Builder: Cottage Concepts
Structural Engineer: Canvas Engineering
Lighting Design: Solares Architecture
Cabinetry Design: Solares Architecture
Cabinetry Manufacture and Installation: Muskoka Custom Cabinets
Ground Screw Foundations: Aduvo Systems
Photography: Nanne Springer
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-24 19:10
It’s every brunch lover’s dream. Take inspiration from these cozy breakfast nooks from the Dwell community that caught our editor’s eye this week.
Architect: PLANT Architect, Inc., Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
From the architect: "Our clients on this renovation and addition are well-travelled collectors of books and eclectic objects—everything from Barbie paraphernalia to bug sculptures to vintage camera equipment. Previously, many of these beloved objects were wedged in amongst shoes and coats in the mudroom, where they could not really be appreciated. [We] expanded the kitchen of their Edwardian home and added a new mudroom, sitting room, and second-story office. Integrating the collections into these spaces was a crucial part of the project. In the kitchen we consolidated some of the collections into clean-lined, glass-fronted cabinets that keep them dust-free and safely away from vaporized oils from stovetop cooking. We also increased access to natural light in the kitchen and greatly expanded the quantity of displayed storage by inserting bookshelves into ‘remnant’ spaces and at clerestory height."
Interior designer: Big Sky Design, Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
From the interior designer: "By blending in color, form, and function throughout the spaces and taking into consideration how each element works together holistically, we created a space that is inviting, exciting, and a reflection of our client’s own style and culture—a space where they can live, work, and play. Family is an important thread in everything our client does, so we regarded the use of lines throughout the space as a representation of the close bond the family shares. Steady angles, classic lines, and geometric shapes come together and work cohesively throughout the design."
Architect: Uoai Studio, Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
From the architect: "In renovating a house from the 1920’s in Toronto for a young family, uoai studio structured the new living spaces with crisp bold gestures interspersed with moments of material and textural richness. A continuous wall of white millwork runs the full length of the house unifying the ground floor level while providing plenty of storage. This armature is activated with successive materially and spatially varied vignettes identifying areas for living, cooking and dining. A wood lined dining niche nestles into the large front window."
Interior designer: Regan Baker Design, Location: San Francisco, California
From the interior designer: "With three children under the age of 5, our clients were starting to feel the confines of their Pacific Heights home when the expansive 1902 Italianate across the street went on the market. After learning the home had been recently remodeled, they jumped at the chance to purchase a move-in ready property. We worked with them to infuse the already refined, elegant living areas with subtle edginess and handcrafted details, and also helped them reimagine unused space to delight their little ones. Elevated furnishings on the main floor complement the home’s existing high ceilings, modern brass bannisters and extensive walnut cabinetry. Throughout the main floor handcrafted, textured notes are everywhere—a nubby jute rug underlies inviting sofas in the family room and a half-moon mirror in the living room mixes geometric lines with flax-colored fringe."
Architect: Walker Warner Architects, Location: San Francisco Bay Area, California
From the architect: "Located in a magnificent, park-like setting filled with mature, 80-foot-tall oak trees, this residence meets the clients’ desire for a family home that is casual, stylish, functional, and adaptable. Flexible indoor and outdoor spaces allow for the use and enjoyment of the site in its entirety, both house and grounds. All interior furnishings that were designed and curated for the project compliment the casual yet dynamic architecture while giving a chic air to the residence. Simple sculptural shapes, textural woven fabrics, organic elements and a few accents of forest colors complete the marriage of inside and out."
Want a chance to be featured? Add your home here!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-24 18:55
Also available unfurnished for $89,000, this 330-square-foot dwelling is an artful example of “Japandi” style.
It was Stephen Proctor’s dream to swap his life in Nashville for something quieter in the Pacific Northwest. He sold his home, paid off his debts, and purchased a rural lot to park a tiny house along the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, Oregon.
"As a visual artist and experience designer, having a home that reflects my own personal aesthetic was important," says Stephen. "I collaborated with a local tiny house builder, Matt Impola of Handcrafted Movement, finding a nice balance between personal design requests and trusting his overall judgement to create a space that flowed well."
Both the interior and exterior feature contrasting shades of black and natural wood tones, which Stephen first imagined after picking up a Theo coffee mug and teapot by the brand Stelton. The matte-black ceramic base and simple bamboo handle and lid eventually inspired him to mimic the combination throughout the tiny home.
"I previously spent time with Japanese-American artist Makoto Fujimura as well as Keiko Yanaka, a Japanese tea master apprentice," Stephen comments. "Between Makoto's ‘slow art’ and Keiko’s tea ceremonies, I’ve been on a journey of learning to be. I wanted my space to reflect this contemplative posture as a place of peace."
After moving the tiny house to its current location in early 2020, the call from local permitting officials quickly unraveled Stephen’s plans. "I found myself in the middle of a perfect bureaucratic storm," he says. "When it comes to tiny house regulations, every municipality is different, as is every county and state. In my area, rules require the home to be put down on blocks and secured. Although there is a way forward to get it properly permitted, at this point I would prefer to sell and start over from scratch."
Stephen isn’t quite ready to give up on his Walden-esque dream, though. "The [long-term] idea was always to live in a modern cabin, and the tiny house was a step in that direction," he says. "I plan to keep the land and rebuild something else—this time in sync with my local permitting requirements and following the same aesthetic."
Stephen recently listed the tiny house with an asking price of $99,000 (fully furnished) or $89,000 (unfurnished), not including transportation costs. "I hope to find [a buyer] who has a deep longing for a creative space that serves as both an escape from this noisy, chaotic world and a place that awakens their imagination," he adds.
Also, follow @sproctor to check out Stephen’s future build.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-24 03:20
This 1960s beauty won't last long....
Set high atop the Castro Valley Hills, and hidden away behind a seemingly unassuming facade, you would never guess that this 1,842-square-foot flat-roofed Eichler hides a spectacular backyard with sweeping panoramic views and a solar heated swimming pool. Built in 1960, and designed by renowned midcentury architect, A. Quincy Jones, of Emmons & Jones, this flat-roofed, one-level post-and-beam construction has good bones, a strong indoor-outdoor connection, and all of the authentic period charm that Eichler lovers look for.
5664 Greenridge Road opens to an airy central atrium, which leads into the four-bedroom, two-bath open-floor plan layout. Although the tongue-and-groove ceilings are painted white, many of the home's original details appear to be perfectly preserved: Rich mahogany wood paneling clads the walls; original midcentury linoleum flooring; refurbished original closet doors; period-appropriate globe pendant lighting and Nelson bubble lights throughout; and the original kitchen—that has been upgraded with high-end appliances including Miele and Electrolux. Improvements to the home include a newly refurbished foam roof and an updated main electrical panel with a Tesla charger. However, the showstopping highlight of this midcentury gem is its spectacular backyard—which offers breathtaking views and a solar heated pool that was completely upgraded in 2019. Scroll ahead for a look inside.
5664 Greenridge Road is currently listed for $1,450,o00 by Thomas Westfall of Compass.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-23 22:43
With temperatures dropping, it’s officially the season of cozy sweaters, sophisticated footwear, and snazzy coats.
On the off chance we leave the house, we’ll be taking these fall styles to the grocery aisle—and treating it like a catwalk.
We love the products we feature and hope you do, too. If you buy something through a link on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-23 21:41
Perkins & Will designs a mountaintop Passive House that takes energy efficiency to the next level.
Located in the Soo Valley, about a 20-minute drive from Whistler and 90 minutes from Vancouver, this off-grid house fits right into its pristine natural setting. Designed by architecture firm Perkins & Will, the home is a pilot for a future alpine settlement by Delta Land Development in British Columbia’s Pacific Range.
The house currently serves as a model for what Passive House structures can look and feel like. "It’s a small example, and it represents what I believe to be the way things should be done," says Bruce Langereis, president of Delta Land Development. "It involves being more considerate of energy efficiency, health and wellness, and minimizing your carbon footprint."
Buildings account for close to 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to Delta Land, and the developer seeks to lower the impact of homes through sustainable building strategies—Passive Houses require up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings.
"Buildings are contributors to carbon," Langereis said. "That propelled me to lead our company with a radical new approach to how can we do what we are doing in a climate-positive way."
The 2,450-square-foot house is built to the Passive House Low-Energy Building Standard, and it embraces the strict sustainability guidelines set forth by the Passive House Institute in Germany.
The Soo Valley house is airtight, with no heat gain or loss. Its walls are lined with wool insulation, and the windows are precisely sealed. In the end, the home’s high-performance envelope makes it super energy efficient.
Limited glazing helps prevent heat gain or loss, and the three-bedroom, three-bath home is built from energy-efficient (and beautiful) materials like locally harvested Douglas fir instead of traditional drywall.
Using timber in the construction process allowed Delta Land to get to a carbon-negative state, since trees store carbon. They also avoided using large quantities of carbon-heavy materials like concrete, steel, and glass.
The Passive House–certified building collects water, treats its own waste, and has zero emissions. It also doesn’t use fossil fuels—its principle energy source is the sun. For heating, the house uses a GeoExchange geothermal heat pump. And it embraces natural ventilation with cleverly placed windows. Water is drawn from a well, and waste collects in a septic system.
In order to commit to a zero-fossil-fuels stand, the home’s back-up generator doesn’t run on diesel. Instead, the design team imported a hydrogen generator from Israel that cost around $150,000.
In addition to using sustainable materials and systems, Delta Land used environmentally sensitive and efficient construction methods. Most of the house was prefabricated at a facility 30 minutes away, and then it was assembled on-site with a crane and team of workers.
Passive houses have a long-term positive impact on future generations, and Langereis stresses that we need to think about energy-efficient houses to combat climate change.
"We need to think about the long-term impacts when we make homes," Langereis said. "It’s not just about the person moving in now. What is the impact of the home on future generations, and its affect on climate? Why not hedge against climate change, and do our best to not contribute to the problem and respond in a responsible way? It starts at home."
Architect of Record: Perkins & Will
Structural Engineer: Glotman Simpson Engineers
Lighting Design: Integral Group
Solar Design: VREC
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-23 17:34
Dutch artists and architects have banded together to create Culture Campsite, where waste materials are reused to create one-0f-a-kind sleeping pods.
They’re smaller than tiny houses, more comfortable than tents, and definitely cooler than your average camper: These architectural sleeping pods form an eccentric, open-air exhibition that doubles as a colorful campsite in the heart of Rotterdam. Ranging from reused grain silos to converted greenhouses, these quirky accommodations have one thing in common—they’re made from waste materials.
Culture Campsite is aimed at architecture fans and art enthusiasts who visit the Netherlands’ second-largest city and are looking for an original place to spend the night. Dubbed "the Dutch Brooklyn," Rotterdam boasts adventurous design and a thriving cultural scene, both of which have turned the city into a popular destination in the past decade. Cheap rents and an abundance of empty buildings enabled lots of creative pop-up initiatives, such as Culture Campsite. The former business park is supposed to be turned into a new neighborhood with apartments and offices, but construction won’t start before the end of 2022. In the meantime, the empty buildings are used as co-working offices for young creatives while the outdoor space hosts 12 quirky sleeping pods.
The campsite is run by four young artists: Isis Hoos and Thijs Masthoff of Studio Made By, Boris Duijneveld of MUD projects, and Laura Abbink. Duijneveld, who says he’s always had a fascination for small-scale architecture, was driving through the Dutch countryside one day and noticed the grain silos used on animal farms.
"There’s no way to recycle redundant silos, so I was wondering if I could build something new with them," says Duijneveld. He started to take them off of farmers’ hands in exchange for a crate of beer or a few euros and turned them into small sleeping accommodations.
Architect Thijs Masthoff used the same principle when he built Scuba, a capsule comprising two discarded calf igloos (plastic domes that shelter baby cows in the first months of their lives). Looking at the cozy sleeping spaces, it’s hard to imagine they were ever anything else. Says Duijneveld, "We take existing things out of their original context and give them a new purpose. This makes the viewer forget they’re looking at waste materials."
Besides creating their own objects, Culture Campsite also collaborates with local architects, designers, and artists. Renske van der Stoep, owner of architecture firm Roffaa, resides in the building adjacent to Culture Campsite. Her tiny house, called Floating Bricks, looks like a normal brick building from a distance—but upon a closer look, no brick seems to touch the other.
Van der Stoep collected leftovers from a factory that produces wall brick strips and glued them to discarded glass panels, leaving space between the strips to create the "floating" effect. "When people think of industrial waste, they assume we’re talking about small shards of glass, but glass-cutting leftovers can be as long as 10 feet," she explains.
Culture Campsite is striving to add new accommodations every year: Besides the calf igloo capsule, they welcomed a converted delivery van onto the site this summer. These "supermarkets on wheels" went around Dutch cities to deliver groceries, from fresh milk to potatoes. Although thousands of them drove around the country in the 1970s, now only a handful of them are left, mainly in small villages without a regular supermarket.
When asked about Culture Campsite’s future plans, Duijneveld says he and his colleagues are looking for an alternative location in case the site owner decides to start constructing apartment blocks here—although he admits it’s becoming harder to find an affordable space. With Rotterdam shedding its gritty image, prices have gone up, threatening the same creative entrepreneurs that turned the city into the cultural hotspot it is today. "I don’t rule out the option of starting from scratch outside of the city. Maybe even abroad," he muses. For now, Culture Campsite will stay where it is—giving you a chance to experience it before it’s gone.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-23 17:26
Leaving New York City for the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, color connoisseurs Natalie and Caleb Ebel play up the historic details of their Silver Lake residence.
This was the first home that Natalie and Caleb Ebel looked at upon landing in Los Angeles with their daughter. In 2018, the couple founded Backdrop, a direct-to-consumer paint company with a curated palette of 51 colors in New York City—then followed that up with a cross-country move last year.
Natalie and Caleb immediately fell in love with the innate character of this 1920s-era Spanish-style home, which included such charming features as 100-year-old doors, textured stucco walls, lots of mosaic tiling, and a large outdoor living room. A neutral paint palette brings those details to the forefront, and creates the perfect setting for the couple’s kid-friendly furniture scheme and personal collections. We chatted with them about their approach.
Caleb: We lived in New York City for about a decade, and we love the city, but after having a child and realizing that the apartment didn’t feel so large anymore, that started us thinking, "Well, how do we make this work?" Desire for a change of scenery and better weather and a bit more space—all those things informed moving out to the West Coast.
We were really pleasantly surprised to find this little area of Los Angeles, in Silver Lake. The east side has a very Brooklyn feel, but with all of the Spanish-style architecture and weather that L.A. is great for. It was the best of both worlds. More and more folks that we know from New York are coming out this way, and we’re trying to encourage everyone we know to come out west.
Natalie: We landed in L.A. last July, and it was the very first place that we saw. I found it online, and the pictures did not do it justice at all. It was very confusing. All I saw was this beautiful foliage with the bougainvillea, and then there’s this big cactus in the photos. This outdoor space is amazing. I loved the original, 1920s Spanish architecture.
But I think what really sold me is [that] there are lot of quirks. The Spanish tile is gorgeous, the arches. I don’t know if you’ve seen any pictures of the original doors—they’re 100 years old. But there were just so many charming things, and I think some people couldn’t see opportunity, but Caleb and I really loved it.
Natalie: Other than painting, obviously, because painting is the easiest way to transform a space and in an affordable way. Even repainting some of the exterior doors, repainting the exterior, redoing the trim in here, and just a fresh coat of white paint, makes it look new. That is one of the first things that we did.
Caleb: Some people see signs of age as a detriment, but we see it as character. We enjoy that.
Natalie: I think it’s really something special to celebrate the original architecture, or the original lighting and the original doors, and not replace any of that. The chandelier is an original; it’s part of the home, and same with the Spanish-style doors with the carving and the stars. They’re just really beautiful. I think those little details are what made it special for us.
Natalie: We did it pretty fast because with the nature of our lives—we’re running a business, we have a three-year-old—there are enough hectic parts of our life. Getting it together was really important to me. We try not to overthink it, but also make sure that it’s a design that we like and flows with our lifestyle. We’re now spending more time in our home than ever, so it [needs to be] both beautiful and functional.
I do have white furniture, [and] a lot of people think I’m crazy. But our daughter, she knows. She’s like, "I don't go on the couch with my shoes." Scotchgard is our best friend. Our approach is to mix vintage, old and new, decorate with colorful accents, and then I really like a neutral backdrop. Our Supermoon color is throughout the house, and it’s a pure white. It doesn’t skew warm, doesn’t skew cold. It really just complements any decor that you put in the room.
Natalie: We deal with color so much in our jobs and in our day-to-day that I like having a neutral palette. Especially with the stucco walls and the plaster, the white just made sense for this space. Really, Supermoon was part of the impetus of starting Backdrop. I went to go paint my daughter's nursery when I was pregnant in 2016, and there are 300 whites, and there did not need to be 300 whites. I just bought a vintage rug from Morocco, and that took me seven days to get it, but painting her nursery took months because it was way too difficult.
I'm a big fan of white paint, and it's so easy to touch up. It's so easy to make a space look new. Complementing that with Dark Arts on the trim to highlight the architecture just felt like a no-brainer. We have such beautiful foliage and views that the Dark Arts trim really frames everything like a picture window.
Natalie: We do have Harajuku Morning in our bedroom, which is a light, peachy-pink color. The name was actually one of my favorites. We also have a playlist that goes along with it, but it was inspired by our trip to Tokyo and Harajuku neighborhood when I was pregnant.
I like pink in the bedroom, especially this light pink. It's warm enough, but it's also bright and cheerful. When the morning light comes in our bedroom, it just hits it and looks very beautiful. It's so subtle that it's not overwhelming.
Natalie: Especially during COVID, since we've been trapped at home, we've used the downstairs area [more]. I painted those walls so many times.
Right now, it's painted in Shy Boys, which is one of our newer colors, which is a true pink, and then Kismet. It's a dark Dutch green. I'm testing out colors all the time down there. I tested out Ghost Ranch with another color. We have one coming up that's getting ready to go up on the walls called Disco Nap, and it's a yellow color. I like it because we don't spend as much time in that area, so it's like a [makeshift] studio for us right now.
Natalie: That was so much fun. I think that in my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined that we would have basically an outdoor living room. But it came together before COVID, and I feel so grateful for that.
It was really important to celebrate the tiling, which I think is the hero of the space, and we did two parallel couches that are actually modular. You can pull them apart and move them around. We do movie nights out there and we project onto the wall. We really, I would say, spend more time out there in the summer than we do inside.
Natalie: I like to work from home, and Caleb goes to the office; he's literally the only one that's there right now. I work outside, too. It's really nice in the mornings to go sit on the sofa, listen to the birds, and send some emails, which was never a possibility when we lived in New York. We used to have two tiny windows on the Upper West Side, and we'd pop our head out, and that was the extent of our outdoor space. This is quite different than that.
More My House:
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-22 23:52
Near-zero interest rates may have the long-term effect of inflating home prices and setting up another financial crisis.
The interest rates set by the Federal Reserve Bank affect the price of housing and consumer goods in ways that dwarf actions by the U.S. Congress and the president. Low interest rates reduce mortgage costs, encourage home sales, stabilize or increase home values, and generally push the consumption of goods and services.
Compared to the relatively marginal grants and loans allocated by elected representatives to carry out public interest goals, the Fed’s actions are many times more powerful, mobilizing trillions of dollars in capital. Cutting borrowing costs lessens the impact of crises, but the consequences can be contradictory—and risky—in the long run, encouraging borrowing that depends on nonstop increases in prices and economic growth.
The Fed has set rates near zero twice during the last two decades in response to economic crises—first, during an extended period from 2008 to 2015 after the mortgage-backed securities collapse, and again this past March in response to the epic Wall Street crash at the start of the pandemic. In both cases, zero interest rates have been accompanied by "quantitative easing" on the part of the central bank, which essentially printed new cash to increase the money supply and encourage banks to continue lending. This time, officials expect interest rates to remain near zero through at least 2023.
During the last recession, the Fed purchased $3.83 trillion in assets (most of which was government debt in the form of bonds), and it has acquired another $2.7 trillion since March. Normally, this increase in the supply of dollars should decrease their value and increase inflation. But so far, the act has had only slightly weakened the dollar against the British pound. The dollar remains the world’s "reserve" currency: a safe haven considered stable and reliable as a place to store capital. That impression is reinforced by a high level of coordination with the European Central Bank, and by China’s desire to keep its currency low to maintain exports.
A long-term risk of low interest rates is that low borrowing costs artificially push up the real estate market over time in a way that adversely affects affordability compared to wages.
This was the result in 2008: Interest rates had dropped to less than 1% in 2003 to recover from the dot-com bubble (and subsequent crash) and the 2001 recession. Asset prices climbed, leading to the famous "irrational exuberance" of the mid-2000s stock market. Once the lending rates returned to a more normal level, it resulted in massive defaults and foreclosures on the part of over-leveraged property owners unable to withstand increases in monthly payments.
"Obviously, there is somewhat of a tension between one group seeking for housing to be affordable, which means low prices, and another group seeking continuing investment return, which requires not just high prices but continually increasing prices," says Peter Gowan, policy associate at the policy and advocacy organization The Democracy Collaborative. "I’m not very sympathetic to the idea that the primary purpose of housing—and the primary purpose of what public policy should do in regard to housing—should be to deliver investment returns to people over time."
Increases in home prices also tend to increase homelessness, especially in major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where inflationary property values encourage development and create an incentive for rental property owners to not renew leases, renovate, and sell at the current market rate. Tenants looking for new apartments in tight housing markets with low vacancy rates may find prices for available apartments have doubled at the new market level. In 2019, the U.S. had more than 500,000 people in shelters or on the street, and schools reported more than 1.3 million homeless students.
"I don’t think that we can—or necessarily should—stop the market building housing right now: I wouldn’t go as far as that at all," says Gowan, who mentions social housing, limited equity co-ops, and community land trusts as models that can be scaled up and given more access to capital through public financing and public banking.
"But I do think we need to stop our overwhelming reliance on leveraging private capital for our entire housing stock," he continues. "It’s not going to be sustainable for us in the long run. It’s always going to prioritize profits over other social motives. To the extent that we can get them to do anything else, it’s always going to be through the government subsidizing it, which brings us back to the question: Can we do it in a more controlled and scalable way by having the government build up its capacity to do these things?"
Low-interest mortgages also affect the liquidity of housing for city dwellers considering moving within the city, to the suburbs, or into the country. High prices encourage borrowers to take out larger loans relative to home values and their own income, making it more difficult to sell property when substantial decreases in sales and prices are occurring in some markets.
Some economists argue there should be constraints on credit markets limiting loan-to-value and price-to-income ratios for borrowers, but that would also prevent low-income households from having access to credit. Taxing second and third homes at much higher rates would also reduce speculation. In New York City, they still do the opposite, offering significantly reduced taxes to non-primary residences—a legacy of the 1970s-era policies meant to stimulate investment which has only encouraged extreme bets on ever-increasing prices by anonymous limited liability corporations and international buyers.
"Home is not meant to be a speculative financial asset—it’s supposed to be something that we fundamentally live in, and everybody should have a right to that," says Frank van Lerven, senior economist at the London-based New Economics Foundation. He points out that the Federal Reserve could easily lend substantial sums to public banks—the money could be used to fund social housing and other infrastructure, and the debt could then be sold to the private sector, just like other government debt, to reduce risk.
"Home is not meant to be a speculative financial asset—it’s supposed to be something that we fundamentally live in, and everybody should have a right to that."
—Frank van Lerven, New Economics Foundation
"You can still make the case also that you don’t need these different quantitative easings, but interest rates are fundamentally low, and in a low-interest-rate environment, the government could borrow to build new homes if it wanted to and invest much more through that route," he says. "The government has access to extreme low interest rates, where an individual perhaps doesn’t. The government might be better placed to help pass the low interest rate that it has access to onto those with underprivileged backgrounds by using its borrowing power to sell at a lower rate—or just rent."
In Manhattan, housing sales have dropped 54% and median prices have fallen 17.7% since the pandemic started—the largest drop in 30 years. After a steep fall in the spring, San Francisco sales and prices recovered this summer, and Los Angeles prices are also up slightly across the region from the same time last year after a drop in the spring.
In Houston, so-called "pandemic buyers" are reportedly searching for new homes after experiencing less-than-ideal quarantine conditions—the city recorded an 18.3% sales increase in June compared to last year, and a 3.6% increase in prices. Denver set price records in July, with a 12.5% growth in sales and a 9.9% increase in values since this time last year. Meanwhile, Detroit had a 4.6% increase in prices across the metro area—but a 27% year-on-year decrease in sales.
With 30 million Americans out of work, and the U.S. economy having declined by 5.9%, low interest rates may be only putting off an inevitable decline in home values. Unemployed workers may marginally keep up with payments while receiving jobless benefits, but uncertainty remains over what will happen with the lapse in benefits as personal savings run out.
Low interest rates may be only putting off an inevitable decline in home values.
Until recently, there had been a nationwide eviction moratorium, but evictions reportedly returned in August during a lapse in congressional action, and the recent executive order will be uneven in its effects. The pandemic is likely to drag into a second year, and many economists doubt hiring will rebound to the same level.
If Congress takes other actions to prevent foreclosures, such as cancelling payments owed to banks during the health emergency, it may prevent lenders from seizing homes, home prices from falling, and abandonment due to underwater mortgages. But if a crash in securities again freezes the monetary system, Congress and the Fed may well follow the script from the subprime loan crisis, capitalize the banks, and let homeowners take the losses.