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Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-18 16:18
Designed with a muted color palette, Casa Verónica effortlessly adds an earthy touch to its urban surroundings.
Location: Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico
Architect: REA Studio
Footprint: 2,396 square feet
From the Architect: "Keeping in mind the financial needs of our clients, the developers, we began to implement strategies concerning the local and international markets, given the home’s location in one of the most attractive areas in Mexico for real estate investment in recent years.
"The result is a quiet façade that only shows you little of what is going on inside: construction techniques dominated by local labor, a social area without programmatic boundaries adapting to the needs of the people who live there, and the constant promotion of coexistence among inhabitants. Casa Verónica is an embodiment of warmth, intimacy, and coexistence, a timeless structure that seeks to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-18 15:32
Check out these plunge-ready oases from Joshua Tree to Los Cabos.
It’s getting hotter out there. This summer alone, temperatures reached record-breaking highs all over the country—the world, even. On days when it’s too hot to crack a window and the air conditioning won’t cut it, a cool body of water is the cure. Here, find 10 homes in hot places with highly covetable pools.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-18 15:04
The official celebration is Saturday, but the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in L.A. is welcoming visitors again.
After a two-year closure brought on by the pandemic, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is open to visitors. One of eight designs by Wright in Los Angeles, it’s his first for the city, built between 1919 and 1921 for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. It’s also L.A.’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site, a title the home earned in 2019.
Returning guests to East Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park, where the landmark home is located, will notice some improvements. During its closure, the home underwent a number of conservation projects, including the restoration of its art-glass balcony doors and bas-relief fireplace, which brings together classical elements of earth, air, fire and water.
The home’s guest house, known as Residence A, also saw a significant restoration, from its exterior stone to its cantilevered balcony.
The home’s previous restoration in 2014 focused on repairing structural elements like a leaky roof, and addressing deferred maintenance of its fenestration and wood detailing.
Self-guided tours start August 18 and run weekly Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To celebrate the reopening, the home is throwing a lawn party this Saturday, hosted by the City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and city councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.
The community event also marks the long-awaited reopening of the DCA’s other facilities in Barnsdall Park, including the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.
Advance tickets can be purchased through the home’s website.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-17 21:17
Shannon Maldonado, the founder of Philly shop Yowie, tells all about the TV show she’s pitching to inspire your next big idea.
Charisma is something you either have, or you don’t. And Shannon Maldonado has it. Fans and followers of the Philadelphia native’s boutique design shop, Yowie, will be familiar with her magnetic charm and candor through the announcements she posts to Instagram, or IRL visits to the storefront and pop-ups she’s hosted across the city. (Add eloquence to her list of talents, a skill learned in a past life in corporate fashion presenting to executives, she says). Safe to say, there’s no camera-shyness here. But only recently did she decide to broadcast her on-screen confidence through more traditional channels.
In July, Maldonado, ever the entrepreneur, announced the concept for Small Enough, a television series that peels back the curtain on small businesses and their creators to expose what they’re building, and how they’re doing it. The pilot paints an exciting picture of Philly’s self-starter scene. We meet Lindsey Scannapieco, an urban developer focused on unconventional adaptive reuse projects with her company, Scout, who tells us about the time she used a kiddie pool to keep beer cold for an event. After a refreshingly candid chat, Maldonado takes us on a field trip to meet with her (very funny) contractor at a historic building she’s turning into an 11-room hotel. She’ll be the first to tell you that she’s just figuring it out as she goes.
"So many small-business owners that I talk to, we’re all like, ‘Oh my god, we don’t know what we’re doing,’" she says. "When you’re running a small business, 100 percent of it is learned on the job."
The show, in fact, didn’t even start as a show. Maldonado was talking with a good friend, Nathan Nedorostek, about how to grow her brand during the pandemic, and the two ended up creating a pitch deck for a series of Instagram clips that would track her moves—a "how it started, how it’s going" kinda thing. It’d be a way to create content while providing anyone at earlier stages of a start-up with a blueprint to finding their way in the small-biz world.
But Yowie was founded with a spirit of collaboration—the store showcases local designers with a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats approach—and Maldonado has always sought to uplift the artists and makers that surround her. At one point, her web shop even had a button called "Life Advice" that invited people to ask whatever was on their minds; oftentimes they wanted to know how to start and run a small business.
All of this led her and Nedorostek to a different idea: Maldonado as host of a series wherein she meets other budding and experienced entrepreneurs at eye level. Nedorostek would executive produce alongside another friend, Sean Sullivan, who wrote the script and music for the pilot.
"I started to feel strongly about that idea," says Maldonado. "I wanted to find commonalities across the board with other creatives, but also learn about what they’re doing differently. That’s a big part of what we hope to discover in the series."
There isn’t one to speak of—at least not yet. But if the pilot for Small Enough is any indication, an entire season—or several, if we dare to dream—could serve as a trove of inspiration and information that quashes doubt and disbelief in the hearts of anyone interested in starting a small business. Five years ago, that was Maldonado, Yowie but a twinkle in her eye.
At the end of the pilot, Maldonado bids us farewell as a bus approaches (she doesn’t drive, and doesn’t seem to want to). But instead of pulling over, the bus just cruises on by and leaves her on the sidewalk to figure out what’s next. Lucky for Maldonado, it’s a skill she’s been developing for most of her life.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-17 17:29
Turn-of-the-century details meet next-gen technologies in this charming dwelling designed to produce more energy than it consumes.
Location: 2654 Fernwood Road, Victoria, British Columbia
Year Built: 1912
Footprint: 2,084 square feet (three bedrooms, two baths)
From the agent: "Built in 1912, 2654 Fernwood Road is an anomaly. The home reimagined by Scott & Scott Architects of Vancouver received a complete net-zero retrofit by Frontera Homes. This is an all-electric home. All of the mechanical systems, insulation, roof, windows, plumbing, electrical service, and wiring are new, including a dual-zone Mitsubishi heat pump, Rheem heat pump water heater, Zender HRV, Stûv low-emission wood stove, Veridian solar panel system, and triple-pane Loewen windows. The house generates 110% of the power it uses—putting energy back into the grid."
2654 Fernwood Road in Victoria, British Columbia, is currently listed for $1,850,000 by Richard G. Acomba M Ed.
Read more about the home’s history , renovation, and performance on the property’s website.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-17 17:11
Architect Olivier Lekien tears down a wall to expose the wood structure—and join the interiors—of a historic residence in the 11th arrondissement.
The 1,109-square-foot apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris held a warren of dark, dated, and awkward rooms—until architect Olivier Lekien transformed it into an open and sunny space filled with warm architectural details.
Lekien’s client, a professional in his 30s, was drawn to the apartment for its locale. "The 11th arrondissement is a lively neighborhood known for its bar and restaurant scene," the architect says. "Rue Amelot is one of the area’s hidden gems, running from the Place de la République to the Bastille district—it’s dotted with eclectic shops, cafés, boutiques, and some of the best bistros on the Right Bank."
The building that holds the apartment is as compelling as the neighborhood. "The entry is distinguished by a sculpted stone frieze atop a monumental wood door," Lekien says. "The building dates from 1778, and along with the Cirque d’Hiver, is one of two remaining historic monuments in the area. It was constructed as part of the late 18th-century urban planning project known as the Nouvelle Ville d’Angoulême."
One of the building’s more impressive features is a circular street-level courtyard that was once a stable. "The form of the courtyard gives each apartment a unique character," Lekien says.
When Lekien first laid eyes on the apartment’s interior, he saw that it, too, had a unique character—despite its dated qualities. "The wood floors had a very dark varnish, and outdated carpeting covered the bedroom floors," he says. "The wall surfaces had not been cared for or repainted, and had acquired a yellow tint—but it was easy to see the residence’s potential."
The architect was also struck by the space’s impressive system of structural wood beams, its high ceilings, the stone facade, and a curved wall created by the circular courtyard.
Lekien knew instantly that he wanted his redesign to incorporate the curved wall and the structural wood beams and columns. "The client wanted to maintain these things, too," he says. "It was important that we reveal the unit’s historical features, but in a way that interacted seamlessly with contemporary fixtures and finishes that also appealed to the client."
The architect began his redesign by swapping the locations of the kitchen and one of the bedrooms, and removing the wall material that covered some of the structural wood beams and columns. The design move opened up the floor plan and flooded the kitchen, dining area, and living room with sunlight.
"We achieved a greater sense of space by revealing the wood framework located between the living room and the new kitchen/dining area," Lekien says. "The visible wood structure is not perceived as a wall, which creates the impression of one large space versus separate rooms. The new, open configuration also maximizes daylight."
The new custom kitchen runs along the curved wall, which the architect maintained. "The previous floor plan didn’t use the curved wall to its advantage or highlight its unique character," Lekien explains. "In the new configuration, not only is the wooden framework revealed, but the interior now has a relationship to the building—the resident can appreciate the courtyard’s circular form and be reminded of the way it informs the apartment."
Lekien also added a bathroom, a walk-in closet for one of the bedrooms, and a mezzanine for storage. He selected polished parquet flooring and finished some of the walls with plaster. The kitchen features MDF cabinetry with oak joinery, and the bathrooms are outfitted with polished concrete floors, oak shelving, and a waxed concrete vanity. "There were stone walls and a coffered ceiling that were in good shape, so we left those intact," Lekien says. "We also restored the existing crown moldings."
Lekien’s goal for the redesign of the apartment was to enhance its existing architectural qualities and historic features that had been previously ignored or covered up. He also sought to pay tribute to the apartment’s lively context by creating contemporary counterpoints. "The design showcases the wood structural framework, and the new custom kitchen highlights the curved wall and the courtyard just outside," he says. "At the same time, the polished concrete, wood joinery, and light wood details are subtle but identifiable elements of the new. They inject a youthful touch, which is in line with the identity of the neighborhood."
Builder: BGS Construction
Structural Engineer: Quartique
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-17 16:45
Known for designing college buildings, Earl Flansburgh experimented with a courtyard plan in the making of his modernist home.
Location: Lincoln, Massachusetts
Architect: Earl R. Flansburgh
Footprint: 2,382 square feet
From the Homeowner: "Earl Flansburgh was a modernist architect in the Boston area for nearly half a century. Throughout his career, he advocated for his profession, serving as the president of Boston Society of Architects in the early ’80s.
"Flansburgh + Associates primarily designed institutional buildings, such as the Boston College Library (1997) and the subterranean Cornell University Campus Store (1971). Mr. Flansburgh rarely took on residential clients, however in 1963 he designed a home for his own family which came to be known as the Flansburgh House.
"Built in Lincoln, Massachusetts, within a wooded area, the home features a courtyard surrounded by interior windows which beckon the outdoors into every area of the house. Today, the all-white structure is highlighted by striking yellow bands that run along the vertical side of the windows.
"The home’s floor plan was featured in a 1966 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, offering a glimpse into Flansburgh’s architectural approach: He placed bedrooms and bathrooms on one side of the home, and living areas and the kitchen on the other. Connecting the two is the home’s entrance, courtyard, as well as a playroom area for he and his wife Polly’s two young children.
"Inside, the home features architectural curiosities that still resonate today: An accordion wall can transform the open entryway into a private space with courtyard views. Another stand-out design element is a curved wall that contains a hidden closet. The most surprising architectural detail, however, is the home’s underground tunnel leading to the garage, which was added in 1967.
"Although Flansburgh died in 2009, Polly subsequently secured an easement that ensures the house cannot be demolished or significantly altered."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-17 15:40
Joe Bone of the Chicago-based firm LBBA believes that working with what’s been left behind can pave the way for the future.
In the war of words, policies and proposals aimed at solving America’s ongoing housing crisis, much of the fighting has centered around the all-important Development Question: whether new construction alone can bring down prices, or whether aggressive regulation is needed to control costs. Somewhat neglected in all the back and forth is a slight yet essential twist on the first option—whether existing buildings, ones already standing but un- or under-utilized, can be effectively transformed into residences, adding more units to the market without the ecological and social disruptions of building anew.
Enter Chicago firm Landon Bone Baker Architects (LBBA). Since its debut in the late 1980s, the office has made a specialty of affordable housing, designing dozens of multifamily projects around the Midwest; in the last decade, their portfolio has included not just ground-up buildings but an impressive list of adaptive reuse commissions, taking everything from abandoned hotels to decommissioned schools and reinventing them as subsidized homes for people with low incomes.
A fixture at LBBA from the beginning, and a named principal there since 1998, Jeff Bone has been a key player in the firm’s turn to the adaptive housing model, proving again and again how creative thinking and resourceful design can produce quality homes in the unlikeliest of places. It isn’t always easy, but as the architect tells Dwell, the approach represents a critical weapon in the affordability arsenal.
A big question! Like many cities, we’re experiencing huge gaps in affordable housing. The gaps appear across the whole spectrum of affordability, from very low-income people who might qualify for public housing, up through workforce housing, to families, even for the kind of people who work in our office—there’s a need for more affordable housing across the board. All these needs have been increasing even as the high-end housing in the city has gone through the roof.
The good news is that Chicago has a richness of nonprofits who provide supportive services and build affordable projects. We have a lot of repeat clients that we’ve been working with for many years, and the current mayoral administration really has focused on the issue, as for example, with its Invest Southwest program, which is focusing on underserved neighborhoods and on the West and South Side, providing not only low-cost housing but entire mixed-use environments, like having a library under an apartment building. There’s a lot of innovation right now happening around these projects, and you’re seeing a lot of cool things.
I think the one that really first got us charged up and excited about adaptive reuse was back in 1993, when we did a teenage shelter for [Chicago area non-profit] the Night Ministry. For that project, we took an old Victorian "six-flat," which was vacant, and inserted a 16 bed shelter with a community kitchen, semi-private bunks, built-in furniture, and consulting areas on the ground floor. It was then that we realized, Hey, you could take a lot of these old Chicago background buildings that are truly the fabric of the city and you could breathe new life into them.
In the years after that, you started seeing a lot of affordable developers and non-profits on the lookout for existing buildings, thinking of new uses for them. There were obvious advantages: Chicago is a brick city, the buildings are solid—it’s a great palette to start with. Of course, at the beginning, a lot of those buildings were also more affordable to purchase.
There’s challenges all the way through—interesting challenges, but tough ones. A lot of it has to do with updating the systems in the buildings, how to distribute new wiring and plumbing and mechanicals, all without disrupting the historic structure. We’re usually following some sort of sustainability metric, and that means adding insulation, new power plants, everything. We work with contractors early on to do investigative work, poke around, selectively deconstruct portions of the structures to understand how they’re built and make sure we make the right moves. It’s a balancing act, and you have to do it while keeping an eye on costs. From that perspective it’s much easier to build a new building: there’s so many fewer unknowns, which makes cost control so much easier to do. Naturally many developers find that more attractive.
Ultimately, you need the right building and the right backing. Take our 37th St. School project, which we finished last year in Milwaukee. We started with a 1911 brick schoolhouse, right in the middle of a working-class neighborhood. What we’ve found is that schools are very well suited to reuse as housing: the depth is very easily translated into units, you have wide hallways for social interaction, and at 37th St. we were able to turn the gym into exercise and community spaces. Working with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, we were then able to secure not just Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, but also tax credits for historic buildings, since the school was on the national registry. So you need a bunch of things to come together—but when they do, the outcome is definitely more than the sum of its parts.
In 2019, we completed Harvest Commons, a conversion of a beautiful Art Deco hotel from the late 1920s [on the West Side of Chicago] that had been empty for over a decade. I was walking down the street shortly after it opened, and a man said to me, "This building is like Rip Van Winkle! It was asleep, and now it’s waking up." That’s the power of adaptive reuse housing projects, the way they can breathe life back into a neighborhood. Their effects go so much further than the property line.
Top photo of the interior of the Marshall SRO project in Chicago by Mark Ballogg.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-17 13:28
The brand director of the upscale all-natural detergent brand shares how to live your best clean life.
Hannah Yokoji, brand director at detergent brand The Laundress, is all about investing in quality products. It’s part of the reason why she’s stayed at The Laundress for over six years, having started at the company as an intern; she believes in and is unwaveringly passionate about the products, which are all formulated from plant-derived, biodegradable, and allergen-free ingredients. When I ask her what sets The Laundress apart from other cleaning brands in the market, Yokoji tells me the team is dedicated to "exceptional fabric care," a surprising twist of an answer since I was expecting her to mention something along the lines of soaping technology or cleaning innovations. To be certain, The Laundress is all those things and more, but the emphasis has always been on fabric care and education so that customers could make empowered decisions when it comes to keeping their clothes fresh while being as gentle on the earth as possible (hat tip: sign up for The Laundress newsletters, which are always chock full of cleaning tips).
"Even prior to working at The Laundress I was really into special clothing that were vintage or thrifted that I didn't trust in the washing machine, especially at the laundromat where you have less control over the cycle," says Yokoji. "So I would typically hand wash them in my bathroom and hang them to drip-dry in the bathtub. Laundering by hand has always been a relaxing experience for me because I felt like I was taking the best care of my pieces so they last."
The Laundress, as it turns out, was fitting for Yokoji who became obsessed with how to preserve and extend the lives of beloved threads. With access to the best-in-class detergent products and the knowledge of how to use them, it wasn’t long before Yokoji began to outfit her own laundry room with the most efficient items — a space-saving trash bin, a fashion industry-standard steamer, a squishy-on-the-feet mat, to name a few — that best suit her NYC apartment. It all goes back to investing in quality products.
"I know not everyone enjoys doing laundry, but you can find joy in taking care of something, right? And there are things that you can do to personalize and liven up your laundry space and make it functional and beautiful. So that has generally been my approach," Yokoji says of some of her favorite laundry-related items. "Whether it’s a waste bin or [installing better] lighting, there are little touches you can make to ease your routine and make laundry feel less like an overwhelming, daunting chore. It doesn't have to be the most expensive item, but as long as it's functional and works for you, then that's ultimately the goal."
"A cushioned floor mat is an easy way to bring some personality to a laundry room and bring the space together. It also helps reduce standing fatigue when sorting, pretreating stains, and folding laundry."
"It’s easier to enjoy doing laundry when your space is tidy. Keeping a nice trash bin nearby is convenient for emptying pockets, cutting off tags, and discarding packaging. This sleek trash can has a wide opening for regularly cleaning out dryer lint, and doubles as a small tabletop for keeping fabric care tools handy."
"New York City living means I don’t have the luxury of an in-unit washer and dryer, so this sturdy triple divider hamper on wheels is a godsend for sorting and rolling my family’s laundry to the basement. Having an efficient workspace is also crucial, and this one features a removable wooden lid that can be used as a folding table, side table, or extra surface to maximize space."
"The high heat and agitation from tumble drying can lead to shrinkage, fading, and weakening of fabrics so I air dry whenever possible to preserve my garments. This sturdy folding rack stashes easily in a closet, and I particularly like the lay-flat mesh shelf for sweaters."
"This is the perfect introduction to expert garment care, with fabric-specific solutions to properly clean and preserve a variety of laundry loads—from everyday cotton, linen, and activewear to ‘dry clean only’ silk and cashmere. The thoughtfully-designed bottles are also a quick way to spruce up your space—you won’t mind leaving them out on display."
"There’s a reason the Jiffy steamer is part of any fashion industry toolkit–it’s a professional grade investment that will last. Steaming provides the safest finish for garments, quickly releasing wrinkles for a smooth finish. I frequently use the convenient garment hook to hang outfits for the day ahead, and the large water tank means fewer refills. Goodbye ironing!"
"These mesh bags are designed with a covered zipper flap for protection along with a gusset bottom for extra movement while machine washing. They’re perfect for protecting delicates and knits in the wash, and for corralling small items like socks and underwear (no more soggy socks found wedged in the door seal). I also use them to prevent items like delicate tops and high-end jeans from accidentally going in the dryer with the rest of my load."
"The Aera allows me to enjoy my favorite Laundress scents beyond the laundry room and into the rest of my home. Its unique diffusion technology evenly releases top, middle, and base notes all at once for a comprehensive scent experience. I keep the No. 723 capsule running at the entrance of my apartment for a welcoming freshness that helps inspire me to do my laundry."
"Towels are a laundry staple. The short, yet absorbent, pile of these plush organic towels helps expedite drying while minimizing lint transfer. I use them to absorb water from cashmere and other fine knits that can’t be tumble dried or hung. After washing, lay the item flat on a clean towel with the item in its original shape, and roll it up in the towel (like a sleeping bag) to remove excess water. Then, lay flat in its original shape to dry."
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Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-16 22:18
Real estate guru and designer Rob Diaz blends Alaskan white cedar, high-end finishes, and earthy decor for a home as hygge as it is beachy.
Houses We Love: Every day we feature a remarkable space submitted by our community of architects, designers, builders, and homeowners.
Location: Los Angeles, California
From the Architect: "Rob Diaz's latest project is a gorgeous new construction home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Rob and his team constructed the four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom home entirely out of Alaskan white cedar and infused the space with high-end materials and designer lighting. It’s truly a masterpiece.
"The 3,171-square-foot, "Scandifornian"-style home beautifully marries Scandinavian hygge with California modernism with its use of natural materials, neutral and earthy palette, and modern accessories and furnishings. The expansive kitchen features Corchia marble countertops, Wolf and Thermador appliances, Watermark plumbing fixtures, custom oak cabinetry, and pocket doors leading out to the impressive outdoor space. The primary suite is a homeowner’s oasis with its sleek wood paneling, oversized walk-in closet, bath with soaking tub, and open-air deck with incredible views of the Griffith Observatory.
"The lush exterior of the home has new drought tolerant landscaping, which was meticulously planned with Filetti limestone paving stones, raised planters, and mature Manzanilla olive trees. The stunning pool area features a wraparound teak deck with plenty of space for entertaining and a long black bottom pool with spa."
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Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-16 19:47
Originally built in 1986 by local architect Robert Thompson, the house now sports an elegant revamp by Bright Designlab.
Location: 2725 SW Sherwood Drive, Portland, Oregon
Architect: Robert Thompson, TVA Architects
Year Built: 1986
Footprint: 3,922 square feet (four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths)
Lot Size: 0.25 acres
From the agent: "An icon of ’80s modern architecture, this 1986 home in Portland Heights was originally designed by celebrated Portland architect Robert Thompson, founding principal of TVA Architects. The original home was composed of elegant, understated geometric forms featuring high ceilings, sweeping glass block walls and dramatic walls of glass that frame strategic views of the quiet, tree-filled Marquam Nature Park abutting the south property line. The house received an artful remodel in 2020 from the well-regarded Portland Interiors firm Bright Designlab, who seamlessly picked up where the original architecture left off, instilling a repeating motif of modern curves, custom details, and smart function, making this a true one-of-a-kind home."
2725 SW Sherwood Drive in Portland, Oregon, is currently listed for $1,885,000 by Jeff Weithman of RealEstateThroughDesign.com / (W)here.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-15 22:20
Architect Miguel de la Torre uses lattices and circular perforations to give a sense of lightness to the monolithic multiunit complex.
Houses We Love: Every day we feature a remarkable space submitted by our community of architects, designers, builders, and homeowners.
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Photographer: Jaime Navarro / @jaimenavarrophotography
From the Architect: "Real de los Reyes is a group of houses located in the Coyoacan borough, south Mexico City. The area is full of recreational places for everyday life, from outdoor cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and ice cream parlors to tree-lined and cobblestone streets. Real de los Reyes is a complex of 13 houses, each 320 meters square and distributed over three levels, with ample parking, a roof garden, and patio.
"Real de los Reyes offers luxury and comfort for its inhabitants through its spacious plan, security system, and thoughtful architectural finishes. These features allow the homes to adapt to different lifestyles, families, and individuals. The versatile interior spaces are designed to meet the needs of daily life, and they offer the possibility of customizing the finishes.
"The facade is made of orange pigmented concrete with a lattice with circular perforations that create a feeling of lightness and allow discrete connection with the outside. The characteristic color of the construction makes it a focus of attention when passing through the area."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-15 20:32
Rather than building up, Mitsuori Architects digs deep to give a Victorian terrace house a subterranean extension.
"This renovation and extension focused on bringing two families together," says Mitsuori Architects cofounder Matthew Murfutt about his studio’s latest project. "Our client wanted this to be a place that represented a new start, and fostered a sense of identity and belonging."
The clients’ existing home, a modest freestanding Victorian-era terrace located in the Melbourne inner suburb of Northcote, sits amongst an eclectic mix of heritage homes. "Our clients’ key aim was to extend the house to accommodate a large family, but at the same time they wanted to minimize the impact of new building elements on the wonderful sense of openness in their back garden and the surrounding properties," says Murfutt.
With this in mind, Murfutt sought to avoid the visual bulk associated with adding a typical two-story extension at the rear of the existing building. "This approach led us to go down instead of up, resulting in the creation of interesting spaces that better responded to the needs and aspirations of the occupants," he says.
Suffice it to say, this decision generated numerous construction challenges. The clients, one of whom is a commercial builder, were not deterred, and they requested that Mitsuori explore all manner of construction methods to achieve their goals.
"Because we wanted to exaggerate the experience of descending the stair, it was designed to cut through the existing foundations, revealing a section of the wall above and below the ground—and this presented definite buildability challenges," explains Murfutt. "These were ultimately overcome with structural engineering and construction methodology not typically used in small residential alterations."
The other fundamental challenge was to create thoughtful transitions between the heritage and contemporary areas of the house. "It was important to us that the new addition reflected the functional and spatial qualities valued by the family, but also celebrated the transition between old and new," explains Murfutt. "The result is a light-filled pavilion that bridges the existing heritage home and garden with more private subterranean bedrooms areas below."
The glass roof accentuates this transition by revealing the raw existing building fabric both above and below ground level. "The junction between old and new is treated as an unequivocal transition point in the building, and the two appear not to touch," Murfutt adds.
From a planning perspective, the house is neatly divided into public and private with the main kitchen and dining space forming the communal heart of the home on the upper level. Positioning the bedrooms downstairs provided the architects with more freedom to manipulate the roof above the living areas, within the bounds of the relatively tight urban site.
"We could freely sculpt the building envelope to create the angular ceiling form, and bring in an abundance of natural light to provide necessary sun shading without the need for active shading devices," says Murfutt. In contrast, a separate lounge, designed as a cozy, conversational space is tucked into the existing heritage house, separated from the noise of the main living zone.
The lower level holds a suite of private spaces positioned and designed to respond to different needs. The children’s rooms are located in two separate zones designed to respond to their ages—playful mezzanine bedrooms in one zone, and secluded garden rooms at the other.
"The program was developed closely with our client to create spaces that would help bring the family together, and that could be flexibly inhabited in different ways," says Murfutt. The considerable exposed thermal mass, and the subterranean nature of the lower-level rooms also enables passive thermal regulation of the spaces.
A simple, natural material palette of concrete, steel, glass, and plywood accentuates the striking architecture while adding warmth and a tactile quality to the interiors. "The configuration of spaces, relationship of rooms to one another, and the intangible qualities of spaces became our primary focus," concludes Murfutt.
Civil Engineer: Structural Edge
Landscape Design: Andrew Plant Landscape Architects
Interior Design: Mitsuori Architects
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-15 19:47
Perched on a tiered lot in Pasadena, the $6.8M residence makes a splash with a resort-like backyard.
Location: 561 Woodland Road, Pasadena, California
Year Built: 2009
Footprint: 5,810 square feet (five bedrooms, six baths)
Lot Size: 20,567 square feet
From the agent: "Located in Pasadena’s prestigious Oak Knoll area, this thoughtfully designed contemporary home is the perfect venue for large-scale entertaining. Step into the light-infused living room with 22-foot vaulted ceilings that extend seamlessly into the private backyard. The space flows into the grand dining room with a dual-sided fireplace and spills into the gourmet kitchen with a 17-foot marble waterfall island and Sub-Zero/Viking appliances. Newly updated efficiency features include: drought-tolerant landscaping with drip system, a tankless water heater, whole house solar power, tinted windows/skylights, and LED lighting."
561 Woodland Road in Pasadena, California, is currently listed for $6,800,000 by Michelle Luczyski and Derek Luczyski of DPP Real Estate.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-15 13:32
Crisp, soft, waffled, and stitched—the brand’s new sheets, duvets, coverlets, and quilts give us all the feels.
Blu Dot is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a blast as it rolls out its very first complete line of bedding. To create the collection, the Minneapolis-based brand teamed up with a family-owned factory in Portugal that specializes in cotton and linen—and the resulting soft goods are imbued with saturated hues and texture galore.
Fans of the brand will find a familiar cast of punchy colors—including mustard, tomato, loden, and gray blue—as well as soothing neutrals and a smattering of patterned weaves. The palette is carefully considered—you’d be hard pressed to pair two hues that clash, which helps take the guesswork out of dressing the bed.
In terms of handfeel, the Egyptian cotton percale sheets are crisp and cool, while the stonewashed linen sets have a variegated texture and a cozy softness straight off the shelf. The toppings steal the show, however, with richly textured weaves that widely in weight and depth.
Standout pieces include the wavy Ripple coverlet, the waffle-woven Cascade duvet, the squared-stitched Ester quilt, the puffy Popple duvet, and the hefty Rainy linen throw.
At $125 to $325, the pieces are competitively priced compared to Parachute, Brooklinen, and other high-end bedding companies—and all of the sets come with pillowcases or shams, so you may even get more bang for your buck.
With a strong palette and a range of textures, the collection layers on variety and versatility. If you’re feeling monochromatic, you could dress your bed in textural twists on a single color, and it’d never feel boring. And yes, you could also match your bedding to your Blu Dot chair or dresser, if you so desire.
You can peruse the full line of bedding on bludot.com, or by scrolling on to see our favorites.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-12 18:23
An infinity pool with spa, home theater, and stunning views make this home a modern sanctuary.
Discretely sited with coveted views, this private mountain sanctuary was curated with a nod to different locales around the globe. A bold, light-filled living space with sleek steel and wood blends seamlessly with the outdoor living areas to create a connection to the wooded panoramas.
The main-level primary wing serves as an expansive retreat. Descend the stairs or use the elevator to the lower level where there's a Parisian-inspired bar with booth seating and a theater/lounge room that opens to an outdoor living area. Outside, find an infinity pool with spa and firepit.
Baths: 7 full, 2 partial
Year Built: 2009
Square Feet: 12,040
Plot Size: 26.73 acres
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-12 17:35
A renovation by Benjamin Hale Architects presents “a template for bringing Cardiff houses into the 21st century.”
Just as their American and Australian counterparts flock to New York or Melbourne to start careers, freshly minted architects in the United Kingdom often head to London to earn their bona fides. Yet many of these young professionals eventually realize that the day-to-day business of a global city isn’t quite as glamorous as advertised.
For the Welsh-German architect Benjamin Hale, the realization that London architects, "rather than looking farther afield [for inspiration], were looking over each other’s shoulders," compelled him to open his own practice in both the British capital as well as his hometown of Cardiff, Wales, where he felt he could exercise his creative license more unselfconsciously.
At the start of the pandemic, as Hale began setting up his eponymous studio in Cardiff, homeowners Myfanwy and Tom Shorey were just finishing six years of saving for a ground-floor renovation in the city’s Roath neighborhood. Constructed in 1899 and largely original in condition, the Shoreys’ Victorian row house steps down from three floors facing the street to a single-story utility room in the back and has an L-shaped footprint.
Because a previous owner had modernized the rearward kitchen without altering the building’s overall layout, "everything was in the wrong place," Myfanwy, who manages a local art gallery, recalls of the deep, warren-like plan. "I had a vision of balancing what I needed and being sympathetic to the house."
Tom adds that that vision is not commonplace for Cardiff. "People are buying three walls and opening up the rear, and they tend to stick on glass boxes," says the travel entrepreneur. (He and Myfanwy also recently cofounded Hunant, which produces fitted bedsheets patterned on traditional Welsh tapestry blankets.)
When the couple discovered Hale via Instagram, they felt instantly connected to his attitude toward historic homes. "Rather than knock something down and start again, I think you get a lot more interesting architectural language when you heal a building," says the architect.
The Shoreys then learned that Hale had recently settled around the corner, so Tom picked up the phone in October 2020. "I thought that, before we do anything, we should check that chemistry and make sure we weren’t going to be treated like a number," he explains. Hale shared that he had also come back to Cardiff to enjoy hands-on participation in projects, and the husband and wife were sold. The trio drew and redrew the renovation in earnest through the holiday season.
Over the six years that the Shoreys had owned the row house, Myfanwy had been keeping notes about potential reconfigurations of the 1,200-square-foot ground floor. Hale confirmed and built upon the field research, noting, "Even with a limited budget, we could make surgical moves that opened up the house."
The architect left the historic front parlor and adjacent dining room relatively untouched, yet in the middle of the building he combined the kitchen and the rear parlor into a generous space that has multiple zones for food prep, gathering, and individual retreat. By converting a garden conservatory room into a slightly longer volume that could accommodate circulation as well as sink-integrated cabinetry, Hale created a pair of routes from front to back: one straight line between the street-facing entrance to the kitchen, as well as a path that wends to the kitchen through the dining room and former conservatory.
Besides conceiving an all-new kitchen for the rear of the row house, Hale eschewed daylighting via glass box and installed a monitor atop exposed joists over the wash/prep area. "Back in London, I learned that diffuse overhead light is best for activities ranging from viewing art in galleries to cutting a tomato," the architect explains. Following on the heels of a recent historic heatwave, he adds, "The exposed joists also act as a solar refractor, so you’re not getting overheating."
In the very back of the house, Hale transformed the scullery into a garden room whose paneled walls and clay pavers meld durability and elegance. When a series of folding doors is opened, the room gives the impression of a garden nook; closed, it resembles another of the kitchen’s quiet zones.
Tom says he had doubts that the renovated interior would yield as many experiences as promised. But since its completion this past January, he has gladly eaten those words. "We didn’t want to entertain for six years, and now we want people to see the work," he explains. "And coming [from the garden] to the kitchen for champagne, going into the dining room through the kitchen, and then coming back to the garden for a whiskey, it’s all worked fantastically well." When not hosting friends, Tom finds himself gravitating toward the garden room "to read a book in peace and look at the bird boxes."
Myfanwy echoes the sentiment, saying she’s thrilled that the rear of the ground floor rotates between communal kitchen, relaxation space, and garden perch. She also foresees a ripple effect. "We’ve done this on a very good budget, so once more people know about this project, I think they will realize the potential. It’s almost like a template for bringing Cardiff houses into the 21st century."
Hale says that he hadn’t set out to quash the glass-box movement. "I’ve never designed to a style or pushed a solution—if you listen to the client and the building, the best solutions generally reveal themselves," he demurs. "Myfanwy, Tom, and the building spoke, and I think we’ve created something rather special as a consequence." Yet if the Shoreys’ renovation does mark the start of a new phenomenon, then the U.K.’s next young architects may choose Cardiff to make a name for themselves.
Contracting and Carpentry: James White Construction
Structural Engineer: Western Building Consultants
Timber Windows/Doors: Ray Williams
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-12 17:00
Bring your bonnet—set in the quaint English village of Yoxford, the 1592 residence offers a trove of original details.
Location: Yoxford, Suffolk, England
Year Built: 1592
Footprint: 1,131 square feet (two bedrooms, one bath)
From the agent: "This incredible, Grade II–listed, timber-framed Suffolk farmhouse is believed to mainly date from around 1592. The house, which is found in one half of the original farmhouse, has been lovingly restored by the current owners during their years of guardianship. To the rear is its own private garden and two handsome outbuildings, which have planning permission to convert into separate holiday accommodations. Well located in the pretty village of Yoxford, the house is a stone’s throw from the coast and the celebrated towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-12 16:25
The renovated basement has curtains made of shiny bubble wrap, steel grate catwalks, and reflective surfaces everywhere.
Houses We Love: Every day we feature a remarkable space submitted by our community of architects, designers, builders, and homeowners.
Location: Munich, Germany
Architect: Buero Wagner
Footprint: 1,507 square feet
From the Architect: "The continuing demand for new space in Munich is increasing the pressure on existing buildings in particular. The potential for densification, by means of roof extensions and additional stories, is either already almost exhausted or limited by the authorities. In the search for further densification, basement floors are increasingly coming into focus. In London, this trend has been evident for decades.
"In this office conversion in Munich, the basement was opened up and connected to the first floor via an air space. The new unit can be accessed via fixtures made of galvanized steel gratings. Windows were extended into the basement to provide adequate lighting. Silver curtains made of aluminum vapor barriers on the back conceal the kitchen, storage shelves, as well as the passages to the toilet and to the storage rooms. At the same time, the reflective surfaces help to relax the existing lighting situation. Curtains made out of bubble wrap provide privacy while allowing sufficient light to come into the interior. The building stock was preserved as far as possible and only the surfaces were refurbished."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-12 16:06
For those who are ready to hit the road without giving up their home, new start-up Cabana has camper vans for hire.
Rising gas prices added new challenges to #vanlife—but that’s not stopping one company from helping people explore roads less traveled. Cabana, a Seattle-based start-up that calls itself a "mobile hospitality company," is renting high-end camper vans to anyone interested in a vacation beyond the walls of a hotel room or Airbnb.
And the company’s founder, Scott Kubly, would know a thing or two about hotel rooms. "I spent more than 200 nights in hotels in 2018 alone," he says.
Kubly was the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation before joining LimeBike as its chief program officer, where he flew around the world to meet with local government. It was on a work trip to Australia and New Zealand when the idea for a camper van rental company dawned on him.
"I joined friends for dinner at their home, and after a great meal, a few glasses of wine, and a lot of jet lag, I said I wished my hotel was right outside their house," says Kubly. "We spent the rest of that evening tossing ideas back and forth about what it would look like to build a mobile hotel room, and Cabana was born."
The idea isn’t brand new. Escape has been renting camper vans since 2009, and Los Angeles company Texino started as a van share program, though its focus shifted during the pandemic. But whereas these companies hand you the keys and send you on your way, Cabana takes a white-glove approach to hitting the road.
"A guest might want a full seven-day road trip charted out for them, complete with excursion ideas, must-stop scenic lookout points, and campsites booked for each night," Kubly says. "Or they might just need suggested places to stop near Big Sur." Whether you’re looking for a long list of recommendations, or the freedom to chart your own route, the company’s services are completely free, says Kubly.
So what are you paying for?
Every van includes a bedroom, bathroom, and shower, as well as gear storage and television with streaming capabilities. But customers can choose between two different models depending on more specific needs. The Cabana Classic, a Ford Transit that accommodates two travelers, features an outdoor kitchen, while the Cabana Quad, a 170-inch Mercedes Sprinter that will be available starting 2023, has room for four passengers and comes with an indoor kitchen and extra storage. "The Quad is the largest and most versatile van in the fleet," Kubly says.
To date, Cabana’s turnkey operation has largely attracted first-timers in Seattle and Los Angeles, where the rentals are currently available. Kubly says that 70 percent of its customers have never used a camper van or RV before, and that they’ve been attracting an audience that’s young, and young at heart. "Our guests tend to be 55 and older, or range in age from 25 to 35," he says.
When asked why it’s a good time to be getting a business like Cabana off the ground, Kubly points to the conditions of the pandemic. "It changed the way we live and has massively impacted the way we travel," he says. "It reignited passion for the road trip. With Cabana, you can get out there and explore in a safe way."
Learn more about Cabana and how to book at the company’s website.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-12 01:22
High ceilings, views from every room, and plush contemporary interiors make this the ultimate vacation home.
Modern design meets a serene lake setting in this 4,200-square-foot property. The living room features 29-foot ceilings under a butterfly roof while glass doors open to a wood deck with unobstructed lake panoramas and a sparkling infinity pool. All four bedrooms feature stunning views even though the interiors themselves are spectacular enough, especially the primary bath with its chandelier-topped soaking tub. To top it all off, there is a four-car tandem garage and a golf cart garage.
The Lake Quivira Country Club also includes a new 43,000-square-foot community center, tennis, golf, beaches, boating, equestrian trails and stable, walking trails, and restaurants.
Baths: 3 full, 2 partial
Year Built: 2005
Square Feet: 4,200
Plot Size: 0.28 acres
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-11 18:46
The unembellished wooden seat is a landmark of the city’s underground rail system, but the largely unexposed evolution of its design deserves greater recognition.
You may not consider it such, but in my opinion, New York City’s wooden subway bench is a modernist icon. Gritty in presentation but inoffensive to the eye and advantageously cheap to manufacture, the thick aggregation of solid oak blocks doesn’t ask for much attention. The ubiquitous piece of public furniture sits at the centerline of MTA subway platforms, offering refuge to tired legs awaiting too-often-delayed trains. Connected by threaded rods, the varying sizes of rectilinear wood join together in a manner similar to other iconic furniture of the 1940s; Pierre Jeanneret’s office chair, Hans Wegner’s Chair 28, and even Gio Ponti’s Chairs for Casion San Remo all speak the same language.
Despite their overt presence in public spaces, not much is recorded about who designed New York City’s subway platform benches. It’s believed that the original mission-style oak bench, present at the subway’s early 20th-century inception, was the work of the Stickley Brothers. Most of the city’s subway furniture was manufactured by the Stickleys under the guidance of "underground Renaissance man" Squire J. Vickers, a chief architect of the NYC subway who designed approximately three quarters of the system. (Also a euphuistic painter, Vickers’s expressive character can be found in the varied colors and geometries of the subway stations’ wall mosaics.)
"From what I understand, there is no public knowledge of the history of today’s wooden bench design," says Daniel Brenner, acting collections manager and research archivist at the New York Transit Museum. "Most likely Squire Vickers did the design work, as the elements of the station—like the change booth—would all have been integral to his designs. This style of bench shows up in the reopening photos of the Interstate Rapid Transit [in the early 1900s]."
The most recent, widely recognizable model of the wooden subway bench, introduced in the 1970s, has remained unaltered for decades.
Older bench styles were replaced every couple of years or so, and as such, few of them lasted before a new design would come through. "The old-style subway benches started to be augmented and replaced around 1970 or so, initially by recycling green fiberglass bus seats from 1956 Mack buses for many locations," says Bill Wall, a retired train service supervisor for New York City Transit. "Some stations had new tile work put in at that time, so the newer-style benches started to show up, replacing the long, heavy benches and much smaller elevated station slat styles that had survived." The most recent, widely recognizable model of the wooden subway bench, introduced in the 1970s, has remained unaltered for decades. According to Metropolis, the design is a variation of a model commissioned in 1973 by the New York Port Authority to provide benches for the Hudson River region. The first ones were manufactured by the Hudson Design Service and seated four people. Later, the design was expanded to accommodate six. This succinctly assembled seating mechanism survived "the fall of modernism"—the boldly colored and gaudy cultural revamp following World War II into the postmodern age.
Over the years, the city has experimented with changes to the ’70s subway bench style, adding spacers between passengers and removing the backrests; solutions put forth by the MTA to address the century-old alleged problem of bench sleeping. (The design of public infrastructure in a way that limits its use is referred to as "hostile architecture.") But since 2010, NYC Transit officials have been rather indecisive in committing to either complete removal or redesign of the longstanding subway benches. The MTA even went so far as to put the older benches up for sale as "underground furniture," priced at $650. When the benches hit the market, NYC Transit assistant chief operating officer Mike Zacchea told Gothamist: "They’re sort of iconic. They’ve been around a long time. They’re massive. I can see them sitting in a backyard being weathered for a couple more years and serving as a conversation piece."
Then, in early February of 2021, many of these benches, so common to the subway landscape, disappeared. The MTA sent out a tweet in response to inquiries into the benches’ whereabouts stating: "Benches were removed from stations to prevent the homeless from sleeping on them." After immediate uproar, the MTA deleted the tweet and said it was posted in "error." The lacquered wooden benches weren’t entirely beloved: Transit authorities fault them for being unhygienic (a problem that already existed, but became more acute after the emergence of COVID-19), but attempts at instituting alternatives, like new stainless-steel benches in some stations, were criticized by commuters for being too cold and uninviting, in addition to lacking aesthetic harmony with the dernier cri.
In recent years, the MTA has also started introducing an updated version of the ’70s-style wooden subway bench that substitutes the rectangular block spacers for black-coated steel loops. This model, barely modified from the original, brings to mind George Nelson’s platform bench—another superstar of modern furniture. And though its history may slip away, largely undocumented, I believe that the long-lived, chunky wooden bench should be revered and celebrated as a modernist icon, grouped with furniture of George Nakashima and the like. The subway timepiece deserves to have its story told before the bench becomes just another item of memorabilia furniture at the New York Transit Museum, to be looked at and never used again.
Top photo by Conor Boyle, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Correction: August 12, 2022
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the introduction of the 1970s subway bench.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-11 17:33
Nothing says ‘of course we have money’ like Studio McGee’s pallid palette.
Welcome to Home Watching, a column about the wild and wooly world of renovation television from a self-proclaimed expert in the genre.
Much like pornography, you know a Studio McGee interior when you see it. Shea McGee, the brains behind the operation, who infamously started her company after gaining a following posting her first home’s remodel on Instagram, favors varying shades of white, accented with neutrals and natural materials. Color is off limits, unless it’s dark gray, black, or, on occasion, a deep, deep navy or evergreen. The ceilings are often white, adorned with reclaimed wood beams, and if the space allows, vaulted. The McGees favor ceramics, rough-hewn wood, and have never met a sheepskin rug they didn’t like. When viewed in aggregate, the aesthetic is unsatisfactory mostly in that it is unremarkable, especially in the kind of interiors the McGees often work with—massive new builds, where the entire house is a blank canvas, ready to be designed in Shea’s exacting aesthetic vision.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the home of Liz and Neil, the couple featured in the third episode of Netflix’s Dream Home Makeover, which is now in its third season. The clients in question are repeat customers; the McGees worked on their Park City home, and have been tapped to lend their magic touch to their second home in Southern California, which appears to be just as big as the first. Liz and Neil have three children and are unfathomably wealthy, though what they do is never mentioned. It’s in this space that the McGees define their aesthetic vision—"upscale Napa farmhouse," Shea says, which sounds more like a marketing term than an actual design choice.
What this translates to is large architectural gestures that convey wealth—vaulted ceilings in the kitchen and the living room, a "wine room" with built-in bookshelves that meet the ceiling, and other flourishes that speak to the vast amounts of money this couple must have to maintain their bonus home. It’s not that any of these design choices are anywhere close to hideous, per se—Studio McGee’s signature look is quieter than the Property Brothers, but more sophisticated that Chip and Joanna Gaines’s farmhouse chic. Staged as they are, though, the spaces designed by Studio McGee lack any discernible personality. Children get giant bedrooms with queen-size beds; every kitchen has an enormous island, whether or not the space actually needs it. (While most kitchens could use an island, not every space needs one. Understanding this difference is crucial.)
There’s nothing particularly of interest for me in Studio McGee’s most high-end designs. (Their Target line, which includes this very nice quilt, is much more my speed.) But despite this fact, I’ve watched every available episode of their show, usually in one sitting. What is interesting about the third season, which recently started streaming, is that the McGees have crossed a very specific home renovation reality TV rubicon, where they are now being sought out by people who have seen what they can do on TV and want it for themselves. It’s this difference that makes the show that much more interesting; watching human beings settle into their roles as commodities is always a trip. Shea and her husband Syd are striving to be personalities much like Ben and Erin Napier and Chip and Joanna Gaines are, but because Netflix lacks HGTV’s oomph, they have the space to experiment with their public-facing personalities, as the stakes are lower.
Luckily, though, their dynamic as a couple and as business partners still has a little edge to it, which is likely a virtue of being on Netflix rather than HGTV. Syd McGee, the husband, often wears an expression in the confessionals that looks like he’s being held hostage, but is sort of okay with it. What he does for the company that bears his name is unclear, but one assumes it is sort of important and likely necessary. (In fact, he’s CEO.) When Shea’s hands are in every single pot, and the results of their renovations are perfectly in step with her conceptions, Syd dreams of a life in Southern California, on the beach, with early morning surf sessions and bonfires at sunset. Instead, the show jokes, he is chained to his wife’s side, indispensable in a way that is never defined.
But like any good home design show, the real main character is not the couple doing the renovations, but the end results. For the two years that I’ve watched this program, I’ve tried to dial down what one might call this aesthetic, which is both specific and generic—like every other high-end Airbnb listing on the market, or an antiseptic boutique hotel that prides itself on design. But it wasn’t until halfway through this season when one of the McGee’s clients hit the nail on the head. "It’s upscale-looking," a woman says of her newly-renovated basement, which is divided into three clear "zones" meant to delineate what kinds of leisure activities should occur there and why. It’s not quite upscale, but suggestive of it instead, a different kind of new money aesthetic. But if given the choice between Studio McGee’s all-white fantasia and a giant McMansion fit for a Real Housewife of New Jersey, I’d take gold restroom fixtures and Travertine tile any day. At the very least, it’s fun.
Top photo courtesy of Netflix.
More TV this way:
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-11 17:27
Dating back to the 1890s, the $899K residence features raised planting beds, a sprawling backyard, and breathtaking city views.
Location: 2919 Johnston Street, Los Angeles, California
Year Built: 1890
Footprint: 1,365 square feet (two bedrooms, two baths)
Lot Size: 15,071 square feet
From the agent: "In happening Lincoln Heights, this rustic-modern bungalow on a sprawling lot embodies the urban homesteader’s dream of exquisite design, tranquil surroundings, and breathtaking views. The 1890 residence has been stylishly reconfigured, bringing a pared-back and distinctly elegant flair to heritage elements that include wood flooring, vaulted ceilings, and exposed beams. Skylights bring all-day sunshine, and you’ll love the front sitting porch where the cityscape panorama will amaze. This home can be effectively separated into a pair of one-bed and one-bath units—an ideal arrangement for hosting guests."
2919 Johnston Street in Los Angeles, California, is currently listed for $899,000 by Tracy Do of Coldwell Banker Realty.
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-11 16:26
Hybrid Architecture took an oversized family lot to its limits with a pair of vertical, gable-roofed residences.
Location: Seattle, USA
Engineering: Sazei Design Group
From the Architect: "Nestled in Seattle’s Central District, Oak & Alder by Hybrid celebrates the city’s past while setting the tone for its future. Complete with a rusted Cor-Ten steel exterior, massive windows, and a pitched roofline, the townhome is inspired by a nearby red brick high school and neighboring craftsman homes. Oak & Alder reinterprets these features into a stylish high-density housing solution that accommodates two very different homeowners.
"In 2018, Hybrid’s founding partner and design principal, Robert Humble, befriended a local brewery owner who had an underutilized side yard on an oversized single-family lot. The owner was planning to sell his home, and Hybrid helped divide the lot and create a new development parcel on the owner’s side yard. Hybrid then purchased the parcel from the homeowner to develop Oak & Alder, transforming the empty lot into two perpendicular units and three parking spots without demolishing or displacing existing residents.
"One unit is occupied by a Copenhagen-based couple who were relocating to Seattle with their two children to launch a video game company. The family fell for Oak & Alder’s dramatic roofline, neutral Scandinavian-inspired color palette, and reverse floor plan. They purchased the home on presale sight unseen, granting them the rare opportunity to personalize their unit. The family selected custom Abodian cabinets in colorful Bauhaus hues and converted the ground level into two small kids’ rooms.
"The front unit was later purchased by an individual looking for a unique home close to his Capitol Hill office. He fell in love with Oak & Alder’s attention to flow and function but was most excited about the abundant natural light from the massive windows. The unit also features a sunlight-filled gasket off the third-story kitchen, offering outdoor access from multiple levels. The most light, however, comes from the top floor’s vaulted solarium, which he uses as a music studio."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-11 15:20
The home, built in 1967, features a private dock and three levels of outdoor entertaining.
An east-facing estate nestled on the shores of Lake Washington awaits the vision of its next owner to take the residence to the next level or create a new legacy. This rarely available street-to-water property offers 100 feet of waterfront and endless possibilities. Guests and residents alike can enjoy three levels of outdoor entertaining. It all begins at the water’s edge and flows up to a lower lawn with a firepit for an evening under the stars.
The upper lawn beckons for a friendly game of croquet, while an expansive deck spanning the entire width of the home is ready for a morning cup of coffee, quiet weeknight barbecues at home, and beyond. The aquatic adventures begin lakeside, whether it’s a relaxing afternoon amid the rocks or hopping aboard a vessel from your private dock.
Baths: 4 full, 2 partial
Year Built: 1967
Square Feet: 5,850
Plot Size: 0.86 acres
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-11 15:05
It’s all about the subdued hues.
An easy way to let your natural surroundings shine in your outdoor area is by embracing a pared-down palette. Create a tranquil escape with soft grays, beiges, creams, and blacks. After all, there’s something to be said about truly going back to nature.
The Modular Teak Outdoor Sofa Sectional is presented in partnership with Chicory.
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Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-10 21:13
Junta Arquitectas worked magic with a limited footprint by incorporating a sunny courtyard, verdant patio, and green roof to top things off.
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Architect: Junta Arquitectas
Footprint: 936 square feet
From the Architect: "Ph Superí is located in the City of Buenos Aires on the border of Coghlan and Saavedra neighborhoods. It’s a low-density area four blocks from Saavedra Park, between Crámer and Balbín avenues. The project deals with the intervention of a ph-type house, a typical Buenos Aires typology inherited from the ‘casa chorizo’ of the early 20th century, in which several housing units are located on the same lot.
"This project involved rethinking the functionality of the existing house and extending the terrace on the first floor. The original structure of load-bearing walls was replaced by an independent system of reinforced concrete columns and beams. The new open and flexible spatial configuration dematerialized the interior-exterior limit, showing the plasticity and texture of the material. The inverted beams allow the incorporation of a green roof that both insulates the house and retains rainwater."
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-10 17:04
Amy Pigliacampo and Corey Szopinski brave snow, fire, and falling trees as they transform a ’70s cabin into a Scandinavian-style retreat.
When interior designer Amy Pigliacampo first picked up the keys to this cabin in a remote enclave of Alma, Colorado, she knew that referring to its neck of the woods as a "neighborhood" would be a stretch. "To be honest, we saw more moose than humans," she jokes.
But Amy was still intrigued by the property, particularly because she and her husband, Corey Szopinski—who also works as her namesake firm’s general contractor—were looking for a place where their two young kids could roam.
"The house is located at 11,000 feet on Mount Bross," she says. "The area around it is known as South Park, which is where the show South Park is set. It’s charming and remote, and it requires a 4x4 to access it in the winter."
The cabin itself had potential, too, given that its sharp A-frame had been mostly preserved since it was first built in 1976—although the interior had a rickety wood spiral staircase, a dark kitchen, and classic builder-grade finishes Amy describes as "shabby." The couple dreamed of updating the space with a clean, Scandinavian palette and contemporary touches. They knew that it would take a lot of work, but they were also sure that their determination would be worth it in the end.
Roof & Siding
|Grand Total: $164,056|
"The classic A-Frame shape had to stay," Amy says. "It has a cozy, nostalgic vibe—but we knew it needed a refresh to make it ours. We wanted to find a way to create a beautiful space that was warm and stylish, with nothing that is expected in a cabin—on a very tight budget."
The couple quickly discovered that updating an old cabin in a remote area would be challenging, simply because they had to coordinate how to get there regularly themselves—and find seamless ways for supplies and workers to arrive, too.
"The cabin was not safe for our kids during the renovation, so we had to adopt a divide-and-conquer mentality," she says. "Furthermore, it’s almost impossible to get quality trades to do work in remote spots on small projects. Luckily, we found a few."
They kicked off many weekends with ambitious plans, which were quickly derailed when they realized that they didn’t have the necessary tools and needed to drive 45 minutes to the nearest hardware store. They also had to contend with snow—which sometimes grew to be so high that there was nowhere to park. And then there was the time a tree fell on their power line, which halted work entirely.
"That was pretty scary," Amy remembers. "Imagine a 100-foot-tall pine being held up by an electrical wire—the force of it nearly pulled the mast and service panel off the house. In the end it worked out well, though, because we got an electrician to drive up from Denver to help us. Now, the house’s electricity is safe and up to code."
As work progressed, the team installed a seam roof and siding, a new spiral staircase, and a window in the kitchen, which they painted a custom Sherwin Williams shade of blue that’s echoed in the geometric powder room. Amy also made the tough decision to paint the interior wood planks white, given that they were so beat up from neglect, and then leaned on a navy-and-black palette to provide a fun yet moody contrast.
"We also had wildfire threats in the area during construction—nothing super close yet, but there were enough warnings that we knew we needed to take action," she says. "We spent a small fortune clearing away all trees within 30 feet of the house. Now, we have a ton of firewood—and our views have improved!"
The project started in January 2021 and finished in March 2022, just in time for the family to enjoy the last of the season’s snow before spring. Looking back, Amy is happy to have come across this cabin’s listing, even though she also jokes about how hard the project was.
"My advice would be to start marriage counseling the day you sign the deed," she says, laughing. "Kidding aside, we’re proud of what we accomplished and it feels like we gave this cabin a new life."
General Contractor: Corey Szopinski
Builder: Ron Scarpa, Blue River Builders & Bart Hernandez, Pandas Company
Cabinetry Design: Debbie Fowler, Reform Cabinets
Siding and Roofing: Joel Thomas, RoofTec
Tile: Wayne Burch, Straight Line Tile
Electrical: Ed Jueschke, SJO Electrical
Permalink - Posted on 2022-08-10 16:59
Known as the Origami House, the 8,500-square-foot dwelling is the brainchild of renowned architectural firm Leroy Street Studio.
Location: 10 Dragonwood Lane, Weston, Connecticut
Architect: Leroy Street Studio
Year Built: 2013
Footprint: 8,586 square feet (three bedrooms, five baths)
Lot Size: 678,229 square feet (15.57 acres)
From the agent: "Retreat to the Origami House, defining art as architecture. Set on 15-plus acres, the property borders a nature reserve. Only nature and its inhabitants accompany as you ascend up the private drive punctuated by a cherry orchard and pass by the property’s lighted tennis court, before arriving at the intimate courtyard to the main residence. This 8,500-square-foot home is the creation of well-known architectural firm Leroy Street Studio, Manhattan. The home’s architectural design is a mathematical masterpiece where individual cubes appear to fold into each other in intricate ceiling and window elevations, only to reveal large open spaces that invite nature’s energy inside."
10 Dragonwood Lane in Weston, Connecticut, is currently listed for $6,500,000 by Robin Kencel of Compass.