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modern living + innovative design + inspiring ideas

  • Dwell Home Tour: Sander Architect's Green Houses

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     modern architecture

    One of the many beautiful projects in this year's Dwell on Design Home Tours line up was Sander Architect's Green House pair.  This set of townhouses on one single lot face each other over a drivable courtyard. They are very similar in appearance, yet not identical. Both buildings are wrapped in a skin of 1" x 2" aluminum edges that give it a very distinct appearance, but also act as a shade screen throughout the day.

    This pair is what Whitney would call a Hybrid House. "This is a new type of house that we have developed, using a prefabricated metal frame, skin and roof. We have achieved unprecedented economies by using prefabricated building (warehouse) fabricators to manufacture the most expensive parts of the houses at a fraction of the normal costs. We have also achieved unprecedented scale."

     modern window film

    The windows are wrapped in the same material used for bus graphics, which allows the home owners to see out, but no one to see in. What a brilliant idea! The custom pattern was designed to reflect the surrounding environment.

     graphic window screen

    They photographed a tree and blew up the image so each building looks as though the the trees are reflecting in the windows. This organic element brings a lot of character to these ultra modern homes.

     stone wall tile

    The front townhouse faces the street and features a quaint zen garden for a front yard. The concrete floors blend with the natural stone wall to create a very calm and peaceful area, filled with lots of natural sunlight. Simple organic wood furniture paired with these modern materials create a great balance in an industrial style space.

     Oxided metal hood

    What a stunning kitchen! The dark oak Italian kitchen cabinetry contrasts perfectly with the concrete floors, while the two-story oxidized metal panels dominate the space. 

     glass railing

    The second floor living room features a glass railing and glass walkway which overlooks the kitchen. Modern glass dining tables are a great choice for an open plan. From above the dining table basically disappears.  

    The soft industrial aesthetic of this modern dining table (below) will help you get this look in your home.

    Zuo Plume Clear Glass Modern Dining Table


     modern window

    The contemporary chandelier adds an elegant touch to the industrial space and brings the organic elements of nature indoors.

    If you love the chandelier, but aren't one of those lucky enough have these gorgeously high ceilings, a shorter capiz shell pendant would work beautifully in your space. 

    Dolce Capiz Shell 25" Wide Pendant Chandelier

     modern stairway

    Many innovative green materials were used throughout this entire project, including passive heating and cooling, natural daylighting, shade screens, bamboo flooring, green cabinetry, and recycled glass countertops.

    There were many amazing homes on the the Dwell Home Tour schedule and this is just one of them! I hope you had a chance to check them all out! But if not, there's always next year.....

    Images: Sander Architects

  • Dark Nights Require Dark Sky Lights

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    dark sky lights curb bright nights

    The bright spots on the map say it all. There's not a whole lot of dark sky, but an abundance of dark sky lights. Light "pollution" is everywhere. 

    Urban planners and environmentalists alike claim that light pollution interferes with our natural bio rhythms and disconnects us from the beauty of a starlit sky. While the brilliant auras of Tokyo's Shibuya Crossing or New York's Times Square aren't likely dim anytime soon, the people at the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) have established a set of guidelines for reducing light pollution in urban and suburban areas across the globe. In the broadest sense, dark sky rules ask that homeowners keep the glare to themselves. For many modern homes, this leads to some stunning outdoor lighting looks.

    outdoor lighting for a modern home

    In more specific terms, the IDA requires that residential Dark Sky Compliant lighting be:

    1. Fully shielded

    2. Maximum 100 watts (for incandescent bulbs) and 26 watts (for compact fluorescent lights) 

    3. Shielded such that the lamp itself is not directly visible outside the property perimeter.

    Here are a few examples of "shielded" lights that Euro Style Lighting carries:

    modern outdoor lighting fixture

    Forio Silver ENERGY STAR 9 1/2" High Outdoor Wall Light

    dark sky outdoor lighting fixture

    Fairbanks Dark Sky Bronze Finish 9" High Outdoor Wall Light

    Best practices also dictate that outdoor lighting should avoid being projected beyond the object a given light intends to illuminate. For example, you'll notice the up lights on this home stay contained by shining only on the structure, and not up into the night sky. Fortunately, this look also suits the modern home aesthetic perfectly. 

    outdoor lighting on modern homes

    The move toward a darker nighttime sky is gaining traction in even the most un-likely urbanized places. In the July 2011 issue of Monocle magazine, Christine Loh, CEO of Hong Kong based think tank  Civic Exchange, explains, "Street lighting can obviously make people feel safer but it doesn't have to be bright, bright, bright." If even a bustling city like Hong Kong - a city known for the nightly shows its skyline puts on - can move towards dark sky compliance, chances are we can all look forward to more starry skies in the years ahead.

    Images: AAAS, Slim69,  Fresh Home Decor

  • Modern Outdoor Living: Experience The Relaxation

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     outdoor glass pavillion

    Long summer days and hot summer nights are finally upon us and now is the time to maximize your modern outdoor living experience in your own backyard. The Nevis Pool and Garden Pavilion (above) can be used year round, but when the doors open up on this glass structure, that's when you're using it to its maximum potential. However, it's intended to provide shelter from the harsh natural elements, so when the heat is too much you can still enjoy the beautiful garden, views of the pool, and the natural surroundings from within this modern backyard pavilion. 

     organic outdoor cabana

    The lush surroundings, modern pool, and organic outdoor structure create an environment that is so sculptural and serene. You can spend your days and your nights perched up above the pool like you're in a modern day treehouse. When the modern outdoor lighting is turned on just imagine the beauty of the glowing structure and pathway.

    modern outdoor playhouse

    An escape to your outdoor oasis is sometimes just what the day calls for. This Polyhedron Habitable designed by Manuel Villa is not only a retreat, but a sculptural masterpiece that easily integrates into nature through it's use of materials. The glass front opens up to the teak deck deck while the skylight opens up to let the stars shine in.  

    creative covered garden

    The owners of the Kodaira-Shi Residence in Tokyo weren't so blessed to have the beautiful private outdoor oasis surrounded by nature, but their team did an amazing job of creating one. Suppose Design Office created this primitive tent like structure attached to the residential structure to blur the confines between the indoors and outdoors. They were able to create a very private and unique area in a space located on street level that offered no privacy to the homeowners. Imagine the landscaped garden yet to be completed! The concrete floors and shaded open plan are natural cooling elements. And on a hot summer day, the use of contemporary ceiling fans would really get the breeze flowing in there.  

    If you're planning on building a cabana or outdoor structure to relax in this summer I challenge you think outside the box!

    Image Sources: ContemporistDecoration Channel, Manuel Villa Arquitecto, Yatzer

  • Modern Spa Designs

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    best spas in las vegas

    From the water temperature to the fruit in the bowl to the soothing modern light fixtures overhead, modern spa designs leave no stone unturned. Creating the perfect relaxing space requires an intuitive balance of color, texture and form. 

    Color theory dictates that blue is relaxing, while green is noted for its soothing and healing properties. Combine the two colors and you get aqua, or water, the inherent color and ingredient in the spa. The aqua hue looks stunning against the charcoal gray slate of Mandalay Bay’s Bathhouse in Las Vegas (pictured above) and it's of course a natural fit in the hot springs of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon spa (pictured below).

    modernist Icelandic spas

    Other colors work well too. The Hirsch Bedner designed EDITION Hotel ESPA was widely acclaimed upon opening for its generous use of natural stone walls and its signature sculpted mica wall and ceiling lights, inspired by traditional Turkish bath designs. Close to ceiling lights offer much needed illumination without crowding airspace. Organic colors add a sense of warmth and comfort, while the form itself adds the implication of provenance to the space.

    European spa designs

    Light, like color plays a vital role in the design of a spa space. While mica lights add warmth to EDITION's bath area, the chandeliers in the foyer at the Long Beach Hotel in Mauritius (below) offer a lighthearted entre to the relaxation that lies beyond. Contemporary chandeliers can be found in a ton of styles to fit any atmosphere. 

    Island spa resorts

    Lastly, simplicity of space is a key ingredient throughout successful spa designs, and the reason is simple: less visual clutter leads to less mental clutter. And less mental clutter leads to relaxation. Furniture is sparingly used. Palettes are surprisingly simple. These rules allow designers to create the illusion of space in even the tightest floorplans, such as the open Mizu Spa in  San Francisco.

    San Francisco spas

    Modern residential architecture

    For design lovers, the attention to design details is what draws them in to a spa in the first place. The relaxing after after-effect is usually a much needed side effect. And for a lucky few, such as the owners of the Spa House in Cape Town (pictured above), the simple elegance of a spa can be a year round love-affair.

    Images: Mandalay Bay, TravelPod, Brand Critique, Contemporist, Merdu, HomeDsgn

  • Unique Bathroom Designs

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    Modern bathroom with curved walls

    A modern bathroom design doesn't always have to fit within the box.When you approach the design with a clear and open mind you open up a whole new world of possibilities! This Flaming Lips bathroom takes things to a place deep within the imagination to a place Wayne Coyne describes as "... the drug damaged, artist element of our home". The soft curves wrapped in penny round tiles feel as if you're going on an adventure into some unknown territory. You can discover something new with each journey into this futuristic bathroom.

     White Brick Tile on Bathroom Walls

    This exquisite bathroom takes you to a different era. It's a mixture between Louis XVI classic French style and the modernist elements of Jonathon Adler. The bold orange, classic white tile, and gold gilded accents bring incredible amounts of style and life into this room. The use of contemporary gold accent furniture is an elegant touch in any bathroom.

      Graffiti walls in bathrooms

    From classic to street, this use of graffiti in a small powder room is a great way to infuse your true personality into a space. The words are written backwards, but can be read when looking in the mirror on the back of the door. Gold accents always look great when mixed with bold black and white pattern or graphics.

    Graphic Mosaic Walls in Bathroom

    Whoever is bathing in this yellow submarine sure is lucky. Have you ever seen more extensive tile work in the bathroom? "The Yellow Submarine Crash-Lands on Gaudi’s Beach House in “Brazil”, now imagine that while soaking in this tub. Close to ceiling lights are a key element in bringing these vibrant colors to life. The lighting looks as if the sun is shining into the sea. The tiles towards the bottom get less light and darker in color so it appears as if you're really floating around at the bottom of the sea.

    Clawfoot Bathtub

    If you want to bring life into a room, then it's as simple as incorporating a plantwall into your space. The freestanding tub with shower column and no curtain really give you the effect of an outdoor shower in a garden. The green mosaic tile mimics the plantwall and is able stay consistent with the aesthetic of the space. Sleek and modern bath lighting is a great way to to incorporate a bit of the unexpected into such a natural and organic environment.

    Porcelain wood tile in bathrooms

    The bathroom in this modern cabin designed by Fabio Galeazzo uses porcelain wood tiles on walls, floors, and ceiling. You may be inside, you may be outside, it's hard to tell!  

    Image Sources: Design Milk, Bjorns Randoms, The Goods Design, Jaina Bee, Brave Home DesignContemporist

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