Category Archives: wonderful spaces.

forest house.

Reminiscent of house of 150 trees, this beautiful forest house is situated in a rural region of Gent. Contemporary yet traditional, the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-wabi, which celebrates the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, is clearly evident here. Other influences include Frank Lloyd Wright, Carlo Scarpo and Andrea Branzi, who was a friend of the architect owners, Eddy Francois and Caroline de Wolf.

The house, as an extension of its environment, utilises natural, earthy materials. The vertical mullions of solid timber separating the floor to ceiling windows rise like tree trunks; the earth-toned, raw brick floor has the outdoor quality of a forest floor. Concrete soffits line some ceilings, others are wood with exposed beams continuing the line of the mullions. White plasterboard walls float beneath. Skinny brick walls with deeply recessed mortar joints to add texture, become the structure both inside and out.

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Forest House, Gent, by Eddy Francois and Caroline de Wolf.

Photographs 2,3, 6,7,8: Jean-Luc Laloux; image 1,5: Sarah Blee; all others, unknown.

intimate spaces, defined.

Bold, modernist spaces in and around European cities dominate the site of French photographer Romain Laprade. He seeks out the intimate places often forgotten or deemed unimportant – foyers and entry halls – transition spaces that are too often seen as a luxury. It is these spaces that in reality allow a building to breathe, provide a place for occupants to pause, a space to contemplate or to stop and chat before passing through.

Romain started working as a graphic designer, working at French Vogue for 4 years. Now 28, his obsession is photography. The places he has found and photographed – the ones I like the most – are the foyers of modernist buildings from the ‘60s and ‘70s, most often in Paris. These wonderful interiors are rich in colour and texture – black granite cladding inlaid with bronze, or rows of mosaic tiles in bold hues of orange or red; bold concrete forms standing like voluptuous, oversized chess pieces, and floors of verde green marble. All surfaces have been considered – fine, dark bricks laid obliquely adjoin a ceiling of glossy black and red tiles; a vertical screen of rich brown wood opposes perfectly proportioned piers of tiny, matt black mosaic.

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Images 1, 2 , 3,  Paris 15; image 4 and feature image, Av. Paul Doumer, 1960, Paris.
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Image 5, Carrer de Brusi, Barcelona; image 6, Le persicope, 1972, Paris; images 7, 8, Le Meridien, 1964, Paris.rl_crimee_ohl02rl_creteil_ohl01rl_beaugrenelle_ohl06
 Image 9, Crimée, 1968, Paris; image 10, Créteil; image 11, Beaugrenelle.

See more Romain Laprade imagery, including beautiful fashion photographs for John Galliano and Tomasini Paris, here.

All images, courtesy Romain Laprade.

peter’s house.

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I uncovered the beautiful interior of this converted garage whilst researching materials for the transformation of an agricultural building into a residence.

As with all good design, inspiration comes from the context and fabric of the original building, in this case raw brick and blackened steel. A narrow site and desire for natural light has prompted a glass walled atrium to be cut through the three floors. The clever placement of dark mirrors throughout has created a striking effect; not light and bright but spacious and theatrical.

The beautifully considered material palette includes concrete used on vertical as well as horizontal planes, clean, white and grey terrazzo forming the kitchen island and bathroom fittings and walls, and super-wide Dinesen oak floorboards used three ways – as a floor, as a wall, and as a ceiling lining. The blackened steel is used as both perforated panels flanking the stair, and as a wall lining in the double-height kitchen.

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Downstairs, furnishings and curtains are strong of form and bold of hue – deep purples, bright reds and vivid yellows show to great effect the form of such classic furniture as the Pierre Paulin Groovy chair and the Rietveld designed Utrecht armchair.

By contrast, the bedroom and study are softened with full height curtains, in a perfect shade of nude blush.

Peter’s House, Copenhagen by Studio David Thulstrup, via

Photographer: Peter Krasilnikoff

a contemporary stable block in white.

Researching barn conversions for a current project led me to this reworked, nineteenth century stable block situated in a lovely bit of rural north Norfolk (and currently for sale, here). For me it’s a perfect example of a conversion that acknowledges its provenance without suffering for it.

The spaces are laid out along the length, each opening onto the tranquil landscape beyond. The long narrow footprint is divided simply into two – living and sleeping – the one open and light filled, the other enclosed and calm. In the living spaces, black floor to ceiling Crittal windows frame the view and maximise the light, opening up completely to create a flowing indoor/outdoor space. A fireplace wall book-ends one side, taking on the vaulted form of the structure.

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The materials used are simple and locally sourced, including concrete floor, beton brut walls, white painted brickwork, and externally, profiled metal roof and timber cladding. The detailing is refined and carefully crafted. With the materials expressed in their pure form or painted white, texture provides all the decoration that is needed.

Stable Acre, Norfolk by David Kohn Architects. Winner of the RIBA regional award in 2012.

a perfect parisian pied a terre.

If the previous villa (‘Bohemian Beauty’, here) is my idea of the perfect vacation home, then this apartment in Paris and featured in the WSJ, may just be my perfect pied a terre. It hits just the right balance of minimal and relaxed, and proves that a minimal aesthetic doesn’t have to be uptight.

Walls throughout are lined with blond elm in a beautiful pale honey colour, floors are clad in neutral coverings. Materials are used simply and boldly – note the grey-veined marble in the bathroom used for the countertop, upstand, cabinetry and floor. I love this look.  A den is arranged in the centre of the space with wood-lined walls and warm-coloured, custom furniture; the master bedroom is lined too and can be closed off from the world with wooden shutters lining the windows. In the laundry, timber-lined cabinets add a richness to what is too often a sterile room of white cabinets. Artwork adds further warmth and personality.

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Detailing couldn’t be simpler – edges and nosings are square profile, ensuring surfaces have a solidity to them; handles are simple and square-profiled as well. There are no cornices and skirtings are kept plain. The furniture is classic Scandinavian – a white marble-topped Saarinen Tulip table in the dining room, elsewhere an AJ floor lamp by Arne Jacobsen and the Saarinen Womb chair. Accessories are neutral and bold of form, often cane or straw and beautifully simple. Heaven.

Apartment by A.P.C. Jean Touitou’s Parisian home via WSJ

Photos: Matthieu Salvaing

bohemian beauty.

I love the undone quality of this villa. A holiday villa, it lacks pretension and exudes character – exactly how a holiday home should be.

Vernacular elements – white washed walls, shuttered windows and beamed ceilings – set the scene. Then inside, a charming mix of provincial, art deco and midcentury pieces and objet have been brought together. With the exception of the sofa and Bouroullec armchair and ottoman, everything has been sourced second hand. From the brocantes of Paris, to local flea markets and antique shops, an array of wonderful pieces cohabit – pieces by Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Guariche (chairs and lighting), and Eero Saarinen Tulip chairs and tables.

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I could happily spend my summer here; what about you?

La Villa Familiar via  Photographs: Gonzalo Machabo

 

colour play in barcelona.

Located in a typical, turn of the century apartment building in Barcelona is this vibrant interior. Little has been done to alter the layout over the three floors, and views through to the outside are not evident. However, clever cut outs have been created within, offering unusual angles and vistas through from one level to the next.

The most striking element, though, are the colours. Deep forest green, pale salmon, strong white and cobalt blue are used to stunning effect on adjacent as well as distant planes. The result allows each surface to take on a sculptural, stand alone quality, whilst still working together in a sort of Escher-style sum of parts. A surrealist sky above a bathroom void draws the eye up. The overall effect is mesmerising.

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Apart from the vibrant paintwork, decoration is restricted to the typically colourful tiled floors of the era.

I also love the way colour blocking is used in this interior.

What do you think of this combination of colours?

Casa Horta, Barcelona by Guillermo Santoma. Photography: José Hevia