Category Archives: wonderful spaces.

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

 

 

fabulous fendi.

A hotel should be more than a home away from home. Otherwise, why leave? To my mind, a hotel should be fabulous and luxurious and transport one to a different world, far removed from one’s usual habitat.

The newly opened Fendi hotel in Rome combines fabulous with colour, using the most vivid, intense hues. The luxury brand have reconfigured the 17th-century Palazzo Fendi with three separate architecture firms to create a boutique hotel, their largest store, an art gallery space, an apartment, and a restaurant.

Using elements characteristic of the fashion line – geometry and colour blocking, for example – the hotel has an unmistakably Italian aesthetic. Maintaining the original herringbone wood floors and plaster walls, the look is updated with intense hues and jewel tones of blue and green. The interiors were conceived by Milanese Dimore Studio and architect Marco Costanzi, who have created beautiful details using sumptuous materials.

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Classic Italian and modernist pieces abound, too; from a daybed by Gio Ponti, Murano glass chandeliers by Venini, art by Lucio Fontana and Josef Albers.

Fendi Private Suites Hotel via WSJ magazine.

 

a toulouse townhouse in grey.

Enhancing the original character of a house whilst creating a concordant, contemporary addition is a constant design challenge. Here, in a townhouse in Toulouse, it is achieved through beautiful, minimal detailing with seamless junctions, an interesting mix of decorative mouldings and plain, unadorned surfaces, and the use of flat, monotone hues.

The materials palette is restrained but varied – rich, walnut cabinetry in one room contrasts with natural birch veneer in another. But the palette overall is reined in using similar mid-tones – the grey oak parquet floor adjoins a pale grey, seamless resin floor; a brushed stainless steel kitchen island cube takes on the colour of the adjoining mid-grey walls. There are two aesthetics going on here, one minimal and one ornate, where the old meets the new. They come together beautifully with these sophisticated grey hues, all in a matt finish to add softness. Floor to ceiling windows with simple frames draw the eye to the beautiful landscape beyond.

Joinery is beautifully detailed: a niche within the kitchen cabinets is lined in pale birch veneer contrasting with the deep grey of the cupboard fronts; in the bedrooms, entire walls of storage are seamlessly integrated. Freestanding elements are simple and monolithic – a black glass shower cubicle, the kitchen island unit with its perfectly mitred edges.

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Furniture comprises simple, bold classics such as the angular Jean Prouvé dining table and chairs, and the fabulous mid-century Charlotte Perriand bookcase.

How different it would look if it were finished in shades of white throughout, not just in the bathroom. I think the mid-tones give it a richness and sophistication and work effortlessly with the surrounding landscape. What do you think?

Townhouse renovation, Rue du Japon, Toulouse by RMGB architects. All images, RMGB.

Via Yellowtrace

 

revisiting a modernist in berlin.

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Revisiting this beautiful modernist – the use of texture, simple but sophisticated colour palette and clean lines is a look I revert to time and again.

Part of the 1957 building exhibition in Berlin’s Tiergarten park, this Modernist glass atrium house was designed by Eduard Ludwig, an architect who studied briefly at the Bauhaus, and whose passion lay in the design of bungalow-style houses. He studied under Mies van der Rohe and the influence of modernist masterpiece the Barcelona Pavillion is evident here.

The simple lineality of the building is echoed internally with the floating linear kitchen cabinets, built-in, low-level storage lining the living area, and bathroom vanity in palest stone suspended against a full wall of mirror. Textured surfaces abound and are enhanced with splashes of intense colour in the palette of dark orange, black and off-white. Simple, classic furniture pieces like the shaker style chair (Hay do a simlar one, here) and brass domed kitchen pendant hold their own and yet perfectly compliment the space.

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Atrium-House-in-Berlin-by-bfs-design-1Beautifully restored by architectural firm bfs-design: Atrium House by Eduard Ludwig via Daily Icon.

Photos: Annette Kisling