Maison Toscana is a rustic country estate with a Mediterranean lifestyle transformed by designer Jessica Bataille, found in the coastal town of Jávea, in the province of Alicante, Valencia, Spain. The owners discovered this dream retreat nestled in the middle of a pine forest near the beach. A 19th century villa built in traditional architecture, resulting in a comfortable home with simple and chic touches, designed to delight the senses with a slow life philosophy. Unique characteristics are featured throughout the home, such as thick stone walls, stone arches, a mediterranean garden and romantic arabic pool.
Despite the rustic building strength, the rooms exude a sophisticated romantic charm. Decorating styles and cultures with traditional Mediterranean architecture seem to intermingle; such as mixing Oriental and European antique pieces. In turn, the pursuit of warmth has been a constant. The selected textiles with rich textures of silk, velvets and lines to create an atmosphere that brings in the glamor of environments. An example of this is in the living room, where pink raw silk curtains and colorful cushions on the blue couch show a simple yet gorgeous appeal.
All lights are on dimmer switches, including the outdoors. The interior was considered essential to igniting ‘magic’ into the environment. Warmth was infused throughout with three fireplaces, with the fire and candles being basic to creating a cozy atmosphere and soul.
Photos: Nuevo Estilo
As spring approaches and we wave goodbye to those chilly wintery months it’s time once more to turn our attention and our green thumbs to some fine tuning in the garden. Aside from the essentials such as a little pruning here and there, making sure your lawns are well cut, cleaned up and weed free and some all round tender loving care your garden can be reborn for the spring season. But of course there is plenty of other gardening tips and advice that could help you to recreate the visual appeal of your garden area and help you to inject a little creativity into your surroundings.
Time for a Spring Clean
It’s imperative to ensure that everything in your garden is readily prepared for the forthcoming spring months following its neglect during the winter time. Tidy up your shrubs, bushes and trees to lighten certain areas to make sure the sun hits all the right spots in your garden. Even taking a little time to clean your gardening tools will pay dividends.
Weeding Things Out
If you have a number of weeds poking their way through your greenery in your garden then there’s no better time than to rip them out. The roots will be shallow and easily removable.
Paving the Way
Whilst the natural side of your garden will be blooming this spring after a much needed clean-up you mustn’t overlook the other items in your garden. Wash down your paving tiles, ornaments and other outdoor décor.
Time to Veg Out
If you’re self-sufficient or interested in growing your own vegetables then once spring is upon us and the soil becomes more workable, then it’s the ideal time to plant a number of popular spring vegetables like spinach, lettuce and leeks.
Gates and Fencing
Introducing an eye-catching fixture such as a set of attractive fences or a uniquely outstanding gate design, such as the Portcullis automatic gates, will frame your garden area and help to envelop your new spring garden. If you already something similar in place then give it a spruce up or a new paint job to help freshen things up.
Preparing for Summer
It may seem crazy to even be considering the summertime before spring has well and truly spring but it really is the best time of the year to plant a number of notable seeds and bulbs. Gladiolus and Lilies are just a couple of examples of some fantastic bulbs that flower perfectly in those warm summer months.
Photo Sources: 1. Matloboes, 2. Genus Loci Ecological Landscapes Inc., 3. – 4. Pinterest, 5. Taylor Bryan Company, 6. Pinterest, 7. Mother Earth News, 8. Zaremba & Company, 9. Harold Leidner Landscape Architects, 10. Pinterest
Tetris House is a modern wooden volume promoting indoor / outdoor living, architecturally designed in 2012 by Studio MK27, located in São Paulo, Brazil. Comprised of 6,673 square feet (620 square meters) of living space showcasing a warm and intimate open plan design, high ceilings and welcoming views out to the swimming pool and garden.
Description from the architect: A wooden volume in line with the eastern facade – with a little more 2.85 meters high and 19 meters long – rests within a ceiling height of 5.15 meters and 11.75 in the front. Configuring a permeable space between the entrance and the back of the lot, the living room is the emptiness that results from this organization of the plan on this lot. The space is delimited – together with the eastern facade – by a wooden shelf that contains the library and a fireplace. This is the architectural design of Tetris House, located in São Paulo.
The wooden Box on the lot shelters on the inside, the washroom, the stairs and the dining room, which opens entirely to the ample garden in the back, like an esplanade (terrace), looking from the inside in. (de dentro para dentro) The ceiling of this living room, a slatted wooden lining – creates a cozy, intimate sensation, contrasting with the spatial sensation of larger monumentality of the lot. The four bedrooms, including a master suite looking out to the garden in the back, are on the floor upstairs.
The seals – such as the wooden slats that function as a filter applied to movable panels– were designed to create greater comfort for the inner spaces. The sun’s heat, when the panels are closed, is retained by this type of brise soleil, while the wind continues to chill the inside. The shape of the lot, long and straight, has traced a longitudinal implantation of the house and the living room can have a cross-ventilation to the gardens.
The wooden lining of the ground floor is prolonged to the outside and becomes the very façade. The stone on the floor of the living room goes out to the terrace and the same material on the inner walls continues out to the façade. In this way, there is continuity not only of the circulation between the inside and out, but also of the materials, dissolving spatial limits.
Photos: Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
V9 House is a bright and airy residence that caters to the lifestyle of the homeowners, designed by VGZ Arquitectura, located in Mexico City, Mexico. The volumes of the 10,333 square foot (960 square meters) home were oriented to maximize the sunshine and views. The residence offers sustainable features such as rainwater harvesting and use of solar energy.
Description from the architect: The house is built on a fan-shaped 800 square meters plot, open to the northeast. After volumetric studies, we decided on an H scheme, rotating the north body to get the most sunlight and south aperture, and tilting the roofs to the north.
The objective was open spaces and low footprint, creating a house surrounded by gardens, where every space has natural light and fresh air during the day, opening up to the south and making the most of the views.
The program responds to client needs on three levels: basement for parking and services, first floor for social life and second floor for family life. The gardens, with an exterior kitchen and dinning space on one side and a sunset terrace with a fireplace on the other, become an important part of this family´s life.
The steel structure allowed us to have longer spans of open space and continuity on transparency, integrating the interior and exterior, while the rotated volumes result in interesting angle intersections of stone and glass with steel frames.
For the material palette, we concentrated on stone for the vertical planes and wood for the horizontal ones, creating a warm environment that sets a canvas for eclectic decoration.
Landscape and natural light were essential design instruments, while lighting plays an important role in the design intention. We used a siphon system to collect rainwater and purify it so that during rainy season there is no need for municipal water. The garden and parking use only treated water.
Electricity and hot water are generated by solar energy and the entire facade is double insulated glass with UV protection for maximum energy conservation.
Photos: Rafael Gamo
25 Green was designed by Luciano Pia as a residential steel structure appearing like a forest where trees are rooting in terraces, located in Torino, Italy. Built in 2012, the building has been thought as a living forest, a house on the trees like the houses children dream of and sometimes build. The property also features ponds which are crossed by footings and lush gardens covering the roofs.
The project comes from the necessity of making a residential building of 80,729 square feet (7500 square meters) to complement a block featured by lack of homogeneity and heterogeneous prospects. The aim of the project is both the construction of the block perimeter with a continuous facade and the making of a filter between the internal inhabited space and the streets. The project wants to create a flowing and smooth transition space to soften the passage from the inside to the outside where the space is always enjoyable. The smooth and changeable transition is emphasized by a targeted use of the green and the building materials so to create a structure which is compact and distinct but also transparent, mutable and enjoyable.
It is a special building because it is alive: it grows up, it breaths and it changes since 150 trees with tall trunks cover its terraces. Together with 50 trees planted in the court garden they produce oxygen, absorb carbonic anhydride, cut down air pollution, protect from noise, follow the natural cycle of Seasons, grow up day after day and create a perfect microclimate inside the building so diminuishing the fall and rise in temperature in summertime and wintertime.
The streeps in solid wood that floor the terraces filter the sunlight in summer, while in winter they let the light break into the house. The wainscot in larch shingles is a sort of soft and vibrant surface. The metal structures look like trees and they “grow” from the groundfloor to the roof while holding up the wooden planking of the terraces: they become entwined with the vegetation to form a unique facade.
One of the aims of the project is the increase of the energetic efficiency and for this reason several integrated solutions have been adopted: continuous insulation, sun protection, heating and cooling systems which make use of the geothermal energy with heat pumps and recycling of the falling rain to water the green.
There are 63 residential units in the building and they are all different and fitted with wide terraces of irregular shapes that surround the trees. The last floor is covered with private green roofs.
The green is diversified: big vases on the terraces, court gardens, green walls and roof gardens just in front of the lofts.
In the vases there are trees or shrubs of different heights from 2.5 meters to 8 meters. Deciduous species have been planted to have sun irradiation in wintertime too. The choise of the species, even if diversified according to the different needs, has been made to grant a variety of leaves, colors and flowering.
When all the green is fully blooming it gives the feeling of living in a tree house. You can dream of a house or live in a dream!
Photos: Beppe Giardino
Casa CP 78 is a project offering better quality of life through functional and contemporary design by Taller Estilo Arquitectura, located in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. The design of the 5,209 square foot (484 square meters) home plays with the existing building and the built elements, where the value of the textures and details in highlights new forms of contemporary expression.
An architecture with soft limits that can react to the natural environment answering their varied elements: light, water, wind, etc. This means sensitive to the nature architecture.
Part of the original structure became the axis computer remodeling, establishing a dialogue between old and new, this provides a linear path toward providing all visual spaces and gardens of the house with the idea of achieving transparency and uniformity making possible the special features of the site.
The house consists of two floors:
Downstairs the original building which remained without major alterations houses, spaces that shape are: Garage, hallway, living room, guest bedroom and bathroom. The staircase as a sculptural element contained in a double-height space plays the role of connector, giving way to the new building open plan that enhances the contrast between the original building and the new elements where the kitchen space, living room. Curtain walls generate integrated and wider spaces.
A home to be lived outside where the double height terrace, pool and gardens is in the main service area; the end result is an open space with sophisticated finishes that give the house a unique character, where people regain a sense of being truly alive.
Upstairs the bedrooms are located, where the master bedroom has a semi-open double height terrace where architectural hierarchy is established.
Photos: Alberto Cáceres
Gubbins House is a contemporary property designed by Antonio Zaninovic Architecture Studio in collaboration with Rees Roberts & Partners, located at the base of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The project won a 2010 Honor Award from the American Society and Landscape Architects for its many sustainable features and its incredible local flora garden.
Surrounded by protected natural parklands on three sides, the house was built on an exceptional plot at the base of Table Mountain with sweeping views down to the city and harbor below. The site lies alongside a ravine, where amid the dense vegetation a stream flows in an uninterrupted path from the mountain parks above all the way to the city dams below.
Tucked in against the mountain, the structure was designed to integrate as much as possible with its surrounding landscape. An excavated courtyard gives access to the house, ensuring total privacy from the street and an adjacent neighbor and also protecting its inhabitants from the strong southern winds. This tranquil space complete with a pond and sculptural indigenous trees leads to the six-meter-high foyer tower which articulates the different elements of the house that continue out from that central focal point.
From there, the sleeping quarters branch off to the west and hover over the ravine and trees. The more public entertaining spaces extend towards the north, and by cantilevering these spaces over the garden and swimming pool below, views afforded to the forest, city, and ocean below were maximized. Towards the south, the kitchen and service rooms enjoy the protection of the mountainside from the fierce natural elements.
In terms of energy and functional programming, the foyer is the central location for various processes that keep the house running efficiently. A reflective pond filled with borehole water flows from the interiors to the outside; in turn, breezes travel over the water back inside through low windows, helping to cool the house in the summer. Once outside, the pond continues into a waterfall, which becomes a filter for the natural swimming pool below as well as a seamless water wall for the sauna room behind. The foyer’s roof also houses the solar components that provide under-floor water heating during the winter months, in addition to hot water year round.
While the house was designed to employ cross-ventilation, temperature control is also achieved through the inclusion of semi-excavated rooms in the built house, which allow the stable temperatures of the earth to act as a climactic moderator. Heat-repelling glass and appropriate cantilevers to the north combined with highly insulated glass to the south keep heat in or out, depending on the season. Notably, the house was built with locally produced materials to maximize constructive potential by utilizing the craftsmanship and techniques native to the region.
The landscape draws on the context of the site by continuing the Fynbos, a natural heathland vegetation native to a small belt of the Western Cape, down from Table Mountain and through the garden landscape, effectively marrying it with the surrounding mountains. Garden pathways and steps meander through the varied planting areas, creating a seamless connection between interior and garden rooms. An outdoor seating area is nestled in the plantings away from the mountain winds, yet has dynamic views of the Cape Town Harbor below. In addition to the waterfall, the natural swimming pool also uses plantings to filter the water, giving the experience of swimming in a crystal clear lake. Ultimately, the landscape is designed to fully integrate the built house with its natural surrounding environment.
The design strategy for the interiors also takes cues from the surrounding site. Rich carpets and fabrics are juxtaposed against hard concrete floors and other simple surfaces. Modern furniture with clean lines is employed along with more sculptural pieces and artwork that add character and vitality to the interior mood. The simple color palette of the house gives a bright and airy feeling that defers to the views outside. The outdoors is also actively engaged, as in the case of the Master Bedroom and its free form plan that extends toward an open air screening space. Despite its carefully planned and richly treated interiors, the house retains a comfortable and relaxed style that draws upon recognizably native elements such as local wood paneled walls and pieces by local artists.
Skirt + Rock House is a modest bungalow design by MCK Architects, perched on a hill overlooking Vaucluse House, an historic garden estate located in the harbourside suburb of Vaucluse, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The clients were equally modest, simply needing more space for their family and a better connection to the garden, sunlight and air. The architects initial response was to maintain as much of the house as we could, but the new program required the removal of rear rooms for a larger living area, and the tiled roof to provide first floor accommodation. The introduction of new form and textures are responsive to the existing bungalow.
The existing gardens contained two large eucalyptus that greet you on your rise up the hill, and a large rock that sat in the hill to the rear of the house, which became our focal and pivotal natural element in the new composition.
With the underlying philosophy of relative modesty, the new form is setback, maintaining existing amenity enjoyed by neighbors. First floor accommodation is concealed in the black roof form, providing a recessive appearance from the street, nestling into the landscape, and being undemanding, unlike close neighbors.
When arriving at the house you walk up through the garden to the door at the lower entrance level. Rising to the main living level of the house you experience the union of old and new, arriving in the central void that contains kitchen and lounge, opening onto outdoor dining, pond and garden areas. A connection to the old formal dining area and front verandah, with period detailing meeting new, again blurs the distinction between the architectural periods.
We arrived at the double height central void early in the design, as it allowed access to desired sunlight, air and connection to the landscape, with our ‘rock’ becoming a feature in the lounge room. The shingled roof contains the void and envelops a parent’s suite and gallery library/study. It rests on two legs at opposite corners of the building allowing possibility of a clear opening to the garden and pond at this level. It opens like an eye to the sky and trees folding and undulating along the perimeter of the plan. When describing this form to the client, and the experience one might feel standing in the lounge room looking out, the analogy of a skirt was used and then stuck, hence skirt and rock.
The planning is centered around the living space, with the teenager quarters discreetly located behind the kitchen, with a central staircase leading to the parents. A living room to the lower level doubles as guest room and teenage retreat, with it’s own external sitting area. All rooms look onto the garden and have plenty of sunlight and natural ventilation.
Photos: Richard Glover
Building an interior courtyard design into your home, spaces defined by walls on four sides, draws natural light and air of the outdoors into the center of your residence. These spaces may seem unnecessary with front and back yards, but they offer a Zen like quality that can bring a tremendous amount of pleasure to the homeowner. Having an interior courtyard in your home can filter sunlight into areas of the home that may not otherwise have natural light. In conjunction with well-planned landscaping, this area can seem like a private oasis protected from neighbors with a patch of ground and some sky that allows you a connection to the outdoors. We have gathered together a collection of inspiring examples of interior courtyards that may make them essential in your next renovation project!
If you are looking for further inspiration on bringing the outdoors into your home, have a look at one of our past articles, 60 Most sensational sunroom design inspirations.
Photo Sources: 1. HAHN Design, 2. Guz Architects, 3. Ong & Ong, 4. Russell Builders Inc., 5. Linebox Studio, 6. Nuevo Estilo, 7. Max Brunner, 8. Ehrlich Architects, 9. MESH Architectures, 10. Ikea Family Live Magazine, 11. Real Estate AU, 12. Flickr, 13. Bourne Blue Architecture, 14. Koch Architects, 15. Robeson Design, 16. Ron Neal Lighting Design, 17. Cornerstone Architects, 18. Studio Aiko, 19. Raymond Jungles Inc., 20. South Coast Architects, 21. Pinterest, 22. Studio Mumbai Architects, 23. MMTRA visualization, 24. Sennikoff Architects, 25. Alexandre Parent Photography, 26. SG Livingpod, 27. South Coast Architects, 28. Kappe + DU Architects, 29. Artisan Builds, 30. Dirk Denison Architects, 31. Elle Decor, 32. The Front Door Architecture, 33. John Maniscalco Architecture, 34. Vanguard Studio Inc., 35. Allen Associates, 36. Spinnaker Development, 37. Elevation Architectural Studios, 38. Celebrity Communities, 39. Conrad Design Group, 40. Spinnaker Development, 41. Sutton Suzuki Architects, 42. Window World, 43. Jarosz Architect, 44. Laidlaw Schultz Architects, 45. Cornerstone Architects, 46. Pacific Western Painting, 47. Celebrity Communities, 48. Thompson Custom Homes, 49. Antonio Martins Interior Design, 50. Celebrity Communities, 51. Sennikoff Architects, 52. FormLA Landscaping, 53. Fratantoni Luxury Estates, 54. Harrison Design Associates, 55. MVN Arquitectos, 56. Secret Gardens, 57. Inspired Property Designs, 58. Falling Waters Landscape
Connect With Us!