Last weekend the EHD crew attended the Dwell on Design market. (Sara is taking the photo so she’s not in it). We cruised around, scoped out some new product and then over the weekend Sara and I went to the Home Tour to see what is happening in that world. I think it’s safe to say that often architects and designers live in two different spheres and approach design differently so it was really interesting to learn more about the architecture world and hear about their process and intent. While I do love to ‘decorate’ (something that architects don’t) I was inspired by a few things from the tour and it got me thinking – If I were to build a modern house, what would I include?
So taking inspiration from the weekend, I found 4 things that I would incorporate into a modern house, if I were to ever have one.
1. Open up as many rooms as possible to the outside. Sure, we live in Southern California where if you were doing a new build you’d be crazy to NOT do this but its importance was hammered home this weekend. We weren’t allowed to take photos in too many of the houses so many of these photos are sourced online – but we credited each below the photo for your reference.
Most of the houses we toured weren’t that big and yet they felt big because every room opened up to the exterior. You could barely tell where one space stopped and started.
Of course this whole ‘indoor/outdoor flow’ thing isn’t new, but I guess I hadn’t spent that much time in these modern houses before so the impact of that particular element was huge. Even if I wasn’t into the particular style of the house, it just felt so big, open and airy.
If you are remodeling and interested in doing this, we saw that a lot of the homes were using Nana doors which are folding doors that can be retrofitted into a remodel or obviously a new build, and can instantly change the flow of a room.
2. Include Pine, Cedar, Douglas fir both inside and out. Softwoods are happening folks. Now I’ve used Pine on our castle, Douglas fir on our beams and refinished on our old Redwood deck, but I have a cabin project coming up where I want to do something similar to the below picture on the entire insides of the structure.
That’s right. I want to clad it in eastern pine. Sealed, but not stained. How beautiful is that? It can go casual lake house, but it can also go modern cabin in a warmer way than white oak or maple.
I sure wish this was one of the houses we toured because that is amazing.
This bathroom is also 100% Douglas fir. Inexpensive, super durable and so pretty.
This kitchen is also out of Douglas fir and is so so beautiful and warm, yet modern. This particular partnership with Wood, Naturally is so satisfying because I’m able to show you how you can use less exotic wood in a really beautiful way (as well as the usual decks and castles ;)) is so fun.
As my regular readers might remember, Wood, Naturally is a campaign that encourages the use of softwoods in and around the home. Their website and pinterest has a lot of great resources – spanning from aspirational projects to simple how-to plans. So if you’re loving the softwood trend as much as I am, check them out.
Geez. That view. With the Douglas fir Beams, ceiling, and doors.
One of the houses on the home tour (below) had this beautiful original ceiling (the only thing that was original in the whole house, actually). It is Douglas fir that has been walnut blasted (sandblasted with walnut shells) which made it look original, unstained, unfinished and gave it more of a rustic look.
The architects (Hsu McCullough Architects) were generous with information about the ‘walnut blastin’ and I immediately googled it and found very little, but this upcoming cabin project has 100% Douglas fir on the huge ceilings with like 10 coats of brown stain. We refinished our Douglas fir beams in our current house but it was laborious which was expensive, and yet I don’t want to paint them so I think this could be a great solution. If any of you have experience with either sandblasting or WALNUT blasting (what?) please let me know.
Many of the houses in the tour used cedar in a few different ways, both interior and exterior:
In this home by Minarc, the garage and doors are cedar and the black siding is painted Douglas fir.
I know there are a lot of composite options out there, and while they claim lower maintenance I don’t like the look or feel of them at all. Faux wood isn’t my thing and I prefer the real stuff. I also recently was on a deck that was made entirely out of a composite material and had to quickly step off as it was too hot to actually step on or touch.
This cedar just sells that deck. We did meet a company, Thermory, at Dwell that utilized heat and steam in a thermal process. As a result, the wood requires less maintenance but is still 100% the real deal. I don’t think it’s cheap but it’s a great innovative new treatment. The above and below pic were from a house designed by, Jennifer Siegal from Office of Mobile Design, and in case you were wondering where those pillows and that rug were from (like I was on the tour) she got them from Merchant Modern and Studio Mandana.
3. Incorporate black to bring in some modern drama and contrast – in windows, railings, roofs, stairs, hardware and exterior siding. No surprise here as we’ve been seeing this for a while, but when the windows are huge and the frames aren’t chunky, even I want that drama. Now, I wouldn’t do black everything, but I’m into this trend for sure.
(Note, even more indoor/outdoor living).
It has to be combined with warmth for me. There are so many modern houses that feel too cold for this Oregon girl’s demeanor.
Sure, it doesn’t look like a house you’d think I’d build but I want to be there. That gray brick is super pretty.
When put with the right wood flooring and other warm/organic elements I’m into it. Maybe for me I’d be more on the ‘white house black roof’ side of things – like below.
Almost all of the windows of the houses we saw on the tour were black and while I would think that they would be busy, they were just lovely and dramatic. Does it make me wish I had painted ours black? (Remember this post?) Nope. Not in this house.
This was one of the houses we toured by Hsu McCullough Architects and their black windows even had more panes than the traditional style of window you would find in modern design but I loved it.
4. Concealed and built-in storage – so many builtins, so much less furniture, and very rarely is there any hardware.
Who doesn’t love a secret closet (with lots of secret storage)?
When it comes to storage yeah, conceal that stuff. And while I do love ‘free standing furniture’ more than architects do, a built-in like this below is pretty striking.
From the tour we saw this built-in desk and storage, which had a lot of ingenious function.
And this built-in floating vanity that was stunning from the house that was designed by Office of Mobile Design by Jennifer Siegal.
See? No hardware to be found.
One of the things that I loved learning about architecture (which you might already know) is that a large part of an architect’s job is to study the sun and wind before planning the design of the home to make sure that every room as a lot of natural light, but without harsh light. For instance you don’t want the sun to be beaming harshly in the dining room at 6pm, during dinner and when you have all the doors open you want the air to flow enough but make sure that the the house doesn’t become a wind tunnel. All of these houses had such amazing light and flow.
I can’t ever imagine doing a new build for myself (I don’t have the 3 year patience it takes) but regardless I was inspired by the ideas in the houses and the subsequent googling we did to find stunning versions of them.
Thanks to Wood, Naturally for sponsoring us at Dwell on Design and the Home Tours, and to Dwell for hosting us at the trade show and the architectural tour. We had such a great time, and loved getting a peek into some of these modern homes.
Besides these things, what modern elements would you put in your new modern fantasy house?