Eclectic Homes

Must-Know Modern Homes: Gropius House

Along with Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius (1883–1969) is considered one of the masters of modern architecture. His buildings aren’t as widely known as among the other three architects, however his role as a teacher at the Bauhaus School in Germany, also at Harvard University after immigrating to the United States in 1937, cemented this status.

Gropius founded the Bauhaus School in Weimar in 1914, at the start of World War I, penning a manifesto five decades after when the school began in earnest. In it he called for people to “desire, conceive, and create the new structure of their near future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in 1 unity.”

These words indicate the contemporaneous De Stijl manifesto, but the conclusion of the Bauhaus’ new dwelling in 1926 in Dessau is a different direction than buildings such as the Rietveld-Schröder House. Considered Gropius’ masterpiece, the Bauhaus is an asymmetrical complex with all-glass exterior walls that he described as “accommodated into our universe of machines, radios and fast cars” and aligned “with all the new audacity of engineering.”

But seven decades after the Bauhaus closed under pressure from the Nazi regime, and Gropius, working on his own at the moment, fled to England. Four years later that he put out for the United States (as did Mies van der Rohe, to Chicago) at the invitation of the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design to direct the Department of Architecture, shifting it from a Beaux-Arts college to a concentrated on the “new architecture.” Close to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gropius constructed a house for himself, an expression of his ideals in a foreign land. As we’ll see, the house shows how modern architecture, often seen as universalizing, actually responds to particulars of location.

Gropius House at a Glance
Year constructed: 1938
Walter Gropius
Location: Lincoln, Massachusetts
Visiting information: Self-guided tours accessible
Size: 2,300 square feet

More: 10 Must-Know Modern Homes

Gropius managed to create the home for his family through the generosity of Helen Storrow, a wealthy Boston matron, who provided him the land and a loan. Gropius worked on the house using Marcel Breuer, a colleague from the Bauhaus; the two would work together before the early 1940s.

Here we view the north elevation, with the front door beneath the canopy and supporting the glass block wall. A spiral stair leads to a second-floor terrace.

The land that Gropius was provided is near Walden Pond — Historic New England, which currently administers the house, gives this direction to it : “Route 126 South past Walden Pond.” The immigrant architect supposedly discussed Thoreau in writing concerning the house when it comes beyond physical closeness to the pond.

The house is surrounded by an apple orchard and other trees. It takes advantage of the circumstance through large windows and terraces, possibly a modern interpretation of Thoreau’s communing with nature.

Architectural historian Kenneth Frampton explains the house in his analysis: It is “more sculptural than most photos suggest. … [It] is a dynamic spatial article.” We’ve seen the primarily closed north (entry) side of this house; here we see that the south side, which invites the sun in through bigger windows and can be carved for the second-floor terrace.

The west side is anchored by a brick wall that contains the fireplace for the first-floor living room. The home’s sculptural attributes are most conspicuous in this view, where we view that the roof overhang propped upon slim pilotis as well as the trellised patio and a screened porch on the back of the house.

The solution to the house is via a driveway that comes in the northeast. This angle presents an extremely International-style appearance of the home’s planar white walls, ribbon windows and asymmetry. Yet some vertical lines can be felt when looking carefully at the bright east facade. Rather than whitewashed concrete block partitions — as was the norm with many modern buildings in Europe — Gropius utilized white vertically lapped siding on a wood balloon framework. (The steel columns in the previous photograph reveal that the structure is a hybrid vehicle in components.) Gropius found inspiration with the standard building methods and materials of the region, all of the while creating something different from the norm.

A canopy reaches out in the north facade at an angle, as if to catch people from the driveway. About halfway up the road to the front door is a glass block, a primitive separation from the vernacular substances that Gropius utilized. A glance round the wall shows the spiral stair leading to an opening in the exterior wall, what’s one of the most intriguing aspects of the design. (A spiral stair around the front of a house? Where does it lead?)

The glass block wall straddles inside and outside, making some refuge on the exterior and bringing a few indirect natural lighting to the interior.

A few steps inside the entryway and one is faced with a spiraling stair leading to the second floor. Again, there is something of a balance between new and old happening. Architect Alexander Gorlin explains how “the plan can be interpreted as a modern variant of the typical Colonial, using a central stair hall and also the living area to a side, the kitchen on the other, and the bedrooms over.” From that view toward the front door, the living room is about the left and the kitchen is behind us to the right.

Off the entry hall is Gropius’ study, which appears north through a large window. A doorway from the analysis into the front door also leads to the spiral stair outside; this doorway and the stair are due to how the second-floor access to the patio is through the children’s room. (See the floor plan below.)

Opposite the plate glass wall is just another glass block wall, separating the study from the dining room and living area.

Here is a view of the dining area from the living room; the two are basically an L-shaped open space wrapping around the analysis through the glass block wall. The furniture pieces in the dining room are Bauhaus originals made by Marcel Breuer that Gropius attracted from Germany.

Access to the bedroom in the master suite is by way of the dressing room of Gropius’ spouse, Ise. (The cupboard and toilet are on the left.) This special and possibly inconvenient situation is remedied by a transparent glass wall having a mirror mirror separating the two spaces.

Our final view of the house is of this second-floor terrace, looking west; the opening out of the spiral stair is just out of frame to the right. Here we can find a better glimpse of this timber siding that covers the house. We can also see a house that Gropius and Breuer made for Breuer on precisely the same land from Helen Storrow.

Gropius expired in 1969, and his wife decided 10 decades after to donate the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, currently Historic New England. The Gropius House opened as a museum in 1985, two years following Ise’s passing. In 2002 the house was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Forty-five decades of attention by the Gropiuses and regular restorations by Historic New England mean the house and its original furnishings are in fantastic shape and worth seeing in person.

Conrads, Ulrich, ed. Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture. MIT Press, 1994 (first published in 1964).Curtis, William J.R. Modern Architecture Since 1900. Prentice-Hall, third edition, 1996 (first published in 1982).Frampton, Kenneth and Larkin, David. American Masterworks: The Twentieth Century House. Rizzoli, 1995. Gorlin, Alexander. Tomorrow’s Houses: New England Modernism. Rizzoli, 2011.
Historic New EnglandMore: 10 Must-Know Modern Homes

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Coastal Style

New Classics: The 9093 Teakettle

In 1985 The Cosby Show was number one in the evaluations, the Live Aid concert happened, Back to the upcoming was the highest-grossing movie, I was wearing a very short, asymmetrical New Wave hairdo and Michael Graves became the first American designer to create an object for Alessi. It was a smart teakettle designed for mass production, and thus far it’s outsold every other Alessi item. It is a slick design with a whimsical bird whistle at the end of the spout. You’d be amazed at the selection of kitchen fashions it fits right into; have a look below while I do the math on how many poor hair trends its own style has outlasted (really big perms came next) …


Alessi 9093 Kettle – $184

The teakettle’s layout gives a postmodern wink; it’s a slick mirrored-steel kettle of quite careful geometry and proportions, but then it’s this practical blue plastic handle letting you know that it’s OK to touch this part, along with a red cartoonish bird that screeches at you if the water is prepared. I wonder if those colour choices were Graves’ way of injecting a small bit of USA to the iconic Italian company’s product lineup.

Old World Kitchens & Custom Cabinets

This kitchen seems as if it could have been inspired by Graves’ kettle, with its stainless steel elements and gorgeous use of blue.

A+B KASHA Designs

The kettle is right at home being one of the only cosmetic objects in a kitchen that is minimalist.

Mal Corboy Design

Holly Marder

The kettle consists of 18/10 polished stainless steel and measures 8 1/2 inches in diameter and 9 inches high. The tapered design is efficient for boiling water fast.

Mauricio Nava Design, LLC

Ronan Rose Roberts Architects

Additionally, it works well in modern kitchens filled with warm wood accents.

Kindred Construction Ltd..

A shiny steel backsplash reflects the kettle here. Another new classic we’ve explored recently will be the chairs in this kitchen. They’re Hat Trick Chairs with a starchitect and product-designer colleague of Graves, Frank Gehry.

Rusk Renovations

The 9093 also adds a pop of charm charm to transitional kitchens.

Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd..

Reico Kitchen & Bath

The kettle holds its own at a country-style kitchen perhaps as it’s a tiny critter atop its spout.

Ike Kligerman Barkley

Birdseye Design

The holding-its-own statement is true whether the kettle is in a room with full size country charm or a single with subtle country touches, such as this one. Chances are, one of these would work in your kitchen also; at 28 years old, it’s the most popular teakettle found in kitchen photographs.

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Eclectic Homes

Ocean Views Exhilarate on the Sunshine Coast

British Columbia is one. So it makes great sense that just a short ferry ride from Vancouver, a coastal house will wrap its arms around its own environment. “The owners wanted some wood frame and natural components to tie it in with the site and felt it should be a low-profile structure from the street,” says architect Kevin Simoes of Streamline Design. “They desired a beautiful house on the inside but did not feel the need to showcase that from the road”

They moved with an easy A-frame and incorporated timbers for most of the structural components. Simoes’ layout was limited by the bunch, which has setbacks on three sides, for example, sea side. “The site really ordered what we can do in regard to the footprint and layout of the house,” he says.

Working with designer Jonalyn Siemens, he made a minimalist yet charming getaway that’s beautiful inside and outside.

at a Glance
Who lives here: This is a weekend retreat for a designer and her husband.
Location: Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia
Size: 3,400 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms
That’s interesting: The house was constructed with a sustainably harvested Douglas fir wood frame and has a metal roof and a rainwater collection system.

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

An open living room, dining area and kitchen features a big portion of the most important level. “It is very popular with us to design such a manner and join all these open spaces,” says Simoes. “In this specific house, it allowed the great room and dining area to be slightly smaller than we would normally make them still feel as though they have more volume than they really do.”

Dining table: Restoration Hardware; chairs: Another Room; chandelier: Halo, Roost; sleeper couch: Willow Studio; mermaid sculpture: Alisa Shebib; fireplace: handmade Updated tile, Solus Vancouver

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

Seven doors open the space to the outside up . The floors throughout are engineered walnut from Lauzon.

Bar stools: Pier 1 imports, draped with sheepskin; pendant: Hudson Valley lighting, Luminosa Light Design; windows, doors: Dynamic Windows

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

An aggregate concrete route leads to the entry. There is into the mudroom A doorway off to the best.

The exterior is Douglas fir wood frame made without the wood’s heart. Simoes explains that because timber shrinks and expands, you don’t wish to work with the heart, or centre pith, of the timber. Nonheart timber is not as likely to expand, contract or spin over time.

Timber frame: West Coast Log Homes

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The beams and posts are Douglas fir timbers. A floating staircase is Douglas fir and has a steel and cable railing. A similar railing leads to the reduced level, which contains two bedrooms, a rec room, a wine room and a media room.

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

Moveable portholes are fun features that help provide venting, since there aren’t many operable windows on the front part of the house.

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The kitchen includes high-gloss white Euro cabinetry with Merit Kitchens, a stainless steel square tile backsplash from Custom Flooring and KitchenAid appliances (with the exception of a Miele dishwasher).

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The homeowners plan to make use of the upstairs attic as a sitting area and library. Another area of the room contains a wall of bookshelves.

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

“Normally we wouldn’t place this kind of beam construction at a space where only the vertical post is required,” says Simoes. “But we wanted to add additional visual interest, as well as the beamwork helps to specify the kitchen space, not only when you’re down below looking up, but also when you’re up in the attic looking down”

He integrated the structural post which supports the ridge beam into the kitchen island. “Rather than have a stand-alone post, we wanted to integrate it in the island to give it a tiny bit more mass and to floor it.”

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The master bedroom is on the main level, and you can see through the two-way fireplace into the excellent room.

Custom bed: Vincent Lang Furnishings; bedding, cushions, carpet: Designers Guild; pendant lamps: Luminosa Light Design; standing lamp: Adesso; couch, ottoman, draperies: custom by Jonalyn Siemens

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

We desired the master bath tub to be the focal point of the space,” says Simoes. “The owners love to sit here and feel as though they’re about the sea.”

Bathtub, sink: Ravello, Victoria and Albert; tub fixtures: Axor Massaud, Hansgrohe

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The simple yet lavish finishes at the master bathroom comprise polished travertine tiles atop the vanity.

Mirrors: Restoration Hardware; sconces: Hudson Valley lighting, Luminosa Light Design; faucet fixtures: Axor Massaud, Hansgrohe

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The homeowners wanted to maintain the master bathroom as spacious as possible. Sliding doors open into the bedroom, and picture windows provide a view of the sea from the shower.

Shower walls: limestone; flooring: pebble tiles, Ecolfor; fixtures: Axor, Hansgrohe

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

Practical and visually attractive, the mudroom with laundry has a countertop and loads of storage.

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

This is only one of two guest bathrooms on the lower level.

Shower tile: polished ceramic, Olympia Tile; sinks, sink fixtures: Ronbow; mirrors: Home Depot; sconces: Hudson Valley lighting, Luminosa Light Design; shower fixtures: Hansgrohe

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

The cedar rear deck runs the entire 45-foot span of the house.

Deck furniture: Costco; fire pit: Solus Vancouver

Streamline Design Ltd. – Kevin Simoes

A log staircase from the main floor deck brings down into a gazebo and a route into the sea.

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Finish Your Flooring to Perfection With Parquet

Parquet flooring can bring amazing timber floors up a notch with its incredible detailing. So many designs are now available, in the traditional brick or basket appearance to upgraded chevron and herringbone designs. Each beautiful and intricate design can add interest and value to your property.

Originally a French feature dating from 1684, parquet flooring is made of solid blocks of hardwoods, laid over tie pubs in square, triangular or lozenge layouts, then nailed in place. This manner of flooring became increasingly popular with the wealthy, as it did not trap moisture and encourage rotting joists the manner marble flooring did. Today this elegant design can add historic interest to modern, modern or traditional homes.

Hendel Homes

Definitions. Purists use the term “parquetry” to reference wood flooring or furniture using angular and geometric patterns, while “marquetry” identifies curved shapes. “Parquet” is the expression used for flooring. These days any kind of woodblock floor layout can be known as “parquet flooring”

Shown: This timeless basket-weave, panel parquet flooring remains is one of the most popular designs. Within this sophisticated setting it grounds the room when harmonizing with the glazed French paneling.

Designed To Appeal

Selecting your wood. Shop around to your parquet flooring. Timber choice is just as important as design.

Is the timber domestic or exotic? Is it solid or engineered? What’s the overall thickness and length of the wood? Will the wear coating work for high-traffic locations? Is the wood finished in gloss, semigloss or wax? Choose the materials and finish you need before settling on your own design.

The most important issue when choosing your flooring is the wear coating. Every other detail is about personal choice. If you know you can repair and refinish your parquet flooring again and again, you’ll have spent your money wisely.

Shown: The brick layout used within this parquet flooring instantly informs us this is 21st-century architecture.

Global Hotel Resources LLC

Utilizing engineered timber. In case you choose to use engineered hardwood to your parquet floors, keep a few things in mind. The thickness of the floor can range from 10 to 20 millimeters complete. Since the surface is actual wood, it should be as thick as you can. When the surface is thinner compared to .6 millimeters, it makes it very hard to refinish after harm. Aim for the top layer of the veneer to be between 2 and 6 millimeters.

The layers under the veneer also matter. There can be three to 12 layers of plywood and unfinished wood, so request as many layers as your budget can handle for the best strength and durability.

Shown: The panel parquet floor within this Scandinavian-inspired area has a lozenge (diamond) design accomplished in a modern manner.

Cravotta Interiors

Block versus panel. Should you decide on solid wood at a block or plank design for parquet flooring, it is worth buying a business that does technical installations.

Panel parquet flooring uses preassembled squares in prearranged patterns; block parquet flooring has individual pieces of parquetry, precut in custom lengths and widths. In both methods, each individual block or panel is glued and pinned to a plywood substrate onsite. The pieces are then coated and finished with all the desired lacquer.

Shown: At a highly conventional setting, parquet flooring contrasts with tiles may help divide darker timbers.


Finishing parquet flooring. The finish you select requires careful thought. A film-forming product such as varnish works good for high-traffic areas. Polyurethane varnishes in matte, satin or gloss finishes are normally the most frequent — all need around two to three coatings. Penetrating oils, such as a wax finish, improve the appearance and texture of natural timber and dry to a satin matte sheen.

In case your parquet flooring is constructed from unfinished solid hardwood, allow at least 36 hours for the glue to cure before applying clogs or clogs.

Shown: Increasingly popular, this totally modern chevron (also called a stage de hongrie) design is simple but highly effective.

Tuthill structure

Gluing. The glues used for placing parquet flooring can vary in quality, so it is best to take advice from the installer. If parquet flooring is applied directly over a concrete slab, then make sure to use two coats of epoxy membrane so the wood doesn’t buckle from moisture later on.

Both panel- and – block-style parquetry pieces will need to take a seat in the room for at least 72 hours before installation so the wood can adapt to the room temperature.

Shown: The different tones of this Brazilian walnut block parquet flooring pop in a herringbone design. The border defines different spaces at the long hall.

Anthony Baratta LLC

Figuring out the design. When a parquet design is highly complicated, the most important purpose is to keep the parquet squares symmetrical with all the walls.

In this photograph, the staircase functions as the focus of the room, hence the pieces necessary to be lined up using the staircase rather than the walls. A boundary was inserted into the periphery of the floor, to assist with this.

Shown: The high-gloss varnish on this floor makes for an extremely hard-wearing surface — great in an entry hall which sees a lot of traffic.

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Kitchen Guides

Kitchen Counters: Plastic Laminate Offers Options Aplenty

Vinyl laminate, when the conventional surface for postwar house kitchen countertops, still has a major market share due to affordable and maintenance-free options in loads of colors and patterns. Check out the fundamentals and unique considerations here to determine if a plastic laminate counter might be right for your kitchen.

Formica Group

The fundamentals: Vinyl laminate countertops include a wafer-thin finish adhered to a plywood or particleboard substrate. That thin finish is really a high heeled laminate (HPL); it is made of three layers of material bonded together by high heat and pressure: a clear melamine top for protection, a decorative layer and a backing made of phenolic resin-coated kraft paper. Well-known laminate producers include Formica, Wilsonart and Nevamar.

Costs: $8 to $20 per square foot, including installation.

BAAN layout

Special concerns: Because laminates are so thin, border details need forethought to avoid that telltale brown line at the counter’s edge. Alternatives include:
Profiled advantage: Laminates have advanced to currently have beveled, ogee and bullnose edge profiles, which differ by producer. Edge ring: These thick and compact veneers are adhered to the cabinet edge and are made for abuse. Choose ABS plastic border bands over PVC whenever possible, as ABS is recyclable and chlorine free. Metal border: Go retro with this detail that harks back to the 1950s; a metal border is fastened into the edge of the counter top. Neatniks might think twice about this detail. Engineered plywood: As shown in this picture, some contemporary designs showcase the thin laminate veneer and then adhere it to top plywood, leaving the thin veneer border plus plies exposed.

Formica Group

Benefits:Low price and a plethora of options are the boon here. Laminates come in an astonishing variety of colors, patterns and finishes: from eggplant to amberwalnut to marble and high gloss to grained.

Disadvantages: Keep your cutting boards useful, as knives may wreak havoc on the melamine finish. And trivets should be used with hot pans, as the lamination is heat resistant to only 150 degrees.

Fougeron Architecture FAIA

Care: As with most counters, stick with a moist cloth or sponge and mild detergent for routine cleaning. Bleach, as it may cause discoloration. Preventive care is a breeze, as the best coat of protection is irreversible and requires no sealing.

Formica Group

Sustainability: Vinyl laminate veneers receive a green thumbs-up for the modest amount of resources consumed during manufacturing (though they’re roughly a quarter petroleum-based resins). Manufacturers such as Formica and Wilsonart have boosted the sustainability of the products with the use of FSC-certified timber. And many producers could boast of GreenGuard certification, which indicates that their products bring about improved indoor air quality.

More: Compare countertop materials

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Tropical Style

Great Design Plant: Blue Oat Grass

While vibrant spring and summer colours lighten landscapes, and fiery autumn color is a seasonal scene, occasionally you just have to cool down. Let’s cool down with blue — blue oat grass, a must-know low-maintenance pick for calming shade yearlong.

San Marcos Growers

Botanical name: Helictotrichon sempervirens
Common title: Blue oat grass
USDA zones:4 to 2 ; hardy to less than 0 degrees Fahrenheit (find your zone)
Water requirement: Occasional; drought tolerant
moderate requirement: Full sun to light shade
Mature size: 2 feet tall and broad
Benefits and tolerances: Drought tolerant; deer resistant; can manage air pollution
Seasonal attention: Evergreen in temperate climates; flowers in summer
When to plant: Plant or split in early spring

Missouri Botanical Garden

Distinguishing traits. Blue oat grass is spiky, spunky and blue — characteristics that invite comparisons to blue fescue.

From afar, its large clumps and projected flowers are controlling and regal, but up close they bend and sway in a gentle manner, with extended blue-gray blades radiating from the center.

A cool-season bud, blue oat grass flourishes in temperatures that are mild but produces its strongest color in full sun. A towering crown of bluish-brown flowers projects about a foot above the foliage in summer, aging to a gold oat color in autumn. And while the flowers create a spectacular show in summer, the pretty foliage is welcome at the garden all year.

Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

The best way to utilize it. This particular bud is a joy when massed, utilized at a container or utilized as an accent plant. The soft, fine evergreen foliage also makes a soft and soothing base for companion flowers.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Planting notes. With a little maintenance, well-draining dirt and heavy, infrequent waterings, you need to be able to grow blue oat grass easily. It produces its color when it’s planted in full sun. In colour, the grass clump may flop over.

Blue oat grass is considered evergreen, but in more extreme climates it might be considered semievergreen.

Each spring and autumn, pull out dead growth together with your palms or comb it out using a metal rake. In harsher climates a late-winter or spring trim can help to keep your blue oat grass looking its best.

Do you utilize blue oat grass on your landscape? We would love to see your photo in the Remarks below.

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Tropical Style

Bring to the Birds: Natural Habitat Suggestions for Gardens of All Sizes

I recently traveled to Costa Rica, and that I was immediately struck by the amount of birds fluttering around in the treetops from dawn until dusk. We took several jungle hikes and appreciated private gardens, all of which provided different habitats for the birds. I had been struck by the natural look of these habitats as opposed to an overly formal and contrived setup. The focus was really on and for its birds, and design and function met in an ideal dance.

When developing a natural habitat, Costa Ricans concentrate on four specific requirements; nesting, water, perches and florals. Food, in the kind of fresh fruit, is plentiful from the jungle yearlong, thus there’s not plenty of bird feeders. Rather, attempts are made to offer secure spaces where birds may nest, perch and wash. Additionally, I ran into plenty of rescue bird surgeries and found them fascinating and magic. Listed below are a few tips I learned from observing the gardens of the jungle as well as the birds that live there.

Amy Renea

Provide Homes for Mama and Baby Birds

When raising their young, many birds are mutually protective. This small one flew directly to the house one day and we released it to its mama, who had been crying for it directly outside.

Many local businesses in Costa Rica rescue birds from the wild and cage them for protection. The ecorestaurant on Lake Arenal as well as Toad Hall nearby both had saved toucans and parrots. In case you decide to permanently rescue a wounded bird, then be aware you have to register it and the ideal place for these birds is that the wild if they can remain there.

Urban Hedgerow

Providing nesting materials will guarantee new small ones born in your garden each year. Try out a cool setup similar to this or throw the hair from the hairbrush and small pieces of moss and hay out from the garden. The birds will locate them.

See how to create bird and bug habitats at the city

Amy Renea

While trekking in the jungles, we found a lot of giant holes like these on straight-cut subway walls. For a very long time, we were scared to death of these, imagining giant snakes appearing. We learned that a large quantity of these holes are actually nesting holes for birds. Can you provide this kind of mud-wall environment in your garden? You might be amazed by the variety of birds that appear.


You might also think of designing a spacious, protected space when constructing your new house. Birds and other creatures love the peace and protection of this distance under a porch, and you would have a constant show of wildlife with a setup like this.

Greener Living Solutions

Produce Watering Holes

Natural cavities and drops in rocks are often located at the jungle. They gather rainwater, making the perfect bathing hole for the birds.

Look at developing a similar cavity in cement for your garden. The birds are sure to gather at a watering hole like this.


Some birds like to property in the middle of a wide-open distance to avoid predators hiding in the brush, while some others like a small cover to avoid predators at the atmosphere. Think about a low planting round a natural-looking watering spot for the latter. My chickens would adore a space in this way.

Garden Design, Inc..

Offer Sweet Perches

To repel critters that need ample area, consider a artistic arrangement of rocks where they can perch.

Amy Renea

Costa Rican architects are masterful at supplying alluring perches for birds. Safe yet spacious railings and roofing trusses abundant from the indoor-outdoor living spaces are perfect for the birds.

Fenton Roberts Garden Design

Similarly, it is possible to offer this kind of environment in your garden on a smaller scale. Weaving plants amid perching spots will ensure that lots of birds come to play.

Le jardinet

From the jungle, greenery is plentiful and nearly overwhelming at times. It is loved by the birds. Just a tiny moss creeping on your birdbath is beautiful and inviting to birds looking for a soft place where they can wet their feet and their beaks.

Amy Renea

Provide a Rainbow of Blooms

Colour matters. Hummingbirds are drawn to red, and also a mass planting of red flowers will pop out from a blanket of green.

Amy Renea

Shape matters. Those hummingbirds like tall, spiky plants, like salvia, as well as plants with long, tubed stamens and pistils. Hibiscus (shown here from the wild) is a favorite.

See more plants and flowers hummingbirds love

Amy Renea

So if you plant a few new tropical plants this summer, include a perch or two or just add a sunken rock for a few natural water collection. The birds will thank you.

Shown: Costa Rican ducks

See more about gardening and landscaping with wildlife in mind

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Small Spaces

Stellar Views Spark a Loft's New Layout

When you consider a loft conversion, the very first image that probably springs to mind is of a large, open area. And that’s true most of the time. But a prior incarnation of the apartment in Texas has been the sort of loft that could provide lofts a lousy name.

The design was quite partitioned off and did not benefit from the fact that the apartment has views to the northwest, south and west. Heather Rowell of Content Architecture, working with Robert Sanders Homes, created the area more effective and maximized those viewpoints in the exact same moment. “We made a heart in the middle of the device,” she says. “It’s basically a big rectangle that includes the bedroom, an office, a laundry room and two bathrooms.”

This freed up all the exterior walls while keeping the private and public spaces feeling different from one another. The result: A genuine loft was born.

in a Glance
Who lives here: A retired attorney who was closer to her family
Location: Houston
Size: 1,400 square feet
That’s intriguing: Initially constructed in 1917, the construction (Hermann Lofts, called after Houston philanthropist George Henry Hermann) has been used by the Salvation Army before it had been converted to lofts in 1997.

CONTENT Architecture

The primary living area takes advantage of an incredible view of downtown Houston and Market Square, at the center of the city’s historic district. “It’s possibly the most precious view you can have,” says Rowell.

“For the loft in general, I knew that the customer had a wonderful art collection, intriguing artifacts from her travels and lots of amazing books,” she says. “We wanted to make a backdrop, making sure the view was important, after which your eye shifts to all the owner’s good pieces”

The floors throughout the apartment are oak. The painting leaning against the rear wall is by French artist Michel Nedjar.

Sofa: Poltrona Frau Chester One; rug: Design Within Reach; classic coffee table: Kuhl-Linscomb; custom shelving unit

CONTENT Architecture

The key upper region of the storage device is painted; a lesser portion is made from solid walnut with a walnut veneer. The television is set toward the trunk and onto a swivel mount for watching by the kitchen (next picture ).

Bentwood chair: Marc Newson for Cappellini; leather side table: The Gardener; leather seats: 1940s, French, Kuhl-Linscomb; facet table: Tom Dixon Screw Table

CONTENT Architecture

A lack of wall area, the owner’s hesitation to block the views and also her love for these pieces led to the decision to place artwork across the floor. The paintings behind the couch are by Mexican artist Rogelio Diaz.

Bar stool: Pepe Cortes Jamaica

CONTENT Architecture

The dining room is kind of a humorous wedge shape. The homeowner does a lot of fun, and this custom-made table, by local craftsman Bob Card of greenwood bay, can be used for dining or as a buffet. The table is made of reclaimed wood, including some from the debris of Hurricane Ike.

“We wanted this to feel as a space folks would want to go to even though it is the furthest away from the excellent views,” says Rowell.

The hallway leading from the entrance is employed as a gallery. “It gives the sense of a small procession as you come through and adds to the industrial sense the space already had,” she says.

Framed dried lily pads hang above the dining table.

Lamp: Bubble by Pelle

CONTENT Architecture

This perspective of the dining room shows its relationship to the living room and kitchen.

Chairs: Series 7 by Arne Jacobsen

CONTENT Architecture

The guest bathroom features a floating vanity whose surface was protected against water damage using a sealant similar to one you’d use on a ship’s deck. Incorporating the towel rod makes for a self-contained device and eliminates the need for any other sticks.

A stacked washer and washer were removed from the restroom and placed in a closet throughout the hall so the small shower could be expanded (next photo).

Sink: Water Cover, Kohler; faucet: Falling Water, Kohler

CONTENT Architecture

The bathroom does not have a natural light source, so Rowell shining a linear lighting cove in the rear shower wall to make the illusion of a skylight. “And we needed that the lighting fixture to wash the slate down and emphasize the texture of this wall,” she says.

Tile: Stone Black Slate Mini Sticks, Mini Wave Pebble Tile, Timor White pebble flooring and Palazzo Santelmo wall tile, all from LaNova Tile; showerhead: Axor Faucet, Hansgrohe

CONTENT Architecture

The kitchen has several interesting features. The stovetop and the sink have been flipped, and because the flat is in a historic building, a port to the outside could not be installed. The Elica Twin hood includes two fans which pull air and recirculate it through a charcoal filter. Additionally, it has a series of lights on dimmers.

The drawer fronts are laminated at a ceramic veneer. “We’re going to perform regular laminate, but we came across these porcelain tiles also had them laminated to a high-tech plywood,” says Rowell. “And they’re simple to clean.”

Refrigerator: KitchenAid; cooktop and oven: Wolf; dishwasher: Optima, Miele; microdrawer: 24 inches, Wolf; tiles: ceramic, LaNova Tile; countertops: Caesarstone, Buttermilk

CONTENT Architecture

The glass-front cabinets are 1 foot in depth; the solid-front cabinets will be the complete depth of this counter. “We made a decision to make the shallow cabinets glass so the rear wall would not feel as heavy and dark,” says Rowell. “The glass will help divide the weight of this wall.”

The glass-front cabinets also permit the owner to exhibit her white Alex Marshall organic-shaped dinnerware, which provides a contrast against the dark wood and complements the white countertops and tiles.

Backsplash: handmade ceramic bricks, LaNova Tile

CONTENT Architecture

A custom cupboard walls off the perspective of the bedroom from the bathroom. Various African fertility statues collected through time by the owner are displayed along the floor. The painting is by Brigitte McReynolds.

Bed: wenge Zola Bed, Design Within Reach; bedding, cushions: Kuhl-Linscomb; sconces: Ananas Small Wall Lights, FontanaArte; status lamp: antique

CONTENT Architecture

The sleek custom storage unit includes white doors and doors of paint-grade plywood. The surround is walnut veneer with a good walnut trim cap.

CONTENT Architecture

The owner did not want to have the design of this dressing table in the master bathroom to be too symmetrical. “We contained a bit of walnut on the drawer front, and the exact same wood is used on the bathtub skirt, but did a waterfall with Caesarstone at Buttermilk,” says Rowell.

Sink: Ladena, Kohler; faucet: Stillness, Kohler; tub Archer, Kohler; bathroom fixture: Stillness, Kohler; bathroom: Carlyle, Toto; floors: Palazzo Santelmo tile, LaNova Tile; walls: Palazzo Belvedere Natural tile, LaNova Tile

CONTENT Architecture

This resembles a hallway with a lovely seat from Swallow Tail that’s coated in a Stephen Sprouse cloth and retains a West Elm pillow. And it’s all that. But it’s also a hidden office, as you’ll see in the next photograph.

CONTENT Architecture

Voilà! The owner needed a home office, but Rowell did not wish to design it like a separate room. “We used long entrance doors and made it a circulation path which can be activated as a function zone,” says Rowell.

And if that’s not enough, there is a springboard mounted onto the wall to the right (not visible here) the owner uses for her everyday Pilates routine.

Cabinets: paint-grade plywood with solid wood nosings; desk surface: Caesarstone, Buttermilk; rear wall: 1/3 chalkboard paint, 2/3 bulletin board

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Eclectic Homes

15 Rooms That Excel at Double Duty

The era of giant homes is finished. We seem to have learned the key to the good life isn’t more, but much better. Better design, better technology, better efficiency and better use of space.

One of the secrets to making a little space work is to combine functions in interesting ways and rethink layout. Rooms that do double duty allow you to get more use out of your square footage, and they also let you extend your design chops. In my novel, clever beats big every time. Have a look at these 15 rooms at six classes to find out whether any of the ideas could work in your house.

Tim Cuppett Architects

The Intelligent Living Room

With Another library is indeed Downton Abbey. Behold the library and dining room combo. Walls lined with books make a room feel cozy and intimate. Additionally, your dinner guests will know how well read you are.

Bookshelves at the dining area do not have to be built in, but it helps if they span the full length of at least one wall. This looks intentional as opposed to like you ran out of shelving.

Sarah Susanka, FAIA

The Multitasking Laundry Room

A laundry area in and of itself sounds like luxury. Combining it with a home office or a workshop is brilliant. I mean, why do not pay the bills, write a novel or check your email while the garments are agitating?

Dream House Studios

It’s a laundry room/office/workshop/wrap room/craft area. A large, wide-open dining table is almost always a useful thing.

S / Wiley Interior Photography

The Hidden Home Office

This home office is tucked away so neatly to the little living space, you hardly know it is there. A slim parson’s desk, a few double-duty seating plus a wall-mounted TV make this a seamless combo.


This office, tucked into a cupboard, even has space for a guest. In my version there’s storage in that bench and folding shutter doors to close off the space.

Domestic Stories with Ivy

Here is a workplace off the entryway at a “space” made by shelving. Keep the space facing the door for the pretty stuff and hide the papers and mess down near the base of the shelf from the wall.

Scheer & Co..

Behind curtain number one: a workspace for two! When the curtains are closed, the entire thing vanishes, leaving the living room for dwelling.

Michael K Chen Architecture

The Disappearing Guest Room

There is a happy medium between a guest cabin at the ready and a blow-up mattress in the living area. Murphy beds benefit from vertical space; when guests leave, they can be flipped up, and your life can get back to normal.

De Meza + Architecture

A flexible couch or daybed at the office can be the place where all your best ideas hit and the place where guests put their heads during the night time.

Prestige Custom Building & Construction, Inc..

This guest room–office combination is permanent but still different. You do not have to look at a workspace as you’re resting, and also you do not have to be tempted by a rest space as you’re working.

Don Ziebell

The Working Kitchen

In eat-in kitchens, long, narrow tables can double as workspace.

Gabriel Builders Inc..

The Functional Family Room

Families do not want to be doing exactly the exact same thing at the exact same time. Creating different areas for different interests is the key to togetherness. With this house playground, the kids won’t even notice that you’re watching Breaking Bad right next to them.

Eisner Design LLC

This playroom outside a house gym is like a built in daycare.

Highline Partners, Ltd

This living room doubles as a guest room and gives a place where you can cozy up with a book when the movie gets dull.

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