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    Stewart-Schafer renovates modernist house in Connecticut woods

    The founders of Brooklyn studio Stewart-Schafer have renovated a modernist home in Connecticut for themselves, using a natural colour palette to complement the surrounding woodland.

    James Veal and Christine Stucker, co-principals of Stewart-Schafer, chose to overhaul the modernist-style “architectural gem” for their family
    Stewart-Schafer principals James Veal and Christine Stucker added a personal touch to a house in EastonBuilt in 1984, the four-bedroom home sits within 18 acres of woodland in the town of Easton, a 62-mile (100-kilometre) commute from New York City.
    “The bones of the house and property were incredible,” Veal and Stucker told Dezeen. “You can tell the original owners who had this house built put a lot of love into it, no detail was spared.”
    The studio replaced some of the floor-to-ceiling windows and doors during renovation workThey had been searching for a house in Connecticut for a year, to no avail.

    But when they found this 4,700-square-foot (437-square-metre) residence on Morehouse Road it was “love at first sight” and they put in an offer almost immediately after viewing.
    The kitchen was given an update using wooden cabinetry”Sadly the second owners did not maintain it over the years and there were several things that needed to be fixed and replaced,” they added.
    An extensive renovation involved updating the family room, kitchen, and powder room, and redesigning the interiors throughout.
    A large bedroom was converted into a family room upstairsSeveral of the large glass windows and doors were replaced, and the exterior was transformed with new decking and planting after clearing the site of dead trees.
    The couple also renovated a cabin in the woods on the property, to serve as a guest house.
    Textures and colours were chosen to complement the original architectureIn both buildings, a blend of Japanese and Scandinavian decor was used to complement the existing wooden floors, ceilings and other joinery, in order to stay true to the original designs.
    Bedrooms and bathrooms were painted with earthy hues, while other rooms feature rugs, upholstery and bedding that continue the same palette.
    Rugs and upholstery continue the natural colour scheme in the bedrooms”With all the wood and views of the property we knew that inside we needed to play on those organic colours,” said the duo. “We used various textures throughout the home to balance things out.”
    The main house is split over three floors, with the majority of living space located on the central level.
    Clerestory windows bring light into the upstairs bedrooms from multiple sidesA double-height formal living room and adjacent dining area have decks on either side and connect to the separate kitchen that features white tiling and wood cabinetry.
    The primary bedroom suite on the same level leads to an indoor pool, which can be exposed to the elements by fully sliding back a floor-to-ceiling glass wall.

    Eric J Smith cantilevers Writer’s Studio over forested hillside in Connecticut

    Upstairs, a large bedroom was converted into a family room with a custom-made modular sofa.
    “Originally it was just a huge open bedroom with no real sense of direction or purpose,” said Veal and Stucker. “By adding a fireplace and custom millwork along an oversized double sided sofa this room serves so many purposes.”
    Bathrooms were painted in darker huesThis room and two further bedrooms on the top level have clerestory windows that allow natural light to enter from multiple sides.
    The lowest level accommodates a home office and a mechanical room. All of the floors are connected by both internal stair flights with open risers and a black spiral staircase outside.
    The project involved replacing the outdoor decking and planting new foilageOverall, Stewart-Schafer aimed to imbue the almost 40-year-old house with contemporary flourishes that respect and celebrate the original architecture.
    “We really feel like this house has been a great example of how good design stands the test of time,” the couple said. “We feel even in 30 more years it will still be very relevant.”
    Built in 1984, the house sits on 18 acres of woodlandThere are many examples of modernist architecture Southwest Connecticut – an affluent area where many New Yorkers have long chosen to live within easy reach of the city, but with the benefits of rural surroundings.
    Others that have been updated in the past few years include a Marcel Breuer home expanded by Toshiko Mori and a mid-century residence renovated by Joel Sanders.
    The photography is by Alice Gao.

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    Jennifer Morden creates “aspirational” mid-century house with sinister dungeon for Fresh

    Production designer Jennifer Morden created a mid-century house to reflect the personality of the flamboyant and misogynistic antagonist in comedy-thriller film Fresh.

    Morden and her team built two individual sets in a studio to represent the house for the film, which was directed by Mimi Cave and shot in Canada’s British Columbia.
    Fresh features a mid-century house that belongs to cannibal SteveThe sets were designed to portray the main floor and basement of a lavish mid-century house that forms a secluded lair for Steve – a seemingly-charming man who seduces women into dating him, after which he traps them in his basement and reveals that he is actually a psychopathic butcher of human meat.
    “We wanted to make as much as we could so we could customise it,” Morden told Dezeen in a video call from Canada, explaining the decision not to use a real house for the project.
    The dining room is positioned at the highest level on the main floorFresh tells the story of Steve’s relationship with Noa, who he briefly dates and subsequently lures to his house. The characters are played by actors Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones respectively.

    “The choice to go with a mid-century style house was partly because right now it’s really popular,” said Morden.
    “People love mid-century houses and they’ve had a big resurgence in modern design. It was also about Steve looking aspirational.”
    Dark wooden cabinetry was included in the kitchenOn-screen, the rooms on the house’s main floor are presented at subtly different levels from each other in what Morden called a “hierarchy of spaces”.
    A dining room is seen on the highest level, a kitchen slightly lower down, and then a living room and finally Steve’s bedroom.
    Plush furniture such as 1970s Camaleonda sofas by Mario Bellini and Eames-like armchairs decorated these spaces and were set against harsher accents including dark wooden cabinetry and built-in concrete seating.
    A curved basement informed by fallopian tubes holds women captiveThe other set representing the basement featured a concrete floating staircase dug out of rock, which leads to dungeon-like, teak-lined hallways that descend to cells with sunken beds where women are held captive.
    Steve’s operating room forms the basement’s lowest level, where he harvests the imprisoned women’s meat and body parts.
    “Wherever we see Steve in relation to his victims, he’s always at a higher level to them,” explained the production designer.
    Steve’s operating room is located at the bottom of the basementSteve’s house intends to reflect his complex and powerful persona, which quickly transforms from outwardly normal to sinister as the drama unfolds, according to Morden.
    “I was like, okay, everything we do needs to involve body parts, in some capacity. Every piece of artwork, every piece of furniture and the way the hallways are designed.”
    Imagery of body parts is repeated throughout the filmTo illustrate this idea, the production designer and her team placed a Michel Ducaroy “body chair” in Steve’s bedroom and created faux herringbone flooring from pieces of painted, hand-laid plywood, which Morden said she “really wanted to feel like ribs”.
    The curved, cave-like basement was informed by fallopian tubes and designed to be a grand auditorium for Steve – a “crazy” idea that Morden pitched in her interview for the project.
    An abstract painting conceals items belonging to Steve’s victimsAn abstract painting was placed on the living room wall, which actually included hair, teeth and nails on closer inspection. In an early scene, upon arriving at the house before she is drugged and trapped, Noa studies the artwork.
    It is later revealed that Steve hides personal items belonging to the captured women behind this painting in boxy cubby holes that mirror the basement cells below.
    Wooden and concrete accents feature on the main floor and in the basement”Mimi wanted to use the piece of artwork as a little Easter egg [a term for hidden messages in a film] for later because it’s the first thing Noa sees and she’s drawn towards it,” reflected Morden.
    “The idea was that if we can draw everything back to body parts then we can start to create the story’s subliminal messaging and foreshadow what’s to come as much as we can.”

    Seven houses that play a starring role in films including Parasite and The Power of the Dog

    The production designer said that it was important to visually connect the main floor to the basement, which was partly achieved by adding wooden elements to the mainly concrete basement and concrete elements to the largely wooden main floor.
    Eventually, Cave and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski had the idea to add vivid and humorous sunset murals to the walls of the women’s cells.
    The decision to incorporate colourful carpets became natural after this, linking the basement to Steve’s opulent quarters above, according to Morden.
    Kitschy holiday-like murals were added to the cells to reflect Steve’s obnoxious nature”The idea was, what if we made the basement this space that Steve thought he was gifting to these people?” she explained, referencing Steve’s obnoxious and flamboyant character.
    “What if we use the idea that this misogynistic and unaware male was like, ‘I’m going to create a room that’s going to feel so nice for my victims?’ What would he put in there?”
    Each of the women’s rooms has a different coloured carpetCinematographically, Fresh also has a warm and fleshy colour palette of reds and oranges throughout, which nods to its graphic storyline.
    “I think for me, the biggest thing is just telling people to find all the Easter eggs in the film. There’s so much repeated imagery, especially around body parts,” concluded Morden.
    Other recent film and TV productions that feature architecturally-centred set design include Oscar-winning The Power of the Dog and BBC drama The Girl Before.
    The images are courtesy of Jennifer Morden.
    Project credits:
    Director: Mimi CaveWriter: Lauryn KahnProduction designer: Jennifer MordenSet decorator: Stephanie AjmeriaSet designers: Peter Stratford and Amanda De CastroCinematographer: Pawel Pogorzelski

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    Four-storey spiral staircase forms focal point of BSP20 House in Barcelona

    A towering spiral staircase and a golden kitchen are some of the features that Raúl Sánchez Architects has introduced in its renovation of this townhouse in Barcelona’s Borne neighbourhood.

    BSP20 House has been in the making since 2013, when Raúl Sánchez Architects was approached by the building’s owners to turn it into a live-work space where they could stay during visits to the city.
    A white spiral staircase rises up from the ground floorHowever, due to regulatory issues, construction works didn’t begin for another seven years. During this period the already dilapidated building fell into further ruin, and at one point was even used as a squat.
    When the renovation finally got underway in August 2020, Raúl Sánchez Architects decided to completely gut the building, only leaving behind the four exterior walls and roof.
    This level of the home also features a brass kitchen suiteAs a result, three new floor levels have been inserted, each installed in such a way so that they don’t touch the building’s front or rear facades.

    Some of the resulting gaps have been filled with panes of glass, allowing residents to steal glimpses of different levels of the home.
    The staircase grants access to each of the home’s four levelsA huge void on the right side of BSP20’s interior now accommodates a white spiral staircase that winds up through the ground, first, second and third floors, all the way to the decked terrace on top of the building.
    Positioned directly above the stairs is a glazed opening that lets natural light filter deep into the plan.
    Rooms have largely been left empty so they can be used for different purposesSeeing the building in such a bare state at the beginning of the renovation process encouraged Raul Sanchez Architects to keep its rough, time-worn brick walls.
    “Those four walls, over 15 metres high, are a museum of the building’s history, where any trace of its construction, and of its use, will be left unaltered, exposed in all its crudeness,” said the studio.
    Raúl Sánchez Architects has preserved the building’s original brick wallsA similarly hands-off approach has been taken with the rest of the interior; most rooms have been largely left without fixtures and fittings so that, if necessary, they can be used for different purposes in the future.
    On the ground floor there is a kitchen, its cabinetry crafted from lustrous brass.
    “In terms of materiality, a certain refinement has been pursued in the new elements to be implemented, in opposition to the crude expressiveness of the existing walls, conscious that the space must house a home,” explained the studio.
    Natural light seeps in from a glazed opening above the staircaseOn the second floor there is only a bathroom lined with cream-coloured lacquered wood, finished with gold-tone hardware.
    The electrics, air-conditioning system and telephone wires have also been concealed within six steel tubes that run upwards through the home.
    Pale lacquered wood lines surfaces in the bathroomWhen it came to restoring BSP20’s facade, the practice had to follow strict heritage guidelines – but it was granted more freedom in the appearance of the front door.
    It’s now clad with three different types of aluminium, and features a graphic rhomboidal design that nods to the patterned hydraulic floor tiles seen inside the house.
    The home was given a new geometric-print front doorRaúl Sánchez Architects has completed several residential projects in its home city of Barcelona.
    Others include The Magic Box Apartment, which features a huge gold wardrobe, and Atic Aribau, which has bright, stripped-back interiors.
    Photography is by José Hevia.
    Project credits:
    Architecture: Raúl SánchezArchitecture team: Valentina Barberio, Paolo BurattiniStructure consultant: Diagonal ArquitecturaEngineering: Marés Ingenieros

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    Valentino Architects transforms Malta art studio into modern home

    Valentino Architects has converted the studio and home of late post-war painter Frank Portelli in Malta into a contemporary residence for his granddaughter.

    The home, named La Serenissima, is located in the village of Attard in the centre of the Mediterranean island.
    La Serenissima now features an open-air sun terracePortelli, who is known for his cubist artworks and murals, originally designed the house in 1995 and incorporated numerous windows and skylights throughout the building so that it could serve as the ideal place to paint and live.
    Local practice Valentino Architects was tasked with transforming the existing structure into a home for the artist’s granddaughter, starting with adding a raised sun deck to the southernmost point of the house.
    Adjacent to the terrace is a modern kitchen with black cabinetryThis was achieved by removing the glazing from a number of the angled skylights and adding timber decking, creating a kind of open-air terrace that is separated from the interior using sliding glass doors.

    A short flight of wooden steps doubles up as seats and leads down into the kitchen, which features jet-black cabinetry and a large open-fronted island for storing tableware.
    The study is finished with petroleum green wallsJust across from the kitchen is a dining area. Here, Valentino Architects preserved one of Portelli’s original plywood mood boards, with some of his hand-written annotations and markings still intact.
    On the east-west axis of the home lies a small indoor courtyard and a blue-painted study surrounded by pointed archways.
    Geometric tiles nod to Portelli’s cubist paintingsMost of the mid-century furnishings and light fixtures featured in this space were Portelli’s own, before being carefully restored by Valentino Architects.
    The floor was also inlaid with geometric tiles in reference to the cubic shapes that frequently appear throughout the artist’s paintings.
    The bedroom and bathroom are tucked behind sliding doorsOn the northern end of the home is a huge gridded window that extends outwards from the building and then tapers to a point. To one side of the window lies a bedroom and to the other a white-tiled bathroom.
    Both spaces are closed off by sliding doors, punctuated with cut-out handles that nod to La Serenissima’s diamond-shaped window.
    At the northern end of the home is a huge pointed windowValentino Architects was established in 2015 and is based in Malta’s capital Valletta.
    Other striking homes on the tiny Mediterranean island include Casa B with its glass-bottomed rooftop pool and The Coach House by AP Valletta, which features a “woven” stone facade.
    The photography is by Ramon Portelli.

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    Toronto beach house by Odami resolves “contradictory” context between waterfront and city

    Canadian studio Odami has completed the interiors of a split-level home in Toronto, using light tones that nod to the nearby beaches of Lake Ontario.

    The Beaches House was completed for a client living near the city’s waterfront, which is lined with long stretches of sandy beaches.
    Odami’s design for the interiors drew inspiration from typical beach homes, while also offering a contemporary living environment in Canada’s largest city.
    The Beaches House takes cues from typical beach homes”Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood presents a peculiar condition within the city,” said the studio, led by Aránzazu González Bernardo and Michael Norman Fohring.
    “To experience the area is to seamlessly transition between a natural and calm landscape, and an urban and lively atmosphere,” they added.

    The split-level home is located in TorontoOdami’s interior palette features typical beach-inspired finishes, such as textured wall panels of varying widths, sand-hued countertops, and plenty of tropical plants throughout the home.
    Throughout the living space, light wooden floors and creamy tones offer a tranquil environment.
    A skylight illuminates the steel-and-wood staircase”Responsible for the interior design, our goal was to create a home which would reflect this contradictory context: a house which would belong as much to the city as it would to a beach far removed from it,” Odami explained.
    At the centre of the house, a skylight illuminates the steel-and-wood staircase, helping to brighten the interiors and draw visitors upstairs as they move through the home.

    Oak staircase links split levels of Canadian house by Omar Gandhi

    “The central staircase, which winds its way up through the split levels of the house, was detailed with thin steel pickets and floating treads, continuing the rhythmic language of the paneling,” said the designers.
    This calmer palette contrasts some darker materials that were used in circulation spaces, such as a grey stone in the entrance hallway, and a bathroom where the walls and floors are lined with a dark terrazzo.
    Odami added dark terrazzo elements to the bathroom”In the bedrooms and bathrooms of the last floor, the sequence comes to rest, as light, repetitive elements give way to moments of stillness, calm, and dense materiality,” the studio explained.
    Odami was founded in 2017 in Toronto. Other projects from the Canadian studio include a collection of wooden furniture that was crafted from the same dying tree, and a restaurant where the walls are lined with roughly troweled plaster.
    The darker tones contrast with the home’s lighter elementsAlso in Toronto, the Winter Stations design competition recently unveiled the pavilions for its 2022 edition.
    The photography is by Doublespace Photography.

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    Neil Dusheiko transforms London fashion showroom into light-filled home

    Architect Neil Dusheiko has converted a showroom in west London into a bright, contemporary residence designed to meet the changing needs of its elderly owners.

    Nicknamed Danish Mews House for its minimalist Scandinavian furnishings, the home is tucked away in a quiet mews lane in the Lancaster Gate area.
    The mews house was once a showroom for the owner’s fashion companyAlthough in recent years the current owners repurposed the building as a showroom and warehouse for their clothing company, it was originally built as a Georgian coach house for storing horse-drawn carriages.
    Dusheiko’s primary concerns when converting the property into a home were bringing in more light, as well as making sure that the interior could support its inhabitants as they grow older.
    The main kitchen and sitting room are on the first floorFor this purpose, the house was fitted with a guest bedroom, kitchenette and toilet on the ground floor, which could ultimately be used by the inhabitants themselves in case their mobility becomes restricted.

    A lift was installed to provide easy access to the upper floors of the house, which can also be reached via a central staircase.
    Glazing in the stairwell brings light into the living spacesIn the stairwell, a newly installed skylight and a wall of gridded glazing on the first-floor landing allow sunlight to seep into the interior.
    Behind the glass partition lies a sitting room and a kitchen with oatmeal-coloured cabinetry as well as a small dining area.
    Light leaks in from a skylight at the top of the stairwell. Photo by Rachael SmithBoth here and throughout the rest of the home, several of the furnishings were sourced from well-known Danish design brands including Carl Hansen, Louis Poulsen and Montana.
    The second floor is illuminated by six new dormer windows and accommodates another two bedrooms plus their respective en-suite bathrooms.

    Neil Dusheiko creates home for his father-in-law featuring a wall of ceramics and glassware

    The principal bedroom is largely clad in wood, save for a section on the rear wall that is finished in chintzy floral wallpaper.
    Glazed doors with black metal frames run along one side of the room and can be slid open to access a sun terrace lined in Douglas fir battens.
    Floral wallpaper features in the principal bedroom. Photo by Rachael SmithThe space is decorated with a couple of folding director’s chairs and a built-in white-brick planter.
    Danish Mews House is one of several residential projects that Neil Dusheiko has completed in London.
    The room also has its own sun terrace. Photo by Rachael SmithPreviously, the architect created a home for his father-in-law in Stoke Newington, in which a striking wall of shelving is used to display ceramics and glassware.
    Dusheiko also overhauled a home in Hammersmith, introducing a curved brick extension and a cinema room.
    The photography is by Ståle Eriksen unless stated otherwise.
    Project credits:
    Architect: Neil Dusheiko ArchitectsStructural engineer: Price and MyersContractor: ABC LimitedQuantity surveyor: White and Lloyd

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