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Month January 2015 Archive

 Contemporary Residence In Switzerland Delivering Majestic Views: Villa Lugano

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Designed by Angelo Pozzoli, Villa Lugano in Switzerland is integrated in a hillside landscape, overlooking the lake and the magnificent landscape beyond. The three-level home in reinforced concrete features an array of open spaces, optimizing the connection with the outdoors. Terraces, balconies, and footbridges keep the interiors permanently connected to the magic of Lake Lugano. Rectangular volumes combine to create a massive home design, one that adds a highly contemporary feel to this city area.Commanding views of the landscape, plenty of natural light and an overwhelming feeling of space are probably the main assets of this home in Switzerland. The designers employed a blend of intriguing textures for the interior scheme, while keeping the focus beyond the glass walls of the house. Linking all three levels, the spiral staircase in the center of the residence makes a powerful visual statement. Be sure to have a look at two other inspiring architecture projects in the area- an original glass residence by Italian firm JM Architecture and House Lombardo by Philipp Architekten, both featured on our site a while back. [Photography credits: Giovanni de Sandre]

 10 Classic Misconceptions of Architects

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While every profession contains certain stereotypes, architects tend to be right up there with engineers when it comes to misconstrued notions. Image Source: ChicagoWhen you think of an architect, what is the first thing that comes to mind? We bet it is one of these top ten classic misconceptions that we have compiled below. While every profession contains certain stereotypes (and some may be valid), architects tend to be right up there with engineers when it comes to misconstrued notions.Look at our list of ten classic misconceptions of architects to see if any are ones you hold, and perhaps consider if these are truly valid ideas or are they are myths that need to be debunked?Look at our list of ten classic misconceptions of architects. Consider if these are truly valid ideas or perhaps they are myths that need to be debunked? Image Source: Hammer and HandThere are so many misconceptions of architects, but perhaps this is the first one that should be debunked. While it is true that architecture is a male-dominated field, it is not true that it is a career solely for men.Great female architects are finally getting their due attention with female architects such as Teresa Borsuk receiving the 2015 Woman Architect of the Year award.  Women certainly have a place in this field of design.While it is true that architecture is a male-dominated field, it is not true that it is a career solely for men. Image Source: MansonSadly, this is not true. Despite the years of hardwork in school, all of their studies do not pay off in the sense of the bank balance. Despite the mainstream thought, architects are not paid like doctors, they earn a good income, but not one that will make them wealthy.The median annual wage in 2013 was $74, 110 USD, with the top 10% earning $119,370 USD annually, and the bottom 10% earning $44, 930 USD annually. As you can see, you will certainly not be poor, but you won’t be wealthy either.Despite the mainstream thought, architects are not paid like doctors, they earn a good income, but not one that will make them wealthy. Image Source: E-ArchitectArchitects use tools but not hammers. Architects design the buildings, they do not build them. Their designs and blueprints are passed off to the builders/developers who then bring the design to fruition.Yes, this requires a close relationship between the architects and the builders, but the final structure is created by the developer/builder. Should we mention the salary of a developer? No, that might depress the architects reading this.Architects use tools but not hammers. Architects design the buildings, they do not build them. Image Source: Urban AnglesWhile many architects don’t want us to debunk this classic misconception—everyone wants to be sleek and cool like James Bond—but architects are not the eccentric, cool, cigar smoking characters that the general public has envisioned them to be.Sorry, they are just average people like the rest of us, sitting at desks (perhaps in a cubicle), hunched over computers, and usually working on the minute details of a project.Architects are not the eccentric, cool, cigar smoking characters that the general public has envisioned them to be. Image Source: Prentiss ArchitectsWrong! Architects can’t afford to be introverts—their design ideas would never leap from blueprint to reality if they were quiet and shy.In order to have their designs accepted and taken seriously, and to have the builders follow their designs—architects must be loud and proud.  A shy architect will struggle in this field since the job relies heavily on communication skills with clients, designers, builders, contractors, public etc…In order to have their designs accepted and taken seriously, and to have the builders follow their designs—architects must be loud and proud. Image Source: MsaofsaBecoming the next Frank Lloyd Wright seems glamorous, right? Yes, it must have been glamorous to be a famous architect who created some of the most ingenious structures, but this is not the reality for the everyday architect.Most architects are busy working out the details; meeting city officials; trying to leap through bureaucratic red tape; dealing with building codes; constrained by a client’s budget, or visiting contractor sites—nothing about these tasks is glamorous. While some architects do have the chance to travel, it is not as common as some may think.While it may be glamorous to be a famous architect, this is not the reality for the everyday architect. Image Source: Markoff-FullertonWhile many architects entering school think they need amazingly creative artistic skills—it is simply not a job requirement. Architects do need to be creative problem solvers, but they don’t need the skills of Picasso.In fact, a lot of their work involves basic geometry skills which are by no means creative. And Computer Aided Design (CAD) has pretty much taken over the pencil and paper, so most times architects are hunched over computers rather than drawing their own design.Architects do need to be creative problem solvers, but they don’t need the skills of Picasso. Image Source: Atasadero GlassLike most projects—architecture is not the work of one sole person—it takes a team. There are usually dozens of people involved in the larger projects (interns, modelers, the CAD designers, people in the field etc)While most design firms have a managing principle: a person who facilitates the design; they are not usually the actual designers. Rather it is the lower totem staff who create the design, but sometimes the managing principle becomes ‘The Architect” who designed said building.  We see how this could be frustrating for the rest of the team. Just know that when you read in a magazine about ‘so and so was the architect’ , there was probably a lot more people involved than that one person mentioned in the article.Like most projects—architecture is not the work of one sole person—it takes a team. Image Source: Pastiche of Cape CodArchitects design, as we mentioned above, they are not the builders of their designs; therefore, they are not brokers for the materials used in a project.They can only suggest which materials are best suited for the design, and perhaps mention a possible source of such material to the builders, but the builders probably already have their own  material sources, and perhaps their own ideas of what materials will work best.Architects design, as we mentioned above, they are not the builders of their designs— they are not brokers for the materials used in a project. Image Source: DemetriadesThey all went to school to get the same degree, right? So they should all be equally qualified for the task at hand? Wrong. Yes, architecture is a science, but there are numerous ideologies that can change the way an individual firm approaches your job.Look to their individual past experiences: What are they predominant in–Commercial or housing or green design etc? Ask how they approach a job, what is their workflow process, what do their past projects look like? No two architects or architectural firms are alike, so choose one that best suits your individual needs.Architecture is a science, but there are numerous ideologies that can change the way an individual firm approaches your job. Image Source: DTC PortlandWow! There are a lot of misconceptions about architects. Do any of these ring true for you?  We think that despite all the ups and downs of this field of study, architecture still remains an amazing job whereby you can become well-known for your unique and creative design abilities.What do you think the most common misconception of architects is?

 Ceramic Wall Covering Inspired by Mathematics Patterns in Nature

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You know how you sometimes stumble upon something you were looking for, but it’s far more amazing than you imagined if would be?What if you were wondering how to decorate with ceramic tile? Then this highly contemporary tile design will have you wondering about how the world of ceramic tiles will look in a year or two. The remarkable Kin ceramic tile collection was visualized by Madrid-based design studio DSIGNIO for Harmony-Peronda.When it comes to this nature-inspired ceramic tile, installation requires a great attention to detail. The results, as spectacular as they are, also focus the attention on the science behind the visual appeal. Inspired by mathematics patterns in nature, the Kin ceramic wall covering helps you discover through design that “no form is accidental, no details are left to chance.” In a design landscape that can be recreated in your own living room, imagine these molecular tiles accompanying your lifestyle as your understanding and love for modern design grows. Its designers see the ceramic tile collection as “thousands of small molecules build stunning pieces of engineering: a great architecture that is perpetuated over time.”We received the news about this beautiful tile collection by email, and wanted to make sure you remember to send us tips about awe-inspiring design. The Kin ceramic wall covering shines under the light as a cell chain that adds depth and dimension to your walls.“That is how KIN is born, from a seemingly improbable approach -converting a pentagon into a hexagon?-, which, however, leads to a perfect game of Geometry. As a chain of cells, the pentagons weave together to form an interesting grid of hexagons that intertwines horizontally and vertically. Through its relief, the different pieces energize the reflection of ceramics, creating sinuous shapes that change due to the motion and incidence of light. It is the only randomness in the constructive accuracy of nature that KIN represents, and what nevertheless gives its spontaneous sparkles of beauty.”Seeing this home all clad in ceramic tiles makes you wonder what other designs will be available in the near future. Can you imagine a bold architecture clad in something like the Kin ceramic tile?

 10 Things I Wish My Realtor Would Have Told Me

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Owning your own home is freeing, but it certainly catapults you quickly into the adult world of bills, brokers, and banking. Image Source: The 425 GroupAh, home ownership—the dream we all chase. Owning your own home is freeing, but it certainly catapults you quickly into the adult world of bills, brokers, and banking. There are so many things to know before buying a home, and even if you have owned and sold homes in the past, there may be things that your realtor never revealed to you.Here we attempt to share with you the tricks of the trade, and perhaps the secrets behind the scenes, revealing what may really be happening when you hire your realtor. Here are the top then things that you will wish your realtor would have told you:Here we attempt to share with you the tricks of the trade, and perhaps the secrets behind the scenes, revealing what may really be happening when you hire your realtor. Image Source: AIA HoustonWhile this seems to defy logic, there is some merit to spending a wee bit more than you initially intended. Say your budget is $250,000 USD. Well, it really won’t break the bank to buy that dream house for $275,000. Why?Well, for one— your monthly mortgage payments will really only be around $15-20 more per month (depending on interest rates). Perhaps just give up your daily high-end coffee? Plus, that dream house has everything you want; it has the granite countertops; the walk-in closets; the finished basement.  These are the things you will eventually add to the less expensive house; thereby, spending that $275,000 in the long run. (Although, always be sure to stay within your means—see affordability calculator below)While this seems to defy logic, there is some merit to spending a wee bit more than you initially intended. Image Source: Baud BuildersMaybe you are single and buying your first home. Most likely, this isn’t going to be the home you raise kids in. We still encourage you to buy in a growing family neighborhood where schools are established or are in the phase of being built.This is the perfect investment scenario. A home where families are flocking and schools are growing is only going to go up in value. So buy that family home even if you don’t plan on staying in it for the long haul—your wallet will thank you in the end.This is the perfect investment scenario. A home where families are flocking and schools are growing is only going to go up in value. Image Source: JB ArchitectureOf course, realtors and sellers have a legal obligation to reveal pertinent things they know about the property. Things such as past floods, restorations, and future building proposals in the vicinity are all topics that should be revealed to a potential buyer.  Wouldn’t we all like to know if a baseball field is proposed for construction across the street?Although, sometimes the realtor is in the dark just as much as the buyer. Perhaps the seller has hidden some of the less attractive events that have gone on in the home—such as mice infestations or toilet overflows that soaked into the drywall. Your best bet is to hire a trustworthy realtor. Ask your realtor to do some leg work for you (that’s their job after all); ask them to look into city plans, future schools, roads or other construction proposals, and past insurance claims. A trustworthy, reputable agent is paramount to discovering the real truth behind the walls of your potential dream home.Realtors and sellers have a legal obligation to reveal pertinent things they know about the property, but are they revealing everything? Image Source: David JensenWe have mentioned that stretching yourself a bit when it comes to price can increase your profits in the long run, but you still need to be very careful that you are buying something that leaves money in your budget to buy food. Avoid rich house, poor man syndrome.Your realtor should be able to help you decide whether or not the home is truly affordable and within your means. They can point you in the direction of a reliable online affordability calculator, but they can also help by listing all the known costs that come with the house. Home owners insurance, property taxes, typical monthly electrical bills of past owners, home association fees etc… These are all items that must be included in your affordability calculations.  Buy smart and don’t dive into something that ends up drowning you in debt.Buy smart and don’t dive into something that ends up drowning you in debt. Image Source: Structures Building Inc.Ugh! The offer. This is the most stressful part of the entire home buying process. Here is where you hand it all over to the realtor and expect them to negotiate like a shark. But here’s the thing— the higher the selling price, the higher the commission for the relator. Did your realtor tell you this? We doubt it; its up to you to know these little facts.The scales are already balanced against getting the best price (unless your realtor takes a flat fee no matter the selling price— and not many do). How do you fix this? You need to stay firm when it comes time to barter the price. Have a number in your head that you are willing to pay and stick to it. Don’t allow anyone to negotiate a price that you are uncomfortable with and be willing to walk away if you don’t get what you want. Keep emotions at bay and know there are always other houses on the market if you lose this one.Keep emotions at bay and know there are always other houses on the market if you lose this one. Image Source: Cullum HomesWhile the home inspection doesn’t normally happen until an offer has been accepted (contingent upon what the upcoming home inspection reveals), we think it would be wise for your realtor to suggest that you the seller get a home inspection done before even listing your home.A lot of money, grief, and unplanned surprises can be avoided by hiring a home inspector before listing your home. Imagine if the home inspector finds improper wiring? A window that won’t open? A poorly insulated attic? All of these are things that may either turn away a potential buyer or cause the potential buyer to drastically reduce their offer.  By fixing these items before hand, you can save yourself a lot of money as it is often cheaper for sellers to make the repairs themselves rather than bartering at the negotiation table.A lot of money, grief, and unplanned surprises can be avoided by hiring a home inspector before listing your home. Image Source: Planning and BuildingYes, it sounds cynical but its true. That open house where you run yourself ragged cleaning every corner of the home actually has a mere 2% success rate according to the National Association of Realtors study.What the open house does allow for is many work opportunities for your realtor. Just think, they get to mingle with tons of potential buyers! Perhaps your home isn’t right for a certain buyer but we bet your realtor knows “Just the right home for them, let’s schedule a time to meet so I can show it to you. Here’s my business card”.  Cynical but true. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an open house, as your home can most certainly sell from one of these events; it just means that you should be cautiously optimistic and perhaps not feel pressured to hold an open house every weekend.That open house where you run yourself ragged cleaning every corner of the home actually has a mere 2% success rate according to the National Association of Realtors study. Image Source: Susane BrownDid you tell your realtor that your absolute buying limit was $300,000 but you instructed your realtor to  put an offer in of $ 275,000? Be careful, as your realtor will talk to the selling realtor. Yes, they get on the phone and discuss everything. While a reputable realtor will not disclose your wants/needs, a less than reputable realtor will.A fair realtor is hard to find. It’s a business and the quicker the deal closes, the sooner the realtor gets their money. They don’t want long drawn out negotiations or months of showings. Again, just do your research, follow your instincts when hiring a realtor, and be careful what you reveal to even the most trusted realtor—they have a hand in this game, as well.A fair realtor is hard to find. It’s a business and the quicker the deal closes, the sooner the realtor gets their money. Image Source: Osborne ArchitectsOf course, what realtor is going to say, “don’t hire me, you don’t really need my services”. However, it may be true. Do you really need to hire a realtor and pay a hefty commission to sell your home? And do you really need a realtor to help you buy a home? The latter is a bit tougher. A realtor can be invaluable when it comes time to gain access to homes for sale. The former is a bit more open to debate.You can go at it alone and sell your house successfully by yourself. Just be sure it is something you are willing to do as it involves some work on your part, and perhaps the hiring of a good lawyer to draw up legal papers, and an appraiser to help you decide the homes value.You can go at it alone and sell your house successfully by yourself. Image Source: Seamar ConstructionAfter all this talk of home buying, it’s easy to get caught up in the dream of owning your own home. But perhaps your realtor should stop and ask you if you are truly ready to by a home?Are you really financially ready to take on all the bills that come with home ownership? Are you really ready to mow a lawn every weekend? Shovel snow every winter? Do you have a nest egg for when the roof needs repair or the carpets need replaced? Home ownership is expensive! Maybe your realtor should give you a wake-up call before you sign the dotted line?Are you really financially ready to take on all the bills that come with home ownership? Image Source: Jodie O DesignsAre you still feeling ready to buy or sell your home? We suggest you continue to review our ten realtor “secrets” and hire a trustworthy realtor with plenty of years under their belt in this business. Don’t be shy about asking questions, and certainly be willing to walk away from negotiations no matter what your realtor or anyone else says. Despite all the negative things that can take place behind the scenes, home ownership is an exciting prospect when you are truly prepared.  

 Compatible Old & New Design Shaping 1930s House Transformation

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We’ve seen our fair share of amazing house transformation. This next home was designed to catch your eye like a red dot in a sea of black dots. What used to be a 1930s house in Toronto, Canada, was refreshed by Johnson Chou as his design studio embraced the original building in the new redesign. Known as 142 Kenilworth, the fully renovated home displays the original bricks which have been revived.This house needed a complete renovation including opening it to light and air. An oversized pivoting glass door pierces the glazed back side, leading to a cozy patio. Even from afar, this 1930s structure conveys a sense of respect and a sense of wonder.From the outside, the seemingly modest home relates to neighboring homes in terms of design and frame. Keeping the roofline and beautiful brickwork was important in order to embed the completely transformed home into its surroundings. Piercing the facade, floor-to-ceiling windows on the first floor shine natural light inside bright, open social spaces. Upstairs windows give off a modern, geometric vibe.A protruding window frame gives an extra dimension to the aluminum bookshelves bursting through the glass floor up to the second level, visually and spatially connecting social and private quarters. Another window wraps around the corner, making you instantly wonder how the backside of the house looks. Topped off with a dark-framed triangular window shining light on the modern freestanding bathtub, this dream home proves that borrowing charm from the past makes for incredible renovations.Architects shine light on the ideas that had this home completely transformed: “The design concept was two-fold: to perforate the volume of the building with openings to provide visual access throughout the space on a horizontal and vertical dimension; and to develop a motif that redefines the existing building as a series of overlapping ‘frames’ that function either as portals or apparatuses for viewing. The project is about creating volumes of flowing spaces in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions and the kinaesthetic experience of framed views from within and without.”The new floor plan allowed for the creation of a double-height space used as the new living area, where everyone gathers in a bright and cheery atmosphere. Custom-made mullions decorate and frame the home, making it appear sleek and sophisticated in photographs by Brenda Liu. You might want to think about the alterations made to this home before starting a renovation in your own house…

 Quiet Modernism Inspired by Private Boathouse and Docking Facility in Canada

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This private boathouse and docking facility designed by Kevin Weiss of Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited exemplifies a quiet and precise modernism. Located on one of the many islands dotting The Archipelago in Georgian Bay, Ontario, this project merges with our idea of harmony achieved through design. The new building gently responds to the natural and cultural context of the area, where historically built-form yields to the power of the landscape with its exposed and glacially carved granite and wind swept jack pines.Sitting on a structure of robust timber and rock cribs, the large cedar dock, and its amenities, is the primary location of the family’s daytime leisure activities – both active and reposed.  The building elements consists of the cedar dock, floating docks and bridges, a storage building for kayaks, canoes and windsurfing equipment, a food servery, linear shade canopies, and a covered seating pavilion.The storage building is clad with black stained resawn cedar, while the steel pavilion structure is covered with cedar and terne coated copper. The two are connected with a light, steel, and canvas linear shade canopy structure. On approach, due to its thinness, lightness and horizontality, the finely crafted ensemble almost disappears as it recedes into the landscape. In the evening, gentle up-lighting of the pavilion provides a warm beacon for late arriving guests.  [Information provided via e-mail by Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited; Photography: Arnaud Marthouret]

 Narrow Dwelling in Toronto Converted Into Bright Family Refuge: The Contrast House

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Situated on a corner lot in a dense neighborhood in Toronto, Canada, the Contrast House by Dubbeldam Architecture + Design is a modern rehabilitation of a 120-year old dwelling. According to the architects, the primary design challenge was to “increase natural light in the space, accomplished through both physical and perceptual means. The long, narrow house was reorganized in plan and in section, introducing new sight lines to the expanded openings at the rear of the house and updating the layout for a growing family.” The name of the project hints towards the contrasting elements spread around the house with the purpose of brightening internal spaces with no direct access to natural lighting. The interiors are connected through a light stairway, said to increase the overall light flow. Special furniture elements contribute to the originality and charm of this Canadian family home: “From the tall black bookcases housing the owner’s colorful collectibles on the ground floor, the chalkboard wall for play on the second level, these bold, dark pieces, in combination with rich walnut floors and crisp white walls and ceilings, create contrast to produce an intensified effect.” After seeing the photos below, you will certainly appreciate the designers’ efforts in creating spaces filled with light and good vibes…

 Historic Tower in Amsterdam’s Iconic Dam Square Converted Into Artist’s Residence

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Dutch interior architecture firm i29 designed the interior of a historic department store tower in Amsterdam’s iconic Dam Square. The unconventional interior will serve as an artist’s residence and is part of a larger program entitled “Room on the Roof”. Musicians, artists, designers and other creative professionals will be invited to take up residence and create an artistic project to share with the public. The program was established by the De Bijenkorf department store in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum to welcome both national and international talents.Playing with proportion and perspective, the space resembles a colossal cabinet with various living spaces stacked over several half-levels. Wooden ladders lead from the lower level living space to a work space and to an elevated sleeping space. Across from the wooden structure is a small seating area bathed in white. A telescope offering panoramic views of Amsterdam provide inspiration. The black spiral staircase winds through the center of the studio.Designer Maarten Baas will be the first guest to inhabit the space. “Room On The Roof wants to offer the artist a unique experience,” said i29 in a statement. “This was the starting point for i29 to realize an installation that brings together two worlds in one space; playing with scale and perception as in the universe of Alice in Wonderland.” The artistic works created here will soon be exhibited for the public. [Information provided via e-mail by i29 Interior Architects; Photography by Ewout Huibers.]

 Modern Family Villa Infused With Minimalist Precision

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Imagine living in a modern family villa like the Villa Spee Haelen in the Netherlands. Famous for living openly and inviting bright natural light inside with every chance, Dutch people inspire us to live fully in an environment that suits our needs and desires. Designed by architect Loek Stijnen of Lab32 Architecten for a married couple and their child, the now very sleek and modern home replaces an outdated bungalow from the 1960s. Now dressed in warm materials that attract compliments, the interiors are carefully hidden behind white plastering showcased by the facade.Preferring the simplicity of country living, the family living here wanted a modern villa that opens to the outside both in the front and the back. Panoramic windows assemble green views as the volume floats above the undulating landscape. A seamless connection is thus formed between the outdoors and the carefully designed indoors, defining what elegance in design means.The back side of the house welcomes family with a terrace complete with a pond and a swimming pool, perfect for rare sunny days. Carefully exploring this powerful connection between inside and outside, architects imagined a covered terrace that makes this transition easier. Interior decorator Rob Zeelen constructed a collection of minimalist interiors that keep the family’s lifestyle simple and functional, as they wished…

 Why Essential Oils Are Essential For Your Home

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Essential oils have a plethora of uses for the home environment, making it healthier with its healing scents. Image Source: Rose and PartnersCan you smell it? The fresh air floats with hints of sharp citrus blended with cinnamon & clove undertones, invigorating your senses —and possibly making you and your home healthier?It’s time to come to our senses, our sense of smell, that is.  While the practice of aromatherapy has been around for ages, we are not talking about burning a few candles, rather we are talking about essential oils and all of their essential uses in our home.When researching this topic, we were surprised by all the uses essential oils have in the home—and it’s not just about making your home smell pretty. These little, viscous, liquid droplets pass the smell test and seem to hold the possibility of actually healing your home! Here’s how:These little, viscous, liquid droplets pass the smell test and seem to have the possibility to actually heal your home! Here’s how. Image Source: Shed BuiltIn the dictionary sense of the word, essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic liquids containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.  Broken into layperson language, it is a plant oil that contains the essence of the plant or the smell of the plant.For the most part, these oils have been used for superficial purposes such as scenting perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and incense. However, there are those who have historically claimed the medicinal benefits of these oils, ranging from claims of clearing up acne all the way to curing cancer.  One particular historian, Alain Touwaide claims there is archeological evidence “…that both frankincense and myrrh were used as medicinal substances in antiquity; used as healing aids in leprosy and toothaches”.These claims are still up for debate, but one thing is for certain—the interest in these olfactory oils seems to go beyond smell, and its rise in popularity shows the world has ‘caught the scent’.The interest in these olfactory oils seems to go beyond smell, and its rise in popularity shows the world has ‘caught the scent’. Image Source: Anna BraundThere are thousands of useful online sites that list numerous roles that essential oils can play in the home. One site lists the effectiveness of oils in cleaning products, another to keep mice at bay, and another uses scents to keep her family healthy.With all the choices available, where do you start? We suggest you start small and try just a few of the more well-known oil extracts such as lemon, orange and lavender. These oils have been known (and are quite time-tested) to aid in the cleaning and aromatherapy of your home.There are numerous essential oil manufacturers that offer starter kits for those who really want to dive in nose-first.There are thousands of useful online sites that list numerous roles that essential oils can play in the home. Image Source: JC-DesignAside from smelling pretty, essential oils have some magnificent cleaning powers. Here are some of the more popular cleaning methods that oil officiando’s are employing to clean their home:As you can see, cleaning your home and keeping your family healthy doesn’t have to involve a lot of harsh chemicals.  This Wiki How site shows you how to make an all-purpose cleaning solution with just lavender oil, lemon oil and water.Aside from smelling pretty, essential oils have some magnificent cleaning powers. Image Source: PorcelanosaSpeaking of harsh chemicals. Many do not realize the amount of toxins that float throughout their home. Almost all of the content in your home has some form of chemical emission—carpeting, furnishings, cleaning products, insulation, drywall, paint etc…An article in The Atlantic calls this a ‘silent pandemic’, noting that daily toxin exposure is actually damaging the brains of unborn children, and determining that 41 Million IQ points have been collectively lost amongst Americans due to exposure to common toxins like lead, mercury and pesticides.Perhaps this should be a wake-up call for us to employ a more green approach to living— and look into ways to use essential oils in place of toxic cleaners. Here is a great link to help you make your home green with essential oils.Many do not realize the amount of toxins that float throughout their home. Image Source: LBC LightingIt certainly seems that essential oils should have a place in every home. Not only do they smell great; they can alleviate the amount of toxic cleaners that you use in your home, and possibly eliminate some toxins in the home. Go a little green and try on some of these scents today.Are you ahead of the trend and already ‘on the scent’ of the power of essential oils? 

 Shared-Housing Project in Japan: LT Josai by Naruse Inokuma Architects

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Naruse Inokuma Architects, a Japanese architectural firm designed Share House LT Josai, a residence with shared living areas. The trend of communal living is very popular in Japan, encouraging the youth to gain their independence without actually buying a new place of their own. Shared living means dividing responsibilities within the home. It functions more as a community centre than a private residence, facilitating human interaction. In spite of sharing the same water systems, living room and entrance hall, each resident has access to private rooms.
Unlike most of the shared-housing projects, adapted from existing properties, LT Josai is a newly constructed building. The architect explains that “the shared and individual spaces were studied simultaneously and, by laying out individual rooms in a three-dimensional fashion, multiple areas, each with a different sense of comfort, were established in the remaining shared space”.  The venue features 13 identical private bedrooms distributed across all three levels of the house. The common areas were envisioned as spaces for eating, cooking, relaxing and last, but not least, conversation. Probably the most relaxing shared space in the house is the rug area, strategically placed at the first floor. People gather here often to share stories and unbend…

 pedestal square table

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We now shine the spotlight on a series of modern powder rooms that are magnificent in their own right. Stone is the material of choice in the bathroom below, which makes the Haven Stone Bathtub with Base from Apaiser an ideal choice for the space! Note how details such as a sculptural pendant light add layers of eye-catching design to this interior. Sometimes less is more, and when the powder room is all about the tub, it’s not a bad idea to go bold. Next we see Apaiser’s Haven Stone Bathtub (this time without the base), and if black isn’t your tub color of choice, note that in true Apaiser tradition, the piece is available in a variety of finishes. Here’s another modern black bathtub in a grey bathroom, and this time the tub is available through Modern Bathroom Vanities.

 Well Defined London Penthouse Evoking a Strong Metropolitan Feel

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Appointed by Ballymore to redesign the interior layout of a London Penthouse, the designers at Amos and Amos came up with a well defined space inspiring opulence: “Our design approach for Wapping Lane was to create a penthouse interior that represents a true departure from the norm. The result is a contemporary luxe interior that balances immaculate detailing and bespoke design with a carefully selected material palette evoking a strong metropolitan feel”. Acting as the core of the apartment, the spacious living area flooded in natural light is a true entertainment environment.
Serious efforts were directed towards the master suite, which the designers planned inspired by luxury boutique hotels. The second bedroom does not feel in the slightest way secondary, featuring a private terrace, luxurious en-suite with a large shower and walk-through wardrobe. The third bedroom sits between the two, and is a perfect guest bedroom with built in wardrobes and terrace access. A new sculptural spiral stair was designed to access the roof terrace, through a glass sided sun-room on the 19th floor. The generously-sized roof terrace offers uninterrupted 360 degree views across the capital, offering the inhabitants an interesting spot for dining and contemplation…

 white freestanding bathroom cabinet

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Benches can be great for increasing storage space, given that you can find options that come with cubbies, shelves, and drawers. Check out this bench from Porch.com that has lots of room for extra towels. Another bench featured again on BHG has a drawer pullout where you can store all your accessories. Everyone knows standing up in the shower is the norm, but if you have a disability, or if you just want to safely be able to wash the soles of your feet, a bench in the shower can really help! Keep that in mind for your next shower remodel. Here’s a beautiful marble bench that extends from the subway tile in this shower, featured on BHG. You can get really creative with built-in shower benches by using different types and colors of material, like this example of a black tiled shower from Carla Aston. Or why not just keep it subtle? Extend the tile to include the bench, like this white and pink bathroom featured on BHG.

 gloss white kitchen units

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Benches can be great for increasing storage space, given that you can find options that come with cubbies, shelves, and drawers. Check out this bench from Porch.com that has lots of room for extra towels. Another bench featured again on BHG has a drawer pullout where you can store all your accessories. Everyone knows standing up in the shower is the norm, but if you have a disability, or if you just want to safely be able to wash the soles of your feet, a bench in the shower can really help! Keep that in mind for your next shower remodel. Here’s a beautiful marble bench that extends from the subway tile in this shower, featured on BHG. You can get really creative with built-in shower benches by using different types and colors of material, like this example of a black tiled shower from Carla Aston. Or why not just keep it subtle? Extend the tile to include the bench, like this white and pink bathroom featured on BHG.

 marina bay swimming pool

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Painting the walls might be the easiest way to add green to the bedroom along with bedding and accessories in matching hue, but think beyond the obvious if you want a truly captivating room. Painting the ceiling in green can be a fun alternative and by leaving the walls white, you will still have a neutral and versatile backdrop that will beautifully showcase wall art and sculptural décor additions. And for those who really want a personalized solution, mixing different shades to come with your own custom green hue is indeed an exciting and enjoyable alternative. This will assure that you are proud owner of a one-of-a-kind bedroom with a shade of green that you came up with.

 Minimalist Bathtub Design for Original Modern Bathrooms

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Designed by Claudia Danelon and Federico Meroni, this black modern bathtub included in the designers’ Beyond Collection, comes with a surprising look. Minimalist and elegant, it goes without saying that there are few interiors within witch this bathtub could not integrate perfectly. Its delicate lines seem to contrast the roughness of the monolith block in cladding polystyrene it is fixed in. The chic appearance of the egg-like shaped tub could be taken advantage of to the maximum in a bathroom with floor to ceiling windows and lovely nature views, such as in the first photo of this post. But if this is not the case, its design is more than enough for a soothing experience. Its dimensions are 185x109x60h and the monolith it stands on measures 245x80x45h. Find it appealing?

 vaulted cathedral ceiling

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Now you’re ready to give your small living space a personal touch. Adding some color, texture and interest to your basics will keep your apartment from looking like a furniture showroom. Layer textiles such as pillows and throws on your seating. Choose 20- or 22-inch-square pillows that can double as floor cushions. Add wall canvases and decor in bold tones. Finally, the right area rug will warm up your space while adding color and pattern. Below are some of our favorite accent pieces.

 Architectural Style Reflecting the Traditions of Vietnam: Ninh Van Bay Resort

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The dramatic rock formations of Ninh Van Bay, overlooking the East Vietnam Sea are well emphasized by the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Resort&Spa. With a design respecting the traditions of Vietnam, while adding that extra luxury that makes a holiday memorable for most, the resort boasts impressive vacation villas: “Accommodations at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay provide generous personal space and present an uncompromising standard of luxury. Accessible only by water, the 58 pool villas are situated on the beach front, on the hillside and over rock formations in which private swimming pools have been crafted. Several hilltop villas located near the Six Senses Spa have personal Spa Suites“.  From homes scattered amongst rock formations at the Western end of the Bay to soothing rustic accommodation units with private garden and exclusive plunge pool- each building reflects the beauty of the area and welcomes guest into a serene holiday space…

 Practical Corner Ladder Easy to Compress Into a Wooden Pole [Video]

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Ladders are practical instruments for handy work around the house. But what do you do when you have to store them out of sight and the space they take up is a bit too much? Studio Company & Company came up with a practical solution: the corner ladder, easy to compress in a wooden pole: “Our homes are getting smaller and we have less storing space. This project comes from the need to simplify an everyday object to a minimum. A ladder is a domestic standard tool that is rarely used. The idea was to be able to fit it in any corner, so as to simplify and increase its use and basic operation.” Would you consider having a corner pole-ladder in your home to put on display, or would you rather hide it? Have a look at the video below to see the design in action!

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