Seeing the inside of someone's house is a fun (and harmless) way to get a glimpse inside their life. The art on the walls, the care with which pillows are fluffed, even an expanse of snow-white rug — all are clues to how people live. This house in the Buenos Aires suburbs of Argentina is a bit different: it hints at how the owner thinks. Let's take a look.
From a distance, the house, known as Casa Molecule, isn't particularly thrilling: boxy, grey and symmetrical. On the front steps, though, you'll encounter the first of many aluminum structures that the listing calls "an exceptional socket system ... with an incredible strength so as to resist any kind of weight." That — plus the name — makes me think this is home to a scientist, inventor or engineer.
Even the kitchen tables have aluminum-tube bases which, paired with thick wood tops, make them look like workbenches. Exposed ductwork, open shelving and polished concrete floors add to the laboratory vibe. If the science of cooking isn't really your field, the restaurants of downtown Buenos Aires are less than an hour's drive away.
The dining room is a bit softer, with wood floors, cream walls and Louis XVI chairs. But with only two chairs and a computer open on the table, it seems like this room is meant for work, too. And apparently it's paid off: the listing proudly states that the aluminum tube system's creator won an award from the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2009.
The geodesic structures continue inside, both forming a geometric motif and doing the important job of holding up that second-storey walkway. A chessboard and easel tucked in the corner suggest that the occupant's interests extend beyond engineering, though I'm not sure what hobby the full-length mirror on casters points to.
You don't have to be scientifically or mathematically inclined to appreciate that this is a pretty nice bathroom. Plenty of light, plenty of handy under-sink storage, plenty of room in that deep blue bathtub. There are 1-1/2 other bathrooms, as well as three bedrooms, a spacious terrace and outdoor pool, plus a lawn with a geodesic jungle gym.
Could you work — and play — here? Or would you rather invent your own space?
1-5. Sotheby's Realty Argentina
Want to escape on a Monday morning? Make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee), grab a little snack and follow me to an absolutely stunning home in upstate New York.
Here's the Gil Schafer-designed Greek Revival masterpiece in its Warren Byrd-landscaped setting, complete with views of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley. The young trees in front are the only sign this home was built in 2006, instead of centuries ago.
And here are the interiors by Miles Redd. Take a sip of your warm beverage of choice, then, take a moment to savour not just the curve of this entry staircase, but that slender gold key sticking out of the lock.
The kitchen is a little more farmhouse than formal, with a weather-beaten table, beadboard panelling and rough-hewn exposed ceiling beams. A white subway tile backsplash is a nice modern hit, but I like that it's confined to the stove area, so its shininess doesn't take over the room.
Opposite the kitchen is this cosy family room, where plaid curtains and a live-edge side table remind us that this is upstate New York.
Teal drapes and mustard leather are carried in from the foyer, but a leafy green takes over in the living room. The fireplace is matched by one at the other end of the room; the tiger-stripe and ikat pillows are, in my opinion, matchless.
I wish this shot was angled just a little to the right, so we could get a better view of that window seat right next to the built-in bookcase. The heavy maroon valances are a little too trad for my taste, but I'd still happily be a guest in this bedroom — or any of the other four.
What do you think? If you had $10 million, would you pack your things and head for the Hudson Valley?
For more on Miles Redd, view a gallery of his interiors.
1-6. Houlihan Lawrence
To kick off the month, it's time for another round of Where In the World Is This? If you'd like to skip ahead, you can check out the listing here. Otherwise, take a look at the following shots, and see if you can guess where this house is located.
This grey clapboard saltbox has a charming porch across the front and a chimney at each end. Though it's in a traditional style, it was built in 2006 and is a very roomy 7,000 square feet. (This includes the attic and cellar, but not the two-car garage or pool house.)
The relaxed, Cape Cod-farmhouse vibe is evident in the kitchen; beadboard cabinets painted sage green and an apron sink add country character. It's too bad the fireplace (right) is almost blocked by the lamp in this photo, because even when it's not in use, it lends real warmth to the space.
A sun-soaked, conservatory-style breakfast nook looks out over the lush green lawn and in-ground pool. This is the only room in the house that's a little more formal, thanks to the chandelier and plinths, but it's nice to see that the space could be dressed up a little.
In the living room, the grey horizontal panelling from the exterior continues behind built-in bookcases but is lightened by a creamy beadboard ceiling and wide wooden floors. I'll be perfectly honest: given the room's slightly rumpled, unpretentious feel, I think the moose head is a perfect touch.
I could probably enthuse for a whole blog post about that pink roadster and miniature silver armchair, but let's skip the toys and go right to the enclosed bed. Not only is it perfectly in tune with the cottage notes in the rest of the house, it creates the perfect child-sized reading and sleeping spot, and can easily be closed off to hide an unmade bed.
Now for the reveal: this house is actually in Schoten, Belgium! Even though it's just outside of Antwerp and about 45 minutes from Brussels, the house comes on sizeable acreage, and much of the town itself is still forested and rural. For this kind of country living, $2.4 million doesn't seem too bad.
For more on Belgian style, check out our Flemish-inspired decorating finds.
1-5. Emile Garcin Properties
It's Monday again, and after last week's Thai villa, I'm still not quite done thinking about warm vacation destinations. This week, I've crossed the Pacific to the islands of Hawaii, where sprawling villas and golf courses nestle up to white-sand beaches. Let's start the week off gently with a look at one of these villas.
Come fly with me to the northwest coast of Maui — specifically, the turquoise crescent of Oneloa Bay, where the gated Kapalua Place curves along the coastline as it leads to this $28.5-million gem.
The property is nearly 7,500 square feet indoors, and almost 10,000 square feet when the covered lanais are included. Not only does this dining area look across to the peaks on the island of Moloka'i, but the listing promises you'll see "tens of thousands of humpback whales, dolphins and other magnificent creatures" in the bay. I wonder if that figure includes tourists.
Even the expansive kitchen has ocean views (and what I can only imagine are the most delicious breezes wafting through). The pineapple-backed chairs are a nice, whimsical nod to the islands.
Plenty of beach houses veer into seaside cliché or hotel-room blandness, but these neutral interiors set the perfect calm tone for a relaxing vacation. The furniture and accents — selected by renowned local designer Mary Philpotts — are included in the sale, so what you see is what you'd get.
Pocket doors in an upstairs bedroom open to a private balcony. (We'll just pretend the neighbouring house is more than a few hundred metres away.) There are four bedrooms in total, each with its own ensuite bath, plus second-floor space over the garage that could be turned into a separate guest suite.
What do you think? Are you ready to say goodbye to a few million and aloha to the island lifestyle?
1-5. Mary Anne Fitch via Christie's International Real Estate
As a kid, I had a pretty narrow conception of what houses looked like: two or three storeys, four walls, peaked or hipped roof, symmetrical windows, and maybe a round window or fanlight over the front door. (Yes, I grew up on a street of boxy Colonials.) This house, in northwestern Thailand, totally explodes that idea. Scroll through to see why.
Built to overlook a pond near Mae Rim, the house is structured as a series of seven pavilions for living, dining, sleeping and more. They're connected by open walkways, which means that yes, you do get wet when it rains. And forget having four solid walls — while covered by those peaked roofs, most rooms have open sides or are glassed in.
The main pavilions are clustered around a green sandstone infinity-edge pool, with a view over the water and out towards the Himalayan foothills. I love the way the transom windows peek out at the undersides of the eaves, making the room feel cosy and enclosed in spite of the huge windows.
The home's architect, Bill Bensley, also designed the Four Seasons in nearby Chiang Mai, and it shows in this hotel spa-worthy bathroom smack in the middle of the garden. I'm not sure I'd want a full-length mirror in a glass-enclosed shower area (if everyone outside can see me, I don't need to be reminded of their view), but I definitely agree with the placement of those purple flowers on the upper storey.
Can you imagine looking up at this every time you went to bed? Between that gorgeous recycled golden teak ceiling and the sumptuous orange silk walls, I don't think I'd ever close my eyes. In addition to this principal bedroom suite, there are three private guest suites, too.
I think this shot just became my new happy place. Whenever we get another day of cold rain or subway delays in Toronto, I'm going to imagine myself navigating the walkways out to this traditional-style Thai sala and watching the mist move over the mountains while enjoying a subtropical breeze on my skin.
According to the listing, this villa was built as someone else's "personal sanctuary," but I'm pretty sure it would suit my personality just fine — if I only had the $16.3 million they're asking. What do you think?
For more Thai style, read Gwen McAuley's blog post.
Space comes at a premium in Tokyo, and this apartment is no exception. With over 4,000 square feet of space, including a terrace and rooftop courtyard, it's certainly spacious. This is Tokyo, though, so said space only has one bedroom, and comes at a hefty $16 million. Let's head to the Minami-Azabu neighbourhood and see what makes it so pricey.
The La Cornue-equipped kitchen is adjoined by a breakfast banquette that looks out on the terrace. There's also a casual dining room, done up in the same mid-tone wood as the kitchen, for everyday lunches and dinners.
If you're a confident cook, you can put on a show for your guests in this formal dining room. Restaurant imitations in private homes can tend to the tacky (see: basements transformed into '50s-style diners), but the wood panelling and simple, earthy tones keep this one traditional and tasteful.
The living room is long and low-slung, warmed up by a fireplace and rich wood floors. The current owners must be film buffs, since there's plenty of hidden storage for audio-visual components, blackout shades for the windows and a projector tucked into the ceiling. Settle in for a viewing of an art-house classic ... or a daytime session of binge TV-watching.
Hallways clad in imported Italian stone circle a tranquil courtyard. Lest you fear that the outdoor space is eating up what could be interior room, rest assured that there's plenty of storage. The foyer, for example, is lined with custom closets that hold up to 200 pairs of shoes.
The current owners spent 18 months renovating the apartment, and it shows in the luxe principal bathroom. In case a massive hot tub, generous shower stall and 60" TV aren't relaxing enough, the windows open to a private little patch of greenery.
Would you pay this much for a sizeable slice of Tokyo? Or would you prefer to redo an unrenovated space to your taste?
For more inspiration, check out our Asian-Inspired Rooms.
1-5. Japan Sotheby's International Realty
If you've seen our May 2013 issue, you probably swooned at designer Colette van den Thillart's Barbados hideaway. Van den Thillart admits she's cherry-picked some of the elements to reflect the seminal style of one of the island's most influential residents, British set designer Oliver Messel.
Messel's charmed life started in London, but he ended up in Barbados, spending the last 12 years of his life there while bringing a refined elegance to tropical living that's still the gold standard. He transformed a former storage building at Leamington Pavilion with baroque touches such as louvered doors and balustrades, arched windows and a loggia.
Affluent and well connected (Messel was the uncle of Tony Armstrong-Jones, the former husband of Princess Margaret) with a gift for gab, Messel started as a portrait painter for the social set. He moved easily into London theatre, designing sets and costumes for superstar productions of the day, and then Hollywood films such as Suddenly Last Summer and Gigi. Messel first visited Barbados with friends in 1959. Overworked and suffering from arthritis, he was reinvigorated by the tropical sun.
Messel had no architectural training, but he borrowed tricks from set design to create perspective, evident in this London production of Sleeping Beauty, and transplanted them to his new projects in the Caribbean.
His redesign of Cockade House in Barbados, a former sugar plantation, made it one of the prettiest houses on the island. Messel transformed it with slender Greek columns, flattened arches and fanciful fanlights.
The Cockade House terrace features lavish use of "Messel Green," his trademark shade, along with lattice trelliswork, two of his most lasting legacies.
He even draped the stars in green, designing this dress for Elizabeth Taylor.
Fustic House was his favourite property in Barbados. Made of local coral stone, he accented the façade of the Messel wing with trademark louvered shutters to let the breeze flow, and Bajan parapets (small hoods over the windows) to block the sun. The cement floors were scored to look like tiles.
Messel green softens the transition from the interior to the lush palms surrounding the east terrace, and curtains buffer the elements.
His interiors incorporated white-on-white schemes with splashes of bright colour and elaborate plaster mouldings. He had a quirky habit: Messel was short so many of the light switches were placed close to the ground.
The first home Messel bought on the island was Maddox House, a rundown property on the St. James coast. He redesigned it to suit life in the Caribbean with balconies, loggias and terraces looking out to the sea.
Maddox House was such a hit, it sparked a booming new career as jet-set residents clamored for the Messel touch for their own vacation properties. He was tapped by Lord Glenconner to design 30 houses on his private island, Mustique, from 1960 onwards, including the winter escape of Princess Margaret, Les Jolies Eaux (the pool cabana is pictured above). But Barbados remained Messel's first island love and his home until he died there in 1978 at age 74.
For more, read all about Margot Austin's trip to Barbados.
1, 4, 10. Antique French Living blog
2. A Certain Cinema blog
3. Royal Opera House
5. Charles Edwards Lighting blog
6. Social Bliss blog
7, 9. How To Spend It blog
8. Fustic House
11. Les Jolies Eaux home, 10K Vacation Rentals
My partner Andrew and I recently spent a long weekend in Quebec City. I've travelled to Montreal a few times, so was expecting a similar vibe in Quebec City. We were happily surprised just how beautiful and rich in history the city was. In my opinion, it's the closest thing Canada has to an authentic European city, and I highly recommend a visit. One piece of advice though — I've never experienced colder temperatures in my life! Good boots and snow pants (yes, snow pants) are a must in the winter months.
We stayed at a quaint boutique hotel called Maison du Fort right in the heart of Old Quebec, with an amazing view of the St. Lawrence River and majestic Chateau Laurier.
The trip was for my birthday, so most things were a surprise, including the incredible room Andrew booked. And just like every time we've travelled in the past, the first thing I do — before we even unpack — is stage a little impromptu photo shoot of the room.
The walls were clad in century-old stone and original mouldings. Natural light flooded in thanks to the large windows.
I fell in love with these windows and swear I'll live somewhere with something similar one day. Beautiful and practical, the solid panel shutters tuck away into the deep widow bay when not in use.
The hardware was just as beautiful. Many new builds replicate this historical style, but nothing is more striking than the original!
I have to admit, the bed was a little too ornate for my liking — you can get a sense of it in this photo — but if I'm ever going to sleep in a turned four-poster with floral bedding, it might as well be in the old city of Quebec.
Every detail of the room was worth photographing, including the intricate grates that covered the water heating unit.
I even fell in love with the hotel's front door. This dusty rose shade may seem out of place in most Canadian cities, but looks warm and inviting next to the cool tones of the brick (and snow!)
For more Quebecois style, tour Scott Yetman's country home.
1-6. Joel Bray
I recently had the chance to hop down to New York City for a biz/pleasure trip. Here are some highlights.
First up, a few favourites from the Architectural Digest Home & Design Show. Above are magnetic wood tiles by Moonish. Yes, they can be rearranged easily. Yes, you can install them, uninstall them and take them with you elsewhere and reinstall. No, you probably can't put them in the shower but yes, they resist mold. And yes, they are amazing.
Please meet Rachel and Nicholas of Calico Wallpaper. They make that incredible marbleized wall mural you see behind them. What can I say — two cool creatives bringing jaw-dropping beauty into the world. Bless you Rachel and Nicholas. Imagine this paper in a candlelit dining room or on your bedroom ceiling. Please, incroyable!
Fumed oak and distressed brass, both in silky smooth finishes make the Driscoll bar cart by Desiron my top furniture pick of the show. Wish I had one handy to serve my Mad Men Season 6 première cocktails.
And speaking of lookers, this is without a doubt the prettiest cooking appliance I have ever seen in my life. It is by Ilve, and is white enamel with polished brass accents. It's Italian — they know a thing or two about beauty.
Sticking to stereotypes for a moment, if the Italians were all about beauty then here are the Germans teaching us there is beauty in orderliness. A little shout out here to the folks at Miele for their top-notch refrigerator styling — a symphony of perfectly arranged greens. I'm not going to lie, there is a teensy part of me that thinks maybe I could eat this way so my fridge could look this good inside. I'm sure the appliances themselves are wonderful, too.
The La Cornue booth featured a kitchen by SieMatic, which was perfectly lovely in its own right. But then there was that tile. Yes, wooden backsplash tile. Not porcelain that looks like wood. Real wood. It's the Enigma Collection by Jamie Beckwith. And yes, you can use it as flooring, too. Mark my words, this is going to become a thing.
Here are a few other examples of this luscious product.
In one corner of the building was a showcase of several dazzling tabletop designs all done up for the DIFFA Dining by Design charity event supporting people living with AIDS. My favourite of the lot was the Architectural Digest table (surprise, surprise). Psychedelic bright poppies set against a black and white stripe tabletop. Happy and sophisticated.
After the AD Show, a jaunt across town had me face to face with what I hope will be the future of refrigeration. These fully integrated units by GE Monogram consist of components (refrigeration, freezers, beverage cooling, glass-front, panelled drawers) that can be configured to suit your needs. I've never quite understood the conspicuously-huge-fridge-as-status-symbol thing. This disappearing act design is much more my speed. So superb in both form and function.
And lastly, I was lucky enough to dine with a small group inside this cupola on the roof of the NoMad hotel! It was a treat from beginning to end thanks to gracious hosts, superb service and delectable fare. If you ever dine at the NoMad, be sure to have the butter-dipped fleur de sel radishes and the roasted chicken with fois gras, black truffle and brioche. Trust.
The radishes were truly ravishing so I popped them in the Google machine and was overjoyed to find the good people at Bon Appetit have revealed the not-so-secret recipe. You really should try them.
Read more about New York style in Sarah Hartill's blog post.
I didn't dye any Easter eggs this weekend, but I've certainly been celebrating with various shades of candy. So in the spirit of the holiday, here's a townhouse on New York's Upper East Side decorated with egg-worthy pastels like lilac, teal and cotton-candy pink.
The home dates from 1860 and was briefly converted to a blacksmith shop at the turn of the 20th century. In the 1970s, it was chopped up into a four-unit apartment building before being restored to its original six-storey, single-family-housing self (supposedly by shoe magnate Steve Madden).
There are plenty of charming details left in the Italianate manse, like the fireplace, wood floors and large front windows. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of staircases left over from the building's days as an apartment house, making the layout something of a maze.
The floor plan calls this the dining room, but it seems like any meals would have to be limited to the banquette lest they be interrupted by traffic from the stairway. Fortunately, according to the plans, there are two dining rooms and two kitchens, back-to-back, on this floor.
The principal bedroom is actually on the garden level and opens to a good-sized backyard. It could be re-worked into a living space, of course, but you'd also have to figure out how to re-configure the walk-in closets, dressing room and ensuite bathroom.
This is Manhattan, so don't expect any fancy amenities — or more outdoor space — for your $9 million. If you're dying to add your own media room, yoga studio or home office, you can always transform the basement or six bedrooms, or knock out a few of the 11 baths and half-baths for some extra square-footage.
What do you think? Would the pretty paint job convince you to take on a warren fit for the Easter bunny?
See more pastel rooms in our Colourful Spring Rooms photo gallery.
1-5. Douglas Elliman Real Estate