Serene Vacation Home in Sweden Hides Among the Pine Trees

Villa Ljung is a charming vacation home near the sea in Höllviken, Sweden. The project was completed by Johan Sundberg Architecture and comprises three buildings: a residence, a garage and a small cottage for an aging relative.

The façades of all three buildings are clad in various types of larch paneling, which makes them blend in with the pine trees. “The house’s proximity to the forest and the sea entails a meaningful contact with nature,” the architects said.

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Inside the main house, an array of materials and textures, emphasized by an abundance of natural lighting, add a sense of dynamics. Danish brick flooring and stone walls give the interiors a cottage-like feel.

“The kitchen, dining room and lounge area are arranged around the large central room, which extends beyond the fireplace to a winter garden with folding doors in both directions,” the architects said.

Designed by landscape architect Anders Folkesson, the garden features narrow pathways winding through the heather and moss. [Information provided by Johan Sundberg Architecture; photography by Markus Linderoth]

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Renovated Villa in Portugal Maintains Its Rustic Charm

Located between the Algarve mountain range and the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve in Portugal, this villa was recently upgraded by Atelier Rua architects. The renovation process aimed to conserve as many original details as possible while adapting the living spaces to the contemporary needs of the owners.

The site is divided into two parts by the cluster of dwellings — a main residence and three annexes. “The area to the north, where one can access the plot, is marked by a welcoming alley of olive and carob trees,” the architects said. “To the south, a more private and secluded zone is dominated by an orchard.”

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“The main house was renovated using traditional construction methods, thus preserving its character and ambiance. It accommodates the social and functional areas of the house: the entryway, the kitchen, small living and dining rooms, and two bedrooms.”

Three new white volumes divide the patios from the new rooms in the renovated villa. Inside, the rustic design scheme pays tribute to the building’s traditional origins. The ceilings are covered with the same reeds found in the original dwelling, painted white.

See any design elements you find inspiring? [Information provided by Atelier Rua; photography by Miguel Manso and Ana Paula Carvalho]

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Innovative Skylight Brings ‘Sun’ Into Any Room

What if you could add a skylight to your basement or any other room that could use a slice of sunlight? Thanks to CoeLux, that’s now a possibility. The award-winning lighting system uses nanotechnology to reproduce the appearance of sunlight in a way that’s amazingly realistic. That’s right — what you’re seeing in these images is artificial light.

The Italian company of the same name offers three versions of the fixtures based on the angle at which the LED light hits the room. The CoeLux 60 mimics the direct sunlight found in the tropics; the 45 replicates the balanced light of the Mediterranean sun; and the 30 is a wall “window” that produces the warmer, more lateral light found in Nordic countries.


CoeLux is a research project spun off from Insubria University in Como, Italy, and funded by the European Union. “Science and technology, like art, allow us to reproduce reality, putting on stage the laws that we believe are relevant in nature,” says founder and CEO Paolo Di Trapani, a professor at the university.

In addition to brightening homes, CoeLux has several applications in commercial architecture; imagine the possibilities in parking garages, subway systems, museums, hospitals, apartment buildings and shopping malls, for example. Which room in your home would you like to lighten up?


6 Gorgeous Modern Planters You Can DIY This Weekend

Spring is on its way, and that means it’s time to welcome color back into the home. Indoor plants bring interiors to life, freshen the air and celebrate the growing season. But finding just the right planter for your curated interiors can be a big challenge.

These six modern DIY planters are easy, inexpensive and perfect for design-conscious homes. From mini-pots accented with silver leaf to large-scale mid-century stands in pretty pastel hues, these modern planters are the perfect way to welcome spring into your home. Best of all, you can make them this weekend. Take a look, and let us know which one(s) you tried!

1. Mid-Century Egg Stands

These whimsical pastel mid-century modern planters are built using wooden stands to give your home quirky but classy “Mad Men” flair. Get the how-to here.

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2. Geometric Copper Vessels

Metallic accents bring light into gloomy interiors and look cute to boot. Make these modern planters in a variety of geometric shapes for visual interest. See the DIY here.

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3. Silver-Leaf Concrete Planter

Concrete modern planters are a stylish-home staple, and they’re surprisingly simple to make. Dress yours up in silver leaf for extra-chic style. Learn how here.

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4. Ceramic Wall Pockets

Decorating walls with plants instead of art gives the eye a soothing place to rest, and — bonus! — cleans stuffy indoor air. See how to make these modern planters yourself here.

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5. 2-Minute Donut Planter

You won’t believe what these chic two-tone concrete planters are really made of. Hint: they cost less than $5 and take less than five minutes to make. See the secret here.

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6. Paint Drip Planter

A coat of glossy paint can make any boring container a modern masterpiece. Choose a bright primary shade, or one that matches your décor. Get painting here.

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Children’s Playhouse in Brazil Features Fun on Every Floor

Pascali Semerdjian Architects designed the Toy House in São Paulo, Brazil. The 2,659-square-foot play area was built next to the owner’s home especially for entertainment — of children and adults alike.

“The project was conceived as a huge play place for a growing family, designed to be a home for the children’s toys and a venue for parties and events,” the architects said. “The discrete entrance opens up with an invitation to play. A staircase leads visitors to choose among three different levels.”

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The lower level houses a large TV room for video game and movie sessions, with an integrated kitchen. Sliding doors open to the outside, where a slide can be found under the stainless steel staircase. On the main floor, colorful modular furniture echoes the creatively shaped built-in shelving.

On the upper level, the architects envisioned a flexible metal capsule with remote-controlled shutters. “The space can expand to become bigger or smaller, isolated or opened, and can be easily dismantled in the future,” the developing team said.

A tower gate and a pink rope bridge add to this playful residence, while works of art by famous Brazilian artists bring character to the design scheme. [Photos and information provided by Pascali Semerdjian Architects]

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Eclectic Apartment Showcases Collector’s Artifacts

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RSRG Architects completed the renovation of a 1,173-square-foot home in the Pinheiros area of São Paulo, Brazil. João Apartment features colorful furniture, an array of plants and original artifacts from around the world.

Removing some of the walls made room for a bright, open social space. The doors of the eclectic apartment were replaced by vintage ones found in São Paulo’s antiques district. Exposed brick, concrete pillars and remnants of the original walls add an industrial touch.

“Conscious interventions and a strict budget gave João Apartment its unique style of deconstruction and simplicity,” the architects said. “Life revolves around an open space with a kitchen and an adjoining living room, while the bedroom, bathroom and laundry are in a more private area.

“The decor is a great mix: a beloved piano, classic pieces like the iconic Paulistano chairs, one-of-a kind items like the bed discovered at a flea market. Little owls, Brazilian indian artifacts, and Bolivian and African sculptures give away the fact that this is an avid craft collector’s house.”

Landscape artist Daniela Ruiz collaborated with the architects to choose a fresh assortment of greenery for the home. Green ivy, fiddle-leaf fig and other plants blend perfectly into the eclectic design scheme. [Photography by Fran Parente]

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3D Puzzles Let You Explore the World Through Touch

“Places grow when we fill them with experiences,” says Hungarian design studio Planbureau. The studio’s new product, Logiplaces, depict cityscapes molded from concrete, allowing users to explore locations near and far in a new way: through touch.

Instead of using symbols such as crosshatches and red dots for street signs and landmarks, these tactile maps focus on terrain, creating a unique way for users to explore a new place. The 3D puzzles, available in either 16 or 36 pieces, are both a challenging toy and a desktop adornment.

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The studio starts by using a 3D printer for the mold, giving the sculpture accurate geographical detail. The puzzles themselves are made out of concrete poured into the mold. After the mold is removed, some detail is added by hand to enhance the map’s realism.

Four Logiplaces are available for purchase: Budapest, Zermatt (in the Swiss Alps), the Grand Canyon and San Francisco. The next map printing will be voted on by contributors on Indiegogo. However, if you can’t wait for a depiction of your hometown, Planbureau takes custom orders.

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logic puzzles - planbureau logiplaces - freshome
logic puzzles - planbureau logiplaces - freshome

Fresh Picks: Best Small Modern Sectionals

The sofa is the most important piece in a living room, no matter how big or small the space is. It’s the spot where you relax with a cup of coffee, watch a good movie, get some work done, hang out with guests or take a nice weekend nap.

A sectional is a functional alternative to a sofa because it offers extra seating and lounge space. Just because you have a small living room doesn’t mean you can’t have a sectional. In fact, a perfectly sized modular sectional may be the best option. What else would you do with that corner, anyway? Might as well make it extra seating.

When you’re looking for the best small modern sectionals for your living room, select one that has simple, low-profile arms. Overstuffed, rounded arms can take up an extra foot of space.

Another tip is to go with a shallower depth. Tight-back sofas and sectionals don’t have extra pillows and can be as shallow as 32 inches while still feeling as generous as a standard 40-inch-deep sofa. Going for a sectional 32 to 36 inches deep can help you open up more valuable square footage.

Freshome’s picks for the best small modern sectionals

Image: West Elm

Dimensions: 77” W x 77″ D x 32.5” H

CB2’s sleek and modular Lotus sectional ($1,997) features chrome legs that extend from the floor, giving the sectional a light and airy look. The Euro-chic chunky, minimalist design is popular among contemporary design enthusiasts. And the Lotus can grow with you as you need — simply add an extra corner chair, armless chair or ottoman.

Image: Lex Mod

Dimensions: 99.5″ W x 60.5″ D x 34″H

Smartly tailored featuring tufted buttons and a nod to mid-century modern design, the Empress sectional ($1,252) is known as a chaise-lounge sectional. That’s because the return piece is a chaise instead of a sofa — perfect for kicking your feet up and relaxing.

Image: IKEA

Dimensions: 114.75” W x 59.5″ D x 32.75” H

The Soderhamn collection consists of modular pieces that can change up as you need. An armless sofa, ottoman, optional arm, chaise lounge and corner piece are your building blocks to the perfect small modern sectional. If you like the concept of a chaise-lounge sectional, you can opt for a chaise connected to a sofa (shown above, $899).

Image: Room and Board

Victorian in Australia Seamlessly Transitions to Modern Extension

From the back of this house in suburban Melbourne, Australia, you’d never guess it was a Victorian. Robson Rak Architects upgraded the Malvern home and added a new living space off the courtyard. The clients requested that the new spaces fuse seamlessly with the remodeled old part of the house.

“We demolished the original 1980s addition, previously elevated one meter above the back yard,” the architects said. “We relocated this change of level to the end of the hallway and carried the original ceiling height through to a new addition, which consists of living space, kitchen, pantry and laundry.”

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The highlight of the new living room is a tall brick fireplace, a visual link to the house’s brick facade. Double-glazed doors and windows ensure plenty of natural light.

“Although the house uses fully automated technology, it is disguised by a warm, textural palette,” the architects said. “A timber ribbon of floor and wall travels through the house, creating a harmonious, seamless transition from old to new.” [Information provided by Robson Rak; photography by Lisa Cohen and Mark Roper]

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Minimalist Home Uses Aqua to Accent Angles

This modern home in Gliwice, Poland, has a long, narrow footprint that stands out from the traditional neighboring dwellings. The irregular shape of the building inspired Widawscy Studio Architecture to design the angular interiors in a similar manner.

The family home exudes a minimalist style both inside and out, with a simple color palette and few decorations. Polished concrete flooring and white walls are the background for the unconventional furnishings. Custom designed in shades of aqua, the sofa, dining chairs and other accents add a dynamic touch.

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The living, dining and kitchen areas are organized in an open plan. Windows in different sizes flood this social zone in natural lighting, emphasizing the shapes, colors and textures.

A minimalist staircase leads to the second level, where the color palette remains unchanged; additional aqua accents embellish the family’s bedrooms and bathrooms. What do you think of this home in Poland? [Photos and information provided by Widawscy Studio Architecture]

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