The house is literally built into a stone outcropping, to the point where the rock penetrates the interior and becomes part of the building in places.
Conceived as a kind of semi-bunker, the house is named the Pierre, the French word for stone.
Constructed from concrete, glass and rough-hewn timber, with stunning views, a green roof and pines standing guard all around, the Pierre has been designed from some angles to almost disappear into nature.
Yet this is no cold, claustrophobic bunker. Massive ceiling-height doors and windows bring the outdoors in and the indoors out. The concrete interior surfaces are softened by plush furnishings, timber furniture, lots of objets d’art and mood lighting, including that supplied by the roaring log fire.
This small home in Barcelona, Spain, couldn’t be more different. We love the handmade clay bricks in the wall behind the kitchen bench and cleverly arched between the ceiling beams. Their rough texture stands out in contrast to the smooth surfaces of the cabinets, dining table and floor, but the use of laminated timber brings the natural into those elements, too. The coup de grace for those of us who mourned his untimely passing last year is of course the portrait of David Bowie.
The powder blue, white and clay brick theme is echoed throughout the house, as are those squiggly black-and-white Spanish tiles. The rug and lampshade look as though they were crafted from the coat of Shrek, the South Island sheep who became world-famous in 2004 for escaping shearing for six years.
The city of Palermo on the Italian island of Sicily was built around a harbour basin, and the picture windows of this two-level apartment were designed to take in the view. Palermo dates back to 734 BC and is crammed with all the different architectural styles of the city’s invaders – Byzantine, Arabesque, baroque and Gothic – but this apartment is an oasis of modern minimalism in the middle of it all.
You may be thinking that this eclectic apartment is more suited to Sicily than the one above, but surprisingly, it’s actually in St Petersburg, Russia.
Despite being located in a modern building, the apartment celebrates Russia’s past with faux-woodgrain cabinetry, overstuffed furniture and a gorgeous collection of antique brass-and-glass lamps.
Because you don’t see the sun for much of the year in St Petersburg, the apartment is designed to make the most of it when it comes out, using semi-transparent netting and wooden blinds to create warming effects while preserving the traditional Russian sense of privacy.
Pantone didn’t invent colour but they classified and numbered it, turning it into a commodity that could be replicated exactly. This year’s Pantone Colour of the Year is called Greenery, and if you thought all the preceding home interiors were OK but lacked a little pzazz, this is the colour for you. The only problem is that too much Greenery can be totally overwhelming, as the bathroom above shows.
Instead, we recommend just a touch of Greenery, as in this living area. If it were up to us, we’d lose the curtains and cushions, replacing them with a more neutral colour so the recesses in the walls could truly take centre stage. But, then, that’s just us…