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Architecture | Manolo for the Home
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I’m in Lust With This Built-In Book Nook

A built-in book nook to die for!

When I’m reading, where I actually am has never been the important thing. I love reading on packed trains, in turbulent planes, and yes, I’m even one of those nasty people who will happily read in the bathroom.* If I’m truly immersed in a book, the rest of the world just disappears. But I understand that for many people, the enjoyment of reading is heightened by by doing the deed in relative comfort, and perhaps even in beauty. Do I need a built-in book nook to be a happy reader? No. Nor does anyone else. But I am nonetheless in true lust with this particular built-in book nook, surrounded as it is with built-in shelves and filled with its many throw pillows. And the drawers and the wallpaper! I think I could even happily sleep in it, as long as I didn’t have to share.

Do you have a special reading spot that enhances your reading experience?

*In my defense, with a toddler demanding my attention it’s one of the few places I can read for a few minutes without any interruption!

The Black Pearl

Took me a moment to figure out what I was looking at here.

Windows upon windows

It’s easier to see up close, though it doesn’t look nearly as pretty without the illumination from within.

Just a little off in the best possible way

As described by Trendland:

The construction of this awesome Rotterdam house a.k.a Black Pearl has degenerated in an architectonic spectacle, in which is experimented with time and space. The 100 years old facade has been entirely reworked by Zecc Architects & Studio Rolf.fr. Painted in a shiny black oil, the brickwork, the window frames and the glass of the existing facade is painted black. Because of this black layer you can say a shade aroused on the old façade. This shade has been taken as a basis layer in which is modern steel frames have been placed to form new windows.

The interior is pretty cool, too, and can be seen at the Trendland post.

Just fantastic, no? I really get a kick out of this sort of thing.

Think Your House Is Odd?

I’ve often commented on how strange my house is – mostly because someone in the past did a lot of shoddy DIY – but it’s not strange at all compared to these strange buildings:


Erwin Wurm’s House Attack in Vienna, Austria – located at the Museum Moderner Kunst


The Basket Building in Ohio – which houses the corporate offices of The Longaberger Company


Cubic Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands – designed by Piet Blom in 1984


Torre Galatea in Figueres, Spain – an annex of the Salvador Dalí Theater/Museum


The Kansas City Public Library in Missouri – the permanent installation conceals the library’s car park

Very cool! My favorite is House Attack, mostly because I like the idea of my little house deciding to go up against a great big building!

Where I’d Rather Be

Brrr, so cold here. And the snow that’s still on the ground has turned that dismal gray color that means it’s no longer at all nice to use for snow ice cream. I’m entirely sick of winter at this point. I’ve exhausted my to-do list of indoor projects needing my attention, and I’m itching to tackle some outdoor projects. Alas, it is too cold for exterior painting and too wet for sanding, so I’m SOL. The worst part is my brain keeps retreating into itself where it can dream of places like this uninterruptedly.

beach bungalows

Maybe not places exactly like this, as those lovely little bungalows are in Wells-Next-The-Sea, a seaport situated on the North Norfolk coast in England. I’m sure Wells-Next-The-Sea is quite picturesque just now with all those pretty colors, but I can’t imagine that it’s at all warm, which makes it less than inviting in my mind. Summer (or at the very least springtime) cannot come quickly enough, in my opinion.

(Photo by russelljsmith)

Narrow-Minded Architecture

A three-bedroom, three-story house with a veranda and two living rooms should be relatively spacious, yeah? Not if it’s the unique and strangely slim house designed and built by Helenita Queiroz Grave Minho of Madre de Deus, Brazil. The whole thing is only about one meter wide, though it stands ten meters tall and can accommodate the niceties of modern living, as well as Helenita’s husband, three kids, mother, sister, and pooch.

narrow house brazilnarrow house Brazil

In the front living room, couches and chairs are spaced creatively along the walls so one can wind one’s way around the furniture, and a desk finds a spot in an otherwise empty bit of hallway… Scratch that, it’s not a hallway, it’s just the house. And it’s such a narrow house that getting furniture and appliances inside meant dismantling them and then re-assembling them once they were in.

Narrow House brazil 2

narrow house brazil

As one can plainly see, however, this narrow house is more than a meter wide in some parts. From what I’ve read, it’s roughly three feet wide in the front near the entrance, but widens to six feet across in the back. Good thing, too, as having a functioning kitchen that could feed Helenita’s family might otherwise be impossible.

Could I live in such a confined space? I suppose I could, if I had to. I read somewhere that living in narrow house that’s this extreme would grow to be exhausting, especially with so many people sharing the space, but I’m not sure if that’s really true. Could *you* live comfortably in a narrow house like this one?

New England Style

I, along with a husband, a baby, and five cats, live in what is known as a Revival Cape Cod. People who aren’t from the Northeast (especially those from the left coast) may read that and scratch their heads. It’s not that they don’t have Cape Cod architecture, from what I can tell, but rather that they aren’t in the habit of calling the houses Cape Cods or just Capes.

Our Cape is in good company, when you considered that we’re in New England the architectural style originated right here in the 1600s. These little symmetrical one-and-a-half story cottages weren’t called Capes until the 1800s, however, when the Reverend Timothy Dwight IV, president of Yale University, made a visit to Cape Cod and coined the term “Cape Cod house.”

Cape Cod Architecture

Nowadays one finds Capes with many different dormer styles, like shed dormers, gabled dormers (also known as dog house dormers), and recessed dormers. And yet there’s something about walking into a Cape Cod. I grew up in one and have found that I can walk into most Capes and know where the bathroom is and where the kitchen will be. The one difference is the fireplace orientation — historic Capes had a large central chimney that allowed for fireplaces in multiple rooms, while revival Cape Cods usually have a single fireplace with the chimney on one side of the house. My Cape? It has no fireplace at all, though I hope to rectify this someday.

HGTV’s Front Door put together a list of the defining features of traditional Cape Cod architecture that reads perfectly, so instead of rewriting it I’ll just excerpt it here.

Large, central chimney The large, central chimney is located directly behind the front door, with the rooms clustered around it in a rectangular shape.
Steep roof Cape Cods have steep roofs to quickly shed rain and snow and a shallow roof overhang.
Captain’s stairway “The second floor, often kept for boarders or ‘seafaring’ men, was accessed by a narrow stair, or ‘captain’s stairway,’ which has incredibly steep risers and shallow treads to minimize the use of the first-floor space,” explains David Karam, an architect and builder from Brewster, Mass.
Shingle siding Weathered gray shingles are one of the most recognizable elements of a classic Cape Cod, but newer homes are built of brick, stucco and stone

Most of the Capes you’ll see today are revivals built after World War II as affordable housing for returning Vets, which might not have been the case if Boston architect Royal Barry Willis hadn’t reintroduced the Cape Cod as a modern housing option in the 1920s. These are a great first-home option for those who are happy living with about 1,000 sq. ft. of living space since they tend to cost less than larger houses. Ours was quite reasonably priced and when we fix up the upstairs properly will have two whole stories rather than one and a half.