While some homeowners see their abodes as shelter from the elements, others want to embrace nature and invite it inside. Some homes are designed with prominent features that bring the outdoors in.
This is not simply a matter of throwing together a few house plants, or including lots of windows and sliding glass doors or planning for a stone accent wall or some exposed wooden beams. Some homeowners, designers and architects take their love of nature further by bringing in, and building in, parts of the outside.
The collection ahead, including homes from Luxury Portfolio International and numerous builders architects and designers, has homes that incorporate trees, cave-like elements, the desert, and more.
By Colleen KanePosted 20 March 2012
Location: Angra dos Reis, Brazil
Casa Folha means “Leaf House” in Portuguese, and looking at the aerial view of this beach house (pictured on the previous slide), it’s easy to see why. This home doesn’t just bring leaves inside, it appears to be made of six giant leaves. According to the architects Mareines and Patalano’s website, the home’s design was also inspired by Brazil’s indigenous architecture, with the inside and outside almost fused.
The roof shelters the home’s interiors and outdoor spaces between them. The ceilings were designed to be quite high to allow the southeast trade wind to pass through, which naturally cools the house. The distinctive roof also collects rainwater for gardening and toilets, and other materials are locally sources and reused.
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
So far, living vertical gardens, or green walls, are seen more often in company headquarters and other businesses than in private residences. That’s beginning to change, and one of the companies planning and installing these features in both public and private spaces is the Vancouver-based design firm Green over Gray.
This installation in a private home in the oceanside community of Point Gray, titled Super Natur’Hall, measures approximately 6’ x 6’ and contains 22 species (more than 250 plants). It relies on a 55-gallon reservoir with automated irrigation system, organic fertilizer, two 70-watt light fixtures as well as 12 light hours to ensure it thrives year-round and doesn’t become a brown wall.
Location: Malibu, Calif.
This house looks very B.C. and it belongs to D.C. – Dick Clark. The television host famous for looking like a teenager since the dawn of time has listed his Malibu cave-like dwelling at $3.5 million.
The one-bedroom, two-bath house occupies a respectable hilltop parcel of 22.89 acres. It looks like it was carved out of this bluff, but not all caves have such sweeping views — in this case it includes mountains, the Valley, the city lights and the ocean.
Another distinctive cave-like home created by the designer of Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, Alexandre de Betak, was showcased in The New York Times.
Location: Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy
Villa Due Mari (or the “villa of two seas”) was designed by architect and local Sardinian Savin Couelle, who Architectural Digest noted often works with organic shapes and rough-hewn materials.
Ville Due Mari is no different, with its sculptural curvilinear walls and ceiling beams that look like giant roots. The home, which is for sale (“price upon request”), features antique beams, seven en-suite bedrooms, two guest baths and three kitchens. Adding to the appeal are views of the Pervero golf course, and beyond that, the sea surrounding the island.
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Bringing the outdoors inside isn’t limited to houses. Apartments can get in on this action, too, especially when they are $6.8 million-dollar triplex penthouse apartments. On that kind of a budget, there are no limits. You can have a miniature desert in the foyer, such as the one pictured here.
The home is in an historic residential neighborhood and features three en-suite bedrooms, a WC, two dressing rooms and five built-in wardrobes on the first level with 10 more built-ins on the second floor and a gym, sauna and five storage rooms on the top floor. It also has underground parking for five cars, radiant floor heating and intelligent lighting.
Location: Boone, N.C.
Many modern homes blur the lines between indoor and outdoor space with glass walls that can open up terraces. But here is a unique feature that eases the transition from the outdoors to the indoors in a rustic way.
These doors are paneled with poplar bark, and were made for homeowners who wanted to bring the natural wooded element of their property into their home. They were designed by Hardin Creek Timber Frame & Millwork, which also sides entire homes in bark and makes hand railings that incorporate woven laurel branches.
Location: Squam Lake, N.H.
You’ve seen log cabins, and log-style beams, but this New Hampshire home looks like it was built around a tree. That former tree is a western red cedar some 6 feet in diameter, and it serves an important role in the home by supporting the octagonal great room.
This 3,500-square-foot home was built by Bensonwood Homes of Walpole, N.H., and is located on Squam Lake, where the 1981 movie "On Golden Pond" was filmed.
Location: Aventura, Fla.
Agate is a geological material that some inventive decorators, designers and homeowners are using to make a colorful, and sometimes back-lit, visual statement.
This fetching oversized slice of blue and white agate was installed in a five-bedroom Presidential Estates home by DKor Interiors for a family who wanted a fresh modern home that used natural textures and finishes.
Location: Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
Villa Venado, situated in the Manicured Hillside gated community, features a grand staircase bolstered by three tree trunks (pictured at lower left).
The 10,000-square-foot mansion is on the market for $2.8 million or is available as a luxury rental with maid service and an optional cook. The next occupant gets seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms and city, hill and mountain views.