Sawyer Residence in California by Rachlin Partners

Beautiful 1950’s California residence completely redesigned by Rachlin Partners, located in Los Angeles, United States.

Transformation of the Sawyer House began with gutting the entire interior of the 2,000-square-foot structure in two phases over a twenty-year period. A typical 1950’s California residence, the house lacked a definable style and was in poor condition due in part to damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Outdated avocado-colored kitchen appliances finalized the decision to modify this quintessential California house. Only the foundation, exterior bearing walls and roof structure were retained.

The Sawyer House has a magnificent park-like setting on a quiet cul-de-sac adjacent to a golf course, on a heavily wooded site. Although close to an urban environment, the house offers a sense of seclusion and space beyond the confines of its site. Both exterior and interior spaces have been organized to take full advantage of sweeping panoramic views and the extraordinary sense of space. Exterior areas include a front patio, side deck with fire pit, pool and spa and a raised deck/exterior lounge area.

Michael Rachlin’s approach to redesign of the structure blurs the line between traditional and modern, reinterpreting the archetypal vernacular using a minimalist language. Due to its relative small footprint, the house appears to be a modern-day cottage delineated by the geometric forms of hipped or gabled roofs with a series of cupolas added to the mix for visual interest.

At the south-facing front of the house, two freestanding peaked clapboard walls create the major formal gesture. The smaller wall defines a new entrance, while the larger wall delineates a semi-private front patio, which acts as an extension of the entrance hall and living room. Playing off the lines of the existing gabled roof, the architects created additional gable and hipped roof structures, as well as peaked interior spaces—establishing a motif for the entire the house. Both the living room and the master suite are airy, high-volume spaces filled with light and a feeling of calm, due in part to the skylight that runs the length of the upstairs ridge. (via)

A Stunning Interior by Christopher Elliott Design

Stunning single storey residence recently redesigned by Christopher Elliott Design. It’s situated in Templestowe, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

“We are all familiar with the wise saying “a stitch in time saves nine”, but this proverb does not best describe the approach taken by the previous owners of this expansive single storey house, towards the maintenance of their property. In fact the house and its gorgeous surrounding gardens; although ideally located amongst the rolling hills of Templestowe, were a veil to the outdated rooms and darkened interior that lay within.

So by the time the current owners had purchased it they were rather overwhelmed as to how they would transform this awkward 1970’s property into a stunning home. Fear not, they called in the expert eye of Christopher Elliott; who had recently completed the design of their friend’s house.

From the onset, it was clear to Christopher a complete overhaul of the disjointed internal architecture was in order; for the existing layout didn’t take full advantage of the picturesque garden outlook and left many rooms unutilised. Christopher’s new floor plan design brought unity to the architecture and enabled a more intuitive relationship between each of the various rooms of the house. Pivotal to the new design was the decision to open large sections of the house onto the pre-existing centrally located pool and courtyard via large expansive sliding doors, installed throughout the living spaces and the master bedroom. These modifications provided the house with a beautiful tranquil vista and some much-needed natural light; it was also the inspiration for the new colour scheme. Christopher’s new design also incorporated all of the necessary state-of-art modern conveniences and luxuries expected from a house of this calibre, which in some instances required striping the house back to its bare bones. The extensive renovation would also provide a clean backdrop for a new tailor made interior design, better suited to the client’s lifestyle.

The first phase of the project involved altering the access into the master bedroom via a newly appointed ‘parents retreat’ which was previously an unused storage space and blocking off the old entrance from the kids study area. Thus providing more privacy and separation for the clients from their two growing teenage boys, now who wouldn’t want that? Also, the remodelling of the master bedroom incorporated a spare bedroom that was transformed into a beautiful, generous walk in robe and the previous inadequately sized walk in robe and ensuite became one large ensuite with a separate toilet. As you can guess, this house was not short of space!

The second phase of the project included the complete demolition and reinstatement of the properties kitchen, study, spare bedroom, both formal and casual living/dining spaces. The massive renovation was a bold direction but took all of the previously unused areas, and there were many, transforming and simplifying them into functional, practical and enjoyable spaces with the kitchen at the heart of the design. And what a big heart it is! The kitchen island bench alone is an impressive seven metres long, clad in a stunning ‘Super White’ marble and with a butler’s pantry come laundry extending off from the kitchen that can be completely concealed with the closing of the full height sliding door. The new design meant many of the existing internals walls were removed and subsequently new engineered support beams were required to underpin the large ‘A’ frame roof, but these were cleverly concealed behind feature timber posts. That was also aesthetically a way of partitioning adjoining spaces without totally blocking either the light or the view.

The third and final phase of the project was the most rewarding for the clients, for it is when they could finally begin to truly experience the wonderful results of Christopher’s thoughtful and meticulous design. Many of the previous decisions and choices lay the foundations of the design, but it was not until the final selection of the furniture, decoration and artwork were in place, could they fully appreciate the vision Christopher had all along. Most of the furniture and artwork for this project were made-to-order and in some instances Christopher specifically designed pieces of furniture to suit. This process also included the commissioning of several artists’ works. One significant piece that hangs above a colourful custom-made sideboard in the dining space was a beautiful work by renowned Australian artist Andrew O’Brien. This dynamic artwork, visible from the front entrance, sets the tone for the entire house, one that is bold, brave and surprising”.

Photography by Sharyn Cairns

10 Things You Need to Know About Installing Underfloor Heating Under Wood Floors

Underfloor heating systems are ideal with wood floors and the system truly lets you to enjoy this natural floor finish. There are a couple of things to consider with wood floors and underfloor heating and we’ve listed these for you in this post.
Thickness and density of the wood floor
The conductivity of wood is less than stone or tiles so the thinner the wood is, the higher the heat output of the system and the faster the heat up time. The maximum thickness is 18mm as any thicker than that will hinder the efficiency of the system. If desired, thicker boards can be used, but these will result in a lower heat output. The density affects the heat transfer where high density floors transmit heat better.
Suitability for use with underfloor heating
Underfloor heating systems can be used under almost all wood floors, but it’s advisable to check with your floor supplier and manufacturer to make sure your floor is compatible with the system.

The better the underfloor insulation, the more energy and cost efficient the system is. A number of insulation types to use with the system are available, from insulation boards to special under and overlays (depending on the system).
Moisture content of the wood flooring
Engineered wood is more stable than solid wood, but it is important that the moisture content is sufficient with both types. This is typically 10-11% when the boards are laid, which will reduce to 8-9% when heated. The best thing to prevent any problems is to check the moisture content with your supplier and make sure that the flooring is transported and stored in a dry environment.
Humidity of the room
Wood is a natural material and the variations in humidity levels can lead to shrinkage and expansion of wood. Air humidity should be maintained between 40% and 60% at all times.
Maximum floor temperature
The maximum floor temperature wood floors are heated to should not exceed 27°C. This is achieved by having a thermostat with a floor probe which automatically controls the underfloor heating so that the temperature won’t raise above the 27°C. Warmup has a selection of thermostats that are ideal for controlling underfloor heating under wood floors.

Heating controls
The accurate controllability of the system is essential with the top temperature restriction of 27°C. Temperature accuracy ensures no energy is wasted and that the floor heating can be safely used under wood floors.
For floating and nailed floors it is advisable to use a specialist wood floor underlay over the heating system. This needs to be thin and not the foil-reflective type. The maximum TOG is 2.5 as any thicker than this will reduce the heat output too much.
Type of system
Both electric underfloor heating and warm water underfloor heating are suitable for use under wood floors. The type of system usually depends on the project type and your preference. Electric is usually preferred in refurbishments as it does not raise floor levels. Warm water underfloor heating is ideal for new builds and the combination of both, hybrid, provides a perfect heating system for a whole house.
What makes a reputable UFH supplier
There are different solutions for underfloor heating for wood floors and when choosing an underfloor heating supplier for a wood floor, you should at least find out how long they have been trading for, what their guarantees are like and have they got technically skilled staff to help you out should you have any problems.

Inspirational Ideas for Your Own Moroccan Courtyard


Moroccan design takes its roots from Moorish architecture, distinguished by its rich colours inspired by the Middle East, its exquisite furnishings and beautiful tiled designs are proving very popular the world over.  Traditionally Moroccan homes were built with privacy in mind; houses were built around a central courtyard, beautifully adorned with fountains and pools and it’s this style that has worked its way across the globe in recent years.This post written by experts in Moroccan décor, Habibi Interiors, will guide you through some of the most alluring ways to bring Moroccan style into your courtyard.

Architectural Details

Let’s start with the cornerstone of Moroccan inspiration – the traditional architecture, built from centuries of cultural and religious influences to create beautiful mosaic archways, curved doors, patios and furniture. You can bring as much or as little mosaic decoration into your courtyard as you like, from creating entire tiled walls and floors to simply adding Moroccan style tables or seating areas or a beautifully decorated fountain or water feature.

Colour Choices 

When it comes to Moroccan style your colour schemes need to be bold. Brilliant reds and warm oranges are very commonplace, but so too are vibrant blues and greens combined with cooling neutral colours, chosen to reflect the feel of the desert and the Mediterranean ocean. You can replicate this look by keeping the walls neutral whilst adding lots of colour with a mosaicked water feature and bright furniture and ornaments.

Textiles and Upholstery

Your courtyard needs to be all weather friendly, so there won’t be a huge amount of upholstery present but you can still invest in (or make your own) cushions or draperies for your garden furniture. Big plush floor cushions finished with intricate patterns and geometric shapes are a sure fire way to get your Moroccan style noticed. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colours and patterns to get that eclectic Moroccan look.


Moroccan themed accessories are going to be the thing that really brings the whole Middle Eastern atmosphere to life. Traditional Moroccan lanterns are a great place to start, usually moulded from brass or copper, the intricate designs cast beautiful shadows across your courtyard when hung from the walls or canopies.

Moroccan style ornaments will enhance your theme even further, much like with the lanterns, metalwork plays a heavy part in ornamental design. Look out for delicately designed vases, canisters and trays, featuring complex designs as well as ceramic vases, candle holders and bowls.

Something that will really help emanate that Moroccan atmosphere is a traditional oil burner, decorated with beautiful tiles or coloured glass, choose Moroccan spiced oils – the cinnamon, clove and spice will burn to create a truly  Middle Easter feel.

Taking inspiration from Moroccan architecture, ornamental design and traditional textiles will allow you to create your very own Moroccan escape, shaded from the world outside; your courtyard can be your own private, Mediterranean haven.






‘Blairgowrie Residence’ has been created by modernist design practice FGR Architects, and showcases breath-taking views that cascade onto the ocean and scenic panoramic views from every room.

A minimalist design inspired by Mediterranean dwellings and single palette homes with views that cascade onto the ocean, Blairgowrie Residence by FGR Architects showcases stunning bay views, spectacular panoramas, large open spaces for entertaining and sprawling verdant landscaping.
Situated on the bay in Melbourne’s popular coastal town of Blairgowrie, the house is a minimalist juxtaposition of white and grey tones seeped in natural light. Designed to be a sanctuary, the dwelling comprises five bedrooms, three ensuites, two bathrooms, as well as two powder rooms, comfortably accommodating guests as well as its residents.

Quiet hidden spaces, expansive entertainment areas and access to bay views from every room were essential to the design brief. Director of FGR Architects, Feras Raffoul, explains the design challenge of augmenting the serenity of the natural environment whilst ensuring privacy and light throughout the home.
“Some of the special design considerations were to achieve bay-views from all living and sleeping rooms on the first floor while keeping the privacy for the home occupants. This was challenging with a corner block on a busy road. I think we achieved it.”
With a large open plan living, kitchen and dining area that opens onto the indoor/outdoor-entertaining balcony, and a ground level family room with a bar stretching to the infinity pool, BBQ and outdoor cinema, Blairgowrie Residence is the result of modernist FGR Architects’ vision to bring light and horizon into each room to create the perfect sanctuary for a family home.

Through selecting a single material palette of a cement-based render, commonly known as a concrete patch, the minimalist design of the residence with its modern, sleek lines sits timelessly on its own, without overshadowing the natural environment.
“This was a design approach of removing building form. A large square or rectangular built form provides design challenges to achieve maximum natural light to the core. By indenting the central part, it minimizes the distance light is required to travel from the glass facade into the floor area,” he said.
“We wanted to ensure that we had natural light penetrating into all sections of the home. We achieved this by indenting the central part of the building, allowing light to penetrate into the middle.”

A High-Flying Office for High-Flying Customers

If you’re a high-flying, jet-setting, thousand dollar suit-wearing businessman, you’ll understand just how important a good office is.
In the thousands you’ve wandered into, few have the ability to inspire passion – in fact many are about as clean as a tramp’s hovel.
Untidy, uncoordinated or even just plain miserable looking workplaces are a blight on productivity everywhere. There’s even a name for them; unhealthy buildings.
So, if you’re looking to impress high-flying visitors, what should you do to give your office some kick?
A warm welcome
In so many cases, the welcome you’ll get at an office entrance will be less trumpet swelling grandeur and more like a fizzled out balloon at the end of a long and disappointing party.
But the ideal entrance doesn’t have to be as grand as a Viscount’s tea party. Work out the basics – entrance mats, a comfortable seating area, plenty of magazines to while away time spent at reception – and you’ll already be a step ahead of most businesses.
To really gild the lily, you could even install a greeter at your door to give a warm and friendly hello to any guests or major players in your industry. Naturally, this would only apply to those with frequent visitors, but it could add that grand trumpet swell to your company.
A dose of personality
So many offices have about as much personality as a faceless head atop a non-specific shape. And not only will this lead to a deflating feeling in visitors, but it’ll make employees slump through their day like they were working in a modern-day gulag.
The problem here largely lies with bosses who lack the creative imagination for interior design. But office workers don’t want to be living in black and white, so give the place a splash of colour with paintings that inspire you.
With any luck, that inspiration will trickle down to employees, creating a sprightlier workforce.
Give it a break
While your office itself should be in ship shape, where your workers are having their lunch should be equally classy.
Many workers spread germs by simply eating at their desk, allowing crumbs to spread everywhere in the office and causing any number of food-related bacteria to multiply. But with a high-end staff room to lure them away from their desks for half an hour, your workplace will be far cleaner.
Install the basics – kettle, toaster, microwave and the like – along with a few fun activities like a pool table or dartboard to give workers adequate downtime to freshen up.
More than this, a staff room kitted out with decent kitchen appliances will leave your employees with fuller stomachs and quenched thirsts – ideal for facing the rest of their day.

Picture via.