Although in one sense, a barn is the quintessential, traditional all American dwelling, conjuring images of Old MacDonald and all that. On the other, it’s thoroughly modern, with its wide open interior space, large expanses of façade and clean overall silhouette, primed for loft-like living.
Whether re-inventing original farm out buildings or building from scratch in the early American barn vernacular, modern barn architecture is very appealing. Modern barn homes work in crisp white, natural grays, traditional red, or with the more current black exterior.
Modern barn architecture works in a variety of environments too. Left in unruly meadows or set amidst groomed suburban landscaping, or even as in an example below, in the desert, it’s a shape that’s simultaneous fresh and comforting. Here are 20 examples of residential modern barn architecture in varying degrees of shiny-ness.
Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend who also happens to be an interior designer about to embark on gutting her family’s new home. “I hate roller shades,” she said, to which I gleefully replied, “I love our roller shades! They disappear at the top of the window; you can’t see them at all.”
She reasoned we must have had a good installer, rather than the cheapie versions meant for homeowners to pop in themselves. Nope. My husband put them up, and did a damn fine job. It’s pretty easy to get a great look out of a roller shade on your own, assuming you can measure (and re-measure) accurately and are semi-handy with a drill. Neither are strong points of mine, but luckily my husband is good at this sort of thing.
For the nurseries back in our bungalow in D.C., and then for the boy’s bedrooms in Boston I ordered white duck Roman shades from Smith & Noble. They worked out well; I particularly like the wooden piece on the pull cord (what’s that called anyway?).
Then I discovered The Shade Store. I ordered a zillion roller shade samples in every kind of white, from blackout to solar to papery linens, and made my picks. I used bright white blackout roller shades in the bedrooms (we face East… the sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean and is blinding). If you look at the first photo below, carefully, you can make out the shade rolled up neatly at the top of the window. Basically invisible, right? (I realize the shade on the door is hardly ideal, but I couldn’t come up with another solution.)
Two years ago, after a trip to Copenhagen, I posted 22 Rooms with Scandinavian Holiday Decor. Although this post is not about the winter holidays, it is about decorating with branches and twigs in their bare, natural state in wintertime. While it can be nice to splurge on pretty, colorful flowers to brighten a room, especially during the depths of winter, bare tree branches are an easy (free) alternative. Tree branch arrangements add drama and interesting shapes and texture to a room. Stick them in a pot or clear glass vase with water. If you want a bit more embellishment, try branches with berries, pussy willows, flowering branches, or branches with a few leaves still intact. Here are 18 Scandinavian style interiors with tree branch arrangements.
“Snow in Japan” print by Phil Noller – bare trees in a snowy landscape. The bare tree branch in clear glass cylinder jar echoes the scene. The sheepskin rug and fur throw add coziness. Sydney, Australia home of Alice Flynn of Penny Farthing Design House Photo by Tim Pascoe • via SF Girl by Bay
A handful of bare skinny twigs plucked from a city tree. Gray linens by Bedouin Societé
Pussy willows in brass jug vase. Vintage elm wood table from Danish home brand Bloomingville.
Sweeping branch and photos of food in the kitchen of Fjeldborg blogger. Note the sky blue tile counter.
Trendy coffee shops. So common now. A must in everyday life. But I remember when coffee first became a thing. I visited friends in Seattle in the early 1990s, and coffee was everywhere. There’d be neon signs touting “Coffee!” blinking everywhere you looked. It was as though we were in another universe, in which coffee was a magic elixir. Of course, coffee is indeed human fuel and fancy, frothy coffee drinks are now as ubiquitous across the country as Coca-Cola. Another early coffee memory comes from the same era, from my first trip to Italy. Those Italian espresso bars, with those shots of espresso in those dollhouse sized espresso cups.
It didn’t take long for coffee culture to infiltrate the East Coast. Trendy coffee shops popped up all over Manhattan, and with them, coffee shops where one could luxuriate over caffeine. I distinctly recall when Big Cup opened in Chelsea. It was 1994, and coffee houses with oversize sofas were still a novelty. It had a beloved ten-year run, before falling victim to rising rents. By then, sofa-strewn cafés were a firmly entrenched part of urban living.
In the quest for a perfect cup of coffee, state-of-the-art espresso makers, in all their shining glory, were fixtures in sleek, preferably loft-like kitchens, where citified folk could craft post-dinner coffee for their sophisticated, art-loving friends. Cappuccinos and lattes too. And with that all the accoutrements, like milk frothers and coffee bean grinders and stainless steel jugs, from upscale coffee gadget companies like Breville, Bodum, Nespresso, Krups, etc.
More recently, the personal one-cup coffee maker has become the must-have coffee gadget. We’ve had a Keurig and a competitive brand (can’t remember which) of single serve coffee maker. Apparently, according a recent press release I got, brewing coffee at home can save $830 a year.
Coffee culture is still going strong (evidenced by the abundance of coffee art images on Pinterest if nothing else), despite the backlash of pricey concoctions from big businesses. If you’re lucky enough to live in a thriving metropolis, or funky college town, or are able to travel, you know that independent trendy coffee shops (excuse me, coffee bars) have become a thing.
Trendy coffee shops have their own design formula too. Painted brick or subway tile. Check. Black accent wall or reclaimed wood accent wall and counter. Check. Perfectly designed bare bulbs or banged up metal pendants hanging down from the ceiling. Check. Industrial style seating. Check. And, the bearded hipster baristas. Check, check, and check. The most au courant design details all come together in today’s coffee bars, be it in Berlin, Melbourne, or Portland.
Here are 32 interiors of trendy coffee shops from around the world. All similar in their coffee culture aesthetic.
Barry Cafe, Melbourne Designed by Studio Techne • Photo by Ben Hosking
Cielito Cafe, Mexico City Design by Graphic Ambient • Photo by Jaime Navarro
When did the bedside reading sconce morph into a pendant? Sconces are much preferred over a table lamp, which I tend to find clunky both visually and functionally, but why the sudden fascination with pendant lights in the bedroom? Low hanging pendant lights, no less. Pendant lights that dangle much closer to the ground have been a growing trend, both in the bedroom and other rooms.
Would you do it? I’ve actually been thinking about swapping out the articulating sconces in our master bedroom. Then, last week, a 12-year-old with a strong throwing arm smashed the glass shade with a football. But I’m not sure I’m sold on the pendant light by the bed thing. Maybe I’m wrong. Thoughts?
Windows are always good. My first apartment in New York was a grim little one bedroom on a charming, brownstone-lined block, with windows that looked onto an air shaft. Being on the first floor, I had to stick my head out and look way up, in hopes of ascertaining the weather. I remember hanging out an investment banker friend’s apartment to watch the marathon, a sleek highrise with windows all around, and realizing that windows make all the difference.
I’ve since lived in much better places, all with much-improved window situations, though I still suffer from window envy. We have a great bow window with an architecturally appealing city street view in our living room but tour bedrooms are underground. The window situation is kinda dismal down there.
In three of the places that I’ve (c0)-owned, we put in new windows during renovations. I always start out thinking that it’s a boring use of a lot of money, but I guess I’ve since learned a lot about windows. Good windows certainly muffle noise and keep out chill (we had FROST on our windowsill INSIDE when we first moved to Boston). We recently upgraded the living room and family room windows; being able to open the windows, especially in the city, is huge. (Thanks honey for your insistence.)
It seems as though tiling over the counter would be most cost-effective, but I wonder what it would cost to demo the whole darn blocky vanity and put in a simple slab, which would really open up the space, or find a modestly priced floating bathroom vanity, like one of the glossy white sink cabinets from IKEA, or maybe even this Caro vanity that resembles plywood (I had obsessed over a plywood floor for the condo before settling on the cork floor). A floating vanity rather than a simple slab, would be a better for storage, obviously.
It’s true that the bathroom is fairly traditional, certainly basic, with (now) white tile and white grout, and basic white porcelain tub with glass shower doors, but I don’t think it’s a matter of choosing traditional versus contemporary bathroom style, but rather mixing the elements for a simple, clean, with maybe even a hint of Scandinavian style.
Here are 16 modern bathrooms with floating vanities.
As I continue my search for bathroom tiles (not to mention a tasteful light fixture for over the mirror to replace the one that looks like it should be in a starlet’s dressing room), I realize I’ve been seeing so many wood effect tiles, that it deserved its own post.
I first noticed porcelain tiles that look like wood when the condo board of our building in Boston finally decided to redo our lobby. (It had what looked to be tiles you might find in a hospital, complete with tile baseboard.) Our upstairs neighbor brought a few samples as suggestions. We decided to use them, so the lobby now has tiles that give it a New England-y feel, with medium wood effect porcelain tiles, golden walls, and wood baseboards in creamy white. A huge improvement. (Now I need to get rid of the awful, elaborately framed mirror.)
While I likely won’t be using wood grained tiles in our Florida condo bathroom, as it isn’t a good match with the cork flooring in the rest of the place (though would be an improvement over the existing flesh-toned pink tiles), I think there are some great options. I particularly like the pale gray wood effect tiles, and the idea of doing an faux wood tile accent wall in the shower. Have a look at these 15 bathrooms with wood effect tiles.
Hopefully you’re not too overloaded with floor and rug posts. I want to forge ahead with all the Florida stuff while I’m focused on it. Last year we had the pink-tiled master bath (photo at the bottom of this bathroom tile post) reglazed in bright white. Very cost effective at $600 if you don’t mind the all white grout and tile look, which I don’t. They did the bathtub too. (Maybe I can have them in again so I don’t have to clean the rust stains.) But I still need new bathroom floor tile.
Unfortunately, they recommend against glazing the bathroom floor tile because it becomes glossy and thus too slippery. So, while we have pristine white walls and a white (if not slightly dirty) tub, we still have pale pink bathroom floor tiles and a pink sink in a pink Formica topped vanity. (More on that solution later this summer.) I’ve been browsing for inexpensive slip resistant tiles at Tiles4All, Overstock.com, Home Depot, and Wayfair. Other sourcing suggestions welcome.
On one hand, I’m tempted to do identical (but slightly textured) white square tiles with white grout on the floor, for the simplest look. On the other hand, I love a contrasting floor, and a color or pattern could be fun, especially if everything else is a consistent bright white. The other thought is to do big pieces of a natural stone, like slate, for a durable outdoorsy neutral effect. I’m taking ideas!
Here are 20 bathrooms with contrasting bathroom floor tiles.
The cork floors have been installed in our Florida condo! And the walls are all a bright, sparkly white. So happy. The cork floor is amazing. It feels good under my feet (it’s not squishy though, more like a pressboard with a coating, like you’d find as the backing of a picture frame, as unappealing as that sounds), cleans well, and looks cool.
I was worried that the 1’x3′ tiles would read too traditional, but the look is practically seamless. There are a number of manufacturers of cork tile out there, in different shapes, colors, and finishes, though I chose the plainest one possible. (I wouldn’t have minded a lighter color, but this is probably more practical.)
The cork floor has the funky, almost unfinished loft look of the plywood floor I had been contemplating, but is much better in terms of feel and durability. The price was very reasonable. They even installed new sharp-edged baseboards. I’m thrilled. Thanks to Steve Gee/Tiffany’s Flooring for doing an impeccable job.
Photo by Marni Elyse Katz/StyleCarrot New cork floor in Florida condo.