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Small is Beautiful with Modern Prefab Houses

prefabricated house v2flat by v2 world

When it comes to a second house I feel that small is beautiful. You often own this place to relax. The best way to do it is with a low maintenance house. A smaller house means less time is passed on regular cleaning.

It should not be too small. Make sure to analyze correctly your needs and their frequencies. Challenges your preconceptions. Not having the right furniture for a place or not maximizing the usage with double-duty furniture is one reason a small house may feel crowded. Look at you can nicely entertain for a cocktail in a 16 x 24 feet house plan.

small yet fit to entertainin many people at a cocktail

As a fan of the prefabricated modern house movement, these pictures speak to me. The modules can measure between 12 to 24 feet with the size growing  by 4 feet increment. You can put modules side by side or one module over another to suit your lot.

dwell on design 2009

The V2 flat house was featured on a previous Dwell On Design Conference in Los Angeles. I wish I could go to Dwell on Design this year but we elected to go to San Francisco a few days before instead. There are too many conferences. It will be for another time. If you are interested in assisting the Dwell On Design Conference, read this to see all the ticket options.

+ V2 World – July 8th, 2009 update: there is a problem with the link

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Maison en U by Natalie Dionne Tops My Design Montreal 2009 Review

maison en u front addition and a niche in the kitchen

The Maison en U (U-house) is not the typical residential project that you imagine in Montreal. This is the perfect example of how you can adapt modern architecture to our colder climate. The architect Natalie Dionne took into account the 25-foot width of her neighbors’ houses. Using black bricks and the long narrow window for the addition convey a modern character to the house.

The U-shaped plan seemly integrates interior and exterior spaces with a garage door on the living room and a long wall door on the dining room. This is family house. The architect, her partner and their 5-year old daughter live comfortably in the space. I know that at the time they started the construction her partner worked in the movies industry. We can spot the influence in the various art pieces displayed across the house.

maison en u :: kitchen and living room

I learned about this house last January when Harry selected it for his Best MoCo Architecture This Week column. When I saw that we could visit it in the program of Design Montreal, I immediately add it to my must-see itinerary.

maison en u : two additions to an exiting industrial building

Let me tell you that I was not disappointed. Originally it was exiting small industrial building next to a rare vacant lot. By merging the lots and building an addition at both extremities, Natalie Dionne created a u-shaped plan. The back addition serves as her architect studio. The front addition became the dining room on the first floor. On the second floor, the front addition hosts the master bathroom and bedroom.

maison en u double duty bathroom doors

Ingenuity mixed with chance solves a space problem in the master bathroom suite. There was not enough space for proper door clearance. A specialty hinge holds the key. That hinge enables the two doors of the bathroom cabinets (1) to act as the bathroom doors (2 and 3). When you are inside the bathroom, the cabinets become open shelving units (2). As a bonus, this elegant double-duty solution saves on materials.

maison en u delivers fluidity between the interior and the exterior

The open spaces could fit a large crowd for a party. The flow between rooms is well thought. It may not have a pool as the Moine Urbain’s house but the backyard is still a place where you will like to hang on.

Now that I know it, I recognized her style at Le Cartet, a restaurant Natalie Dionne designed in 2008. Le Cartet is reputed for its excellent brunch menu. I had delicious lunches there too.

The U-house (Maison en U) is in nomination for the 2009 competition by L’Ordre des Architectes du Quebec. You can vote for the Maison en U here. I did because we do not see enough of this type of project done in the city of Montreal.

+ NDA, Natalie Dionne Architecture
+ Get directions to Le Cartet (514) 871-8887
106 McGill Street, Montreal, QC, Canada, H2Y 2E5

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Urban Green House of Moine Urbain for my Eco-friendly Tuesday | 2009 Design Montreal

moine urbain :: modern backyard of the green house

I could not decide the winner between number 1 and 2 for the places I visited last Sunday during the Open Door event of Design Montreal. Since it is time for my eco-friendly column, I will talk about Moine Urbain. It is fun to take pictures when the subject is so amazing. Enjoy the views!

kitchen and bathroom production by Moine Urbain in Montreal

Founded by the multidisciplinary artist and artisan Mario Lafrenais, Moine Urbain works with rock, wood, steel and glass. They specialize in making minimalist but very functional kitchen and bathrooms. Mario created an awesome collection of bathtubs, sinks and kitchen island top surface made with Saint-Marc rock. Moine Urbain’s collection is organic and the Saint-Rock rock feels so soft to the touch. You can also hire them for custom made pieces. A man offered his wife a custom-made bath to make sure that she will be comfortable in it. How romantic!

Mario rethinks the function of the objects. He favors minimalist design. He works on every details making sure the soap holder and the holder fits into the design both aesthetically and functionally.

A Glimpse at His Green House

urban house with solar panels in Montreal :: moine urbain

Like many designers, his studio is attached to his residence. We had a glimpse of his house by going his stunning backyard. He talked to us about the many green features of his house from solar panels to using combustion stove as an added heat source during the winter to his salt-water pool in the heart in the city. He lives in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal borough in Montreal. I do not recalled the details of his heating system but it done in an environmentally manner.

I love his outdoor dining room furniture. It is a great place for outdoor entertaining.

+ Moine Urbain – site in French only
+ If you did not read it, check out the 3rd place: my take on Loft Encadrex

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Loft Encadrex by Smith Vigeant Architectes | 2009 Design Montreal

rooftop loft encadrex designed by smith vigeant architectes

For the third year in a row, Montreal designers opened their doors to let us discover their latest creations and chatted with them. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, my husband and I went to see a few architecture and interior design projects in the heart of Montreal. I will show you my three “coups de coeur”, meaning favorite, of what I have seen in a series of posts.

loft encadrex in Montreal designed by smith vigeant architectes

The third place goes to the superb Loft perched on top of Encadrex, an artisan framing studio with a gallery. The architects at Smith Vigeant imagined this new construction done on the roof of an existing building. Glass walls, an impressive view and a daring design characterized the interior design. The terrace on the roof is awesome.

loft encadrex architect

The minimal kitchen looks great but lack some practicalities to be a cook kitchen. Wrought iron is used in unusual places: as a wall covering in the living room and as a kitchen hood box. The glass shower with a skylight sits in the middle of the room. The interior design of this modern loft would fit the lifestyle of a bachelor and a couple without children.

Stay tuned for two more posts to see the runner up and the top place of my Sunday visit.

+ 2009 Design Montreal Open Doors event

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Lessons in Modern Architecture by Isay Weinfeld

brazilian modern architecture houses by isay weinfeld

The best architects and interior designers think outside the box to make their houses amazing. If you are planning a major home renovation, explore different options for your space planning before committing to a plan. Too many people rush to the construction part before resolving all the design issues. This is the main reason why renovations cost way more than the initial budget.

Before you approve the final plans of your house, take cues from these two modern design houses designed by a Brazilian architect studio called Isay Weinfeld. Except for the spiral staircase, these solutions could be implemented on a limited budget with a creative use of materials.

Open Wall

outdoor dining room for the brasilia\'s house by isay weinfeld

First, look at this amazing backyard of the Brasilia’s house. The spiral staircase to the terrace adds drama and elegance. The open window on the outside dining room is clever for three reasons:

  1. it opens the view to the water
  2. it eliminates the crowded effect that guests could have feel sitting next to the wall
  3. they achieved all that while sheltering the people  from the sun.

Furniture As Partition

bookcase partition :: isay weinfeld sumare house

Designed first years later in 2007, the Sumaré house illustrates how furniture can serve as a wall partition. The open bookcase allows the light to pass through the house but you still have the clear feeling of a typical corridor.

The bookcase partition design idea would nicely separate a living room from the entryway. In a bungalow, why not separate the private sections of the house (bedrooms, private bathrooms, home office) from the public areas (kitchen, dining room and living room) this way?

+ Brasilia’s house photographed by Leonardo Finotti
+ Isay Weinfeld
+ Via Blue Ant Studio

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Cool Modern and Warm House of the Month on Living etc

stairwell and kitchen views

The February 2009 edition shows a house in an area full of trees of Los Angeles that proves that an eco-friendly home can be sleek, chic and warm. The house was built where it used to be a ranch.

This is the family home of a couple with 3 children aged from 11 to 3 years old. The owners asked their architect for an environmentally friendly home with a lighter, more European feel. This is probably the source of my appeal for this house.

The stairwell is a feature in the house. It also serves double duty by hiding lots of storage. I would have selected a different color for the backsplash but other than that I enjoy the kitchen with an eating table.

eco-new build home exterior in la

The pool is stunning. It is really elegant; it is what I am looking for in a pool. It uses a solar heating system.

+ New-Eco Build in Living etc – photography by Richard Powers

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I Am in Awe with John Melfi’s Modern Architecture Home in Venice, CA


If like me, you are a fan of Sex in the City and Rome, you probably heard of John Melfi since he produced these remarkable TV series. Now, I envy John not just for his stunning productions but also for his modern architecture home.

Living in a house like that is the reason I want to be rich. Moreover, I would love to live for a while in Venice and Santa Monica.

What I like Most about this House

I applauded that the architect put the garage at the rear of the property. He set the living room on top of the garage. This create an amazing view when you sit anywhere at the front of the house.

The architect Steven Shortridge thought a clever multi-level plan that works visually. The house is not only beautiful; it is also functional and must be fun to live in. Melfi said: “I can’t wait to drive home — it’s this wonderful retreat. I literally exhale the moment I step inside.”


The kitchen rests between the lounge front courtyard and the raised dining room at the center of the house. The courtyard featured a rusted steel backdrop fire pit. It is stunning.

Designing for Entertaining

The kitchen and dining spaces are designed so that your friends can be with you when you cooking a casual dinner. Still you feel separate from the kitchen when you sit down at the dining table.

This is a key element to examine when you design an open living and dining space. If you like to hire staff for a dinner party, it is important to keep at least a psychological barrier between the kitchen and the dining room.

You can always put a temporary screen to hide the kitchen when you sit on the front walled courtyard for the pre-dinner cocktails. If I was entertaining in the Melfi’s house, I would put a screen that stands no more than 5 feet to keep the view the living room at the back of the house.


Or in the case of John Melfi, you can host the pre-dinner cocktails on his stunning rooftop terrace complete with hot tub and an outdoor shower.

Culver City architect Steven Shortridge of Callas Shortridge Architects imagined this amazing modern architecture house. Check out the slideshow on Los Angeles Times to see more stunning pictures of the interior.

+ John Melfi’s daring house on Los Angeles Times – photography by Kirk McKoy

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Renovating a Beachfront House under the Californian Sun

catwalk :: amazing outdoor spaces with a water fall from the guest room to the lap pool

An added bonus about traveling is that they make stories about places you visited more personal. I stayed one week in Santa Monica last January. I recalled Marina del Rey, which is southeast of Venice.

It is no secret that I dream of living in California. I am craving for their sunny weather and the modern architecture houses. Until I can afford my dream house, let’s look at this amazing house that this Japanese-American couple renovated.

converting a beach house  into a modern architecture house

This is a more conventional way to bring the socializing aspect to the kitchen. I would not call it a social kitchen but the design fits well into a modern family lifestyle.

One idea to steal is to build a guest room over the detached garage. A catwalk connects the guest room to the house. I am a huge fan of detached garages. The ultimate being when the garage is located at the back or on the side of a house.

Facts about this Renovation

First of all, they opted for the costlier renovation option to not lose all the advantages of their current location. It is a sound investment if you can afford it the extra time and money. Sadly for you, they were no pictures of the beach views on the New York Times’ article.

ipe-wood panels shut doors and windows

I admire the result. The ipe-wood slatted panels shut over doors and windows. It is a solution that is eco-friendly, cultural and dramatic. It’s eco-friendly because it limits the amount of sun that gets inside the house. The design makes reference to the Japanese heritage of the wife. Drama comes from the light and shadow effects inside the house.

+ Via The New York Times: Striped with Light article and Beachfront Face-lift Photo Gallery

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Two Modern Houses, Two seasons

modern winter cabin log by antoine predock

These leisure houses are true masterpieces. Each one captivated us through an unexpected use of forms. The sculptural elements are strong.

Both houses exhibit different techniques to bring the outside inform logs piercing diagonally the curved walls of the kitchen to the sliding doors opening the pavilion to the pool.

ipe paneled poolhouse - pavilion one by gisue hariri

I love them.

+ modern cabin by architect Antoine Predock – Photography by Robert Reck
+ ipe-paneled poolhouse by architect Gisue Hariri

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Stock Plans for Affordable Modern Architecture Houses

hiller residence and parr residence by architect michael p johnson

I dream of living in a fabulous modern architecture like those but their high construction prices are a show stopper. But not for long. A renowned modern architect came up with a money saving solution that does not give up on style.

Can you believe that you can buy the plans for a studio house with 2 bedrooms and a 2-car garage designed by renowned architect Michael P. Johnson for $1000? He aims to offer two designs per year with the construction cost starting as low as $100 per square feet. All of the cabinetry shown on the plans, including kitchen cabinets and closets, are from IKEA to lower the costs.

$1000 stock plan 1470 by michael p johnson

You receive five complete sets of contract documents for $1000. You will need to hire a local engineer to make sure the structure complies with the regulations in your area.

Stock Plan 1470 is the first available design. It was introduced in September 2008 (2010 update: no longer available). This plan features a large living, dining and kitchen, two bedroom suites (each with full bath and closet area), laundry room and 2-car garage.

To give you an idea of the talent of this architect with 50 years of experience, I selected two of his custom made residences. The Hiller residence in Water Park, Colorado was built in 2005. The Parr residence in Shelter Island, New York was built in 2007. See the top and bottom pictures.

kitchen of the hiller residence and parr residence by architect michael p johnson

+ Images from Michael P. Johnson design studio
+ Via Materialicious

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My Take on Tom Kundig’s Modern Cement House

It has been a while since I shown you a modern architecture house, so I take the plunge today with a house build on a 40-acre lot in Idaho.

Architect Tom Kundig with his client Jan McFarland Cox, an artist and designer, planned and refined the Outpost house for a decade. To stick to her $1 million budget over that amount of time, the house had to be edited. Overall, I think the house is beautiful. I enjoy the no-frills decor.

The house is made of carefully installed concrete-block exterior walls. This means that the exterior of the house is pretty carefree. Free maintenance is the ultimate luxury. And I think it is more ecological to build with no-maintenance required materials that last a lifetime. A wall garden adds warmth to the outside.

Unusual features inside include a fireplace with a 5-foot opening, kitchen counters almost a foot deeper surrounded on 2 sides by wall windows and immense windows in a cold climate.

I question her wisdom of not painting plaster walls and not finishing the recycled fir to cover all the floors and the few interior walls since it seems to be that the everyday cleaning process must be more demanding. And we paint or add a finish to surface so they last longer. It seems more like a building economy than a rational decision.

Read the rest of the story on The New Times.
+ Via Moco Loco on Twitter