Seven Design Strategies For Building A Cool House With Character

The term “cool” is rather obscure. It can mean one thing for a person and something completely different for another. For instance, what makes a house cool? Some argue that the design is the most important element but there are also those who believe that the amenities and the fixtures are those that matter most. For others, a cool house is one that surprises and that stands out from the usual homes, whether it’s through looks or functionality. We’ll exemplify a few of the ideas and we’ll let you decide which house is the coolest.

Casa Aljibe

The name translates as The Cistern House. Actually, well would be a better word for it. The house is located in Alpedrete near Madrid, in Spain. It was designed by architect Alejandro Valdivieso who repurposed a former water cistern and turned it into the basement of the house. He gave the building a curved glass facade which wraps around the well. The cistern was originally connected to this well. In this case the cool nature of the house is given by a combination of elements: the history of the site and its initial function, the curved shape and the fully glazed facade. These elements put together give the house a unique appearance with a unique story behind it.

The well serves as a focal point for all the spaces inside the houseThe well serves as a focal point for all the spaces inside the houseThe house is surrounded by vegetation and the full-height windows allow it to bring the outdoors inThe house is surrounded by vegetation and the full-height windows allow it to bring the outdoors inA small table and a few chic garden chairs are spread across the stone patio which surrounds the wellA small table and a few chic garden chairs are spread across the stone patio which surrounds the wellThe overall architecture and shape of the house give it a futuristic appearanceThe overall architecture and shape of the house give it a futuristic appearanceThe interior is surprisingly warm and cozy, full of quirky patterns and complementary finishesThe interior is surprisingly warm and cozy, full of quirky patterns and complementary finishesThe curvature of the facade creates some oddly-shaped interior spaces The curvature of the facade creates some oddly-shaped interior spaces
The Barn Guest House

Here too the name is suggestive of the characteristics which define the project. The structure was once a barn with horse stalls. The same walls that separated the stalls are not dividing the spaces inside the newly constructed guest house. The property is located in Phoenix and is surrounded by cacti and fruit trees. The transformation brought a lot of changes. The concrete frame was preserved but the exterior walls were replaced with glass. The roof was replaced as well. The stall walls became dividers between the interior spaces and the ceiling was lined with wood for a warm feel. This was all a project by The Construction Zone.

The new glass walls have steel frames and offer panoramic views of the surroundingsThe new glass walls have steel frames and offer panoramic views of the surroundingsThe new roof is in tone with the modern appearance of the new guest house as well as with its surroundingsThe new roof is in tone with the modern appearance of the new guest house as well as with its surroundingsSliding glass doors ensure a seamless connection between the interior and exterior spacesSliding glass doors ensure a seamless connection between the interior and exterior spacesThe combination of exposed concrete and wood is well-balanced and suits the internal spaces quite nicelyThe combination of exposed concrete and wood is well-balanced and suits the internal spaces quite nicelyThe polished concrete flooring maintains a neutral look throughout, giving the guest house a modern-industrial feelThe polished concrete flooring maintains a neutral look throughout, giving the guest house a modern-industrial feelThe outdoor areas increase the overall beauty and character of the house. The fire pit is a great featureThe outdoor areas increase the overall beauty and character of the house. The fire pit is a great featureThe architects managed to make the house blend in with the landscape while at the same time highlighting its uniquenessThe architects managed to make the house blend in with the landscape while at the same time highlighting its uniqueness
The Anzac Bay House

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The next cool house we’re going to have a look at is located on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. It has a main floor and a mezzanine area and these spaces are connected by a spiral staircase. The design was done by architect Vaughn McQuarrie. The ground floor is an open space which contains the social areas of the house: the living room, kitchen and dining space. The mezzanine houses the sleeping area and a workspace. The overall design and structure are similar to those of a traditional boatshed and can also be compared to a very small village where there’s an attraction at the center and a variety of functional spaces around it.

A fireplace hangs at the core of the house, being mounted to the rood, above the mezzanine floorA fireplace hangs at the core of the house, being mounted to the rood, above the mezzanine floorThe spiral staircase is the second central attraction of the houses, being both eye-catching and space-efficientThe spiral staircase is the second central attraction of the houses, being both eye-catching and space-efficientThe ground floor has a grand space at the center and several cozy ones spread around itThe ground floor has a grand space at the center and several cozy ones spread around itConcrete is mixed with wood and stylish furniture and light fixtures and the combination is exquisiteConcrete is mixed with wood and stylish furniture and light fixtures and the combination is exquisiteThe mezzanine floor frames the central double-height space and houses a studio on one sideThe mezzanine floor frames the central double-height space and houses a studio on one sideOne of the cool things about this house is the design which makes it look like an oversized little cabinOne of the cool things about this house is the design which makes it look like an oversized little cabinThis cozy bedroom has walls lined in wood and a long and wide window with peaceful viewsThis cozy bedroom has walls lined in wood and a long and wide window with peaceful views
The Michigan Lake House

The interior design of the house and things like the views or the exterior spaces are equally important, especially when the location is as beautiful as in the case of this house on Lake Michigan. This house was designed and built by Desai Chia Architects in collaboration with Environment Architects on a flat site with panoramic views of the lake but also of the vegetation that surrounds it. The most notable feature of the house is the roof which extends 6 meters on one end and covers a beautiful outdoor seating area. The design of the roof is a playful reference to the local architecture of the houses in the nearby fishing villages.

The roof extension looks very natural in the context of the house's architecture and designThe roof extension looks very natural in the context of the house’s architecture and designThe roof has this sculptural shape which gives it a strong identity and lots of characterThe roof has this sculptural shape which gives it a strong identity and lots of characterThe covered outdoor terrace is the perfect viewing spot from where to admire the lakeThe covered outdoor terrace is the perfect viewing spot from where to admire the lakeThe internal spaces are organized into several volumes, each oriented towards a particular viewThe internal spaces are organized into several volumes, each oriented towards a particular viewThe dining room turns the view of the lake into its focal point of its decorThe dining room turns the view of the lake into its focal point of its decorThe bedroom has its own gorgeous view with adjacent windows which bring in light and colorThe bedroom has its own gorgeous view with adjacent windows which bring in light and color
This concrete house in Uruguay

Living in a house with concrete walls can feel pretty cold and austere but only if there’s nothing to balance this out. Masa Arquitectos made sure to give this house a very harmonious look and feel. They built the house using primarily concrete so basically this is a building with a concrete shell. The cool thing about the design is the use of wood for the panels that cover up the back of the house. These wooden panels can be opened up to let the light and the views inside or can be closed to give the house a completely compact look. They open up in sections and reveal the interior room by room.

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The back of the house has a glazed facade covered with wood slat panels that open up in sections to let the light and the view inThe back of the house has a glazed facade covered with wood slat panels that open up in sections to let the light and the view inBoth the wooden panels and the sliding glass doors can be opened to fully expose the interior spaces to the outdoorsBoth the wooden panels and the sliding glass doors can be opened to fully expose the interior spaces to the outdoorsThe house is long and rectangular and has a single level and a concrete shellThe house is long and rectangular and has a single level and a concrete shellThe interior is bright, open and surprisingly cozy for a house with concrete all around itThe interior is bright, open and surprisingly cozy for a house with concrete all around itThe spaces are arranged in a line and there are no full partitions between themThe spaces are arranged in a line and there are no full partitions between themThe wooden panels can be opened up in sections so only certain areas are exposed to the exteriorThe wooden panels can be opened up in sections so only certain areas are exposed to the exterior
The Osler House

It’s a bit difficult to believe that this house actually exists. The reason we say that is because this looks a lot like a futuristic concept design. This is a project developed by Studio MK27 and located in Brasilia. structurally speaking, the house is composed on two large volumes. The top volume extends out over a swimming pool and is placed perpendicular to the bottom section, being supported by stilts on the outer end. The overall style is contemporary and minimalist, the house featuring large glazed sections and linear forms as well as a lack of decorative and unnecessary features.

Both volumes are long and rectangular. A staircase along the bottom one offers access to a roof terraceBoth volumes are long and rectangular. A staircase along the bottom one offers access to a roof terraceThe top of the bottom volume can be used as a deck/ terrace and is a wonderful space from where to admire the viewsThe top of the bottom volume can be used as a deck/ terrace and is a wonderful space from where to admire the viewsThe top volume has glazed sides and hovers over a lap pool, being suspended on stiltsThe top volume has glazed sides and hovers over a lap pool, being suspended on stiltsThe full-height windows extend on both sides of the top volume, bringing in light and beautiful viewsThe full-height windows extend on both sides of the top volume, bringing in light and beautiful viewsThe concrete shell of the top volume extends around it forming a sort of protective edgeThe concrete shell of the top volume extends around it forming a sort of protective edge
Barn-shaped house in Wyoming

This is not the first or the last barn turned into a modern home but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. In fact, the history serves it in a really cool way. This used to be a barn and in time it lost its function and became a forgotten structure. Then came Carney Logan Burke Architects and changed it into a charming house that’s cleverly trapped between past and present, between old and modern. It serves as a guest house/ holiday home, surrounded by evergreen trees and lush meadows. Look at it from the side and it will look like a rustic, weathered barn. Step inside and it will look like a modern home. It’s this duality that inspired us the most.

Not everything about this barn is old and weathered, not even when it comes to the exterior designNot everything about this barn is old and weathered, not even when it comes to the exterior designThe exterior of the house is covered in reclaimed wood, hence the rustic lookThe exterior of the house is covered in reclaimed wood, hence the rustic lookThe architect preserved as much of the original charm as possible but didn't forget to update it with modern elementsThe architect preserved as much of the original charm as possible but didn’t forget to update it with modern elementsThe upper floor is a very cozy workout area with a panoramic views of the surroundingsThe upper floor is a very cozy workout area with a panoramic views of the surroundings

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