A Modern Home in the Woods

Julia Thomson Julia Thomson
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Modern architecture sometimes has a reputation for being cold and harsh. However Russian architect Aleksandr Zhydkov makes a point of balancing a spare, clean-lined modern aesthetic with warmth and respect for the natural setting.

Location is the most important consideration in Zhydkov's designs. Whether building in the woods or on the waterfront, his focus is on capitalizing on the strengths of the area and impacting the land as little as possible.

In this Russian home, that connection to the environment is apparent both inside and out. The building is set on the edge of a grove of birch trees. By siting the house at one end of the lot, Zhydkov was able to preserve many of the trees, giving the homeowners privacy and beautiful views.

Filled with wood, stone, plush furnishings and glass, this home blends modern and traditional materials--and fits harmoniously into its environment.

Glowing glass and wood box

scandinavian Houses by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

Windows stretch from floor to ceiling on the rear of the house. During the day, sunlight floods into the living spaces. At dusk, the house is a glowing glass box.

The exterior of the box is clad in beautiful warm wood. The waterfall edge that has become so popular in countertops is replicated in large scale with the wood wrapping along the roof edge and down the side of the building.

Bridging the inside and out

scandinavian Houses by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

The wood paneling continues into a generous deck that bridges the interior spaces of the house with the yard outside. Built-in benches around the edge of the deck provide ready-made seating, but their low profile ensures the view of the woods is unobstructed.

Running the wood diagonally, horizontally and vertically adds movement and visual interest to the siding.

Mix and match materials to add visual interest

scandinavian Living room by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

In the two storey living room, a variety of finishes break up the vast wall space while adding texture.

The grey brick on the fireplace feature wall grounds the room. Extending it only a single storey makes the expansive room feel more intimate and cozy. Above the fireplace, the TV and a pair of large format black and white prints break up the brick and create symmetry.

Above, vertical wood planks reference the wood siding used on the outside while on the remaining wall crisp white paint brightens the room.

Fabric and furnishings soften modern lines

scandinavian Living room by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

To contrast the hard surfaces and clean lines elsewhere in the living room, the designers integrated a number of fabrics to add softness.

The plush couches, pillows and chair, the subtle pattern of the large area rug and the flowing full-length drapes on the two storey windows create a welcoming and comfortable vibe in the living room.

Opposite the fireplace the stunning staircase is a testament to modern engineering with the treads appearing to float against the glass railing.

Repetition of finishes creates a cohesive home

scandinavian Kitchen by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

Moving into the kitchen, we again see a repetition of finishes and surfaces that makes a cohesive design statement throughout the home. The dark tile backsplash references the brick from the fireplace. The wood cabinets are a nod to the paneling used elsewhere in the home.

The white Tom Dixon pendant lights, chairs and countertop (complete with waterfall edge, natch) are fresh and clean against the darker materials. The clear acrylic stools at the island reference the glass of the living room. Their ethereal forms allow the eye to travel through to the far wall of the kitchen and make the space feel open and airy.

Mixing organic and linear shapes

scandinavian Kitchen by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

The dining area which is open to the kitchen on one side and the double-sided fireplace on the other shows how organic curves can mix with linear designs.

With its brick wall, wood floor and large window, the space is clean and simple. The modern table with its metal X legs and blocky wood top dominate the room. But its straight edges are softened by the sinuous curves of the iconic Eames chairs. Overhead, the curved shades and warm brass finish of the pendants add further contrast to the straight lines elsewhere in the space.

Harmonious mix creates an inviting bedroom

scandinavian Bedroom by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

This bedroom shows the attention to detail the designers have used throughout the home.

The modern articulating floor and table lamps with their oversize shades are a dramatic statement, but they aren't the only element to draw your eye in this inviting bedroom.

The blue accents used in the living room are repeated in the bedding and curtain bands. A wood accent wall behind the bed references the natural setting outside. Crown moldings are a traditional adornment that contrasts with the clean lines elsewhere in the home.

All of the details work harmoniously together to create a relaxing space that is in tune with the rest of the house and its surroundings.

Wood and stone add texture to a modern bathroom

scandinavian Bathroom by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

Rather than focusing on softness in this bathroom, the designer has instead focused on texture and movement. The narrow strips of the wood paneling adds rhythm to the walls while the brown finish adds warmth. The veins in the stone on the floor and walls are another organic feature that connects this home to the natural world.

Within the envelope of these natural elements, the designer has embraced modernity with the straight lines of the sink, floating vanity, cabinet hardware, faucets and mirror.

A house suited to its setting

scandinavian Houses by  Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect
Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

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Aleksandr Zhydkov Architect

Returning to the exterior of the house, we see the attention Zhydkov paid in selecting materials appropriate to this home's setting. Panels of floor-to-ceiling glass alternate with panels of wood strips laid on the diagonal. A continuous band of wood in a lighter finish wraps the house and entryway.

The variety of finishes and the boxy form of the house create an intriguing tension with its natural woodsy setting. However, rather than seeming too modern or out of place, the home instead seems to be part of the earth, rising up out of the forest to sit in harmony amongst the trees.

What's your favourite feature of this home? Are you a fan of modern architecture? How do you mix and match modern and organic decor?
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