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A Wild Twist on the Subterranean Home

Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada
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This enchanting English home designed by architects from Guttfield Architecture offers a mix of dreamy and surreal details in a wild blend of ultra-modern architecture that allows most of the home to rest underground while still receiving ample ample natural light.

Low Profile

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Exterior

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Since half of the home rests underground, the exterior walls of the home have a highly unusual appearance as they maintain a lower-than-normal profile along the city sidewalk. From this outside view, you can see the raised ceiling of the bedroom, with windows high above the bed, as well as a light brown wooden fence that serves as a rooftop patio. An intensely contrasted, quirky blue door popping out from the stunning white brick is the first sign that these architects have a bold sense of humor, hiding many more daring surprises within.

A View at Night

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Exterior

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The reflective white brick of this home creates a purplish hue at night, standing out from the traditional brick homes that flank its sides. Just barely visible through the patio fence, you can see a hint of furniture that sits under the evening sky. The absence of porch plants, awnings, columns, and any other frills give this facade a rather restrained appearance; nevertheless, as you'll soon see, the interior abounds with light, color, and dynamic lines. 

An All-Seasons Courtyard

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​Winter Garden

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Here's your first big surprise: what appears to be a courtyard is actually a furnished outdoor living room, complete with stylish orange sofa and contemporary black picture frames along the walls! Imagining this room sans sky window creates a rather dim, cramped image, but the addition of this lovely, clear pane of glass above creates a wild, unexpected space that makes you look twice. With much of the room falling below ground level, the open ceiling lets light into a space that would otherwise resemble a dungeon. 

Who wouldn't want to sit in their very own living room and enjoy a private view of the starry night sky, or lightly clouded sunny morning? Notice that the room lacks a television – it seems that these homeowners would rather take advantage by leaning back and getting a glimpse of the natural show above! This strange hybrid of an indoor living room with an outdoor courtyard is a great example of a structure that uses the absence of a design element (in this case, a ceiling) to create a unique, appealing space. 

Sharp, Bold Lines

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​Winter Garden

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This home benefits from the uniform application of smart, crisp lines wherever you look! Thickly framed pictures match well with the black frames of the windows to the right, and the rectangular glass support draws a clean, straight line across the room, adding another square-shaped layer to the look. Sharp, rectangular shapes seem to float all around, stacking upwards towards the clear blue sky. 

Lively Color Scheme

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​Winter Garden

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Under a blue sky, the complementary orange sofa is a natural choice for making a bold contrast. A nearby plant in the corner of the room cools things down, connecting your gaze to other small green details (a bonsai, a patterned cushion) throughout the room. The addition of these plants creates an even more surreal courtyard-like look, causing you to question whether you're indoors or out – not to mention, the naturally lit room is an ideal place for keeping a few lush plants as company.

Look carefully, and you'll see the Rule of Three at work here – three sprigs of lively green, three blockish photo frames, three stacks of magazines, even three sections of orange furniture! 

Fish Tank

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Exterior View

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A glassy surface stands above the living room, almost like a still, shiny pond. You can sit on the deck above and gaze below as if you were watching koi swimming about in a Japanese pond.

Visible at Night

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Exterior View

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When night falls, a person on the patio can see straight into their own living room, allowing them to enjoy an interesting and artistic perspective of their home that not many have the privilege to experience!

The romantic lighting on the fenced patio above creates a magical or mysterious sensation, as if the warm glow beyond were cast by a crackling fire in the woods. Just another one of those wild twists that give this home its surreal, eclectic feel. 

Bedroom from Above

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Bedroom

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Once again, the architects have designed a way to walk above the home, getting a glimpse straight down into the bedroom. With views like this, you're left feeling as if you're gazing down into a miniature set – a dollhouse or a diorama – and it's one of the prevailing design elements of the entire structure. A tidy white bed rests in the middle of the room, pleasing to look at as it's balanced by symmetrical lights and an interesting hanging spotlight that seems to have come straight from a movie set.

Simple Colours with Plenty of Potential

 Corridor & hallway by homify
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Feature Staircase

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Whites make a bold statement in this room – everything except for the floor (and the bathroom, visible just through the door) seems to have been painted in a uniform, pure white shade for an ultra-modern, sleek feel. This kind of empty on purpose look only accentuates the story-like qualities of the home, making it appear as though it's an unfinished movie set, ready for artistic interpretation. The large white walls hold enormous potential for hanging picture galleries, a living green wall, or simply a large abstract painted canvas. Not to mention, the space under the stairs could house plenty of shelves for books and other knick-knacks. 

Paper Stairs

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Staircase Detail

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Thin metal appears to fold, creating a fine, airy staircase that seems to be composed of folded white paper similar to the way it might fold out of a pop-out greeting card. To complete the surreal look of this unique staircase, depending on the viewing angle, the super-fine nature of the these stairs causes them to vanish before your eyes. This impactful design is reminiscent of one of those  topsy-turvy optical illusions illustrated by M.C. Escher, in which a cascading staircase seems to get lost in and of itself as it spirals into an endless climb – a dreamy element quite appropriate for a bedroom.

Underground bathroom

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Bathroom

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The bathroom is the only room in the house not benefitting from natural light – not bad for a home that's constructed below ground level. To open up this smaller space, the designers have placed a clear swinging shower curtain that allows you to see the far wall of the room, getting a sense of the entire space rather than just the sink area. To further expand the space, mirrors have been placed above the sink and toilet, reflecting the classic white tile.

You'll note that this small bathroom is not without its luxuries – a heated towel rack and luxurious ceiling-mounted shower head create quite the decadent shower experience, even in this underground home!

If you've enjoyed this tour, you might enjoy a look at this ideabook A Family Home Hidden in the Hills detailing another wild and stylish, partially subterranean home.

What do you think of this modern subterranean home? Share your insight below!
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