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This family home mirrors the woods around it

Julia Thomson Julia Thomson
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At first glance, this house may not look very natural. However, its boxy contemporary design is completely inspired by nature.

Architect Matthew Heywood explains, “The design of the house developed in direct response to the site and its location within the beautiful village of Yalding in Kent.”

Mature lush trees surround the large lot. Taking his cue from the woodland setting, Heywood delivered a modern interpretation of branches, leaves and tree trunks through the very structure of the house. From the windows to the exterior cladding to the spare interior, the focus with every element of this home is the natural environment.

Contrast between geometric and organic shapes

In contrast to the surrounding nature, the form and lines of the house are intentionally very geometric and crisp. Heywood’s goal was to create ’a dialogue between the organic woodland and the modernist box.’

The lawn around the house is kept level and uninterrupted by flower beds or paths. This simplicity allows the house to stand out. A select number of small trees are strategically placed around the outside of the house, while around the perimeter of the lot, the trees grow thick and unstructured.

The black and white siding are traditional choices of this region. Heywood intended them to represent the foliage wrapping the building and enclosing the spaces within. By using both black and white tones and installing them in solid colour blocks--white on the bottom floor and black on the upper--Heywood has offered a modern interpretation of traditional building materials.

See more minimalist gardens.

Linear interpretation of natural forms

Angular columns of glass crisscrossed with sharply angled mullions are meant to mimic the irregular angles of tree trunks and branches.

The extensive windows reflect the trees, sky and clouds, and a large deck at the rear of the house further accentuates the connection to the surrounding woodland.

See more ideas for modern windows and doors.

Spare design keeps the focus outside

Inside, the large expanses of glass, including a full wall of windows in the main floor living room, allow residents to appreciate the landscape and setting as if they were peering out from between the trunks and branches of the trees.

The interior colour scheme is grey, black and white, with splashes of sparkle through glass and brushed silver. The low profile couches, modern armchairs, plush rug and glass waterfall coffee table all adhere to this neutral palette, creating a calm, modern aesthetic. The spare design inside keeps the focus on the view outside.

Let there be light

The windows are the defining feature of this house, both outside and in. In the living room, the angled glass adds a feeling of movement and makes the design feel more dynamic. A large skylight allows natural light to flow through the whole centre of the building, enhancing the home's connection to nature.

The suspended silver orb fireplace is an iconic modern feature. Unusually, the designers employed a large mirrored disc as a hearth under the orb. The mirror protects the dark wood floors and also reflects additional light throughout the home.

Check out 15 Magical Mirrors That'll Make You Look Twice.

Clean-lined modern kitchen

The kitchen epitomizes modern simplicity--but not at the expense of function.

A full wall of cabinets provides extensive storage and camouflages a built-in refrigerator. Double wall ovens are perfectly flush with the front of the cabinets and sit at the ideal height for baking and cooking. The hard-working island houses the sink and range on one side and offers dining space on the other.

The white, black and grey colour scheme established in the living room carries into the kitchen, with the bar stools, faucet and cabinet handles offering a pop of silver sparkle.

Once again, the view and connection to the outdoors are important parts of the kitchen's design. The kitchen easily becomes an indoor-outdoor entertaining space, thanks to the full wall of windows which opens onto the deck.

Bedroom with pops of colour

The main design elements of the house--the large windows, clean-lined furniture, geometric architecture--also extend into the private spaces, like this bedroom.

However, here the colour palette expands slightly with the addition of turquoise accents in the bedding and the yellow glass shade of the light fixture. These additions allow the occupant of this room to personalize the space for him or herself.

The indoor-outdoor feel we've seen elsewhere in the house is also present in the bedroom thanks to the large windows that stretch from the floor to ceiling. However, in a bedroom, practical considerations like privacy and light levels have to be taken into account.

Window treatments on large angled windows like these can be challenging to design. The solution is clever wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling curtain panels that cover the entire window when needed. When not needed, the curtains tuck unobtrusively into the corner, and their white fabric nearly disappears against the white wall. 

Working the angles

At night, the house's geometric structure is even more obvious. With light shining through the windows, the angles are accentuated and the borders between inside and out fade.

This house is a thoughtful, artistic interpretation of natural forms. By prioritizing the setting and connection of the house to its environment, the architects designed a creative house that shows you can balance modern design with natural elements.

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