🔴🔺 Out of the Box
I’m back! I took a couple of weeks off from writing and looking at real estate to focus on a big launch at work (I’m a designer at a new startup for those of you who don’t know me. A lot of people assume I’m an architect or real estate agent.) and to take a much-needed vacation. There are obviously a lot of reasons to need a break from the world right now. Ordinarily looking at houses is a source of energy for me and a mini-escape and lately, it just hasn’t been. Part of it is certainly early phases of burnout 😅, but also… I just couldn’t take looking at any more white and grey boxes.
So we’re looking outside of the box entirely this week and looking at circles, arcs, and triangles.
The Actually Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Inspired
Location: 898 Berkeley St, Boca Raton, FL 33487
List Price: $4,650,000
This circular Boca Raton home is one of the few homes I’ve ever seen that says Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired and can actually mean it. There are elements of a lot of FLW’s famous works mixed together here and it surprisingly works. Most of the influence comes from homes such as the Circular Sun House in Phoenix (which is also currently on the market) and the Ennis House in LA. The combination on this waterside site is surprisingly and delightfully Florida.
My favorite room in the home is the living room. I love the combination of the smooth and patterned “textile” concrete blocks, the large windows, the round fireplace, and the plants draped along the more prominently curved wall. Yes, the only straight wall in this room is the glass wall at the back.
The mixture of concrete and lush foliage with a water view just does something to my soul, and it crystallized for me why it makes sense to have a Mayan Revival home here.
While the circular motif is successful in some places and less so in others (the kitchen island is cute but… a choice), the most successful circle is the primary bedroom. You enter the suite through a curved hallway (much like the Circular Sun House) and are enveloped by the curves of the room. The rounded fireplace makes the room feel intimate and rooted, while the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Gulf Stream help to feel expansive and bright. There’s also plenty of light filtering through the shoji-inspired screens that provide privacy from the main living space.
I could wax poetic about harmony or how circles and the unexpected shapes confuse our expectations just enough to make us happier (you can read about it in Joyful, which I’m reading right now and very much enjoying), but honestly what’s going to make anyone happier than this pool with a view? It’s semicircular, naturally.
The Ed Niles Semicircular
Location: 27929 Winding Way, Malibu, CA 90265
List Price: $13,500,000
If you’re not familiar with the architect Ed Niles, you should be. The Malibu-based designer’s work is polarizing and equally described as ugly, zany, and futuristic. When Justin Beiber rented Niles’ “Salad Spinner” house, a tweet with a photo of the singer there went viral saying “I have never seen a house uglier.” As my mom would say, there’s an ass for every saddle 🤠
While I probably wouldn’t be rushing to buy an Ed Niles home even if I could afford it, I find his work really exciting. Niles doesn’t even stay within his own box from project to project. It brings me a lot of joy to see something so daring and different, even if this house kind of looks like the Discovery One and the Cleveland airport were smushed together.
The scale of this house is what really makes me excited about it. I wish I could tour this home to feel it because it’s hard to even conceive of in the photos. The public living space is a giant half-circle made out of glass with sweeping views of the wooded land to one side and the Pacific Ocean to the other.
It’s a huge volume that is awe-inspiring and somehow still seems to work on a human scale. The spaces are clearly defined and positioned in a natural way. I love the kitchen and its use of angles and varying heights to create a dynamic space that would be fun to cook and entertain in. I also love the juxtaposition of the round edges, sharp lines, and odd angles. It helps the space feel fun and not rigid or too theme-y.
The (semi) private spaces are connected via a skybridge and have a different feeling from the public spaces. They use the same materials, but the scale and proportion are totally different. The rooms here are much smaller but feel large thanks to the relatively high ceiling heights and use of glass- the lack of divisions between the spaces also helps dramatically. The curved walls and breaks in the mass of the building also define the spaces and make them feel more intimate than their airport hallway aesthetic implies.
This home reimagines what domestic living looks like. This small sample of photos doesn’t do the space justice. I highly recommend checking out all of the photos in the listing.
Location: 6645 Northaven Rd, Dallas, TX 75230
List Price: $6,499,000
This North Dallas arc-shaped home is the most restrained of the bunch, and I like it because of its restraint. It shows that odd-shaped homes don’t have to feel zany or eccentric. This is a luxury modern home that still takes itself seriously. It reminds me a lot of Davina’s iconic yet-to-be-sold listing from Selling Sunset or a home built by an Apple Store designer. What would have been a boring glass box is made interesting by gently folding around a curved lap pool.
The ground level of the home is kind of like a double shotgun house. It has hallways running the length of both sides of the arc with built-ins and walls set back from the sides to create spaces. It’s clearly not the most private experience, but there is a surprising amount of definition to each space that kind of makes you forget these aren’t rooms.
The Seaside Cabin
Location: 136 Neck Rd, Guilford, CT 06437
List Price: $1,500,000
Calling this a seaside cabin feels like an understatement. This triangular home perched on the rocks of coastal Connecticut feels more like a sailboat in a dry dock. The architect Vincent Amore designed the home to be a place for him to be immersed in nature away from his home and work - a place to just think.
The home is less than 1,200 sq ft, but the vast ceilings and large panels of glass all over make the home feel significantly larger. Inside the finishes feel equal parts coastal nature as it does nautical. The warm woods and the stone of the fireplace that spans from floor to ceiling are balanced by the metal, glass, and airy draped fabric sunshades.
Looking out from the kitchen to the water you’d be hard pressed to figure out if your were in a house or on a boat.
Upstairs you’ll find a remarkably lofty bedroom with uninterrupted views of the water.
I can’t imagine a better place to come escape from the world for a while to be with your thoughts, or a more perfect place for the poolside.fm headquarters.
I like this approach a lot.