written by:
October 8, 2015
With a healthy amount of elbow grease, these suboptimal houses and buildings were re-envisioned as havens of modernity.
Boston renovation living room with Polder Sofa XL by Hella Jorgerious for Vitra, marble Saarinen side table for Knoll, and Slow chair by Ronan & Erwan Bourollec for Vitra.

Chris Grimley and Kelly Smith transformed a cramped Boston apartment into a family-friendly home. In the living room, the couple and their children, Roen and Mae, gather around a Polder Sofa XL by Hella Jongerius for Vitra.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Boston Renovation Accents Minimalist White with Rich Felt Murals
1 / 20
Renovated DC Row House living room with white brick walls.

When a couple bought a row house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., they aspired to live in their dream home of minimalist ease. But at first, eight-foot ceilings and dark corridors created quite the opposite effect. Janet Bloomberg, principal of Kube Architecture, felt that the best w­ay to achieve their vision—and highlight their love of art and entertaining—was to open up the home as much as possible.

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Originally appeared in A D.C. Row House Renovated to Host Artwork and a Bold Furniture Collection
2 / 20
White oak floors, exposed concrete, and steel beams in renovation by Erica Severns.

Among the directives for architect Erica Severns from her client, John Parker Willis, was “some chaos in the kitchen design” of his home in a converted San Francisco garage. In the resulting 2,770-square-foot apartment, original I-beams brace the structure at dramatic angles and collide overhead, and the raw concrete is tempered by blackened steel, white-oak flooring, and bush-hammered Carrara marble—all selected by Willis. 

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Originally appeared in A San Francisco Renovation Mixes Industrial and Refined Materials
3 / 20
Dining room with sliding doors to garden in Brooklyn renovation by Elizabeth Roberts.

At more than 150-years-old, this structure was a ruin when the architect and her clients found it. Now it's a stunning home designed with a growing family and hosting in mind. The renovation was completed in 2014 and the results are remarkable: the town house features light-filled spaces where the young family of three (soon to be four) could feel comfortable and their guests would feel welcome.

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Originally appeared in A Light-Filled Brooklyn Townhouse Features A Large Indoor-Outdoor Space for Entertaining
4 / 20
Featherhall renovation exterior deck

A glass-walled addition designed by architect Níall Hedderman unified kitchen, dining, and living at a compact 1930s home in Edinburgh.

Originally appeared in An Open-Plan Renovation for a Boxy Edinburgh Home
5 / 20
Segunda Calle open courtyard with custom table

In Chihuahua City, Mexico, a modern addition to a 1909 building features an open-air dining area with a custom table made from Andiroba wood and Magis White Air armchairs.


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Originally appeared in A Historic Mexican Home Is Restored and Given a Modern Addition
6 / 20
Stanford Street townhouse living room renovation

When renovating a middling 1970s town house in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, designer Chris Nguyen added a modern edge by subtracting existing elements to optimize flow and functionality. “I just removed things until I knew an Eames Compact sofa would look right at home," says Nguyen.


Courtesy of 
Chris Nguyen
Originally appeared in A Streamlined Town House Makes Way for a Modern Furniture Collection
7 / 20
Playroom in a renovated 1850s prefab cottage in Melbourne

In a Melbourne suburb, a rundown 1850s cottage sat vacant on the market without buyer interest. Its worn and weathered appearance didn’t deter the property’s eventual owners, Agata and Chris Millington, from seeing the potential behind the dilapidated facade, though. Together with Melbourne-based Jost Architects, they dramatically transformed the space into a lively and vibrant home for themselves and their young son, all in just five months.

Courtesy of 
Andrew Wuttke
Originally appeared in An 1850s Prefab Cottage from Boston Finds New Life in Australia
8 / 20
Behnisch Architekten renovation hallway

In Stuttgart, Germany, Behnisch Architekten gave a fogeyish pitched-roof house a facelift, removing interior walls, flattening the roof, and adding floor-to-ceiling windows, while reducing its overall carbon footprint in the process. 

Courtesy of 
David Matthiessen
Originally appeared in An Uninspired Home in Germany Gets a Bright, Eco-Friendly Update
9 / 20
Living area in a renovated San Diego house

Located in the eclectic Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego, the Georgia St. Residence was originally an uninspired Spanish-style two-story home that “felt like something you’d see in a Western ghost town," architect Christian Rice says. Taking inspiration from the repurposed shipping container trend and loft-style aesthetics, Rice and his team transformed the stucco box into an airy, modern home that fits perfectly into the neighborhood.

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Originally appeared in A Dull Stucco Home Becomes a Modern California Oasis
10 / 20
Colorful dining room and kitchen in Nicolas Roche's Paris apartment

A far cry from minimalism, the renovated 900-square-foot Paris flat belonging to Nicolas Roche, a scion of the French furniture company Roche Bobois, is decked out with vivid hues and vintage furniture. A 1960s orange lamp by Luxus is suspended over the Warren Platner dining table and chairs. The 1950s rosewood glass cabinet is from Soriano. Pod Lens pendants by Ross Lovegrove for Luceplan hang from the ceiling.

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Originally appeared in This Petite Paris Apartment is a Vintage Furniture–Filled Delight
11 / 20
Copenhagen renovation kitchen.

Furniture designer Eglantine Charrier carved out this modern family home in a renovated 1925 structure on the outskirts of Copenhagen. With three sons in the family, the kitchen gets a lot of use. Hee barstools by Hee Welling for Hay slide up to a multi-functioning island where the family gathers to eat, study and play.

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Originally appeared in A Cramped Attic Became a Sunny Dining Room in this Renovation of a Copenhagen Tudor
12 / 20
living area in Modern home renovation in Chicago

For chef Lisa Santos and her husband, Joel, converting a 100-year-old switching station in Chicago to their home was made easier with the help of a team from local firm Beaux Bo Properties, who had already divided the building into condominiums. The open two-story space was still very much a tabula rasa, and appeared larger than its 2,400 square feet.


Originally appeared in Raw Materials Connect this Chicago Renovation with its Industrial Past
13 / 20
Serene, all-white interior in Denmark

When Danish architects John Lassen and Joanna Tench were looking for a summer home to renovate, they cast their eye on a thatched-roof cottage overlooking the North Sea in West Jutland. “It was very simple, and it was exactly what I wanted,” Lassen says. It just needed some serious work. The architects installed plaster walls and a curved ceiling that lets in more light. Its circular design repeats in the entrance to the master bedroom, accessible by a ladder.


Courtesy of 
Jens Barslund
Originally appeared in A Thatched Cottage in Denmark with a Modern, Space-Saving Interior
14 / 20
Los Angeles Ranch House Upstairs Study

Margaret Riley purchased a 1957 ranch with little panache or pedigree, but a plum location just two doors down from Crestwood Hills, the Los Angeles cooperative development revered for its wealth of A. Quincy Jones masterpieces. The home had comparably little going for it, so, in 2008, she hired architect Cory Buckner to devise an addition and remodel inspired by the icons nearby. The renovation added a second floor, butterfly roof, redwood siding, vertical louvers, Douglas fir ceilings, elm built-ins, and sliding glass doors–all of which appear original.

Courtesy of 
George Pesce
Originally appeared in A Renovation Elevates This Humble Ranch Among its Iconic Midcentury Neighbors
15 / 20
Interior courtyard in a renovated home in northern Israel

From the street, this 18th-century stone residence blends in inconspicuously with its neighbors in the old city of Safed in the north of Israel. Architects Henkin Irit and Shavit Zohar preserved the historic shell, while introducing contemporary elements to the interior including concrete, wood, steel, and glass.

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Originally appeared in A 250-Year-Old Stone House in Israel with a Surprisingly Modern Interior
16 / 20
Modern rear addition to a traditional bungalow

Like many families looking to renovate, Tribe Studio’s latest clients wanted more space and better light for their traditional Sydney bungalow. Architect Hannah Tribe delivered with an unapologetically bold addition that connects directly to the garden.

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Originally appeared in A Traditional 1920s Bungalow with a Boxy Modern Extension
17 / 20
Living space in a Montreal renovated row house

Mark Fekete and Viviana de Loera, co-founders of interdisciplinary design firm MARK + VIVI, happily took on the challenge of building their dream home in a transitioning Montreal neighborhood. Working with a relatively small footprint that gave them just 1,100 total square feet of finished living space, the couple used simple and minimal materials to embrace and celebrate the original character of the 1880 home.

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Originally appeared in An Old Row House in Montreal Gets a Colorful Modern Upgrade
18 / 20
Melbourne Middle Park House Rear Addition exterior

A family with three young sons asked Mitsuori Architects to renovate and expand their venerable Melbourne Victorian house to accommodate their growing and energetic children. Since the house is located within a “heritage street” of Melbourne that prohibits radical architectural modifications visible from the street, the addition would be in the house’s rear: two stories of new construction that principally features a large living, dining, and kitchen space that opens to the backyard.

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Originally appeared in A Breezy Modern Addition Opens Up a Historic Melbourne Home
19 / 20
Portland renovated warehouse living area coffee table.

Linda Hutchins and John Montague hired Works Partnership Architecture to turn a former warehouse and auto repair shop in Portland, Oregon, into a versatile live-work space. Hutchins and Montague furnished their living area with Theatre sofas by Ted Boerner for Design Within Reach and Womb chairs by Eero Saarinen for Knoll. The Kubo coffee table is by Mobital, and the Strind side table is from Ikea. Torrent, an ink-on-watercolor-paper installation by Hutchins, hangs on the far wall.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in This Light-Filled Industrial Renovation Plays Host to Live Music
20 / 20
Boston renovation living room with Polder Sofa XL by Hella Jorgerious for Vitra, marble Saarinen side table for Knoll, and Slow chair by Ronan & Erwan Bourollec for Vitra.

Chris Grimley and Kelly Smith transformed a cramped Boston apartment into a family-friendly home. In the living room, the couple and their children, Roen and Mae, gather around a Polder Sofa XL by Hella Jongerius for Vitra.

Photo by Bob O'Connor.

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