written by:
December 9, 2013
While curb appeal may get all the fan fair we think great architecture deserves kudos from all angles. Here, we've gathered 10 homes from the Dwell archives that pay as much attention to the design of back as the front.
back storied exterior

Without altering its turn-of-the-20th-century facade, architect Christopher Polly transformed the rear of this Newtown, Australia, home from bleak to bright.

Originally appeared in Five Open Decks
1 / 10
ching ian exterior front porch

Behind an unassuming 19th-century facade in Singapore's Joo Chiat neighborhood, Ching Ian and Yang Yeo's renovation of a typical shophouse venerates tradition while looking squarely to the future. Yang Yeo and his girlfriend Ching Ian relax on the back stoop of their renovated and radically updated Singapore shophouse—an archetypal building type in this busy port city. “Shophouses brought back memories of our childhood,” says Yeo. Photo by Richard Powers.

Originally appeared in Porches We Love Around The World
2 / 10
A second-story balcony overlooks a small yard.

With a little faith and a lot of foresight, Keisha Martin entrusted Laura Briggs and Jonathan Knowles to revitalize a derelict rowhouse, returning it to its original splendor and then some. Martin’s new home is both an homage to the past and a design for the future. A second-story balcony overlooks a small yard. Photo by Adam Friedberg.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Modern Rowhouse Renovation in New York
3 / 10
Tozer residence exterior back facade

On an eight-foot-wide site in London, architect Luke Tozer cleverly squeezed in a four-story home equipped with rain-water-harvesting and geothermal systems. At the back, the building steps down to the courtyard garden in a ziggurat formation, with the main living spaces on the lowest floor. Photo by Charlie Crane.

Courtesy of 
Charlie Crane
Originally appeared in Black Sheep
4 / 10
San Francisco house, Craig Steely, back patio

Teaming up with architect Craig Steely, an industrial designer and a mechanical engineer find just the right design for a striking home on a San Francisco hill. At night, opening the entire top floor is a breeze. Russell-Clarke and Moolsintong are even planning of rigging some kind of sail over the back patio for shade. The hot tub is by Roberts Hot Tubs. Photo by Ian Allen.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Striking Slatted Wood and Glass Home in San Francisco
5 / 10
Here's a proper view of the back of the house that reveals the height of the space and how the courtyard really does function as an outdoor room.

In a South Minneapolis neighborhood of century-old housing stock, Julie Snow’s bold but elegant residential design fulfilled Andrew Blauvelt and Scott Winter’s desire for a loft on the ground. Here's a proper view of the back of the house that reveals the height of the space and how the courtyard really does function as an outdoor room. Photo by Dean Kaufman.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Modern Urban Retreat in South Minneapolis
6 / 10
Coastal, on a hill, and made from inexpensive materials, the Ferguson house is a catalog of moving surfaces and open rooms.

With an extended family apt to drop by at a moment’s notice, lifelong modernist Hannah Ferguson has a new home that’s all about heritage. Coastal, on a hill, and made from inexpensive materials, the Ferguson house is a catalog of moving surfaces and open rooms. Photo by Amanda Prior.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Pedigree Charted
7 / 10
mies van der rohe, lafayette park, detroit, michigan

High-rise superblocks and identical clusters of row houses set apart from the urban grid have been much maligned as some of the major wrongdoings of modernism, but Detroit's Lafayette Park—the first urban-renewal project in the United States—tells a vastly different story. Residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it." Photo by Raimund Koch.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Mies van der Rohe, Lafayette Park
8 / 10
Geometric home facade and upstairs balcony

In southwest England, interior designer and avid furniture collector Kathryn Tyler built her home around the vintage pieces she’d amassed over a decade. A look at the exterior of Tyler and Brown's new 2,150-square-foot house, located a stone's throw away from Tyler's mother's home. Photo by Andrew Meredith.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
Andrew Meredith 2007
Originally appeared in English Designer's Live/Work Home
9 / 10
Clayden is perfectly happy enjoying the subtropical sun on the balcony, though his much-beloved cat Ginger appears far more enthusiastic about lolling on the patio.

Londoner Dave Clayden has gradually adjusted to life in the subtropics, where, as he puts it, “toweling yourself down after a shower is enough to make you start sweating again.” Clayden is perfectly happy enjoying the subtropical sun on the balcony, though his much-beloved cat Ginger appears far more enthusiastic about lolling on the patio. Photo by Richard Powers.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Minimalist Bachelor Pad in Brisbane
10 / 10
back storied exterior

Without altering its turn-of-the-20th-century facade, architect Christopher Polly transformed the rear of this Newtown, Australia, home from bleak to bright.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016
The Greenhouses of Half Moon Bay
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 03, 2016
Deck of Australian addition to Edwardian home.
A 1,500-square-foot home in Melbourne welcomes a modern black and white kitchen, dining, and living area.
February 03, 2016
open plan concrete home in japan
Embracing the organic, imperfect material, these raw concrete surfaces are a step up from exposed brick.
February 03, 2016
Renovated DC Row House loft space with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
The classic designer's signature and comfortable forms continue to be popular in homes today.
February 03, 2016
Zinc-roofed cabin France.
An architect builds an energy-efficient home near one of France’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
February 03, 2016
1973 Palm Springs home
Made for casual design enthusiasts and Palm Springs connoisseurs alike, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern offers a peek into 51 buildings—some not open to the public—in that Southern California mecca of modernism. Begun in 2008 by photographer Dan Chavkin, the book is set for release this February 9th and will be available on Amazon and at multiple venues of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, February 11 - 21. Here we preview some of its images.
February 03, 2016
Millennial concept home with an outdoor living area
A concept home aims to reflect the requests of the Millennial market.
February 03, 2016
The two twelve-by-sixteen-foot bedrooms, directly above a comparable pair on the first floor, feature a glass transom that follows the pitch of the roof. “The stair and railings were very simple,” Depardon observes. “We added a bit of design, with panels
Skylights needn't be simple overhead daylighting; sometimes they can truly define a room.
February 03, 2016
Modern small space Rhode Island cottage with landscaping and cedar cladding
Surrounded by nature, these cottages are tranquil retreats from the city.
February 03, 2016
The couple kept original touches, including the arch.
Historic archways belie these contemporary homes with physical reminders of each structure's storied past.
February 03, 2016
modern guesthouse in norway with angular facade and cutaway patio with spruce cladding and ikea chair
These houses make room for nature, not the other way around.
February 02, 2016
Modern kitchen with yellow sectioned walls and monochrome appliances
Whether it's a splash of color or bold strokes, this collection of interiors brightens up these homes.
February 02, 2016
Rust-washed concrete wall in Moscow apartment renovation.
This 590-square-foot apartment was stripped down to admit sunlight and dramatically reveal forgotten surfaces.
February 02, 2016
Nendo's collection of objects inspired by Star Wars
In a galaxy not so far away, Japanese studio Nendo has released a versatile collection of objects inspired by classic Star Wars characters.
February 02, 2016
Monti catered to his mother’s love of cooking by giving her ample storage areas along the 70-foot long walnut wall-slash-cabinet. The refrigerator, kitchen items and other goods easily disappear into the wall when not in use. The nonporous, stain-, scratc
Sometimes the earthy colors and vivid grain of a wood like walnut is all you need to make a space.
February 02, 2016
renovated modern home in Austin interior kitchen
From California to Connecticut, these midcentury interiors still shine through thanks to the careful attention of architects and residents alike.
February 02, 2016
Outdoor dining area at a Saigon home.
A city home honors the local culture with communal outdoor space and reclaimed materials.
February 02, 2016
Affordable Portland home upper floor wrapped in black corrugated steel
These homes revel in both nature and city life.
February 01, 2016
London bedroom with exposed beams.
These homes show their bones to great effect.
February 01, 2016
Bar in an Amsterdam loft.
Bend an elbow with us at these very local watering holes.
February 01, 2016