written by:
November 28, 2012

While we can all heed that age-old axiom, "Never judge a book by its cover," we're swooning over the façades of these homes. Whether your design curiosity is piqued by the sight of a cozy abode tucked in the woods or an urban dwelling built on a bustling city street, you'll enjoy the exterior inventiveness of these homes.

farmhouse renovation in Eldred, New York
The Floating Farmhouse’s semitransparent addition has a roofline that matches the pitch of the original 1820s farmhouse. A porch, tucked under the side eaves, is cantilevered over a stream that runs through the property.
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Originally appeared in Hope Floats
1 / 20
Casa Delpin concrete panels white facade
Perforated concrete panels make for a creative curtain facade on the street-facing upper wall of Casa Delpin in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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Originally appeared in San Juan, PR
2 / 20
Seen here from the south, Villa van Vijven’s orange facade is meant to mimic the tiled rooftops of Holland’s country buildings, while the building’s horizontal pull echoes the flat landscape. The second-floor living rooms look out on the 4,200-square-foot communal garden, one of only two shared spaces in the whole community.
3 / 20
Terunobu Fujimori's Charred Cedar House, completed in 2007. As the name implies, the entire home is clad in charred cedar boards, which were treated with an ancient Japanese technique that seals the wood against rain and rot.
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Originally appeared in Terunobu Fujimori
4 / 20
Modern home with corrugated sheet metal facade
Architect Jayna Cooper had never designed a house before, much less played general contractor, when she broke ground on her new home in the middle of Los Angeles in 2009. After a grueling four months of hands-on work—managing subcontractors, sourcing materials, driving the front loader—she moved in. With a façade made of corrugated sheet metal, Cooper walks us through her completed home and reveals what it took to make this $200-per-square-foot abode a reality.
Originally appeared in 131-Day House
5 / 20
Enric Ruiz-Geli’s firm Cloud9 designed the suburban house of the future—it also happens to be sustainable. The concrete volumes of the upper and lower floors are independent to allow expansion and compression while a CNC-cut formwork was used to create the wavy pattern in the home’s concrete outer walls.
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Originally appeared in It Takes a Villa
6 / 20
minimal modernist home renovation in Germany
This family of cost-conscious Hamburgers (freshly back in Germany after years abroad) converted a kitschy turn-of-the-century villa into a high-design home. Instead of trying to minimize the discrepancy, the architects emphasized it by keeping the old-fashioned facade intact and painting it graphite gray.
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Originally appeared in Paint it Black
7 / 20
Oakland, California, doesn’t want for stately old Victorian houses, but heritage and zoning regulations often make them tough to renovate, particularly if you have an aesthetic departure in mind. By raising the house, Mike McDonald was able to and create a new modern office space below.
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Originally appeared in Modern Victorian House Preservation in Oakland
8 / 20
Viewed from a good distance down the slope running to the Union River, the Maison Amtrak is clearly oriented toward the river. Their deck is sheltered from the neighbors’ view by Cohen’s bedroom to the right and the living room at left, leaving ample privacy for their window-clad façade.
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Originally appeared in The Right Track
9 / 20
To integrate the Shade House into its surroundings, the exterior features a combination of raw concrete and exposed wood (reclaimed lumber) that complements the existing concrete structures of the neighborhood. Beneath the exterior cladding and the roof is a clever energy-saving solution: radiant barrier house wrap. The wrap, which looks just like tin foil, repels radiant heat and bounces it right back into the atmosphere—a breath of fresh air in Houston’s torrid summers.
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Originally appeared in Houston, We've Solved a Problem
10 / 20
“People scold us if we don’t raise the kite,” says Kari K. Holm (sitting with her husband, German-born architect Jürgen Kiehl). From the bench outside, extending from the window heavy facade of their Norwegian home, the couple can wave to friends passing in boats and make use of those long summer evenings.
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Originally appeared in Norwegian Wood
11 / 20
Live-Work Home, Syracuse, New York
In Project: Live Work Home, an unconventional exterior is used. The solar screen is made from medium-density overlay plywood, a widely available and relatively affordable material whose traditional use for highway signs testifies to its durability.
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Courtesy of 
© Richard Barnes
Originally appeared in Near Westside Story
12 / 20
modern courtyard house with custom rain screen
What drew Seth Grosshandler and Kim Wainwright to their 20-acre property in rural Hillsdale, New York, were the extraordinary unobstructed views of the Berkshires to the east and the Catskills to the west. The challenge on the completely exposed hilltop site was protecting their planned house from brutal weather. Architect Lea Cloud, of New York City’s CR Studio, created a “superinsulated building envelope” intended “to feel light and airy,” Cloud says. Read more about the process in Coming Into Views.
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Courtesy of 
©2011 John Muggenborg tel:(917)653-5321
Originally appeared in Modern Courtyard House with Custom Rain Screen
13 / 20
affordable modern green home in North Carolina
Tuned into its sylvan setting, this affordable green home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is a modern take on the surrounding centuries-old structures. The house’s skewed cubic form is clad in plank-like Cor-Ten steel panels and shielded by a rain screen. Over the years, the Cor-Ten will develop a rich patina that will liken the home to the weathered and rusted farm buildings in the area.
14 / 20
brick facade House BVA in Belgium by DMVA Architects
In this Facade Focus on brick, Tom Verschueren, of Mechelen, Belgium-based DMVA Architects, created a closed street-side facade with an open backside facing the garden, totally glazed from the ground up to the saddleback roof. On the street side, the only true opening is the door; the seven tall, slim windows are screened by what Verschueren calls “knitted” bricks. “In this part of Belgium, 90 percent of the houses are built with brick,” says Verschueren. “It’s a classic material that we tried to use in House BVA in a totally different way.”
15 / 20
In a Melbourne suburb, a family of four redefines “interior design” with a private house that doubles as a public art gallery, but the exterior of the house is equally creative. Read more about the Housemuseum in All the Home's a Stage.
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In the story A Little Bit Country, we learn "the couple initially planned to build a neotraditional farmhouse, which is standard fare in this corner of the world. But over the course of the year-and-a-half-long design process, their notions were tweaked, prodded, and coaxed into the minimalist incarnation they now call the Porch House—and home.
17 / 20
David Barragan and Jose Maria Saez call their Pentimento House "an architecture to be naked to connect with its surroundings." Built using a new, Lego-like modular prefab system the two architects developed, the Quito, Ecuador, project is featured in our December/January 2013 issue of Dwell on newsstands now. Don't miss it!
18 / 20
Modern bamboo-clad farmhouse with solar panels
Among the first Passive Houses in France, this bamboo-clad farmhouse by the Parisian firm Karawitz Architecture brings a bit of green to tiny Bessancourt. Read all about the design in our story, Passive Progressive.
Courtesy of 
© 2012 Nicholas Calcott
19 / 20
raw steel facade of modern house in Idaho
In our Facade Focus on Steel, learn how Idaho-based architect Susan Desko—previously a senior design architect for Frank Gehry—created a house built of untreated steel plate and glass that towers among the trees of its Ketchum landscape.
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Originally appeared in Facade Focus: Steel
20 / 20
farmhouse renovation in Eldred, New York
The Floating Farmhouse’s semitransparent addition has a roofline that matches the pitch of the original 1820s farmhouse. A porch, tucked under the side eaves, is cantilevered over a stream that runs through the property. Photo by Mark Mahaney.

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