10 Mullet Homes That Are Traditional in the Front, Modern in the Back

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By Michele Koh Morollo
While the mullet may be a questionable hairstyle, it’s often a smart choice when it comes to home design, helping the building blend into its local context.

In a "mullet home," the facade adheres to the neighborhood vernacular, while the interior and rear facades are bolder and more modern. 

Here are 10 mullet homes where the contemporary hides behind conservative fronts.

1) A Renovated 19th-Century Cedar-Shingled Home 

D.C. architect Robert Gurney renovated this 19th-century  home in the coastal city of Lewes in Delaware, and restored the facade with cedar shingles.

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"The existing house was an important house in the heart of the historical district," architect Robert Gurney said. To honor the property’s legacy, and fulfill the city’s requirements, the firm fully restored the exterior with cedar shingles.

"The existing house was an important house in the heart of the historical district," architect Robert Gurney said. To honor the property’s legacy, and fulfill the city’s requirements, the firm fully restored the exterior with cedar shingles.

This custom glass structure by Ilex Construction allows for an abundance of light during the day. At night, Lightolier fixtures on the ceiling illuminate the Ella bed. Sherwin-Williams "Pure White" was painted on all interior walls.

This custom glass structure by Ilex Construction allows for an abundance of light during the day. At night, Lightolier fixtures on the ceiling illuminate the Ella bed. Sherwin-Williams "Pure White" was painted on all interior walls.

2) An Updated Foursquare With a Fifth Addition

Built in 1910, this American Foursquare-style home in Portland, Oregon was transformed into a light filled home by LEVER Architecture with an addition of a "fifth square" in the form of a modern glass box.

By adding a "fifth square" positioned at a 45-degree angle to the existing roofline, the architects were able to create a generous studio/hang-out space on the house's third floor.

By adding a "fifth square" positioned at a 45-degree angle to the existing roofline, the architects were able to create a generous studio/hang-out space on the house's third floor.

Inside, plentiful windows offer fantastic views of the neighborhood's rooftops, as well as downtown Portland.

Inside, plentiful windows offer fantastic views of the neighborhood's rooftops, as well as downtown Portland.

3) A Refreshed Prefab Brewer’s Cottage

Architects David Nicholson and Brett Robertson of Robert Nichol & Sons had to abide by strict heritage regulations when they renovated this 1850s prefab timber cottage in Melbourne.

Named the Crisp House after its first inhabitant Edward Crisp—an Irish brewer who founded a brewery on a street near the property—the house was in fact a prefab timber cottage that was imported from England when the early English settlers arrived in Australia in the 1850s. 

Named the Crisp House after its first inhabitant Edward Crisp—an Irish brewer who founded a brewery on a street near the property—the house was in fact a prefab timber cottage that was imported from England when the early English settlers arrived in Australia in the 1850s. 

"Hemmed in by taller buildings on both sides, the original cottage was overwhelmed and neglected for decades—its identity compromised by inappropriate treatments. The new design provides a sensitive and recessive backdrop to the faithfully restored dwelling that originated more than 160 years ago in England," says Nicholson.

"Hemmed in by taller buildings on both sides, the original cottage was overwhelmed and neglected for decades—its identity compromised by inappropriate treatments. The new design provides a sensitive and recessive backdrop to the faithfully restored dwelling that originated more than 160 years ago in England," says Nicholson.

4) An Arts and Crafts-Style House with a Modernized Rear

When New South Wales practice TRIBE Studio Architects renovated this 1930s Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in Sydney, Australia, they kept the gabled brick wall and terracotta roof, suburban vernacular in the front, but revamped the rear with a fully glazed wall to better connect it to the garden.

Instead of focusing on reworking the street-facing front wall of the house, they turned their attention to the back wall, and found a better way to connect the interiors with the beautiful garden. This allowed them to stay true to the suburban vernacular of gabled brick walls and a terra-cotta roof, while modernizing the back section of the house quite dramatically. 

Instead of focusing on reworking the street-facing front wall of the house, they turned their attention to the back wall, and found a better way to connect the interiors with the beautiful garden. This allowed them to stay true to the suburban vernacular of gabled brick walls and a terra-cotta roof, while modernizing the back section of the house quite dramatically. 

The architects cleared out the ground floor and created an open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area along an elongated section at the rear. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors were installed in this part of the house to connect the interiors with the spacious garden. This light-filled and highly-transparent half of the ground floor now serves as a shady extension of the lush green garden.   

The architects cleared out the ground floor and created an open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area along an elongated section at the rear. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors were installed in this part of the house to connect the interiors with the spacious garden. This light-filled and highly-transparent half of the ground floor now serves as a shady extension of the lush green garden.   

5) A Home in Estoril With Fully Transformed Interiors

Portuguese architect Ricardo Moreno overhauled the interiors of this old, 1923 house in Estoril, which serves as his family home, but preserved its historic facade.

One of his main goals was to respect the original structure of the building and renovate it in a sustainable way with eco-friendly, recyclable materials.

One of his main goals was to respect the original structure of the building and renovate it in a sustainable way with eco-friendly, recyclable materials.

The result is a bright, Portuguese home designed in a clean, formal style, where contemporary interiors exist in harmony with the house’s historical shell.

The result is a bright, Portuguese home designed in a clean, formal style, where contemporary interiors exist in harmony with the house’s historical shell.

6) A New Rear Extension For an Edwardian Cottage 

Designed by Sheri Haby Architects, this Edwardian timber home in the Melbourne suburb of Sandringham has a new extension with two new gabled roofs that better connect the updated rear section with the garden.

The architects preserved the front of the house, but incorporated three bedrooms, a dining room, and lounge area into the new floor plan. They renovated the bathroom and laundry room and built a new powder room.

The architects preserved the front of the house, but incorporated three bedrooms, a dining room, and lounge area into the new floor plan. They renovated the bathroom and laundry room and built a new powder room.

A new outdoor deck addition, which meets the local council’s requirements for site coverage, was built in the rear garden.

A new outdoor deck addition, which meets the local council’s requirements for site coverage, was built in the rear garden.

7) A Bright and Breezy Brick House

Mexico City–based Dosa Studio redesigned this 40-year-old residence on a main road in Texcoco, Mexico, with two interior courtyards that increase space, light, ventilation and privacy.

A solution to cramped urban living in Texcoco, Mexico.

A solution to cramped urban living in Texcoco, Mexico.

A simple material palette of brick, concrete, ties and wood gives the homes an warm, contemporary atmosphere.

A simple material palette of brick, concrete, ties and wood gives the homes an warm, contemporary atmosphere.

8) A Victorian Cottage With a Neon Pink Corridor

This semi-detached Victorian cottage in Melbourne by architect Michael Artemenko, co-director of FIGR Architecture Studio, has a portal-like corridor that connects the original period home to a new wing.

Formerly a semi-detached Victorian worker’s cottage, the building’s heritage facade was restored to its former glory, leaving interesting period features intact. From the outside, the house looks like a snapshot from the past.

Formerly a semi-detached Victorian worker’s cottage, the building’s heritage facade was restored to its former glory, leaving interesting period features intact. From the outside, the house looks like a snapshot from the past.

The journey through the dark tunnel to the new, light-filled addition is both a texturally interesting and atmospheric experience, where the contrast between old and new, dark and light, can be felt. 

The journey through the dark tunnel to the new, light-filled addition is both a texturally interesting and atmospheric experience, where the contrast between old and new, dark and light, can be felt. 

9) A Double-Height Spanish Apartment With Floating Stairs

Spanish architecture firm RÄS Studio (now CRÜ) connected two formerly separate levels within a building in the historic neighborhood of Vila de Gràcia in Barcelona, turning the combined spaces into a stunning contemporary apartment with a floating staircase.

Two formerly separate levels are linked and combined into a double-height volume in this 1,464-square-foot apartment in Barcelona, Spain.

Two formerly separate levels are linked and combined into a double-height volume in this 1,464-square-foot apartment in Barcelona, Spain.

To retain and emphasize the traditional architecture of the building, the architects used natural terra-cotta for the floors, and stripped the paint from the walls to expose the beautiful textures and imperfections of the original brickwork.

To retain and emphasize the traditional architecture of the building, the architects used natural terra-cotta for the floors, and stripped the paint from the walls to expose the beautiful textures and imperfections of the original brickwork.

10) A Propeller Factory Conversion  

New York City architecture and interior design firm Fogarty Finger converted this former propeller factory in Jersey City into a stylish, modern home that references its industrial past.

The building’s historical facade was preserved, and the original company sign was retained.<br>

The building’s historical facade was preserved, and the original company sign was retained.

To keep the original street-level exterior view, the second-floor addition was set back from the building’s existing facade. <br>

To keep the original street-level exterior view, the second-floor addition was set back from the building’s existing facade.