Dwell’s Top 10 Home Tours of 2019

The year’s most viewed homes will bowl you over.

A well-designed home elevates quality of life, be it through gathering friends and family in thoughtfully scaled spaces, helping you stay connected to the rhythms of nature, or allowing you to work and play under the same roof. The houses that most captivated our readers this year respond poetically to the environment and individual needs, and are finely tuned without seeming overwrought. From Karuizawa, Japan, to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the heavyweight homes of the year span the globe.

10. This Serene Japanese Retreat That Looks Like Fallen Leaves

Located in Karuizawa, a popular summer resort town in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, Four Leaves is a weekend getaway designed to accommodate the homeowner and their guests in a lush, sylvan setting. Designed by Kentaro Ishida Architects Studio (KIAS), the highlight of the stunning, 2,400-square-foot house is its sloping, angular roof sections that are delicately assembled to resemble fallen leaves. 

The spa-like Japanese bath has a strong connection with the outdoors.

Casey Brown Architecture designed the Hart House, a modern update to the one-room Australian beach shack that overlooks Great Mackerel Beach. The contemporary home mimics the shack vernacular with its simple, boxy construction that’s wrapped in a protective shell of corrugated metal.

This airy home makes the most of its beachside location with sustainable design, careful siting, and an expansive, glazed facade.

In 2013, Jennifer Warner and Cara Frey fell in love with a modest but charming 1920s house within walking distance of their bungalow. The dwelling was dramatically sited, with great views of Portland’s southwest hills and downtown. But according to Michael Leckie, the Vancouver–based architect they eventually hired, "It was the dumpiest house on the block." Leckie replaced the house with a simple, modern design, using a basic square wood box that skews into a rhombus form, which he topped with a sloping roof. Their son, William, 6, swings in front of the cedar-clad house.

The home’s compact form and modest amounts of glazing add to its overall eco-friendliness. The white oak casework, which goes from floor to ceiling throughout much of the kitchen, was fabricated by Big Branch Woodworking for $22,000.

Niko Architect and landscape firm Ecopochva designed a Moscow home that doesn’t play by the rectilinear rules of conventional architecture. Vegetation blankets the home’s concrete form, and its walls sweep upwards and outwards to become roofs. Molded floor-to-ceiling windows curve to grant panoramic views of the entirety of the backyard and swimming pool.

In the downstairs living area, the walls sweep upwards toward skylights that protrude out and above the flora of the green roof. Next to the viewing area is a conversation pit accompanied by a hanging fireplace. A hole-punched, curving wooden panel separates the dining room.

Not only was extra living space necessary for the growing family of four, but the existing house also failed to take advantage of the striking views that drew the couple to the site. The homeowners tapped architect Malcolm Davis of San Francisco–based Malcolm Davis Architecture to redesign and expand the dwelling without damaging the many established oak trees.

Surrounded by retractable glass doors, the dining area opens up to the landscape. 

Embedded in the side of a valley in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, facing out over pristine Lake Wanaka, stands a new home meant to look as though it is part of the land around it. "It resembles the large schist rocks you see all over this region that are half-buried in the hillside and poke out at strange angles," says Andrew Simpson of WireDog Architecture, the Wellington-based firm that designed it.

The master bathroom has a floor-to-ceiling windowed corner that holds a Belle freestanding tub by Progetto and in-wall fixtures by Copper Bath.

Designed by Sydney-based practice Akin Atelier, this Bondi Beach abode is comprised of two volumes connected by a central courtyard that draws in natural light. The orientation of the 2,010-square-foot home allows for a playful rhythm of light, shadow, and air that gives it its atmospheric name, Cloud House.

The two simple volumes are intersected by an internal courtyard that maintains visual transparency between the front and back of the home.

Frequent visits to Calistoga Ranch left a Los Angeles couple hankering for even more time amid Napa Valley’s tranquil vineyards, so they realized it was the right moment to build their post-retirement dream home in California Wine Country. Wade Design Architects and Geremia Design knew exactly how to bring it to life.

To ensure continuity, the middle portion of the terrace—including integrated heaters, a ceiling fan, and a fire pit—is covered with a minimal slope roof that Wade Design Architects cleverly hid above a continuous line of structural beams.

Valle de Bravo is two hours and a world away from the commotion of Mexico City. Set on the shores of Lake Avándaro, it’s a popular weekend destination for well-to-do residents of the capital, who flock to the town to savor its colonial charm and to sail, paraglide, and hike.

In search of a quiet getaway that could double as a vacation and holiday hub for extended family and friends, a Mexico City couple found a three-and-a-half-acre property there and reached out to architect Javier Sánchez to come up with a design that would make the most of the site.

When a couple approached Colorado-based Cottle Carr Yaw (CCY) Architects for a modern mountain retreat, they brought with them images of what would be the founding inspiration behind the new design—a simple and rugged cabin in Norway where the husband and his relatives had been gathering since the 1950s. Much like this ancestral Norwegian cabin, the new getaway is designed with the same rustic charms and deference to the landscape, as well as an inviting environment for friends and family to gather for generations to come.

Carefully nestled in the Colorado Rockies, Gammel Dam is an award-winning family hideaway whose serene, minimalist interiors recall Norwegian cabins.


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