The Most-Liked Homes on Our Instagram in 2021

Look to the spaces our followers loved most for the design trends to watch in the year ahead.

From careful renovations that preserve original details and reuse existing materials to interiors that incorporate clever circular openings to frame natural surrounds, these homes garnered the most "double-taps" from our Instagram followers in 2021. Take a look through the most popular posts we shared last year to get a sense of which design trends might stick around in the months to come.

An 11-Year Renovation Helps a Couple Grow Simpatico With the Original Homeowner’s Quirky Vision

In 2009 on a quiet Los Angeles corner, Mel Elias found a severely water-damaged, crumbling 5,000-square-foot house hidden behind a tangle of overgrown vegetation. Its former owner, the late Hollywood acting coach Milton Katselas, had filled his property with industrial skylights and enormous, wood-burning fireplaces. The glass-and-concrete construction was framed by high ceilings, rusted steel beams, and varied elevations across the single-story plan. Thanks to an 11-year, multiphase renovation by designer Carter Bradley, the home—with all of its quirks and character—shines again. 

Perched below the Griffith Observatory and overlooking Hollywood is a lush lot crowned with four towering olive trees—and a 1965 home designed by modernist architect Craig Ellwood. When a young couple purchased the home in 2018, it needed substantial work. For a historic restoration, they called on Woods + Dangaran, a local firm fluent in modernist history. The team completed a meticulous restoration of the home while keeping original components like the linear shape, open plan, and expansive windows. One of the most striking features is the original koi pond (an element deemed so essential that its preservation was a condition of escrow) that is now crossed by a bridge that leads to a new lap pool, which is perhaps the biggest intervention on the property. 

Casa Mague by Mauricio Ceballos X Architects draws inspiration from the Aztec heritage of Malinalco, Mexico. "Piramide de Malinalco, one of only three carved pyramids in the world, is part of the town’s daily life," explains Mauricio Ceballos Pressler, the firm’s director and founder. "The inhabitants feel proud of their Aztec roots." To honor them—and in direct reference to the nearby pyramid—an exterior living area adjacent to the pool features a curved and stepped wood wall. To more broadly echo a Mesoamerican worldview, Pressler designed each room of the 2,906-square-foot home to feel as if it’s woven into the landscape. "Trees have ritual meaning," he explains. "The roots symbolize the connection to the underworld, the trunks symbolize the earthly human life, and the branches symbolize the connection with the Gods."

Though parties might be on hold for a bit longer, this midcentury-style, brick-and-glass house in Austin, Texas, stands ready to entertain. Its owners, Sherry and Anthony, credit their architect and close friend, Eric Hughes of Houston firm HR Design Dept, for accommodating their penchant for Southern hospitality. For example, visitors can come right into the kitchen—the formal entrance off the front walkway gets much less use than the door from the carport—and be promptly handed a drink across the generous island. "There’s an overarching communal flow to the home and the way in which entertaining spaces work together, and then there are these separate, choreographed moments within that," says Hughes.

When the kids are outgrowing bunk beds in what used to be the nursery, it’s time for an update. That was the case for Catherine and VW Fowlkes, the couple behind D.C.-based Fowlkes Studio, whose compact 1930s home wasn’t quite cutting it anymore. With minimal growing pains—the duo originally bought the home because of its potential to be expanded—the Fowlkes Studio team completed a 1,720-square-foot, three-story addition at the rear that now provides plenty of breathing room for the whole family. Catherine admits that the home was always "stylistically bland," but that it had a sweetness that carries through today in its expanded form. "I think the renovation has retained that quality, from before to after," she says. 

Sometimes all it takes is a little luck. For a young married couple, it came in the form of this rare find: a 19th-century, three-story, single-family home in the heart of Paris. The house was a charmer with good bones, but was in need of some serious care. In a vibrant retrofit by architect Pierre-Louis Gerlier that includes structural reinforcements, the reimagined design is set off with a new floor plan. The lower level now serves as a space for the couple’s children, with the public areas—including an open-plan living/dining room and kitchen—on the floor above. Upstairs, the attic has been transformed into a large primary bedroom with a green-and-white bathroom suite. The living room (pictured above) showcases the firm’s bespoke carpentry work with a beautiful, mossy-green built-in bookcase that frames a new fireplace, and a staircase surrounded by arched doorways that hold hidden storage. "We created visual breakthroughs in order to connect the different spaces," says Gerlier. "The rounded arches are there to help magnify these moments." 

Sited on a remote, forested plot in the mountains of Palmichal de Acosta, Costa Rica, this stone-and-concrete home was designed with spiritual transcendence in mind—along with off-grid sustainability. When architect María de la Paz Alice, founder of Mazpazz Arquitectura, first saw the plot, she was skeptical due to its inaccessibility. Luckily for the client—a film producer and ocean conservationist who dreamed of a place where she could disconnect—the architect was game to take on the project. Casa Salvaje, or Wild House, is an entirely autonomous and self-sustaining home that uses geometric openings to frame its tranquil surroundings. Teaming up with interior designer Ileana Guerrero—who worked with local artisans to craft custom furnishings for the living spaces—and landscape designer Jorge Salgado, the project is a breathtaking example of architecture that connects to the earth. The home’s entrance, which the architect refers to as "the vortex," takes the form of a concrete cube with two prominent circular openings. Crystals encrusted in the floor capture and reflect the light that passes through the overhead oculus from the sun and moon.

A dusty-pink facade is only a hint of what’s inside this 18th-century structure in southern Portugal. For Sérgio Antunes, cofounder of Lisbon firm Aurora Arquitectos, the charming exterior and its rich pigment provided a fascinating starting point for the renovation of the Rose Building, a single-family residence that his firm turned into five glowing apartments in collaboration with Lisbon architecture studio FURO. Throughout are huge swaths of color with unique touches: For example, painted on the ceiling of the central stair is a moody mural of a woman in the style of a fresco, and in one of the unit’s bathrooms, more ceiling artwork depicts a mermaid emerging from a swirl of waves. Elsewhere, arched windows, sloped ceilings, ornate moldings, and wooden doors elegantly play off Portuguese marble and patterned ceramic tiles. With the go-ahead from the city, the architects were also able to construct a modern addition at the rear—The Mustard Building—that pairs natural wood partitions with the subdued tones of creamy terrazzo.

Visitors to these slender, stacked rental cabins are granted unrivaled access to the Chilean coastline. To create such a remarkable experience, however, Santiago firm Croxatto & Opazo Arquitectos had to overcome a set of challenging constraints: a limited budget, steep slopes, and blustery coastal winds. "It was an interesting exercise in how to propose good architecture with scarcity," says cofounder Felipe Croxatto. In the end, the constraints might be to thank for the incredible results. The pair of guest cabins feature interiors in light-colored pine treated with natural oil finishes. Each has an open-plan living/dining/cooking space on the ground floor, with a lofted sleeping space above. Floor-to-ceiling windows, large glazed doors, and north-facing terraces connect the pair to the spectacular site. All construction for the cabins—including utility and road access—was completed on-site in eight months.

Five years ago, when a father and son set out on an evening canoe ride on Wood Lake in Northern Wisconsin, they paddled by a site for sale that sparked an idea. What if they built a vacation rental along the tree-lined river to allow others to experience the landscape? After nearly two years of surveying the county property map, the McPheeters found the perfect place to break ground for the first of a series of rental properties across a 140-acre plot of rural land, now known as Nordlys Lodging Co. As fans of Pacific Northwest architecture, the family dreamed of nestling microstructures within the landscape, but they worried about the aesthetic’s ability to withstand harsh winters. Fortunately, they found architect David Wagner, a Washington native and principal of Sala Architects, who was "able to adapt the aesthetic to our much more demanding climate," says Jeff McPheeters. Now complete, the Metal Lark Tower is a two-story, 820-square-foot cabin on a sloping hillside, resting against a dividing line of trees. "It’s interesting to experience the ‘aha’ moment of walking in and having it all open up the meadow and the lake," says the architect. "There is a certain poetry of that particular spot." 

After 30 years without a house, Jesse Brown found home in a community outside East Austin. The Community First! Village is a 51-acre development of micro-homes and RVs that offers affordable, permanent shelter to individuals who have lacked housing for extended periods. Before moving in, Jesse lived in a tent behind a sign shop. In 2015, the owner showed Jesse a brochure for the village, but he "wasn’t ready to move yet," says Jesse. After his camp was raided by police in 2018, Jesse toured the village with the shop owner and became a resident three months later. Last year, Jesse applied to take on a leadership role as one of the project’s Seed Neighbors, which involves welcoming new residents and giving feedback for the plan’s second phase that will add 310 new homes to the village—including this modest blue pitched-roof cabin specifically made for Jesse. Austin-based firm Jobe Corral Architects worked directly with Jesse on the design. "We do a lot of residential work," says cofounder Camille Jobe. "We always think about what parts of the house tell the story about who is living in it." At the entrance, an orange door leads into the living space, where a reclining chair is positioned so Jesse can look through the screened porch and interact with his neighbors—something he insisted on when developing the brief with the architects. "All of my life, I’ve never been part of things," Jesse says. "Here, I’m part of a community. If something happens to me, I know that somebody’s going to care."

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