From World War II steel buoys to bowling lanes, these 8 modern dwellings feature some peculiar elements rooted in the past.
Layer by layer, this crumbling 18th-century flat in the middle of Barcelona found new life at the hands of architect Benedetta Tagliabue. Paths of Andalusian tile and intervening plaster walls help to delineate space in the expansive apartment, which is centered around an internal entry courtyard. The armchair, designed by Peter and Alison Smithson, is covered in a Josef Frank textile from Just Scandinavian. The white piece just behind it is a repurposed Austrian stove that’s now used as a storage device.
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there. Cor-Ten steel from a ship building yard clads the new structure, which connects via a glass “bridge” to a rebuilt stone farmhouse containing the bedrooms.
Restored along a modern heritage theme, this family home in north London is full of unexpected elements, from beautiful vintage lighting fixtures to pieces of stained glass and laser-etched wooden panels. This bespoke sideboard (hiding the stairway to the basement) and the kitchen table were both built from wood sourced from a school science laboratory, while the sliding door that fronts the sideboard was salvaged from the National Museum of Scotland.
In the same home, the kitchen island is a mahogany museum display case containing the clients’ inherited snuff-box collection. Now topped with salvaged iroko hardwood from a school science laboratory, it has also been adapted to hold a sink and washer.
This unique solar-powered Colorado home features a floor of wooden boards, all previously bleachers in a school sports stadium.
After Will Rosenzweig and Carla Fracchia bought this 100-year-old farmhouse in Healdsburg, California, they hired Arkin Tilt Architects and Earthtone Construction to make an eco-friendly example out of it. The house had good bones but it was "thermally challenged in both summer and winter," says architect Anni Tilt. Thanks to the addition of a new wrap of rigid insulation on the exterior, new windows throughout, a ventilated roof, and a new wing with shade overhangs, the house is transformed. "It now provides an entirely different level of comfort and performance—a quantum leap forward—which has transformed the way we use it," the owners report.
The upstairs bathroom was fitted with a skylight over the shower, adding light and spaciousness to the small room. Locally made Heath tiles line the new shower, and a marble slab salvaged from wainscot at Brooks Brothers in San Francisco now serves as the vanity top. Bamboo light fixtures add warmth.
In the same 100-year-old farmhouse in California, the spacious dining room is the new social focus of the house. It features exposed fir framing and clay plastered walls. The custom dining table was created from salvaged bowling lanes. Connecting the home to the garden was a high priority, and a 14-foot-wide multi-fold door completely opens the dining room to the outdoors, while shading the interior space from the western sun.
A couple brought cohesion to this architectural mishmash in San Francisco. Built in 1941, the house was once a maze of dark rooms on four levels, consisting of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom main residence above, an in-law unit below, two garages, and a concrete bunker meant to serve as a bomb shelter. A nod to the home’s wartime history is found in the new cladding—old redwood planks repurposed from a giant blimp hangar at nearby Moffett Field, a decommissioned military airfield. Outside the house, a pair of blue steel buoys—used during World War II to net the San Francisco Bay and protect it against unwelcome submarines—gains new life as a distinctive garden folly. The steel buoys are World War II era.