Seven Design Strategies For Building A Cool House With Character

The term “cool” is rather obscure. It can mean one thing for a person and something completely different for another. For instance, what makes a house cool? Some argue that the design is the most important element but there are also those who believe that the amenities and the fixtures are those that matter most. For others, a cool house is one that surprises and that stands out from the usual homes, whether it’s through looks or functionality. We’ll exemplify a few of the ideas and we’ll let you decide which house is the coolest.

Casa Aljibe

The name translates as The Cistern House. Actually, well would be a better word for it. The house is located in Alpedrete near Madrid, in Spain. It was designed by architect Alejandro Valdivieso who repurposed a former water cistern and turned it into the basement of the house. He gave the building a curved glass facade which wraps around the well. The cistern was originally connected to this well. In this case the cool nature of the house is given by a combination of elements: the history of the site and its initial function, the curved shape and the fully glazed facade. These elements put together give the house a unique appearance with a unique story behind it.

The well serves as a focal point for all the spaces inside the houseView in gallery
The well serves as a focal point for all the spaces inside the house
The house is surrounded by vegetation and the full-height windows allow it to bring the outdoors inView in gallery
The house is surrounded by vegetation and the full-height windows allow it to bring the outdoors in
A small table and a few chic garden chairs are spread across the stone patio which surrounds the wellView in gallery
A small table and a few chic garden chairs are spread across the stone patio which surrounds the well
The overall architecture and shape of the house give it a futuristic appearanceView in gallery
The overall architecture and shape of the house give it a futuristic appearance
The interior is surprisingly warm and cozy, full of quirky patterns and complementary finishesView in gallery
The interior is surprisingly warm and cozy, full of quirky patterns and complementary finishes
The curvature of the facade creates some oddly-shaped interior spaces View in gallery
The curvature of the facade creates some oddly-shaped interior spaces

The Barn Guest House

Here too the name is suggestive of the characteristics which define the project. The structure was once a barn with horse stalls. The same walls that separated the stalls are not dividing the spaces inside the newly constructed guest house. The property is located in Phoenix and is surrounded by cacti and fruit trees. The transformation brought a lot of changes. The concrete frame was preserved but the exterior walls were replaced with glass. The roof was replaced as well. The stall walls became dividers between the interior spaces and the ceiling was lined with wood for a warm feel. This was all a project by The Construction Zone.

The new glass walls have steel frames and offer panoramic views of the surroundingsView in gallery
The new glass walls have steel frames and offer panoramic views of the surroundings
The new roof is in tone with the modern appearance of the new guest house as well as with its surroundingsView in gallery
The new roof is in tone with the modern appearance of the new guest house as well as with its surroundings
Sliding glass doors ensure a seamless connection between the interior and exterior spacesView in gallery
Sliding glass doors ensure a seamless connection between the interior and exterior spaces
The combination of exposed concrete and wood is well-balanced and suits the internal spaces quite nicelyView in gallery
The combination of exposed concrete and wood is well-balanced and suits the internal spaces quite nicely
The polished concrete flooring maintains a neutral look throughout, giving the guest house a modern-industrial feelView in gallery
The polished concrete flooring maintains a neutral look throughout, giving the guest house a modern-industrial feel
The outdoor areas increase the overall beauty and character of the house. The fire pit is a great featureView in gallery
The outdoor areas increase the overall beauty and character of the house. The fire pit is a great feature
The architects managed to make the house blend in with the landscape while at the same time highlighting its uniquenessView in gallery
The architects managed to make the house blend in with the landscape while at the same time highlighting its uniqueness

The Anzac Bay House

The next cool house we’re going to have a look at is located on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. It has a main floor and a mezzanine area and these spaces are connected by a spiral staircase. The design was done by architect Vaughn McQuarrie. The ground floor is an open space which contains the social areas of the house: the living room, kitchen and dining space. The mezzanine houses the sleeping area and a workspace. The overall design and structure are similar to those of a traditional boatshed and can also be compared to a very small village where there’s an attraction at the center and a variety of functional spaces around it.

A fireplace hangs at the core of the house, being mounted to the rood, above the mezzanine floorView in gallery
A fireplace hangs at the core of the house, being mounted to the rood, above the mezzanine floor
The spiral staircase is the second central attraction of the houses, being both eye-catching and space-efficientView in gallery
The spiral staircase is the second central attraction of the houses, being both eye-catching and space-efficient
The ground floor has a grand space at the center and several cozy ones spread around itView in gallery
The ground floor has a grand space at the center and several cozy ones spread around it
Concrete is mixed with wood and stylish furniture and light fixtures and the combination is exquisiteView in gallery
Concrete is mixed with wood and stylish furniture and light fixtures and the combination is exquisite
The mezzanine floor frames the central double-height space and houses a studio on one sideView in gallery
The mezzanine floor frames the central double-height space and houses a studio on one side
One of the cool things about this house is the design which makes it look like an oversized little cabinView in gallery
One of the cool things about this house is the design which makes it look like an oversized little cabin
This cozy bedroom has walls lined in wood and a long and wide window with peaceful viewsView in gallery
This cozy bedroom has walls lined in wood and a long and wide window with peaceful views

The Michigan Lake House

The interior design of the house and things like the views or the exterior spaces are equally important, especially when the location is as beautiful as in the case of this house on Lake Michigan. This house was designed and built by Desai Chia Architects in collaboration with Environment Architects on a flat site with panoramic views of the lake but also of the vegetation that surrounds it. The most notable feature of the house is the roof which extends 6 meters on one end and covers a beautiful outdoor seating area. The design of the roof is a playful reference to the local architecture of the houses in the nearby fishing villages.

The roof extension looks very natural in the context of the house's architecture and designView in gallery
The roof extension looks very natural in the context of the house’s architecture and design
The roof has this sculptural shape which gives it a strong identity and lots of characterView in gallery
The roof has this sculptural shape which gives it a strong identity and lots of character
The covered outdoor terrace is the perfect viewing spot from where to admire the lakeView in gallery
The covered outdoor terrace is the perfect viewing spot from where to admire the lake
The internal spaces are organized into several volumes, each oriented towards a particular viewView in gallery
The internal spaces are organized into several volumes, each oriented towards a particular view
The dining room turns the view of the lake into its focal point of its decorView in gallery
The dining room turns the view of the lake into its focal point of its decor
The bedroom has its own gorgeous view with adjacent windows which bring in light and colorView in gallery
The bedroom has its own gorgeous view with adjacent windows which bring in light and color

This concrete house in Uruguay

Living in a house with concrete walls can feel pretty cold and austere but only if there’s nothing to balance this out. Masa Arquitectos made sure to give this house a very harmonious look and feel. They built the house using primarily concrete so basically this is a building with a concrete shell. The cool thing about the design is the use of wood for the panels that cover up the back of the house. These wooden panels can be opened up to let the light and the views inside or can be closed to give the house a completely compact look. They open up in sections and reveal the interior room by room.

The back of the house has a glazed facade covered with wood slat panels that open up in sections to let the light and the view inView in gallery
The back of the house has a glazed facade covered with wood slat panels that open up in sections to let the light and the view in
Both the wooden panels and the sliding glass doors can be opened to fully expose the interior spaces to the outdoorsView in gallery
Both the wooden panels and the sliding glass doors can be opened to fully expose the interior spaces to the outdoors
The house is long and rectangular and has a single level and a concrete shellView in gallery
The house is long and rectangular and has a single level and a concrete shell
The interior is bright, open and surprisingly cozy for a house with concrete all around itView in gallery
The interior is bright, open and surprisingly cozy for a house with concrete all around it
The spaces are arranged in a line and there are no full partitions between themView in gallery
The spaces are arranged in a line and there are no full partitions between them
The wooden panels can be opened up in sections so only certain areas are exposed to the exteriorView in gallery
The wooden panels can be opened up in sections so only certain areas are exposed to the exterior

The Osler House

It’s a bit difficult to believe that this house actually exists. The reason we say that is because this looks a lot like a futuristic concept design. This is a project developed by Studio MK27 and located in Brasilia. structurally speaking, the house is composed on two large volumes. The top volume extends out over a swimming pool and is placed perpendicular to the bottom section, being supported by stilts on the outer end. The overall style is contemporary and minimalist, the house featuring large glazed sections and linear forms as well as a lack of decorative and unnecessary features.

Both volumes are long and rectangular. A staircase along the bottom one offers access to a roof terraceView in gallery
Both volumes are long and rectangular. A staircase along the bottom one offers access to a roof terrace
The top of the bottom volume can be used as a deck/ terrace and is a wonderful space from where to admire the viewsView in gallery
The top of the bottom volume can be used as a deck/ terrace and is a wonderful space from where to admire the views
The top volume has glazed sides and hovers over a lap pool, being suspended on stiltsView in gallery
The top volume has glazed sides and hovers over a lap pool, being suspended on stilts
The full-height windows extend on both sides of the top volume, bringing in light and beautiful viewsView in gallery
The full-height windows extend on both sides of the top volume, bringing in light and beautiful views
The concrete shell of the top volume extends around it forming a sort of protective edgeView in gallery
The concrete shell of the top volume extends around it forming a sort of protective edge

Barn-shaped house in Wyoming

This is not the first or the last barn turned into a modern home but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. In fact, the history serves it in a really cool way. This used to be a barn and in time it lost its function and became a forgotten structure. Then came Carney Logan Burke Architects and changed it into a charming house that’s cleverly trapped between past and present, between old and modern. It serves as a guest house/ holiday home, surrounded by evergreen trees and lush meadows. Look at it from the side and it will look like a rustic, weathered barn. Step inside and it will look like a modern home. It’s this duality that inspired us the most.

Not everything about this barn is old and weathered, not even when it comes to the exterior designView in gallery
Not everything about this barn is old and weathered, not even when it comes to the exterior design
The exterior of the house is covered in reclaimed wood, hence the rustic lookView in gallery
The exterior of the house is covered in reclaimed wood, hence the rustic look
The architect preserved as much of the original charm as possible but didn't forget to update it with modern elementsView in gallery
The architect preserved as much of the original charm as possible but didn’t forget to update it with modern elements
The upper floor is a very cozy workout area with a panoramic views of the surroundingsView in gallery
The upper floor is a very cozy workout area with a panoramic views of the surroundings