written by:
July 29, 2015
See how a thousand-year-old design feature can be seamlessly incorporated into the modern home.
tagliabue house living room concrete walls

Layer by layer, a crumbling 18th-century flat in the middle of Barcelona found new life at the hands of architect Benedetta Tagliabue. When Tagliabue and her husband, the late architect Enric Miralles, began knocking down walls inside what was to become their home they discovered an original arch suspected to be a remnant of the city’s Roman past. Immediately halting the crew, Tagliabue and Miralles decided instead to celebrate the aesthetic juxtaposition by leaving it all in situ.

Originally appeared in 8 Sophisticated Rooms Around the World
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The couple kept original touches, including the arch.

In deference to neighbors, and heritage, when the time came to rebuild their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the residents decided to keep parts of the original house intact, like the arch.

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Originally appeared in San Juan, PR
2 / 8
Modern living room with black walls and light furniture

Thanks to a contemporary interior that she’s been updating for a decade, architect Abigail Turin has learned to love her traditional 1925 San Francisco home. Rather than indulge her impulse and strip away the home’s traditional flourishes—the French doors, baseboard trim, iron fixtures—she embraced them, creating what she calls “a dialogue between minimal detailing and a traditional backdrop.” Turin embraced the dark in her striking living room, allowing natural light only through the original archways and windows.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in One House Seamlessly Blends Baroque and Modern Styles
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Courtyard in a renovated home in northern Israel

From the street, this 18th-century stone residence blends in inconspicuously with its neighbors in the old city of Safed in the north of Israel. Architects Henkin Irit and Shavit Zohar preserved the historic shell, while introducing contemporary elements to the interior including concrete, wood, steel, and glass. Warm and casual furniture is favored in the courtyard. Colorful seating, wood stools, and smart built-in shelving complete the space. To the right of the table, the original stone arch leads to the home’s wine cellar. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A 250-Year-Old Stone House in Israel with a Surprisingly Modern Interior
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belgian renovation interior hallway

A Belgian couple took a gentle approach to transforming a tired 1930s brick house into a vibrant workshop. The couple retained the strongest architectural aspects of the house, such as the existing arch in the hall, and did away with others, such as a previous kitchen renovation.

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Originally appeared in A Clever Belgian Couple Renovate Their Aging Brick Home
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Kitchen Austin bungalow home remodel renovation Merzbau Design Collective

Austin architect J.C. Schmeil converted his family's 1935 bungalow into a spacious modern family home on a modest budget. An original arch and wall framing was retained between the dining room and the kitchen. 

Courtesy of 
Whit Preston
Originally appeared in Family-Sized Addition for Renovated Austin Bungalow
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Modern living room with furniture designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba

The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carved a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, filling it with custom creations and their own greatest hits. The couple realized that they could put their own imprint on the house but still retain its raw spirit, keeping the ancient stone floors, walls, and arches intact.

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Originally appeared in Modern Meets Ancient in a Renovated Italian Vacation Home
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Modern kids bedroom with wooden connecting bunk beds

New Zealand expat, Debbi Gibbs and her son use their prefabricated retreat on Lake Iosco, New Jersey, as an outdoorsy counterpoint to city life. Gibbs’s son Blake had one design requirement: bunk beds. Specifically, he wanted “two sets of single bunks, one on each side, with a bridge over the top.” Gibbs says the Venetian-style arched bridge connecting the two beds exceeded her expectations.

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
photograph by Mark Mahaney,all rights reserved
Originally appeared in The New Zealand Native Who Can't Get Enough of the Garden State
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tagliabue house living room concrete walls

Layer by layer, a crumbling 18th-century flat in the middle of Barcelona found new life at the hands of architect Benedetta Tagliabue. When Tagliabue and her husband, the late architect Enric Miralles, began knocking down walls inside what was to become their home they discovered an original arch suspected to be a remnant of the city’s Roman past. Immediately halting the crew, Tagliabue and Miralles decided instead to celebrate the aesthetic juxtaposition by leaving it all in situ.

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