Low Cost Pine Details Liven Up a Victorian Terrace Addition in Sydney

Low cost pine home renovation

When architecture firm Alexander & Co. was commissioned to freshen up a Victorian semi-detached terrace house in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, they envisioned a structure that could be “a scaffold for growth and change.” Though it was in poor condition with a layout that didn’t make sense, the house still had good bones and a lot of promise. The clients, a family with young children, wanted the result to feel humanized and imperfect. Rather than “a collection of set gyprock and flush surfaces,” as the architects put it, the home should feature natural materials, and retain the sense that it’s a work in progress that will be continuously altered in the years to come to meet new needs and preferences.

Low cost pine home renovation kitchen
Low cost pine home renovation living room

The project also came with a tight budget, requiring the architects to get creative. Instead of featuring an open plan, they decided to densely divide the space into a greater number of rooms, offering plenty of opportunities to sit down, rest and take in views of an old gum tree in the center of the rear garden. An ongoing project including three renovations over a period of seven years, the home has a new pine plywood loft as a “rumpus room” for the children and beautiful pale pine details throughout, accenting the white walls and stone flooring.

Low cost pine home renovation wood ceiling

“For the young children, the home was to explain how it was built; to show its structural rhythms, to demonstrate how materials could be added to one another and result in spaces which are honest and often surprising. Inspired by the works of Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn, the home has a loosely modernist philosophy, whilst its exploration of locally available and low cost pine structure and Carrara stone gives it an almost Scandinavian sensibility.”

Low cost pine home renovation hallway
Low cost pine home renovation dining room

“The home is representative of the non-static state of ‘completion’. In effect, each gyration of the project represents another ‘incomplete’ end point, the home is a scaffold for ongoing change and the family has relished this fact. The interiors reflect this also, with various finishes, materials and furniture continuing to evolve, as do the tastes and needs of its occupants. The palette is a contemporary interpretation of a Scandinavian style. Low cost pine structures and exposed pine ply sheeting makes up the majority of internal finishes, with various uses and formats of Carrara tile to bathrooms, kitchen splash backs and floor surfaces. The home is quirky, infused with the unique spirit of the family and its progressive domestic evolutions. Not surprisingly, it is the integrity of imperfect, inert and low cost materials which gives the home so much of its spirit.”

Modernist Furniture Series Explores the Possibilities of Pine

Pine doesn’t get enough credit as a versatile, malleable and beautiful material in Modernist design. So says Studio Sløyd, a Norwegian design firm aiming to take advantage of this sustainable resource, which grows abundantly in the area. The designers wanted to demonstrate how perfect pine can be for sculpting pieces that feel fresh and of-the-moment.

Studio Sloyd modernist pine furniture

“FH.02 is a three legged stool made out of solid Norwegian pine,” say the designers. “We wanted to create an object that used pine in a contemporary manner. Using a common typology, we explore how far we can push the shape and structure of the wood to create something unique. The result is a bold stool with massive legs that displays the intricate patterns within the material itself.”

Studio Sloyd modernist pine furniture three legged stool

It’s these patterns and variation in the grain that make pine such a special wood to work with, and they’re showcased here with an impressive degree of craftsmanship and intimate understanding of the material. The series only consists of two stools, but it’s easy to see how this rounded, organic yet minimalist style could be extended to larger pieces like tables, beds and cabinets. 

Studio Sloyd modernist pine furniture chair
Studio Sloyd modernist pine furniture seat

“Furuhelvete is a Norwegian expression stemming from the overuse of pine in Norwegian homes and cabins, often associated with a style that is considered distasteful or outdated,” Studio Sløyd told Dezeen.

“With the Furuhelvete collection we wish to challenge the traditional perception of the wood and create a new interest for this local and wonderful material.”

Studio Sloyd modernist pine furniture detail

The collection successfully demonstrates why pine is ideal for modern design. But for those whose love for pine never wavered, these stools can still provide inspiration for new ways of laying the grain by cutting lumber and piecing it back together with an eye for detail. Open those images and examine them up close to see what we mean.

Norway’s Dramatic New Viewpoint is Clad in Whitewashed Pine Panels

In Norway, the scenic roads criss-crossing the rugged Arctic landscape are dotted with sculptural viewpoints that combine modern architecture and the natural beauty of the environment. Technically, these buildings are just rest stops, but there’s nothing average or perfunctory about them. They’re often bold and dramatic, becoming destinations in their own right. The Norwegian Scenic Routes project is set to have 200 picnic areas and viewpoints by 2023 with another 50 projects planned through 2029.

Biotope white pine Domen viewpoint Norway

Some of these viewpoints jut out over the forest to gaze upon fjords. Others perch on the edge of mountains, or wind through rocky ledges on the coast. A new one in the country’s extreme northeast called Domen Viewpoint makes a memorable statement with a design inspired by telescopes. Set on a mountain peak in Vardø at Europe’s easternmost point, the structure, designed by Biotope, consists of three small structures with jagged white shapes that will blend into the snow in winter.

Biotope white pine Domen viewpoint Norway exterior

Biotope covered the outside of these structures with whitewashed pine panels, which will weather over time until their texture takes on a mottled quality similar to the rocky ledge they sit upon. Many structures in Scandinavia are made of pine, which grows locally and is prized there for the same reasons people love it here: its warmth, character, strength, straightness and ease of use. Inside the lookout, Biotope used Norwegian-made kebony wood, a modified, sustainably sourced softwood strengthened by heating the wood with furfural alcohol, an agricultural byproduct.

Biotope white pine Domen viewpoint Norway interior

The dark interiors contrast with the white pine exteriors, creating dynamic lines that stand out even when the lookout is camouflaged by snow during the region’s long winters. Pink-tinted glass gives the views a rosy glow.

Biotope viewpoint

The architects are well known for creating structures like this. They’ve produced many pine lookouts, hiking shelters and bird hides, all designed to marry contemporary shapes and natural materials with scenic places. The firm says that for them, architecture is “a tool to protect and promote birds, wildlife and nature,” an approach that comes through in their work.

Office Envisioned as a “Wooden Box Floating on Air”

Glass office in Japan

Challenged to build a beautiful, light-filled office on a narrow lot, architecture firm Atelier N turned to pine to craft a highly unusual structure that looks like it’s floating on air.

Glass office in Japan modern in a rural setting

The base area of the building measures a mere 355 square feet, but the interior feels surprisingly spacious and open thanks to the clever design. The top half, clad in wooden shingles, rests on a zig-zag of pine lumber enclosed by glass. The pine supports the load, allowing for a nearly unbroken expanse of glass on all sides.

Glass office in Japan with pine wood

Though it looks like a second floor from outside, the upper half of the building is actually a lid of sorts, like a box with the bottom cut off. It provides protection from the sun when it’s directly overhead in the heat of summer, but allows daylight penetration year-round, reducing heating costs in winter. Set on the edge of a rice field, the office takes advantage of a natural cooling effect fro the water.

Glass office in Japan hatch door

“The rural scenery passes through the building from the front road, and a quiet scenery spreads from the interior,” says the architect. “And the wind from the rice field goes through the room. Also, since this area is like a village of old farmers, neighbors greet me through the glass because I have been with them since I was born.”

Glass office in Japan plywood box

Inside, the pine is lightly finished, allowing its natural beauty to shine through and bringing some texture and warmth to structure otherwise comprised of glass, metal and concrete.

Glass office in Japan loft

A ladder leads up to a small loft, where a mattress offers a place to rest and nap, and a hatch door opens to let out any accumulated heat. The rest of the space is occupied by desks, lounge areas and a conference table. Sheer curtains can be drawn for privacy or to soften the incoming sunlight, if necessary. 

Glass office in Japan night

The whole project was achieved on a low budget, and although it’s a modern structure wedged between two more traditional houses, the office avoids detracting from the pastoral scenery.

Pine-Clad Holiday Home Vibes with a Peaceful Seaside Setting

Modern pine seaside house cliffs island

Pine remains hugely popular with designers and architects seeking a modern yet warm and natural feel. This pine-clad summer house on a rocky island outcrop offers some beautiful inspiration for cabins, cottages and seaside getaways made of renewable materials. 

Modern pine seaside house view

Designed by Studio Holmberg and set on an island off Sweden’s archipelago of Gothenburg, Villa Vassdal was commissioned as a dreamy second home for a retired couple who wanted to take in views of the sea. The architects chose untreated pine to cover the entire exterior because it will turn silver over time, virtually camouflaged within the surrounding cliffs.

Modern pine seaside house
Modern pine seaside house built in plywood

“The house is built on an island with historical connections to Gothenburg’s fishing and shipping industries. Today the island consists of family houses that are occupied year-round as well as holiday homes that are mostly used in the summer. Overlooking the sea and surrounded by exposed cliffs and wild vegetation, the house’s low profile is made up of a cluster of pitched roof volumes. Arranged in a staggered layout, the volumes are designed to blend in with the rocky landscape.”

Modern pine seaside house kitchen
Modern pine seaside house view from inside

“The house is oriented so that the clean-lined interior spaces take in views of the sea but are also shielded from the neighbors and the glare of the sun. Each of the four volumes that make up the house are allocated a specific function. The first is for sleeping and bathing as well as storage, the second is for cooking and dining, and the third is for the living room. The fourth smaller volume at the back functions as a tool shed but is also used as a summer guest room for the clients’ grandchildren.”

Inside, pale pine floors are set against smooth birch plywood walls and ceilings for a clean, minimalist effect that’s very Scandinvian. Perhaps the simplicity of the all-wood-and-white color palette isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great match for the moody seaside atmosphere, especially in summer when the cottage is most often in use. 

Check out some more fun modern pine designs:


Vertical Pine Gives This Fun Home Addition a Modern Look

Green House FAB Architects

Here’s an architectural style you don’t see paired with more traditional houses very often. In the UK, it’s become popular in recent years to add extensions to row houses that might be more than two centuries old, extending the homes into their fenced back gardens. But this one stands out from all the rest for its unusual proportions and vertical pine siding.

Pine siding detail

Designed by FAB Architects, the Croydon extension “reinvigorates” the existing house to create more space for a growing family. Fittingly, it has a playful, youthful feel. The simplicity of its shapes and the natural tones of the wood provide a nice contrast against the older white home.

Green House interior pine battens

Green House FAB Architects modern pine

“The design extends the living space, creating a high vaulted space at the rear drawing with porthole windows bringing much-needed light into the open-plan kitchen and dining area. Arched openings are used to obscure structural elements whilst serving to zone the space into a cook, eat and play. Timber cladding inside and out adds definition to the simple, playful geometries which are designed to excite and inspire the client’s children.”

Green House modern vertical pine siding

The interiors are just as striking. We especially love how they carried the vertical pine inside, laying battens against the finished drywall to create a striped pattern. It’s a creative use of affordable materials that are easy to find locally!