biophilic travels: a guest house in the woods
in biophilic travels
Imagine a weekend-home designed to disconnect from everything, surrounded by chirping birds and light breezes.
This is what I think when I see the location of this episode of Biophilic Travels: a guest house immersed in the woods.
The exterior of Merrick’s Guest House by Studio Esteta is wrapped in climbing vines, as if the environment were claiming the land. Anchored to an overhead trellis, plants create a shaded and hidden area, the perfect refuge corner to contemplate the surroundings in silence. Leaving the vegetation kind of wild also seems to suggest that the home is there to observe and celebrate nature, not to overpower it.
biophilic interior elements
Indoors, living room, dining area and kitchen flow into one another sharing a neutral palette punctuated by black accents. Openings are maximized, creating a sensation of brightness and spaciousness that allows occupants to see way beyond the boundaries of the home (what biophilic design calls prospect).
Every single window has a beautiful natural view that gives people a way to interact with nature in all conditions. With closed windows, observing daily and seasonal changes in the landscape. With open windows, letting natural breezes and sounds spread across the home. Overall, these wide windows connect the interior with its surrounding environment, while inviting to step out and explore it in person.
The conversation area wraps around a wood stove and there’s no trace of the most common focal point in modern seating areas: a TV. This further suggests the opportunity to fully disconnect and recharge in this home. And it’s not hard to imagine evenings spent talking while peeking out and enjoying the sensory entertainment of the fire.
In the kitchen, lightly grained wood and stone fill the space with natural textures that – despite being flat to the touch – add visual richness. A big window seems to push the backsplash down. With no cabinets or other features screaming for attention, that window becomes a living entertainment for daily activities such as eating or washing the dishes (namely, it introduces a source of non-rhythmic sensory stimuli).
Contrasting with the openness of the layout, a wooden block serves multiple practical functions: concealing kitchen appliances, introducing storage, and hiding a compact bathroom. Despite its size, the bathroom feels practical. Its fuss-free design develops around the same stone + light wood juxtaposition from the day area, and hidden storage creates space for everything. Natural light shines in through the window, whose frosted glazing suggests the presence of more greenery outdoors.
Moving into the bedroom, furnishings are essential yet welcoming. Big windows on either side of the bed give the feeling of sleeping right among trees while animating the room with moving shadows.
The design of this home is clearly curated, but it never becomes intimidating or overly made-up. Everything feels comfortable and welcoming, immediately putting people at ease. In its apparent simplicity, this project shows the importance of interior design in defining how people feel in a space. This home is clearly a space to live, not just one to admire!
Design: Studio Esteta
Photography: Tom Blachford