So is it modern … or does a single decorative splash change it entirely? Or as Robert Venturi might put it: a duck, decorated shed or something in between? The boxy shape, minimalist structure and simple white-and-red color scheme all suggest modernism, but the striking built-in window treatments along the front and side (mostly-glass) walls indicate otherwise.

Titled the Tattoo House by Maynard Architects, this open-plan abode lets in lots of daylight but has custom-cut, high-quality window stickers to temper the sun’s rays with tree-like cut-outs. During the day, these prevent light from getting in – at night, it selectively stops light from projecting out for an opposite visual effect.

In both cases, though, privacy is protected on the more-obscured upper level (which has sight-lines leading to neighboring properties) while leaving views open along the bottom. There downside of year-round protection, though, compared to having actual tree cover: no change from summer to winter, with spring growth naturally providing shade and fall reversing the process.

This artistic play was not purely functional nor expressive – in fact, it was a cost-saving way to add life to the design without spending a great deal on complex shapes to make the structure itself stand out. It also eschews the expense of importing fully-grown trees to the site. The basis for these specific forms? Photographs of real local park trees.

Other money-and-space-saving strategies include a multi-functional kitchen countertop that doubles as a landing for the staircase connecting the first and second stories. The otherwise flexible layout makes shifting interior functions easier as well as needs change over time. Like your typical vinyl wall or window decals, the facade stickers are also removable should someone deem them to be out of style in the future.

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All of this again recalls Venturi: on top of some strictly (and strange) ornamental moves (like putting an gold antenna on top of a retirement home to symbolize their TV-watching habits), he made space-twisting choices (like the uncomfortably-twisted little staircase in his own mother’s home). Of course, with the recessed cylindrical columns and glass-box shape one could also read some Mies, Corbu or Johnson into this structure too.