Barcelona is a city with leafy avenues and a sense of community, built around its blocks of apartment buildings constructed in Catalan Gothic as well as Modernist styles. Inside, even the contemporary apartments pay homage to their heritage, with vaulted ceilings on show.
This apartment belongs to Andrea Serboli, one of the co-founders of architectural firm Colombo and Serboli Architecture. With its period elements still intact and only a stone’s throw away from Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the duo considered it the perfect opportunity to showcase the firm’s style to their exacting specifications. The spot contains many of Serboli’s art and furniture pieces he’s collected over the years.
The simple brief was to turn the house into a “wunderkammer”, a cabinet of curiosities that doubles as a “quiet retreat full of emotionally charged objects, with at least one guest
room.” Let’s see how they got on!
The open plan living room and kitchen is an airy and spacious room, with big French windows connecting to a plant-lined terrace. Architectural elements have been preserved in the room, for example the beams have been painted in a coral color to hint at where the room’s previous partitions used to be.
The 1914 building is a fairly simple example of Catalan Art Nouveau from the Eixample district of Barcelona. Initially bought in a “stage of neglect”, many of the historic elements were compromised through renovations from throughout the years.
“The original layout consisted of a series of partitions, in full style of the modernist period, which divided the apartment into six rooms. The gallery overlooking the interior patio of the block had been previously closed off with PVC windows; the original period gallery windows had been lost before the purchase,” describe the architects.
The color palette works well to keep the space feeling light and breezy, with the cool blues and terracotta palette feeling earthy, neutral and hinting at Grecian beach-side villas. The curved countertop of the kitchen island is made from Portobello marble.
“In terms of materials, the entire apartment is treated spartanly and as a single container, with very neutral elements and colors: where the original floor could not be maintained, an ivory-colored, continuous micro-cement has been used,” describe Serboli. Additionally, the false ceilings have been taken away to reveal the Catalan vaulted ceilings and painted in a warm white. “The neutrality of the described elements creates a container aimed to make the lacquered blue box stand out.”
The dining area hosts, not only a collection of Serboli’s prized collection of memorabilia and vintage pieces, but luxury furniture and even custom-designed lighting — the globe fold sconce on the wall was designed by the duo and produced in Barcelona.
The long table is lacquered in an ivory color, the seats are black Thornet chairs with wicker seats, and stools picked up from IKEA.
A distinctive semi-arc makes a statement of the hallway. While the living room’s vaulted ceilings were subtle, the blue carves out the corridor in a pleasing way.
“The box’s entire floor is raised to allow the drains of both kitchen and bathroom to reach the pipelines, ” describe the architects. “The wide corridor flooring is covered in micro-cement in a lighter shade of blue, matching that side of the box and by the entrance its step ends with a curve, exposing the original multicolored geometric floor.”
The tiles here in the hallway are original, but it was impossible to retain some of the others. Like a wave that reaches over the hallway, the bathroom is contained within a ‘box’ shape.
Baby blues and blush pinks are a match made in pastel heaven and this bathroom is no exception. Striking geometric shapes make it a stunner, with more of the arcs and curves we see in other parts of the apartment playing as a running motif.
There are two bedrooms in the apartment, one the master bedroom and the other for a visiting guest. Each makes great use of Serboli’s collection of items, posters and books collected over the years that show off some of his hobbies and personality.
Where walls have come down, curves have come up. Creating a homey and welcoming apartment, this cabinet of curiosities has you looking at all the nooks and crannies to see what it has to offer; both contemporary and heritage treats for your eyes!
What do you think of this Barcelona apartment? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re interested in seeing more apartments from Colombo and Serboli make sure to check out this vacation home which uses geometric tiles to create a unique floor plan layout, or their neutral color palette designed for Elena’s open plan home.