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Barcelona architects CaSA use colour blocking to give this family home an affordable update

After the initial restoration was destroyed by fire, it was time to get inventive…

Barcelona apartment colour blocking by CaSA Architects
Roberto Ruiz

As bright and upbeat as it looks now, the Klinker family apartment is a home that’s risen from the ashes. Quite literally, in fact: the first renovation of the two-bedroom space, on the top floor of an elegant art nouveau building in Barcelona’s El Born district, was almost completely destroyed by a fire just as it was being completed. Graphic designer David Klinker, his wife Marta, a fashion stylist, and their sons Milo and Luke spend most of the year in California, but bought this as a holiday retreat.

Resolved to turn the disaster to their advantage, they made the decision to repair the flat on a smaller budget, adding some clever creative flourishes. The result is a hip, modern, family-friendly home with several treasured period details rescued from destruction and sensitively reinvented.

Barcelona apartment colour blocking by CaSA Architects
Roberto Ruiz

The Klinkers called on Barcelona architects CaSA – aka Andrea Serboli and Matteo Colombo – to guide the renovation of the apartment. Walls and ceilings had been left blackened by the fire and had to be almost entirely replastered, but there were some wonderful surviving features: high ceilings embellished with art nouveau mouldings, intricate wrought-iron stair rails, tall windows and a patchwork of antique tiled floors.

Budget constraints meant the room layout couldn’t be altered, so Andrea and Matteo decided to use colour and pattern to anchor the new design, linking the areas of old encaustic tiles together with striking blocks of colour on walls, floors and ceilings. ‘The challenge was to take the space and make new sense of it,’ says Matteo.

Barcelona apartment colour blocking by CaSA Architects
Roberto Ruiz

The open-plan kitchen and living area became the central focus, with two bedrooms, a small study and a bathroom arranged around it. ‘It all started with the kitchen,’ explains Andrea. ‘We had little budget for materials, so we decided on Formica for the worktop and microcement for the walls and floors. We chose colours using our intuition, picking up on the tones of the art nouveau tiles.’

The first hue that suggested itself was a rich, earthy terracotta for the kitchen; all the other shades were chosen to go with it. Pale sections have been painted on the lower walls (buff in the living areas and pistachio in the bedrooms) and deeper shades on the ceilings (a mix of wine and teal), with white on the upper walls to maximise light. ‘Because the apartment is extremely bright and it’s only used for holidays, we were able to be bolder with colour,’ explains Matteo.

Barcelona apartment colour blocking by CaSA Architects
Roberto Ruiz

Despite the initial heartache that the Klinkers experienced with this project, the flat is now a joyful place of escape. ‘They’re over the moon with the end result – they say that the space feels much larger than it did before and it now has a quiet atmosphere,’ says Andrea. ‘They still can’t believe the story had a happy ending.’ colomboserboli.com

For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration April 2020

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