Tatler Home Tour: A Mid-Century Apartment With A Mediterranean Soul
When the owners of this Barcelona apartment first saw it, they were immediately drawn to its original features. The mouldings on the dining room ceiling and the arched windows and doorways in particular lent the house a distinctive charm. But they were also keenly aware that it was badly in need of an interior overhaul to suit their personal needs and tastes. Having eventually bought the property, they tasked Barcelona-based design firm Meritxell Ribé-The Room Studio with updating it.
One of the most obvious benefits of working with a local firm is that they are already sensitive to some of the more practical elements involved in a home's redesign. The climate and the natural light that are distinctive to the area are elements with which they are already familiar.
With lighting as a speciality of the design firm, co-founders Meritxell Ribé and Josep Puigdomenech were instantly able to identify which colour scheme would be most flattering to the apartment and its quirks, and bring out the best in each room. They opted for a soft palette in grey, olive green and blush, which is contemporary and timeless yet allows for bolder elements to be introduced into each area. These are also colours that work beautifully with Barcelona’s Mediterranean temperament—shades with a cooling effect in the hot summer months, and also light enough to make the most of its year-round sunshine.
Before starting on the paint job however, Ribé and Puigdomenech had to address the flow of the flat. As with many older properties, this one was made up of a series of rooms that were all cut off from one another, which didn’t make for practical living. The designers set about knocking through walls and opening up doorways so that one room segues effortlessly into another, creating a greater sense of harmony and making the most of the space.
The kitchen and dining area, in particular, have been transformed, going from two separate, dark rooms to one big space that is flooded with natural light; the kitchen has also been revived with the installation of a large central island, which makes for a casual eating spot. Beds by Novamobili were installed in both the master and guest rooms, rugs by Woodnotes placed underfoot and where the design team were unable to source furniture they custom made them instead.
The reconfiguration also provided an opportunity for the design firm to work on the owners’ wishlist, which included a movie room and a study where they could stash their music collection. For these two rooms, the designers installed state-of-the-art sound and projection systems, which again added to the sense of modernisation.
The design firm is a keen advocate of using technology at home, believing that it is essential to creating a comfortable environment—in their own words, “it makes for spaces which can be enjoyed by all five senses”. The rest of the house therefore is fitted with the latest in home automation, allowing its users to control the ambience, from lighting to temperature, of each room individually.
With the major restructuring work completed and a fresh new atmosphere achieved, all that was left for the design studio to do was to furnish the home. Skilfully navigating the tightrope between the classic and contemporary, they selected pieces from brands such as B&B Italia, Gubi, Roche Bobois, Stellar Works, and Santa & Cole, of which the Cesta and Cestita lamps can be found both indoors and out on the terrace.
The finished effect is a reflection of the owners’ personalities, and also a refreshing update on traditional living—neither so zeitgeist that it will soon feel dated, but certainly a bold departure from its roots.