This Pastel Home In The Middle Of The Polish Woods Is An Absolute Design Dream
“The house was empty; a blank canvas with challenging dimensions,” recall Joanna and Piotr Juszczak of Urbe of their first impression of the abode. The Polish couple were approached by a well-travelled family to transform the empty property into a home—a feat that the designers achieved with aplomb.
Urbe had previously designed the owners’ apartment in the city centre and they were thrilled with the result, so much so that they enlisted the studio to redesign their home in the woods. The husband runs a car components factory while his wife works in real estate; the couple wanted a cosy, nurturing home for their family of four. They love travelling around Asia and exploring the beaches, so they wanted to bring some of that tropical flavour into their home to enjoy the experience of having summer all year-round.
“Taking that spirit back to Poland was one of the biggest challenges,” recalls Piotr. “We decided to take all the summer colours—the turquoise, the yellow and pink—to get some of that vibrancy.” The colour palette of the home also took inspiration from the family’s love of the sea with the use of shades of blue, such as aquamarine. “We looked for the impression of a sea breeze, or a wave with foam on the sandy beach.
Sitting next to a lake in Poznan, Poland, the house in the woods is surrounded by the beauty of nature, while within proximity to the city and the airport. The owner had acquired it some years ago, but had never lived in it. Structurally narrow, the property features an enfilade of rooms in a row.
Besides the colourful theme, the owners wanted to have a double room for their two daughters to share. They also did not wish to have mosaic tiles in their abode. Additionally, the family wanted the designers to create an unusual piece of art in their home, whether in the form of a feature wall or an art installation. The designers chose to use marquetry for the feature wall, in tribute to the verdant surroundings and the tropical theme; this decision also created one of the biggest challenges of the project.
“Normally this technique is for small scale (work),” explains Piotr. “The marquetry was one of the biggest challenges in this project—it is over 20ft-high (about 6m) and although the technique is similar, it was quite difficult to collect suitable wood structures and to find a craftsman brave enough to do something like this for the first time in his and our lives!” The final product features seven different wood veneers to form oversized foliage motifs that reach up to the full height of the living and dining area.
The designers playfully imposed another limitation onto themselves for this project—to avoid using furniture with legs. They chose mostly pieces with rounded proportions such as a pair of Nuvola sofas designed by Paola Navone for Gervasoni, which added to the cosy ambience of the home. The curvy shapes of the furniture also help to counterbalance the angular proportions of the floor plan.
“The only time we went for furniture with four legs was the Masters chairs in the kitchen,” quip the couple. Designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell, the metallic seats add a beautiful sheen to the space and are matched with Tom Dixon Copper pendant lights and the Shanghai vase by Mario Bellini for Kartell; the backlit pink stone island lends a glamorous touch to the kitchen.
Carrara marble flooring in the living room keeps the area light and bright, complemented with wooden slats and flooring in a subtle pink pearl and glitter mordant finish. Faceted glass pieces in gem-like shapes were also added to the walls, custom-designed to match the furnishings in the space. A TV console divides the living area from the dining space; it also incorporates display shelving to showcase books and memorabilia the family collected during their travels. A pair of Mesh pendant lights by Francisco Gomez for Luceplan bring a theatrical flair to the ground floor, while drawing the eye upwards to the grand heights of the voluminous space.
The mix of mid-century modern furniture and the colour palette creates a retro vibe in the main living space. An iconic round dining table designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll in 1957 juxtaposes the more contemporary Flow Slim chairs by Jean Marie-Massaud for MDF Italia; the pedestal design of the cheery yellow chairs are also a nod to Saarinen’s neo-futurist aesthetic.
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Upstairs, the bedrooms are clad in an earthy selection of Bolon tiles that also echoes the geometric detailing found throughout the house. The master bedroom has a more subdued colour scheme, with shades of grey and silver on the Componibili cabinets by Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell and the “Big Mama” Up series armchair by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia. The Cherry lamp by Nika Zupanc for Qeeboo and green accent pieces add a playful touch to the room.
Pastel shades of pink and green reign in the daughters’ shared bedroom. The balloon-shaped Memory lamps by Boris Klimek for Brokis accompanied with a custom-made Dream perforated lamp designed by Urbe give an air of whimsy to the room. A gridwork of gems found in the living room is repeated in their bedroom, next to the twin desks.
The home’s pastel colour scheme is also applied in the two bathrooms, which feature Hansgrohe faucets and gradient-effect stucco on the walls in the shower area. The smaller bathroom features a zesty lemon yellow palette, which is also applied to the Spark table by Tokujin Yoshioka for Kartell.
The main bathroom is awash in shades of blue, achieved through an eclectic collage of textures on the walls. It features blue hexagonal tiles from L’Antic Colonial and metallic and white tiles from Porcelanosa set onto rows of wood-like boards. This bathroom, despite being windowless, is the designers’ favourite space as it has been designed to convey the breezy feeling of the seaside and natural light. “In the owners’ words, ‘it is the best place to start a day’.”
The mood-lifting effects of colour are clearly celebrated in this home; exploring the house feels akin to entering an oversized jewel box filled with sparkling precious gems. “We start our work with form and function, but the things that distinguish Urbe from other studios are precious stones, femininity and colours—these are our hallmarks,” shares Joanna, on the importance of colour in the studio’s work.
The result is as pleasing to the designers as it is to the family. “We had a lot of ‘first times’ around this project—it was the first time we tried gradient stucco, the first time we did emerald metalwork, and the first time we did glass emeralds,” say designers, beaming with pride. For the family, they love the house for its originality and its vibrancy, just like a refreshing piña colada on a hot summer day.
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