Before & After: An Ancient Barcelona Apartment Gets a Colorful, Chic Makeover

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
After a complete renovation, a drab 700-square-foot apartment in Barcelona is now a bright and vibrant home thanks to Colombo and Serboli Architecture.

When Barcelona–based firm Colombo and Serboli Architecture (CaSA) was approached to renovate an ancient apartment in Born—the oldest neighborhood in the city—there was no denying they had their work cut out for them. Yet, thanks to strategic planning and innovative design, this team surpassed expectations, delivering a stunning transformation. 

Keep scrolling to see the mesmerizing "before" and "after" images.

Before Shots:

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The dark original layout.

The dark original layout.

With high-beamed ceilings, strong walls, and large shuttered windows, the outdated home had good bones. However, it was extremely dark and compact due to its original layout. In addition, it lacked an adequate amount of storage, which was highly important to the client—a young Italian woman working in the fashion industry.

The large windows in the living room.

The large windows in the living room.

The other large window at the other end of the living room.

The other large window at the other end of the living room.

The original kitchen.

The original kitchen.

After Shots:

In the entryway, light is provided by a minimalist glass globe, and through another outlet that peeks into the living room. 

In the entryway, light is provided by a minimalist glass globe, and through another outlet that peeks into the living room. 

To accommodate her request, the team knocked down all the internal partitions—except for one thick structural wall around the bedroom— and removed a false ceiling to brighten the unit and fully enhance the great proportions of the space. 

The lacquered panels of the bespoke storage unit conceal direct access to the bedroom from the main entrance through a double door.

The lacquered panels of the bespoke storage unit conceal direct access to the bedroom from the main entrance through a double door.

Bespoke cabinetry was also added in the home, and soon became one of the key features of the project. The deep blue—boiserie-like—floor-to-ceiling cabinets now divide the entrance from the living area, converting the hall into a disguised walk-in-wardrobe. 

A cut-out pink doorway connects the living area to the entrance, while hiding the closet doors on both sides. 

A cut-out pink doorway connects the living area to the entrance, while hiding the closet doors on both sides. 

The living area is now nice and bright, and outfitted with a careful selection of furniture, such as a Mags sofa by HAY and a Roll Club Chair from Kettal.

The living area is now nice and bright, and outfitted with a careful selection of furniture, such as a Mags sofa by HAY and a Roll Club Chair from Kettal.

In the cabinet "window" is a JWDA Concrete Lamp, a ceramic Fornasetti candle, and two hourglasses by HAY.  

In the cabinet "window" is a JWDA Concrete Lamp, a ceramic Fornasetti candle, and two hourglasses by HAY.  

All of the cabinetry was made-to-measure by FustHeri.

All of the cabinetry was made-to-measure by FustHeri.

Thanks to two large balcony windows, the kitchen and living room now benefit from illuminating natural light, making the space feel refreshingly airy. Although the original woodwork was restored to preserve the detailed motifs and shutters, the area was painted a crisp, clean white shade to increase brightness.

The Cala and Vieques side tables are also from Kettal. 

The Cala and Vieques side tables are also from Kettal. 

A small side window in the living room that was previously boarded up is now re-opened above the dotted bespoke radiator cover. 

A small side window in the living room that was previously boarded up is now re-opened above the dotted bespoke radiator cover. 

The living room is carefully styled with a tight selection of chic furniture. For example, a Mags sofa by HAY is complemented by a Roll Club Chair from Kettal, and there is also a Cala side table by Doshi Levien, as well as a Vieques side table by Patricia Urquiola—both from Kettal

Between the two big windows, the golden "Fold Lamp" presides over the dining area, which consists of a wide pink lacquered table. The Ypperlig chairs pictured above are by HAY for IKEA.

Between the two big windows, the golden "Fold Lamp" presides over the dining area, which consists of a wide pink lacquered table. The Ypperlig chairs pictured above are by HAY for IKEA.

Designed by CaSA exclusively for this project, the Fold Lamp was produced by Barcelona–based brand Metalware. 

Designed by CaSA exclusively for this project, the Fold Lamp was produced by Barcelona–based brand Metalware. 

The arc-motif is a recurring theme throughout the kitchen's design. 

The arc-motif is a recurring theme throughout the kitchen's design. 

Revolver stools by HAY complement the home's colorful interior.

Revolver stools by HAY complement the home's colorful interior.

Three globe pendants with brass details and burgundy cords that match the hood tube hang above the kitchen island. 

Three globe pendants with brass details and burgundy cords that match the hood tube hang above the kitchen island. 

The kitchen cabinets are finished in a warm gray, and are fitted with vintage, brass concave handles.

The kitchen cabinets are finished in a warm gray, and are fitted with vintage, brass concave handles.

The kitchen countertops are a pink terrazzo-like quartz.

The kitchen countertops are a pink terrazzo-like quartz.

An arc-shaped, coral-colored volume that hides a powder room has become a main feature of the design.

An arc-shaped, coral-colored volume that hides a powder room has become a main feature of the design.

The rounded island houses a sink and dishwasher, and also doubles as an informal eating area.  

The rounded island houses a sink and dishwasher, and also doubles as an informal eating area.  

The guest bathroom sits hidden in a coral-colored volume off the kitchen. 

The guest bathroom sits hidden in a coral-colored volume off the kitchen. 

Another client request was to have a guest bathroom, independent from the master bedroom. Once again, this became another major highlight of the redesign, as the architects hid the bathroom in a coral-colored volume off the kitchen. 

The guest bathroom picks up on the pink lacquered that runs throughout the apartment. 

The guest bathroom picks up on the pink lacquered that runs throughout the apartment. 

Apartment in Born floor plans.

Apartment in Born floor plans.

Before & After: An Ancient Barcelona Apartment Gets a Colorful, Chic Makeover - Photo 25 of 26 -
Above are the overall plans for the unit.

Above are the overall plans for the unit.


Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Colombo and Serboli Architecture (CaSA) / @colomboserboli

Lead Architects: Matteo Colombo and Andrea Serboli 

Styling and art direction: CaSA 

Contractor: Global Projects 

Made to measure cabinetery: constructed by FustHeri designed by CaSA

Photos: Roberto Ruiz