Tucked among the rolling hills of the Alt Urgell region of Catalonia, this 1894 farmhouse had remained in the same family for generations but tumbled into disrepair after the last living owner moved away. In 2017, the owner’s adult children decided to restore the abandoned property, which includes a main house, barn, and adjacent animal paddock—and reinvent the farm into a modern family retreat.
The siblings commissioned Barcelona-based architecture firm, Acabadomate, to rehabilitate the 2,100-square-foot structure. The team focused on restoring the main house and the surrounding exterior spaces while "maintaining a criterion of minimal intervention on the facade so as not to alter the rural nature of this old and simple farmhouse," says architect Valeria Merola.
Originally built as a multilevel, multipurpose structure, the interior of Can Castellnou featured compact living spaces on the ground floor, a top-floor loft for food storage, and a basement used for baking and wine storage.
One of the primary alterations to the interior involved connecting all three floors, which were previously difficult to access, via a new staircase. To create a friendlier flow between floors, the team opened up the three levels and added transitional zones using concrete landings, noting that concrete was intentionally chosen as a signifier of spaces that have been "blurred by the passage of time."
In order to connect the main floor to the basement, the architects used the small "existing hole" as their starting point, but created a new staircase with wider, wooden treads and modern, minimalist iron railing.
The cramped rooms were opened up to create a feeling of spaciousness and enhance the passage of light. To expand the floor plan, Acabadomate removed the walls separating the living and dining room and kitchen, which resulted in one continuous space.
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New windows and skylights were added to remedy the exceedingly dark home. They also frame the surrounding landscape while improving natural light and ventilation throughout the residence.
Because the farmhouse is a registered heritage site, the architects strove to salvage and celebrate elements of the original structure as much as possible. Original stone walls and wooden ceiling beams were thoroughly cleaned to reveal the beauty of their natural finish, while fresh white paint and new oak flooring were added to brighten the interior and create an amicable, welcoming space.
The architectural team worked with a local carpenter to design and craft the kitchen and bathroom furniture, using natural materials native to the region.
While the renovation included the addition of new bedrooms on the second floor, one original bedroom located directly off of the kitchen was kept structurally intact with only aesthetic updates added.
Though modern comforts were added, such as additional storage space and new kitchen and bathroom amenities, the team used new materials that "dialogue harmoniously with existing materials," notes Merola: oak and green board flooring, lime walls, and wood and iron stairs.
Concept to completion, the two-year-long renovation and restoration project brings new life to an old farmhouse. Using a thoughtful approach that incorporated natural materials, tasteful updates, and smart space planning, Merola and the Acabadomate team have created a simple and beautiful family home that balances historical preservation and modern livability.
Structural Engineer: Jorge Martin
Collaborators: Jordi Pujol Preciado, quantity surveyor; Josep Porta Terres, installations and interior carpentry
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