A Compact, Choppy Apartment in Barcelona Gets a Colorful, Quirky Remodel

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By Sarah Akkoush / Photos by Roberto Ruiz
A Barcelona architect applies his studio’s signature style to his own renovated residence.

Andrea Serboli, co-founder of architecture firm CaSA, purchased a neglected apartment steps from the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, with big plans to make it his own. A choppy layout partitioned the compact, 800-square-foot apartment into a confounding six-bedroom plan. The compact space was subsequently transformed by CaSA and Margherita Serboli Arquitectura.

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Hues of blue and coral create bold pops of color throughout the apartment. Painted coral I-beams follow the lines of what used to be partitions in the single, open space.

Hues of blue and coral create bold pops of color throughout the apartment. Painted coral I-beams follow the lines of what used to be partitions in the single, open space.

Soft curves and arches—a design move repeated throughout the apartment—are readily on display in the home's kitchen. A portal window to the bathroom, an arched marble island and backsplash, and a cylindrical Corinthia hood by Faber all add softly curved accents.

Soft curves and arches—a design move repeated throughout the apartment—are readily on display in the home's kitchen. A portal window to the bathroom, an arched marble island and backsplash, and a cylindrical Corinthia hood by Faber all add softly curved accents.

Serboli planned the transformative project both as an outlet to showcase his firm’s creative point of view, and to build a warm and inviting residence that he would personally enjoy calling home. His vision for the space was to create a wunderkammer, German (loosely) for "room of curiosities." Serboli wanted a place to showcase personal art and treasures—both from his own travels and from his friends who are painters, illustrators, and sculptors.

The compact nature of the space informed important design directions, one of which was the introduction and recurring theme of arcs and gentle curves throughout the apartment. "Everything started from the desire to eliminate, conceptually, the long [entry] corridor. It was not enough to shorten it: The semi-circle form of the ceiling [gave] the corridor more aesthetic value," says Serboli. Curved forms are also echoed in the circular bathroom window, kitchen hood, kitchen island, marble backsplash, and bathroom vanity—all of which add visual intrigue and soften divisions in the space.

While Serboli preserved some period elements—namely the bedroom doors and floors—the living room floors could not be fully salvaged, largely due to the removal of several partitions. As such, the new floor is a continuous slab of ivory-colored micro-cement. The cozy living room features a Mags sofa and CAN chair, both by HAY, and a ZigZag stool from Kettal.

While Serboli preserved some period elements—namely the bedroom doors and floors—the living room floors could not be fully salvaged, largely due to the removal of several partitions. As such, the new floor is a continuous slab of ivory-colored micro-cement. The cozy living room features a Mags sofa and CAN chair, both by HAY, and a ZigZag stool from Kettal.

"I love traveling and recollecting a lot of memories from my journeys," says Serboli. "I believe that all of this has influenced the design of the apartment."<br> "Consciously, I wanted to expose some objects and already knew where to put them before I even had bought the apartment," he explains. "In an unconscious way, funnily enough, a couple of months after the end of the work, I found a forgotten photo of a trip to Mozambique, of me in a colonial house with small blue round columns, ivory floor and coral-colored doors."<cite>Roberto Ruiz</cite>

"I love traveling and recollecting a lot of memories from my journeys," says Serboli. "I believe that all of this has influenced the design of the apartment."
"Consciously, I wanted to expose some objects and already knew where to put them before I even had bought the apartment," he explains. "In an unconscious way, funnily enough, a couple of months after the end of the work, I found a forgotten photo of a trip to Mozambique, of me in a colonial house with small blue round columns, ivory floor and coral-colored doors."Roberto Ruiz

The locus of the design is a wood-paneled blue "box" in the center of the apartment, which evolves and shifts to define different spaces of the residence. Contained in the box, the home’s central bathroom, is nearly hidden by the paneling when the door is closed. Upon entry, the warmer coral hues elicit a feeling of privacy, intimacy, and relaxation. The blue box melts into integrated storage on the bedroom side and built-in cabinets on the kitchen side, while a lighter hue of blue on the corridor’s ceiling signals a transition from public to private space.

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In the dining room, a long table is used both as a desk and for dining. Vintage Thonet chairs sit alongside black metal and cork stools from IKEA. The interior celebrates an eclectic mix of modest with luxury, found with made, repurposed with bought. A Gold Fold Sconce, designed by CaSA and produced by Metalware, is showcased on the dining room wall.<cite>Roberto Ruiz</cite>

In the dining room, a long table is used both as a desk and for dining. Vintage Thonet chairs sit alongside black metal and cork stools from IKEA. The interior celebrates an eclectic mix of modest with luxury, found with made, repurposed with bought. A Gold Fold Sconce, designed by CaSA and produced by Metalware, is showcased on the dining room wall.Roberto Ruiz

The view from the kitchen to the newly opened terrace is one of Serboli's favorite parts of the home. "I love being in the kitchen, looking at the living room with the big window totally open. I think it's a privileged position because you can cook or eat (I love both) looking towards a space with unclear and undefined limits."

The view from the kitchen to the newly opened terrace is one of Serboli's favorite parts of the home. "I love being in the kitchen, looking at the living room with the big window totally open. I think it's a privileged position because you can cook or eat (I love both) looking towards a space with unclear and undefined limits."

In the corridor between the living room and the bedrooms, light blue hues signal a transition from daytime to nighttime spaces. Serboli preserved the original geometric tile where possible, as in this area of the hallway off the private sleeping quarters.

In the corridor between the living room and the bedrooms, light blue hues signal a transition from daytime to nighttime spaces. Serboli preserved the original geometric tile where possible, as in this area of the hallway off the private sleeping quarters.

The home's bathroom, at the center of the paneled "box" is a soft, private, and relaxing respite.

The home's bathroom, at the center of the paneled "box" is a soft, private, and relaxing respite.

The coral-hued bathroom features a custom vanity designed by CaSA, a Green 42 vessel sink by Catalano, a LEAF faucet by Bruma, and grey ceramic floor tile by Ceramica Vogue.

The coral-hued bathroom features a custom vanity designed by CaSA, a Green 42 vessel sink by Catalano, a LEAF faucet by Bruma, and grey ceramic floor tile by Ceramica Vogue.

Optical glass, framed in matte black, features in both the shower screen and the circular portal window which adjoins the kitchen. It's a quirky touch that allows light to flow into the interior bathroom space.

Optical glass, framed in matte black, features in both the shower screen and the circular portal window which adjoins the kitchen. It's a quirky touch that allows light to flow into the interior bathroom space.


Before: the guest room

Before: the guest room


After: the guest room

After: the guest room

With personal art and treasures on display, and playful punctuations of color, Serboli’s apartment is a wunderkammer which makes the most of a compact footprint.

FONT 6 Apartment floor plan

FONT 6 Apartment floor plan

Project Credits:

Architects of Record: CaSA / @colomboserboliMargherita Serboli Arquitectura

Builder: Global Projects

Interior Design: CaSA / @colomboserboli

Photography: Roberto Ruiz