A Berlin Apartment Breathes Easier With a Light and Bright Revamp

A Berlin Apartment Breathes Easier With a Light and Bright Revamp

A gut renovation adds a well-appointed sunny kitchen, a spacious master bedroom, additional storage, and luxe upgrades throughout.

Despite the prominence of digital avenues of drumming up new business, word of mouth can still be considered a designer's best calling card. Thomas and Keren Richter of White Arrow, a Brooklyn-based design firm, were certainly reminded of that fact when they secured a project with a young family in Berlin's eastern Kreuzberg district. The couple had recently completed another project in the landmarked, 1900s-building along Kreuzberg’s Landwehr Canal and were referred to the new clients by another tenant of the same building. 

Tackling the apartment's existing developer-grade finishes and peculiar layout was the firm's first order of business. Their solution was to completely reimagine the 1,065-square-foot unit's layout—flipping the floorplan and moving the tiny, north-facing galley kitchen into a bright sunny corner overlooking the nearby Thielenbrucke bridge. 

The star of the renovation, and the Richter's favorite room, is the kitchen. It is also the room that underwent the biggest transformation. They created custom cabinetry design with playful, ribbed side panels and curved marble profiles. They also designed deep storage drawers hidden behind custom lacquered cabinetry.

Custom un-lacquered brass shelves with hidden lighting help to illuminate the kitchen's work surface. The Moroccan Zellige tile-clad hood is integrated into the backsplash for a more streamlined look. 

For the kitchen, White Arrow created a custom cabinetry design with playful, ribbed side panels and curved marble profiles—adding curvaceous, custom un-lacquered brass shelves with hidden lighting underneath to help illuminate the countertops. "We hid the room's asymmetrical extrusions and created a curved wall with an integrated pantry," shares Keren, who also adds that the kitchen is her favorite part of the project. "We love the discreetly paneled appliances, the light-filled space, and the new room's views—the kitchen is now a wonderful place to host and entertain, and a total transformation from what it once was." 

The firm took the project as an opportunity to experiment with new vendors and fabrication techniques that are not common locally, and designed the custom bathroom and kitchen cabinetry, as well as custom metalwork. They even had marble craned in through a window to complete the kitchen and bathroom counters.

Next, they carved out some additional square footage to create a spacious new master bathroom by absorbing what had formerly been the pantry. Since the apartment also lacked closet space, the following task was to insert ample discreet storage throughout the home. This was done by rerouting the heating and plumbing, changing the door positions, hiding the mechanicals and washers and dryers behind custom panels, hiding the refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, and creating a series of arches to disguise radiators. 

The eat-in kitchen also boasts a stylish dining set composed of a travertine marquetry and brass inlay pedestal dining table from the 1970s paired with Thonet 209 bentwood and cane dining chairs. The lighting is Italian pendant lighting made of Murano glass and chrome from the 1970s by ZeroQuattro. 

In the living room a 1940s curvilinear, white mohair Italian sofa is paired with the Vladmir Kagan armchair, a lacquered brass Willy Rizzo coffee table from the 1970s, and an Arlus floor light from the 1960s. 

The Vladimir Kagan directional armchair was reupholstered in a lush, red mohair fabric from Pierre Frey. The unique Willy Rizzo coffee table is a glam 1970s piece with a brass basin which was used for ice to keep cocktails and drinks cool.

An eclectic mix of artful pieces is one of the signatures of White Arrow's magical look. 

The desk is a Greta Grossman Gubi 62-Series desk made from powder-coated steel, laminate, walnut, and lacquer. The floors are soaped Dinesen fir. 

From there, the firm set out making things feel more luxurious by adding high-end finishes throughout. The vibrant mix of autumnal colors and texture—which includes travertine, cane, mohair and leather upholstery paired with waxed cement tile, soaped Dinesen fir flooring, un-lacquered brass custom cabinetry, and metalwork.  "We created a serene environment that feels cohesive and luxurious—with subtly curved corners, deco detailing, and arches complement the home’s high ceilings, original ornate doors, and plasterwork," says Keren. "For furniture and lighting, we wanted the home to feel artful, graceful, warm, and inviting." 

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The credenza is Willy Rizzo for Mario Sabot and the table lamp is Murano glass by Carlo Nason Mazzega.  

Taking inspiration from the home’s European location, White Arrow sourced an eclectic mix of midcentury French and Italian lighting and furniture—mostly online from auction sites, 1st Dibs, and Pamono. The mix of eras and influences includes distinctive pieces from a variety of designers including Directional, Paul Mayen, Willy Rizzo, and Greta Grossman, Carlo Nasson for Mazzega, Stilnovo, Hans Agne Jakobson, Ingo Mauer Karl Springer, and Fontana Arte, as well as artwork by David Black and Christo. "We love the work by Willy Rizzo and have several of his pieces in the home—a unique coffee table which is a glam 1970s piece with a brass basin that was filled with ice to keep cocktails and drinks cool, and a brass and lacquer wood credenza in the master bedroom," says Keren. They finished off the polished retro vibe by shopping for accessories at some of their favorite Berlin shopping spots—Süper Store, Hallesches Haus, and Manufactum.

The bedroom features a mix of materials and textures and a delightful vintage vibe. The 1950s pendant light is by Stilnovo and the bamboo and wicker wall sconce is by Ingo Mauer. 

A window nook becomes the ultimate spot for relaxing with the addition of a Dick Cordemeijer for Auping "Cleopatra" daybed reupholstered in a rich Pierre Frey velvet. 

As White Arrow is based in Brooklyn, they worked on the design of the unit remotely, squeezing in several site visits throughout the course of the renovation. "Luckily, we had a great General Contractor whose attention to detail was much appreciated," shares Keren. "Thomas is German so he is able to easily communicate our detailed drawings, visualizations, and 3D collages, which allowed for our ideas to be executed remotely—technology makes a lot possible!" 

A lovely hallway vignette consists of a Karl Springer console and a mirror from Fontana Arte. 

The handblown glass and brass pendant lighting in the hallway is by Douglas & Bec.

The bathroom is a mix of marble and brass with a custom vanity. 

A blown glass and chrome pendant light by Carlo Nason for Mazzega hangs above the soaking tub. 

The children's room was the former galley kitchen with bunk beds by Oliver Furniture with rounded edges and storage underneath. 

The wooden fold-down, child-sized secretary desk is by Harto and the pendant lighting is by Hans Agne Jakobsson.

Related Reading: 

This Modern Loft For Sale Will Have You Dreaming of Berlin

Inside Peter Fehrentz's Renovated Flat in Berlin

Project Credits:
Interior Design: White Arrow
Builder/General Contractor: Belles Maisons
Cabinetry Design/Installation: White Arrow, installed by Belles Maisons


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