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.
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."
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.
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."
Shop the Look
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.
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!"
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