Historic Details and Playful Modernism Meet in this Stunning Barcelona Flat

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By Laura C. Mallonee / Published by Dwell
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Historic mosaic tiles inspired this modern renovation by Anna and Eugeni Bach.

A few years ago, married architects Anna and Eugeni Bach purchased a flat in Barcelona’s Eixample district that hadn’t been renovated since its construction in 1910. The elderly man who occupied it previously was a compulsive hoarder, and he’d packed it so full that its beautiful mosaic tiles, obscured for years by miscellaneous objects, were actually kept in relatively decent shape.

In the flat’s living room, midcentury modern art and furniture harmonize with the rich floor tiles, opulent molded ceilings. and original pine wood doors. Prints by Gordon Matta-Clark line the wall near a 1950s Danish dining table that’s paired with Eames chairs. A painting by Kuuti Lavonen hangs above a pink chair and ottoman by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

When the couple began remodeling the 1,300-square-foot home, they decided to fully restore the colorful floors so they could once again take center stage. "They are the essence of the flat," Eugeni explains. "Without them, the whole thing would be very different." While preserving historic details, the architects incorporated dramatic structural changes to the kitchen and bathroom that fully modernize the apartment. "We wanted to adapt it to the present way of life but still conserve the atmosphere of the old Barcelona traditional flats," he says. The result is a quirky, contemporary dwelling infused with nostalgic charm. 

Though the renovation was significant, you wouldn’t necessarily know it, as the new materials blend well with the old. The transitions between spaces, such as that from the living room to an enclosed veranda, feel completely natural.

Since the original kitchen was not functional, the architects built a new one from scratch while preserving the original tiles. “We designed very plain oak cupboards so the floor would be the protagonist,” Eugeni says. Ceiling lamps by Vico Magistretti illuminate the warm wood countertops.

The architects had always wanted a library but didn’t have the space, so they took advantage of the wide hallway to install bespoke shelves they designed themselves. The lower cupboards are used for storage.

A glazed veranda on the flat’s west side offers a cozy spot to enjoy an espresso. The utilitarian table and chairs were purchased second-hand, while the lamp was custom designed.

The architects’ two young children occupy this bright bedroom, furnished with Ikea beds. Another custom lamp illuminates the space.

Understated décor in the master bedroom lets the floor tiles fully pop. A pendant lamp designed in 1957 by Spanish modernist architect José Antonio hangs above the bed.

In the marble-paved bathroom, the architects employed a simple trick to get the most out of the small space. Since the ceilings were already high, they raised the floor level about two feet to fit a Dornbracht bathtub beneath the shower. “By doing so, we also gained a storage space under the bathroom floor, and the window, without moving it, suddenly was in the right place!” Eugeni says. The shower head and sink are by Duravit.