Before & After: A Streamlined Apartment in Italy Boasts Tons of Custom Furniture

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Using a restrained color and material palette, Gosplan Architects transforms an old home in Genova into a bright, functional flat called Into the Woods.

When a young couple from Genova, Italy, inherited a 1,180-square-foot property from a grandparent, they decided to transform the old house into a bright, modern home that better connects with its woodland site.

They hired local firm Gosplan Architects to help them renovate the tired-looking space, which had a dark, cramped living room. The Gosplan team demolished the existing walls between the old kitchen, the entrance, and the living room to create a single, large living area that's sunnier, with improved ventilation.

The architects also built a massive, mirrored-surface sliding door that reflects sunlight arriving from the glazed entrance door. This creates the effect of a long, sunny corridor.

Before: The Corridor 

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The original corridor traversed the entire apartment.

The original corridor traversed the entire apartment.

After: The Corridor

With the sliding mirrored door open, the corridor allows light from the bedroom to suffuse the entire space.

With the sliding mirrored door open, the corridor allows light from the bedroom to suffuse the entire space.

The mirrored door slides closed for privacy, but maintains a feeling of openness.

The mirrored door slides closed for privacy, but maintains a feeling of openness.

Before: Living Room

The architects replaced all the old windows and increased transparency and light penetration with a new, glazed entrance door. Added thermal insulation coating improved the building's thermal performance.

The architects replaced all the old windows and increased transparency and light penetration with a new, glazed entrance door. Added thermal insulation coating improved the building's thermal performance.

Before the intervention, the interiors were divided by a corridor, and segmented into several small rooms. Half of the house was exposed to the south; this part was well-illuminated and frames views of the beautiful landscape outdoors.

Before the intervention, the interiors were divided by a corridor, and segmented into several small rooms. Half of the house was exposed to the south; this part was well-illuminated and frames views of the beautiful landscape outdoors.

After: Living Room

No longer segmented, the main living area of the apartment unites the kitchen and dining alcove as well.

No longer segmented, the main living area of the apartment unites the kitchen and dining alcove as well.

Kitchen cabinets hang from a cross arm.

Kitchen cabinets hang from a cross arm.

Before: Bedroom

One side of the house faced a retaining wall, and was dark. 

One side of the house faced a retaining wall, and was dark. 

After: Bedroom

The master bedroom features clean, minimal interiors. The owners wanted more wardrobe space, and also requested a second bathroom. The Gosplan team located the bathrooms on the darker side of the home, enlarged the other rooms as much as possible, and increased light penetration from the south.

The master bedroom features clean, minimal interiors. The owners wanted more wardrobe space, and also requested a second bathroom. The Gosplan team located the bathrooms on the darker side of the home, enlarged the other rooms as much as possible, and increased light penetration from the south.

A fold-out vanity tucks away when not in use.

A fold-out vanity tucks away when not in use.

The most challenging part for the team was constructing the door for the master bedroom. The main bedroom is situated at the end of the corridor, and during the first phase of construction, the team realized there was a large French window perpendicular to this corridor axis that drew in plenty of light. This was a feature they wanted to preserve and emphasize.  

When the bedroom door is opened, the light streaming in through the bedroom window illuminates the corridor. 

"Thanks to this expedient, we had the chance to reduce the cost of masonry works," says Lorenzo Trompetto, one of the firm’s founders. "Everything has been designed by our office as a tailored product, and many elements perform two functions," he adds. 

The open kitchen enjoys plenty of natural light.

The open kitchen enjoys plenty of natural light.

"Furthermore, the door is very heavy, and it has to work perfectly because it will be used frequently," says Trompetto. "Technically, it was a big challenge, but we are really satisfied about the result." 

The cross-shaped suspended furniture is a clever, functional way to open up the interiors.

The cross-shaped suspended furniture is a clever, functional way to open up the interiors.

The Gosplan team designed the guide rail and anchoring system for the door themselves. "This door gave us the chance to alter the perception of the house’s interior space," says Trompetto. 

The large furniture even holds the stairs leading up to the attic.

The large furniture even holds the stairs leading up to the attic.

The functional areas were configured around a cross-shaped, built-in cabinet, which includes a big blue wardrobe that complements the proportions of the existing corridor. This built-in cabinetry stores and conceals all the technical parts of the house, as well as stairs that lead up to an attic.   

The stairs near the fireplace, for instance, offer storage for large items, while the blue wardrobe also conceals access doors to the two secondary bedrooms. The cross-shaped cabinetry and wooden beam contains the second part of the stairs, and all the technical parts of the house.   

The eye-shaped hole of the stairs volume allows the spaces to stay connected.

The eye-shaped hole of the stairs volume allows the spaces to stay connected.

Detail of the stairs and the blue MDF inside

Detail of the stairs and the blue MDF inside

The wooden sections are made of natural oak or Valchromat, a colored medium-density fiberboard. Like solid wood, Valchromat can be carved, so the architects could create interesting design details with it. 

Floor plan before the renovation

Floor plan before the renovation

Floor plan after the renovation

Floor plan after the renovation

Project Credits: 

Architecture, lighting, cabinetry and interior design: Gosplan Architects 

Builder: Joannis Katsiberis

Carpenter: Store & Home