A Fire-Ravaged Apartment in Barcelona Rises Again With Bold Color and Historic Charm

A Fire-Ravaged Apartment in Barcelona Rises Again With Bold Color and Historic Charm

By Jen Woo
Tucked away in an Art Nouveau building, this colorful sanctuary fuses period details with contemporary updates.

The Klinkers—a young family of four—purchased their Barcelona apartment on the top floor of a stylish and historic building with the hopes of remodeling the space as their vacation home. Marta, an interior designer herself, planned to refurbish the home using her own design. Then, disaster struck. 

A day before completion, an explosion burned the flat down, along with much of the already completed work. This not only devastated their budget, but also severely damaged some of the property’s ancient features. A year later, they were ready to reach out to Colombo and Serboli Architecture (CaSa) to begin the remodel the Klinker Apartment again. 

A view of the original living room after the fire.

The living room post transformation has a Kettal Landscape sofa with mustard frame and mink cushions, a planter by FermLiving, and a Handvärk lamp by Studio Floor. 

Naturally, they wanted to renovate the home as a budget-friendly project, while at the same time presenting a home that would be dramatically different from its previous incarnation as an old, neglected apartment. The goal was to preserve and highlight historical features and make the most of high ceilings, decorative elements, floors, windows, and doors. Walls and ceilings had been blackened by the fire, which needed special care, and most of the walls had to be scrapped to bricks and newly finished. Art nouveau details in the ceiling were either restored or reproduced.

An entire corner in the living room had to be replaced with a new cast of the moulding.

A steel kitchen fan cylinder stands as the anchor in the kitchen with white, plastic dome overhead disguising a spotlight to replace a ceiling lamp. Small globe sconces provide extra light on the backsplash. 

Budget constraints kept CaSa from being able to demolish or change the layout. They navigated through the sea of charred and damaged surfaces to make the most of existing installations. The greatest challenge was installing a new interpretation of the existing spaces without moving any walls.

Outside of the brick hued core, walls are white to maximize light.

All fixed furniture is bespoke. Cabinets in the kitchen, bathroom, corridor, and bedrooms have custom-made door handles, lacquered in tones to match their surfaces.

The original layout already held an open plan including a kitchen, living area, two bedrooms, and a small bathroom. CaSa focused on the main area as an anchor for the rest of the home, though it wasn’t easy. There were kitchen installations on the back wall, like a recessed dark nook that hosted a small dining area. Earlier demolitions had left a fragmented and messy patchwork of five different types of floor tiles. To remedy this, they decided to incorporate a clever use of materials, including Formica for the kitchen worktops, micro-cement for terra cotta floors, and a careful selection of paints, into the new design.

Tucked in a recessed space is the studio, opposite the kitchen, a bespoke desk provides just the right amount of work space. Shelves are cut in a circular shape to allow a pendant lamp to hang through them. A porthole window brings a dash of natural light into the space.  

Details of the art nouveau building. 

For the palette, they focused first on the kitchen workshops as there were limited options due to budget constraints. CaSa color blocked the space in a rich terra-cotta tone to create order in the space and allow it to serve multiple purposes including kitchen, dining area, and quiet studio corner with a long island doubling as a dining table.

A valance runs around walls, doors and windows, creating an artificial horizon, visually widening spaces in an otherwise vertically proportioned property. 

Colorful, original hidráulico floors add character to the space. 

"Funny enough, the family name recalls clinker brick blocks, clay bricks that are exposed to excessive heat during the firing process, resulting in a shiny surface," says Andrea Serboli, co-founder of CaSa.

Old meets new with original tile, updated moulding, and a contemporary splash of paint. 

Decor is kept clean and minimal to allow ornate details of the space to shine. 

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The entire ceiling above the kitchen was dropped to disguise a support beam and air conditioning ducts. A micro-cement floor in the same color covers three different types of tiles (the least interesting ones), unifying the block and highlighting the adjoining floors. The same earthy tone is used for the micro-cement backsplash, ceiling, kitchen cabinets, the central island, the studio area, desk, and shelves. 

A porthole alongside the walk-in closet allows natural light to flow into the bedroom. 

The built-in headboard doubles as storage with cubbies on either side. 

The result is a color-block area that makes a distinctive statement at the core of the apartment."Then once the terra-cotta was chosen, we decided to add colors to go with it, [including] calmer tones for the bedrooms. Colors were also chosen to match and enhance the colors of the original Art Nouveau cement polychrome tiles," explains Serboli.

The palette was selected based on the spaces and in relation to the colorful, original hidráulico floors. Neutral sand brings warmth through entrance and living areas to unify the spaces on both sides of the the kitchen, allowing the burgundy and grey shades of the living room floor pop. A cooler light green creates a soothing sensation in the bedrooms.  

Intricate art nouveau corner plaster motifs were restored. 

Color play continues in the hallway and bedrooms with pastels adding dimension to creme-hued walls and an extra sense of whimsy against period tile flooring. Tones meet shapes in the bedrooms via a volume that forms a headboard along with storage, globe lights, light switches, and sockets. 

The bathroom is swathed in the same brick red micro-cement.

The children’s room has a built-in wardrobe that follows the wall colors. 

A porthole window allows light to flow the space. Ceilings, too, are color coordinated with an off burgundy in the living areas and a dark teal for the private spaces. The soft palette and geometric elements add a whimsical and modern touch to the stately nature of the Art Nouveau apartment, allowing the space to receive a major facelift while retaining its original charm.

Related Reading:

A 1930s Barcelona Apartment Is Revitalized Into an Airy Abode

This Double-Height Apartment in Barcelona Features Historic Details and a Floating Staircase

Project Credits:

Architecture: CaSA / @colomboserboli

Interior Design: CaSA / @colomboserboli

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