A Brazilian Bachelor Pad Embraces Light and Darkness

Add to
Like
Share
By Kelly Dawson / Published by Dwell
An architect tasked with opening up a small yet light-filled apartment does so with a few unexpectedly dark turns.

When Brazil–based architect Diego Revollo first walked into the São Paulo apartment of his 30-something-year-old client, the 800-square-foot space was still missing floors. Given that it was tucked away in a recently finished high rise, the property was practically a blank canvas. Yet, there was something about this fresh slate that was timeless, and it became the basis of the minimalist design: natural light. 

Since the owner wanted as much of an open concept as possible, Revollo used a small but impactful detail to designate each space: color. For instance, the kitchen is defined by black, the living area by gray, and the dining space by honey. Joinery Inovart created the L-shaped dining table connected to the kitchen counter. 

Since the owner wanted as much of an open concept as possible, Revollo used a small but impactful detail to designate each space: color. For instance, the kitchen is defined by black, the living area by gray, and the dining space by honey. Joinery Inovart created the L-shaped dining table connected to the kitchen counter. 

The small partition that separates the living space from the dining area is common in Brazilian homes. Revollo chose it for its character and tradition, along with the fact it still lets in light. 

The small partition that separates the living space from the dining area is common in Brazilian homes. Revollo chose it for its character and tradition, along with the fact it still lets in light. 

"What caught my attention was the balcony, which was a large glazed area with no buildings in front," Revollo states. "The whole space was flooded with natural light coming from this main opening, and this was one of the things that guided me in the conception of the whole project." 

The dining area between the living room and balcony is the most light-filled space in the common area. The floors and bench were built using solid wood ripada.

The dining area between the living room and balcony is the most light-filled space in the common area. The floors and bench were built using solid wood ripada.

At first, there wasn't much for the light to reach, just a narrow common area off the kitchen that the single owner envisioned as a social hub for friends. As cramped as the space appeared, Revollo wanted to make it as functional and flexible as possible, which would hopefully allow it to feel more accommodating.

Inovart Woodworking helped create the metal sheet shelf in the common area. 

Inovart Woodworking helped create the metal sheet shelf in the common area. 

"Our first concern was to increase the connection between all spaces, eliminating walls and also making the best use of natural light," he says. Few dividers were used between the kitchen, living, and dining spaces, and Revollo replaced the door frame leading to the balcony with a glass closure. This solution made the entire common area feel wider, and allowed for ample light to reach the kitchen at the far end of the room. 

Another small-space trick up Revollo's sleeve was choosing large furniture and textured pieces to play with perception. 

Revollo worked with the owner to make the second bedroom into a multi-use space. It can be a living area, a sleeping quarter, or an office. 

Revollo worked with the owner to make the second bedroom into a multi-use space. It can be a living area, a sleeping quarter, or an office. 

Although those were bold choices, nothing in the design was as dramatic and unexpected as the moody kitchen. Revollo used colors to define each space in the apartment, and thought muted ones would still complement the natural light from the balcony. He chose a honey hue in the dining area and gray tones in the living room, but outfitted the kitchen in a "shocking" black, complete with a matching bar, to foil all of the natural glow.  

The black lacquer finish used in the common area was repeated in the design of a headboard for the master bedroom. 

The black lacquer finish used in the common area was repeated in the design of a headboard for the master bedroom. 

"The black in the kitchen is still a neutral color and works as an excellent background for the apartment," he says. "It makes the perfect contrast with all the luminosity." 

As for the two bedrooms and bathroom, practicality was key. The owner wanted his bedroom to be a serene enclave that was off-limits to guests, but he asked that the second bedroom be a flexible space— somewhere for a friend to sleep, a place to work, or a potential spot to lounge. 

A sliding door to the guest bedroom makes this flexible area even more accessible. A burnt cement floor connects this room to the kitchen. 

A sliding door to the guest bedroom makes this flexible area even more accessible. A burnt cement floor connects this room to the kitchen. 

While the space might be small in size, Revollo embraced the challenge as a way to infuse minimalist design and redefine the simple life. "It is possible to have an extremely practical and pleasant lifestyle in a reduced space," he says. "That just a few meters can, contrary to popular belief, provide a quality of life that is greater than that provided by large spaces." 

The main bathroom is unified with the rest of the home thanks to the same burnt cement flooring. A solid wood countertop was installed by Inovart Woodworking, and the adjoining white quartz countertop was picked from MSA Marmoraria. 

The main bathroom is unified with the rest of the home thanks to the same burnt cement flooring. A solid wood countertop was installed by Inovart Woodworking, and the adjoining white quartz countertop was picked from MSA Marmoraria. 

Project Credits:

Architect: Diego Revollo Arquitetura 

Builder: Neoserv Construções Ltda. 

Structural and Civil Engineer: Daniel Alegre

Landscape Design: Olga Wehba 

Cabinetry Design: Kitchens 

Other Companies: Marcenaria Inovart and Allure Iluminação