Architect José Andrade Rocha recognized the beauty hidden in a historic flat.
Sometimes great potential hides beneath a home’s previous unflattering renovations. That was the case with the early-20th-century flat in the historic Lisbon neighbourhood of Mouraria that José Andrade Rocha recently remodeled. “It had lost its soul over the years,” the architect explains. He brought the 592-square-foot apartment back to life by restoring its original materials, strengthening its relationship with the street, and defining its public and private spaces.
“Using white allowed me to lighten up small interior spaces and at the same time respect the original colors of the carpentry and stucco work,” Rocha says. East-facing windows also catch the warm morning sun and minimize the need for artificial lighting.
The blue entry door packs a punch in the neutral living area, which is sparsely furnished with inexpensive pieces — some from local Portuguese companies, others self-made or purchased in flea markets.
Rocha says situating the flat’s social areas toward the street “enabled a certain traditional way of living characteristic of these historic neighborhoods, where you know and talk to the people that live around you — a rare circumstance in contemporary cities.”
The apartment’s minimalist aesthetic continues in the kitchen, where functional but sleek fixtures were installed. To the right, a charcoal-gray sliding wall signals the entrance to the flat’s private quarters.
The sliding door opens to reveal a square hallway. “It’s a dark box that on the one hand opens up to the light and sound coming from the street and on the other hand protects the bedrooms from all the agitation,” Rocha says. Additional sliding doors lead to the master bedroom and bathroom.
When the sliding doors are left open, the rooms enter into a playful dialogue with each other, with the dark exterior walls framing the more colorful bedroom within.
Rocha replaced unsightly carpeting in the master bedroom with yellow ochre hydraulic tiles that harmonize with the stark white walls and soft gray bedspread. The south-facing windows were kept small to ensure privacy, but they still let in plenty of light.
White tiles — hydraulic ones on the floor and “biselado” (meaning “beveled”) ones on the walls — make for a tranquil bathroom.
A tiny wall nook holds books in the spare bedroom, where the original wood floors take the spotlight.