The bold, white cupboards that stretch from floor to ceiling stand out in this converted old Maltese apartment. The small, irregular shapes cut out in these striking pieces of furniture – and which also double as handles – offer a sneak peek into their contents, a reflection of this chic, city space apartment in which a modern interior has been fitted over, but not completely hidden, its past.
Abiding by the brief of creating an open-plan space that allows privacy when needed, all the partition stone walls were taken down. This also let more light flow in to what were previously three rooms, two of which had barely any natural light.
To replace these dividing walls, furniture was designed to hug and define the space as well as to provide storage. Starting at the end of the kitchen that neighbours the bedroom, the cupboard extends to the front of the property in the dining area.
A key feature in this property is that the bedroom closes off by means of a curtain. Thick, grey and made of heavy material, this curtain blends in with the overall neutral palette of the apartment, peppered with splashes of bright colour in places such as the orange kitchen backsplash, and the pale blue area beneath the windows.
These two colours take their inspiration from the beautiful Maltese tiles that run through the apartment. These tiles are all original, although retaining them was a difficult task since many were broken. And when the walls were opened, areas were created that were missing tiles altogether. To solve the problem, tiles were removed from sections that would be permanently covered, such as beneath the kitchen cupboards, and were then cut and shaped to fit in the newly-opened areas.
The apartment is over 100 years old and was previously in dreadful condition. It thus needed a wholesale makeover, including the replacement of all the roofs. To make the most of the sensational view of the harbour, a window was enlarged in the bedroom, and a new one opened up in the bathroom, as both rooms look out to the sea.
The bathroom presented another challenge. Tucked away at the back of the apartment, it is accessed through a hidden door that forms part of the wardrobe. The challenge of designing both a bath as well as a shower in this small space was solved by installing a sunken bath with wooden removable slats, covering the bath when it is used as a shower.
In the front main room, the openings were widened in such a way that the original proportions were retained, while at the same time maximising the view. A new window was created and the balcony was widened and the lintel raised.