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Publication in HOMEWORKS ISSUE 88

How do you inject soul into a new- build apartment? This was the challenge presented to the architects of this home – and they responded masterfully

Architects: Simon Grech of MODEL, with Dawne Fearne

Photography: Alan Carville

Words: Rachel Loos

Special thanks: Elektra

This apartment was the first residential new build for architect Simon Grech and the challenge was taking a nondescript space and giving it character. ‘With an old building you have interesting spaces to work with, different volumes and heights which make it easy to create an interesting and meaningful space,’ he says. ‘This apartment on the other hand, was a standard new build with no memories or stories, no soul. The challenge was to give it a soul, to create poetry.’

This he has done using texture , colour and thoughtful design ideas that transform what was once little more than a white box into something altogether more interesting and most importantly, comfortable as well as stylish for the homeowner, a young businessman, to live and relax in.

‘We had to do something different,’ says Simon. ‘For example with the corridor, we didn’t just want it to be a space with doors on either side – we wanted to create an experience. Here you don’t see the doors and we also put an art installation inspired by the artist James Turell; it creates a sense of transition, in a soft and spiritual way.’

The walls are painted a pale shade of grey. ‘If they were left white, there would be a high contrast between shadow and light,’ explains Simon. ‘With a grey hue, the light plays a different game. It diffuses more, it travels deeper into the apartment.’

"When you step inside the apartment now you do feel something, it does touch you..."

Kitchen: part of the open-plan living area, it is clutter free thanks to the bank of floor-to-ceiling wall units and the stream-lined island. Kitchen from FORM

Living and dining area: here the original concrete ceiling has been exposed giving texture, as does the herring bone pattern of the oak parquet. The wall of floor-to-ceiling units hide the TV and audio systems amongst other things. The walls have been painted a pale shade of grey, which softens the light and diffuses it through the apartment. Light fitting and Artemide floor lamp from Elektra

Texture, key to warming up such a cold, blank space, has be introduced through the lines that run throughout the apartment and the oak flooring that’s laid in an interesting herringbone pattern. Above, in the ceiling above the living area, the original concrete ceiling has been exposed. ‘The contrast between the clean soffits and the exposed ceiling gives depth and the idea of a story to the home,’ says Simon.

Creating a sense of calm was also a key consideration. In the living area, large wall units hide the television and audio system so the room is not dominated by them. In the kitchen the usual paraphernalia is behind closed doors and the look has been integrated into the rest of the furniture which also helps create a sense of tranquillity.

The front door has been hidden to accentuate this mood. ‘The idea is that the homeowner shuts the door and is immediately cocooned in their own world,’ says Simon. Other doors within the apartment can be left open or closed for cosier feel, and to reduce heat loss in chillier months.

The bedroom is particularly large, the homeowner having bought the bedroom of another apartment to make his more spacious. ‘We had to knock down a wall to integrate it,’ says Simon. ‘The other bedroom was on another level, though, so we have used it to create a difference between the washing space and the sleeping space.’

The end result is something Simon is happy with. ‘When you step inside the apartment now you do feel something, it does touch you,’ he says. ‘It now feels that it has a story.’

Bathroom: a micro-cement finish in the bathroom creates a seamless surface – a key request by the homeowner who did not want to have to clean grouting. The bathroom is in what was the bedroom of another apartment. On a higher level, this helps zone it from the bedroom

Bedroom: pared back but made warm with textured fabrics, concealed lighting and helps create a cosy mood. Artemida light tables from Elektra

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