An inspiring apartment upgrade

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Today on homify we will look at another before and after project, but this one is quite remarkable indeed. In the heart of Bilboa, Spain, we find an apartment built more than a century ago, and in dire need of a reformation in order to be suitable for today's lifestyle and culture.

The objectives of this project was to create optimal brightness in each of the home spaces, bringing about a greater sense of spaciousness, whilst being aware of space constraints in the apartment. The entire flat takes up a floor area of 90 square meters, and the spatial arrangements are such to create many smaller compartments surrounding a long hallway. We can imagine that making an open and spacious home out of this was quite a challenge! Let's see what happened.

Before: Ornamental antiquity

Here we can see the living space of the apartment stripped down and ready for the renovation. The apartment is in the 19th Century style of European architecture, with the ornamental ceilings and small, enclosed and separate rooms. Although this can be a beautiful interior style if it is preserved well, it is not conducive to a modern urban lifestyle in such unkempt condition. 

Garmendia Cordero Architects is the firm who decided to take on this project, and as we can see already in this image, they removed several of the inner walls and divisions in order to make the apartment an open-plan living space. Fortunately, they had a budget of about R 1 million, so they could make meaningful and lasting changes to fulfil the needs of the new owners. Let's see what they made of it…

After: A modern home to rival the best

The transformed living room space is definitely a great improvement. We can see that every aspect of the space has been rejuvenated in contemporary style and trends. The walls and ceiling have been entirely done over in plaster, smoothing out the surfaces, and creating a clean, uniform look. The white colour of these surfaces also serve to expand the perceived space in the apartment, fitting well within the architects' wishes to make the flat feel more spacious. 

The furnishings had also been chosen to suit the new modern look of the home, and to increase the sense of space. In the latter regard, the designers made use of smaller proportioned furniture as to not take up too much space, whilst still fulfilling all of the room's needs. The general neutral colour palette studded with splashes of bright yellow and blue is in tune with current design trends.

Before: Dark and awkward space

One of the challenges in this renovation project, was that the apartment was very compartmentalised, hosting an 11 meter long corridor, as was popular in the architectural style of long ago. The architects ware thus faced with the problem of creating an open and bright home for this young couple, whilst the structure is so narrow and closed off. 

From this perspective we can also see an awkward use of several different and contrasting materials, like the vinyl floor, plaster walls and unfitting skirting in some places. There is also a multitude of openings that become confusing and labyrinthine. The biggest issue with this area is that it is dark and claustrophobic, the complete opposite of what the owners are looking for. 

After: Bright and generous

Wow! The architects have certainly outdone themselves with this renovation, as it looks entirely different from what we saw in the previous image. Without expanding the actual dimensions of the hallway, they have managed to make the space feel much more spacious and much less ominous than its predecessor.

The floor had been replaced by light wood, gently complemented by the bright white of the walls and ceiling. Perimeter lights on the ceiling also ensure that the area is much brighter and well-lit. The built-in bookshelf to the left, topped with artworks, creates a feeling of familiarity and comfort. 

Before: Depressing bedroom

Even without a mattress and furnishings, we can definitely say that this is no place we would ever want to sleep in! The room, which should once have been a stylish and classic standard, no looks drab and depressing. The dusty and faded wallpaper does not inspire anything, save from possible existential poems, and even the large window seem to be dark and insufficient to brighten this space. Let's hope that the architects made a drastic change to this bedroom, otherwise we'll have to take a moment to think about the poor souls who would have to sleep here!

After: Light and bright!

Well, fortunately our fears are abated, since the new bedroom is a far cry from the gloomy place we saw before. Although there wasn't much that could have been done regarding altering the structure, the space is completely different. Built-in cupboards and a bookshelf above the bed frees up more usable space in the room, whilst the simple, free-standing bed is not overwhelming in the space. Pushed up against the window, the bed is sure to remain warm from the sun's rays during the day, and the complete white of the room enlarges not only the sense of space, but also of freedom. 

If you enjoy these before and after posts, take a look at another European wonder - the amazing transformation of a Parisian apartment!

What did you think of the corridor transformation?
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