When Marta Klinker and her family decided to purchase an 800-square-foot pied-à-terre in Barcelona, Spain, the California-based interior designer channeled the work of architects Andrea Serboli and Matteo Colombo of CaSA as inspiration. Being a native of Barcelona—where CaSa does much of its work—Marta felt connected to their style. “Then, unfortunately, the work was lost with the fire,” Andrea says.
Before: Smoke damage from the fire covered most of the walls and original ceiling of the unit, which is set on the top floor of an Art Nouveau building in the El Born neighborhood.
As Marta was renovating the property, an explosion occurred. Some of the apartment’s antique details were destroyed, as was much of the modernized work that Marta was overseeing. The budget, too, was equally in shambles. After a year had passed, Marta called CaSA from California asking if they could fix the damage that had been done. “We didn’t have details of what exactly happened, but when we arrived, the property was in bad condition,” Andrea continues. “It was partly charred and blackened with cracked windows and stained floors. Most of it was empty with installations that were halfway done.”
Before: Looking up, much of the original antique details suffered particular damage.
Andrea and Matteo opted to take on the challenging project in concert with Marta—looking to find inspiration in the midst of a disaster. The biggest challenge? Creating a lively yet calm oasis, while committing to a very tight budget. They couldn’t touch the layout or swap the previous installations, and they needed to find a way to repair or replace the charred materials as they stood. Andrea, Matteo, and Marta also agreed that historical features, like the high ceilings and their decorative details, had to stay. “Nevertheless, we wanted to change the use of the spaces, and their meaning,” Matteo says.
Before: The state of the kitchen when Andrea and Matteo came on board was unsightly, but the open-concept layout left room for new ideas.
After: Microcement on the floors and backsplash match a terra-cotta stripe on the kitchen ceiling, making for an optical illusion that allows the space to feel bigger than it is. HAY stools are placed around the island-meets-dining-table, and custom door handles on the cabinets were made to blend in.
Thankfully, the existing apartment already included an open-concept kitchen that blended in with a living space, as well as two bedrooms and a bathroom that were enough for the family of four. But that was it for silver linings. The entrance, kitchen, and living area had a patchwork of five different flooring materials, and the kitchen’s ceiling had a clunky structural beam on one side. Andrea and Matteo wondered how to effortlessly unite the central areas of the home, while also complementing the private ones. That’s when they came up with the idea to color-block, specifically around a bold terra-cotta shade.
A color shift happens on the opposing side of the kitchen in the living space, where a dark blush shade creates a vertical “horizon” around the room. A Kettal Landscape sofa is accompanied by a Ferm Living planter and suspended globe lights. The original floors were intact, and its light shade foils the deep burgundy on the ceiling. “One of the Art Nouveau corner plaster motifs on the ceiling had to be replaced due to the fire,” Andrea says.
“We came up with terra-cotta as an inexpensive solution for the kitchen countertops,” Matteo says. “We found this color in formica, and it did not look like a laminate. So we decided to use it as a color-block in the kitchen and living area, to order the rest of the space.” The duo covered the patchwork floors in microcement to further highlight the rich color, and then used the same material on the backsplash. And to bring in a little dimension, they looked for lightly contrasting hues to use on the surrounding walls for a unified finish. A matching island doubles as a dining table, and its position under a striped ceiling was intended to make the room feel longer.
The master bedroom’s mint walls were meant to be a complementary departure from the terra-cotta shade of the shared spaces. In this case, the color almost works as a headboard that encompasses shelving and globe sconces.
The bathroom has the same microcement feature as the kitchen backsplash, and its terra-cotta and blush shades tie in with the more public areas of the home.
Off the kitchen sits a small area that the team refers to as a “studio,” which features a desk and shelving in the same earthy tones. The adjoining living area, on the other hand, is a structured blend of dark blush and green. The green ties in with the mint hues used in the bedrooms, and all three spaces have a two-toned color blocking that is seen as a “horizon.” Much like the visual effect in the kitchen, this detail helps the rooms appear wider, Andrea notes. “We opted for burgundy on the living room’s ceiling and a dark teal on the bedrooms’ ceilings to enhance the original features of the plaster motifs,” he adds.
The original layout intended this small space to be the dining area, but CaSA thought it was too dark and cramped to work. So they made it into the “studio,” complete with a bespoke desk and a porthole window that brings in light from the master bedroom.
A look down the hallway shows how the Benjamin Moore shades beautifully harmonize with the restored floors.
In the end, the project was finally completed last August, and Andrea and Matteo had everything to do with its success. “She came to us for help,” Matteo says. “We like to think that this is a special place, because of all the color.”
In the master bedroom, a clever storage nook was built in the custom headboard.
“Color was used to enhance features, but white was also used to underline spaces, like doors and windows,” Andrea says.