Housed in a 1930s building in Powisle, a riverside district in Warsaw named one of the coolest top ten neighbourhoods in Europe by the Guardian last year, this sophisticated pied-à-terre more than matches the district’s hype with its artful balance of neoclassical, mid-century and contemporary elements. Thoroughly renovated by Marta Chrapka of Polish interior design practice Colombe Design Studio for a writer and his wife, the apartment is a paradigm of bespoke furnishings, exquisite craftsmanship and unique detailing that attest to the Studio’s holistic approach to interior design.
Faced with an unsatisfactory previous renovation that had abused the building’s heritage, Chrapka set about restoring the apartment’s pre-war elegance. Decorative moldings, wall panelling, herringbone oak floors and grand windows have all been meticulously and painstakingly refurbished to their original state, in contrast with the apartment’s layout which has been radically reconfigured. What were once separate spaces now constitute an open-plan living area housing the kitchen, living and dining room, with the former kitchen now functioning as a study that also doubles as a guest room. A hallway and bedroom round up the apartment’s rooms.
What really makes the apartment’s renovation stand out however is Colombe’s obsessive attention to detail. The team not only selects or designs every interior element, from floors, doors and wardrobes, to furniture, door handles, bedspreads and lampshades, they also manufacture all custom designs in the Studio’s carpentry, upholstery and metalworking workshops. Even the antique and vintage furniture selected for the projected have been restored in-house using materials from the given period.
Chrapka has eschewed the use of decorative objects, relying instead on the detailing of such custom-made and vintage furnishings to add colour to the otherwise subdued interiors. A muted colour palette of white and beige hues is therefore punctuated by rust, red brick and gold accents, while natural wood adds warmth.
In the living room, Colombe designed a mid-century-inspired teak cabinet that transforms into a marble and brass console at one end. Nicknamed “the worm cabinet” as it follows the room’s faceted perimeter – an architectural mannerism that the team had to contend with throughout the apartment – it’s complemented by a minimalist white sofa, a restored mid-century coffee table, a vintage golden rhubarb lamp and a Moroccan carpet bought in Marrakech. An upholstered armchair was also custom-designed by the Studio, as was the walnut dining table and the kitchen cabinetry, whose walnut-circles-on-white pattern is inspired by a sideboard by modernist Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank. Dining chairs by Josef Frank from Svensk Tenn and a modernist brass pendant by Gubi complete the décor of the living areas.
Separating the hallway from the private quarters, a custom-made double door carved from solid walnut steals the limelight with its geometric design inspired by Krakowian design. In the bedroom, Chrapka designed a built-in wood-panelled headboard and cabinet in order to soften the room’s angular floorplan. A similar design can be found in the study/guest room, which is painted in a darker, grey brown colour, in this case creating a niche for the vintage Knoll bed which the designer paired with a William Morris-designed floral wallpaper, ultimately just one more example of the interior designer’s astute sense of functionality and aesthetics.