See how small flat was renovated to look larger using white-on-white balanced by chunks of bright color.
Last Fall I received a pitch from a retired couple who live near the Belgian-Luxembourg border. Margit and Geza Hamoir said they often travel to Budapest, Hungary, where they had purchased, renovated and flipped an apartment in an old building. Now they wanted to show off their latest venture, another flat in Budapest that measures just under 1000 square feet, which they had gutted and transformed into a minimalist white jewel box with playful blocks of bright color block decor [top]. Declaring themselves passionate fans of contemporary design, they explained that they intended to keep this apartment for themselves although it went up for sale for 209,000 € (about $282,000 US). And they sent enough before and after photos to show the stunning transformation.
While some renovators would have tried to keep the old herringbone parquet floors, years of grime produced severe discoloration. Walls were covered with dowdy paper that showed what a filthy dark ruin this apartment had become.
A clear minimalist aesthetic and Margit’s background in textile design shows a keen color sense and affection for mid-century modern and contemporary furnishings. Like many apartments in old European buildings, the main living space has large windows facing the street with a door to a balcony. The contemporary white leather sectional occupies one corner and the remainder of the furniture plan is surprisingly simple: a white shag area rug, two small tables that can be moved as needed, and an iconic Eames fiberglass Shell rocker in taxi yellow. A chair similar to Arne Jacobsen’s 1958 Egg Chair, in red, is a place to flop on the way to or from the open kitchen. Colorful contemporary lighting doubles as sculpture on the wall and ceiling –perfectly color coordinated with furniture and accessories.
The adjacent galley kitchen would disappear into the wall were it not for the red-orange accent stripes below the upper cabinets and beneath the range. Task lighting is concealed below the upper cabinets.
A lightly-scaled oval glass dining table seems barely there along with white see-through dining chair. Also helping to keep this interior space brightly lit and cabinets floating on the wall is unusual baseboard lighting below the base cabinets. Beyond the dining area it’s a straight shot to the frosted glass front door which permit light to enter from the common hallway.
No salvage here! The original front door with its peeling paint was replaced. No one loves chippy paint more than I do but this door was beyond saving.
The master bedroom also faces front and includes a spa-style bathtub in the corner as well as a fun contemporary rug with colors that echo through the room.
The former tub had quite a different look and a type of exposed plumbing reminiscent of the time when the Soviets occupied Hungary and many modern conveniences were not yet available in Eastern Europe.
The new bath boasts a vanity front that harkens back to Scandinavian textile designs of the 60s.
And it definitely takes a sense of humor to install a whimsical towel warmer that twists around like a child’s toy.
Contemporary LED lighting includes recessed ceiling lamps, a cool blue torchère, the chic sculptural orange wall light and cool baseboard illumination that reflects up and off the shiny white floor. To the left and right of the entry hall, are a small study concealed by bifold doors and a guest room/sitting room directly across.
I adore the fresh look of this spartan desk in the study and the way it’s so cleverly but colorfully built into a window niche with a glass top to show off the color block decor and newly created space.
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