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Before & after: Renovation of a small flat

Caitlin Hughes Caitlin Hughes
Modern kitchen by Atelier da Calçada Modern
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Atelier da Calçada are a team of architects who develop a wide range of architectural and interior projects. No matter what size the project is, innovation and functionality are always at the heart of the design, and the space is always utilised to its full capacity. The apartment we're going to be looking at today dates back to the 1950s, and until the recent renovation, the interiors hadn't been touched—that's 60's years of wear and tear without any intervention! You can imagine the deplorable state of the property after this extensive amount of time. 

Clearly, a significant amount of work was required to adapt it to the needs of the current owner, and bring it up to modern standards. As part of the overhaul of this dated and run-down home, the original wooden floors were recovered and restored; the interior layout was redesigned, the woodwork was repaired and modern finishes were introduced. Let's take a look at the transformation:

Before: a dark and unwelcoming room

As you can see from this image, this room was dark, outdated and less than appealing. It isn't even clear what the function of this room is! The walls and ceilings are ridden with damp; the old, single glazed windows are letting in the cold, and the wallpaper is stained and peeling. The room is in dire need of some care and attention to transform it into a liveable and comfortable space. 

Now: a comfortable and cosy room

The old wooden-framed windows have been replaced with aesthetically identical, but modern and efficient, windows—only the horizontal friezes have been dismissed from the design. The new windows act as a thermal and acoustic insulator, drastically improving the conditions in the flat. As mentioned, the original floorboards were retained and only needed to be sanded and varnished. The walls and ceilings have been painted white for a fresh, contemporary feel. What an improvement!

A varanda

A hidden door in the living room provides access to a mini covered veranda, painted all in white. There is a small storage cupboard which acts as focal feature in this compact room, though this simple and understated area isn't just for practical use: it also serves as the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the sun during the day, or to watch out of the window as the sun sets in the evening. 

Before: the original kitchen

Unsurprisingly, the kitchen is the most dated and neglected room in the house. The ageing and general wear and tear is most noticeable in this room, which appears small and cramped, with no natural light coming in. The furniture and appliances are ready for the skip, and the two-tone mosaic floor is beyond repair.

Do you want to see the kitchen after the renovation? 

After: a modern, contemporary kitchen

The dimensions of the space haven't changed, but this room has been completely transformed. Nothing remains of the old, dated kitchen; instead, light pours in through the large window on the back wall, and the cupboards and reflective surfaces are a tasteful, modern white so as to maximise the light in the room. 

Clean, sharp lines make the kitchen appear larger and well-organised, and the reddish brown floor adds a touch of warmth that breaks up the monochrome palette. 


The fittings and appliances follow a strict, minimalist design. There are no bulky elements disrupting the line of sight. In fact, everything has been neatly embedded and enclosed to create a sleek impression and to maximise space. The work surfaces are made from marble, which instantly lends the room a classic and luxury feel. 

Before: a truly sorry state

The small, cramped bathroom was completely unusable. The damp, damaged floor reveals a history of plumbing malfunctions that haven't been dealt with properly, and the bathroom 'suite' is old and in need of replacing. It is clear that the previous work carried out on this bathroom has fallen short of the standards we would expect, and this has only made the deterioration of the bathroom more extensive. The windows, like those in the original kitchen, also need replacing: here, you can see they are barred shut with two planks of wood.

After: order is restored

The first impressions of the new bathroom are certainly much more positive. The bathroom looks like a completely different room after the modernisation. The walls and floor have been covered in shimmering olive-coloured ceramic tiles, and the ceiling has been painted white to create an illusion of height in this rather narrow bathroom. As the sunlight comes flooding through the window it reflects off the tiles, and consequently the room takes on a glittering gold hue. 

The modern sink with a floor to ceiling mirror behind it, really enhances the look of the room. The rain shower is the crowning feature, with the shower head on the ceiling and drain beneath as in a typical wet room. This layout is much more practical for a smaller bathroom, and the new design really pays off. 

A modern WC

The toilet has been replaced and now complements the other modern fixtures and fittings in this beautiful contemporary bathroom. 

Before: the old fashioned bathroom décor

Though patterned wallpaper can sometimes add a quirky retro twist to a bathroom or kitchen, this décor has seen better days and really doesn't achieve a positive impression in the larger of the two bathrooms. As with the smaller bathroom which was transformed into a wet room, this space also needs profound alterations to bring it up to modern standards. 

After: modern and comfortable

This bathroom has been inspired by the currently trending industrial interior style, with cement covering all the surfaces from the floor to the side of the bathtub. Glass doors complement the rough cement, adding a touch of modern elegance. The transparent nature of the doors create a sense of space in the room. 

Space and light

The modern sink has been rested on a white suspended cabinet. The compartments, varying in shape and size, provide plenty of storage space for personal products so that nothing is left in sight to clutter up the bathroom. The mirror is the same width as the cabinet, which gives depth to the space and brightens up the room significantly. 

Before: the wardrobe

A dressing area was added between the bedroom and bathroom to create order. The need for better storage has been met with a contemporary and practical solution. 

After: a dream come true

When you open up the sliding doors of the old wardrobe you can see how it has been transformed into a well thought out and organised closet, with various sections for different items of clothing and footwear. Shelves, rods, and drawers have been implemented for the owner's convenience. The 3-legged stool is a perfect place to perch when deciding what to wear in the morning. 

The original layout

Here is the plan of the original layout in the flat. You can compare this plan to the one below, which outlines the alterations made to the layout. The original layout was restricted by a number of niches and recesses which ate up precious space and served no real purpose. The changes made opened up the space and made a world of difference.

After: the new layout

The new plan reveals wider divisions, a kitchen without the recesses and awkward corners, and an entrance hall directly connected to the living area. We can also see the built in wardrobe in the hallway, and a new point of access to the small bathroom and indoors veranda. 

If you've enjoyed this before & after project, why not take a look at the following ideabooks?:

Before & after: Public toilet to eco office

Vicarage Gardens—a refurbished Victorian terrace

What do you think of this renovation project? We look forward to receiving your comments!
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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