scandinavian Living room by lifelife GmbH

​Tips to modernise old apartments

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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It is a recurring theme throughout Europe: old structures that enjoy immense popularity due to their exquisite architecture, yet need a little bit of guidance in terms of modern-day style. The design traditions of classicism and art nouveau, which are reflected in the façades of these buildings, are also mirrored in the interior spaces. Considering the fact that the real-estate world of the olden days was quite simple, it’s no wonder that a lot of old buildings have peculiar layouts, thin walls and bad insulation. That’s why we bring you these design tips to help you make the most of an old building’s potential.

See for yourself how our experts use modern concepts to underline the traditional architecture of old buildings.

The kitchen

A minimalist interior style was set up in this old flat. With a checkerboard pattern stretching across the floor, a pleasant bit of contrast is achieved that makes the rest of the room’s subtle style seem more elegant. 

The round arch in the background might have been a doorway once upon a time, but now it’s been filled up and transformed into a stylish niche for storage- and display purposes. The original floor plan was elegantly integrated into the contemporary ambience of the kitchen.

The bedroom

It’s not difficult to discern that this room is from an old structure, judging by the architectural details like the charming round arch above the window, the size of the room (it’s hardly more than 2,7m wide) and the height of the ceiling. In order not to make the small space even more cramped, soft colours dominate the colour palette, with a bold purple adorning only the drapes. 

Dark colours at one end of the room lend an optical depth to the narrow space, making it seem more spacious. And the fact that the drapes are hung from the ceiling/above the window is another clever trick, emphasising the room’s height rather than its width.

Sliding doors

When vintage architectural touches are retained, old buildings can look most charming. This includes elements like the wooden parquet floor, the stucco-covered ceiling and the finely crafted wooden doors. In this case, the doors are of a grand design, covering a generous wall opening in-between two rooms. And opening them up results in both rooms becoming visually one, lending more visual space to the interiors. 

It’s for this reason that many designers and suppliers still opt for vintage and classic-style doors, seeing as they provide both functionality and style to structure, both old and new.

The bathroom

It is quite rare to find an old estate still flaunting the exact same flooring and ceiling materials, as a lot of homeowners are opting to replace these surfaces with more contemporary options. On the other hand, a handful of residents seem to enjoy vintage-style interiors, allowing professionals to renovate the necessary spaces while retaining as much of the old elements as possible. Kitchens and bathrooms, in particular, can look most classic with their original flooring and stucco ceilings; however, today we know that a wooden floor is not the finest choice for a bathroom. 

Luckily, there are numerous choices to consider, such as tiles or linoleum options looking exactly like wooden surfaces, allowing for old bathrooms to be reproduced as closely as possible.

Storage spaces

In the olden days they didn’t have to plan for extra spaces for appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. That also means that a lot of old buildings don’t have the necessary piping and water connections for today’s modern appliances. But what will a vintage home look like with these super modern pieces? It can either work or not.

That’s why one can always opt for storage spaces, as seen above, to not only help out with clutter, but hide these contemporary machines. But again, rather entrust a professional expert (such as a carpenter, plumber or interior designer) to help you out. 

Don’t miss these Clever storage ideas for smaller homes.

Yay or nay – what’s your opinion about old, vintage buildings?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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