Living room by Vallribera Arquitectes

A breathtaking narrow home

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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Exposed bricks and blazing expanses of white imbue this Spanish home with a breathtaking vibrancy. The narrow building is situated in Terrassa, a province of greater Barcelona. The original structure dates back to the last century and had never been renovated. It might have been in a dire condition, but it also possessed a sound structure and beautiful old vaulted ceilings that are common in this part of Catalonia.

The owners wanted a modern home, but the budget was quite limited. The architects Vallribera Arquitectes responded by gutting the second floor and creating a modern extension and new facilities with a range of raw materials. But it's the meeting point between old and new that really makes this home special. Come with us on a photo tour for all the details…

Striking contrasts between old and new

The rear of the building was extended to create this beautifully minimalist white living room. The interior walls were removed and the bricks were exposed and treated. This allows for a clear view of the sharp contrast between the warm golden bricks and white walls. In the past, older homes were often covered up with new finishes. But the current appreciation for raw aesthetics has seen a rise in refreshing points of intersection between old and new materials like this.

Narrow building site

The narrow home has a modern blue-grey exterior and a minimalist facade. Narrow homes often suffer from a lack of natural light, so the rear wall has been opened up with large sliding glass doors. A narrow plot like this could easily feel crowded, so the rear entertaining area has been left unfurnished and open. Note the terrace on the upper level. This leads towards the bedrooms and study that we will explore later.

Rich exposed brick walls

The minimalist wooden kitchen has been created with plywood panels of spruce wood. These are relatively cheap and served to contain the strict budget. The light tone of the wooden kitchen also brings a fresh and bright relief to the otherwise dark glow of the exposed brick walls. The floor space may be limited, but the kitchen cupboards have been built up to make the most of the height in the room. We love the suspended white ceiling lamp.

Vaulted ceilings

The narrow vaulted ceilings are typical of Catalan architecture. The golden tones of the wooden beams add yet another rich layer of texture to this rustic modern house. Note how the narrow width of the interior has been kept spacious by avoiding any obstructions. The architects have wisely divided the space instead with a U-shaped kitchen bench. This doesn't just make the kitchen feel larger, it also allows the chef to face the back garden and living room.

Airy narrow double stairwell

The narrow staircase runs two ways and has a large skylight. This natural light doesn't just brighten up this narrow space, it also serves to illuminate the bedrooms whose windows we see on the left here. A narrow passageway like this could easily feel cramped, but the staircase has a very minimal design. The wooden steps also blend into the golden tones of the exposed brick wall to create a simple, seamless effect.

Attic study

This part of the second level has a rather low roof height, so the architects wanted to make this level feel as spacious as possible. The internal walls were removed and instead we have a low white wall. This separates the study we see here from the children's play area in the distance. The decorations and furnishings were also kept to a minimum. Finally, note the lovely natural warmth of the exposed wooden beams. They provide all the warmth and variety this interior needs.

Narrow bathroom of double height

The narrow bathroom has a bright, open feel. This is largely due to the double-height of the space and the strategic design. The transparent glass shower screen and white furnishings make the bathroom feel large. Another benefit is the small, high-set window that allows the occupants to retain privacy, while allowing lots of natural light to flood the space. Note how the bathroom mirror reflects the diffuse light pouring in through the door window just behind us. Finally, the aqua blue walls give the home an aquatic vibrancy.

If this project has you hankering for a minimalist home, you'll love 10 basics for a minimal style apartment.

What do you think of the way this home combines traditional and contemporary design elements? Share your thoughts with us!
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