A Custom Kitchen and Cool Partition in This 355-Square-Foot Polish Apartment Make a Killer First Impression
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Homeowner’s Name: Katarzyna Kowalska
Design Professional’s Names: Kalina Juchnevic, Robert Juchnevic, architects and founders of blok585m2
Photographer: Hanna Polczynska / kroniki
Location: Stare Bielany — a district of Warsaw, Poland
Size: 355 sq ft (33 sq m)
Type of Home: It is a four-story apartment block from the 1960s
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
Katarzyna Kowalska is a civil engineer, a ceramicist, and a design and art lover, and lives in this recently renovated 355-square-foot compact apartment in a four-story apartment block designed by a famous Polish architect couple in the 1960s. “It is really comfortable to live in, especially because of the closeness of the metro station. My windows overlook the courtyard, where there are a lot of trees — it is a really peaceful view, uncommon in new buildings,” Katarzyna writes.
But it’s not just the views that make this tiny home so endearing: the brilliant interior redesign of the small space plus Katarzyna’s collection of vintage furniture makes the space feel so much larger than it is. Katarzyna emphasizes that despite the small square footage, the home has everything she needs. There’s a “full-size kitchen, aesthetic bathroom, separate bedroom with wardrobe, TV and furniture to take some rest: couch and big Togo chair,” she writes. “I really like to be here, especially in the morning, when the sun is reaching the wooden kitchen fronts and white walls. I am a design and art lover; I really like to renovate furniture and the emotions these items give to me. I enjoy having a wooden table, which my mum bought me from the flea market (very cheap) and Bruno Rey’s chairs from the ’70s, which I bought and renovated on my own. I also enjoy my partition wall, which I designed with cooperation with the executive company — it is an element which separates the hall and living room and is a piece of art to me.”
Though Katarzyna is responsible for the fantastically one-of-a-kind partition wall and the perfect mix of vintage furnishings, she also worked with architects Kalina and Robert Juchnevic of blok585m2 to really maximize the small space. The couple met while studying architecture 15 years ago, and consider themselves academics interested in 3D modeling techniques and 3D printing, as well as being small-space experts in their own right. “We explore design possibilities in the context of small apartments — we have been talking about this on our YouTube channel since 2019. We talk about different design solutions using our own apartments as an example (the name of our YT channel derives from the size of our apartment).”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Katarzyna Kowalska’s Style: I like vintage things and their souls. For sure I am not minimalist if it goes to style. I don’t have many items, but I like coziness and colors, it relaxes me.
Katarzyna Kowalska’s Inspiration: Pinterest and Instagram were a mine of inspiration and ideas for me.
Architects Kalina and Robert Juchnevic’s Inspiration: The building where the apartment is located is a great example of the post-war housing estate which, thanks to the architect’s efforts (Maria and Kazimierz Piechotkowie), was different from the socialist realism examples.
The architecture of the building and its interiors were an inspiration and set the direction for the interior finishing materials e.g. we designed terrazzo similar to that used in the staircases of the building.
We were inspired by beautiful vintage objects the owner has even before we started this project. We have to mention the iconic Togo armchair, a round wooden table, a set of Bruno Rey chairs (model 3300) from the 1960s. We were inspired as well by handmade ceramics that Katarzyna creates on her own.
Katarzyna Kowalska’s Favorite Element: It is hard to choose, but I really like the combination of sandy-blush kitchen fronts and maroon worktop with wooden edges. I am also a huge fan of my bathroom — I adore every element of this room.
Architects Kalina and Robert Juchnevic’s Favorite Element: It is a tough nut to crack… We love this apartment as a whole. But if We have to choose — we especially like the kitchen — this is not only a place to prepare food but also the main furniture in the living room. Oak veneer kitchen doors are imperfect perfection!
Architects Kalina and Robert Juchnevic’s Biggest Challenge: 1. It was difficult to keep balance between vintage items and newly designed elements — especially when the owner is a vintage lover. We “controlled” this balance using a detailed 3D model and creating a virtual apartment tour for the owner.
2. Openwork structure separating entrance zone and living room — we had probably three different concepts and no final decision but we were waiting patiently… in the end of the construction, the owner fell in love with Alexander Calder’s mobiles and we loved the idea of using this motif at first sight [in the entryway partition].
Katarzyna Kowalska’s Proudest DIY: I am a creative person, who is the happiest during the art process. Two years ago I started making ceramic cups and I have a pretty big collection. I like the small cup with strawberries and a pink plate (as a complete). It gives me an energy shot when I use it in the morning to drink my coffee.
Katarzyna Kowalska’s Biggest Indulgence: Kitchen furniture cost the most, but it was totally worth its price. If it goes to one item, the TOGO sofa was the most expensive, but I adore it so much!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Katarzyna Kowalska – My partition “walls” are totally unique — they divide space, but do not limit it. I have pretty much no spare space, so I have a washing machine in my wardrobe and the vacuum cleaner under my bed.
What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Architects Kalina and Robert Juchnevic – Our advice is very practical. Provide as much storage space as possible. Then all the elements, even the very ordinary ones located in an open area will look like one million dollars. This can especially be said about small apartments… but not only small ones!
PAINT & COLORS
Thanks Katarzyna, Kalina, Robert, and Hanna!
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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