Location: Recoleta — Buenos Aires, Argentina
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 6 years
Six years ago, Hernan was fed up with where he was living. "It had many rooms but each of them was very small. I needed fewer rooms and more space," he explains. He also yearned for more outdoor access. But after losing out on a nice flat with a big terrace in an exhaustive bidding war that lasted for months, he came across the home he lives in now. It didn't have a big terrace, but the top-floor flat overlooks a beautiful, lush sea of trees. And the gorgeous upgrades he's made to the flat's interior rivals even the views!
Space planning was the first improvement he tackled. Hernan remodeled the bathrooms from floor to ceiling, and relocated the kitchen to create an open entertaining area he had always dreamed of having. The first version of the living space had a dining area, but Hernan noticed that when friends came over they preferred to stay lounging on the couch; he ultimately ditched the dining table and allowed the living area to take over.
The renovation of the space is just one part of this home's story, though. Hernan's eye for design is extraordinary. Every inch of his apartment showcases art and pieces he's collected over time. He travels a few times per year—his beau lives in Austria—so he takes every chance he gets to visit old world flea markets and thrift stores. So far his favorites are the ones in Vienna and Lisbon.
Though hard to tell from just a photograph, there's no doubt that Hernan's home smells as good as it looks. After experimenting with making candles himself, he founded his own company, Lovely George, a brand of aromatic luxury candles hand poured in vintage glassware containers.
"It was hard to find high-quality aromatic candles in Argentina. So one day I had a pile of empty cans and I thought: Maybe I can figure out how to refill them myself," Hernan said. "Then I saw a pair of vintage wine glasses that I had and thought they might look really cool. When I showed them to my friends they went nuts and I knew that it could lead somewhere."
As any entrepreneur knows, owning a business can completely take over your home and life, so Hernan recently moved his business to its own office outside his home, so this space can be more for relaxation and gathering. But zen doesn't mean boring in Hernan's book: "I love the feeling of energy it gives me to wake up and see the patterned wallpapers or even my orange lamp."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: It's quite eclectic; I love finding vintage items as you can see. My ideal is having a modern space with vintage finds on top to add the character.
Inspiration: I try to avoid home decor trends so I look for inspiration in places like fashion magazines. Their editorials are more about a mood than about a perfect space and sometimes their shoots take place in locations with very interesting styles!
Favorite Element: I love my lacquered nightstand from George Home Couture. Actually it was intended as a bench, and I'd been coveting it for about three years before deciding to buy it.
Biggest Challenge: A month after renovating the bathrooms we had some plumbing issues in the building and to fix them they needed to crack the marble floors, take them up and ultimately replace them. The whole thing ended up taking year and a half to complete. The good thing is that now I've become sort of renovation-proof so I don't mind the construction mess as long as the result is as beautiful as my bathrooms.
What Friends Say: They say that it looks like an antique store, (but a cool one). The most commented thing is the gallery wall for sure, because it's always changing.
Biggest Embarrassment: I recently got Lovely George its own space, but I still have to move many things there. During busy weeks I use my guest bath as a storage room for candle supplies, so I tell visitors to use the master bathroom instead.
Proudest DIY: I painted some of the art on display. I also made many of the candles, but that counts as work now!
Biggest Indulgence: The bright lacquered nightstand was quite expensive so I kept talking myself out of buying it for years, until I realized how happy it would make me to see it everyday in my home and went for it.
Best Advice: Many friends ask for my advice and then discard it because it challenges the ideas about home that they already have. I'm not saying that they must blindly follow what I say—because what do I know—but my advice for them would be to take it as a chance to see their world with fresh eyes and try to incorporate that perspective into their thinking. This is kind of meta-advice, no?
Dream Sources: There is a shop in Vienna that sells vintage furniture that has never been used and it's very expensive as you would expect. They charge 4000 Euros or so for a side table, just imagine the pieces they have.
Portrait — Cinthia Rched
Patterned Settee and Gray Sofa — Vintage finds
Laccio Coffee Table — Vintage find (similar at Knoll)
Bar Cart — Vintage find
Orange Lamp — Found at a flea market in Lisbon
Vintage Record Player — Borrowed from his brother
Watercolor — Painted by Hernan
Onyx Round Table — MercadoLibre
Glass Vase — Found at flea market in Vienna
Bookcase — Custom made
Red Painting — Gift from a friend's mother
Brass Pheasant — Found at a flea market in Lisbon
Ceramic Cat — Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro
Pedestal Sink — Salvage find
Faucet — FV
Mirror Vanity — Custom-made
Garden — Parana Muebles