This Renovated 100-Year-Old House in Buenos Aires Is an Utterly Stunning Home
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Name: María José Montiel Meurer, husband Alejandro Peralta, 15-year-old son Martiniano, 12-year-old son Camilo, and Río, our lovely Jack Russell dog
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Size: 1937 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, owned, but we had a two year gap while we lived in Rio de Janeiro. During those years the house was in the rental market.
When María and Alejandro first saw this house, it looked QUITE different. According to the couple, the house was nearly in collapse, but quite a steal! It took them three years to complete the renovation, in part because of all the work needed but also because of how careful and intentional they were with this project. More than 100 years old, the couple wanted to keep all the original features of this old structure, like high ceilings and the thick original brick walls.
“For me quality of life starts at home with a cosy and comfortable environment,” says María. “This is a place where it’s easier to feel in harmony with yourself and family. We always dreamed of having a big house where everyone can have their own space, a home that allows you to enjoy it and share it with your loved ones. I like the idea of spacious and bright common areas to evoke the sense of freedom.”
They used different shades of white and gray to highlight the home’s architectural details, which also gives the effect of a calming, bright space. Furnishings, accessories, and a collection of their favorite objects bring in texture and color. The double-leaf doors in the living area were lovingly restored. And they added windows to bring in more light, making sure to find the windows from a demolition site of a similar-era building to keep the additions visually consistent with the existing elements. The entire result is a home full of architectural charm and modern comfort.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I like to embrace the original features of the building complementing it with eclectic pieces of furniture and art. Rio de Janeiro had a huge impact on who I am today and that is reflected in my aesthetics. Nautical colors and themes are present throughout my creative process. Even though I enjoy seeing new trends, most of the furniture at home are pieces with a lot of history, many of them inherited. These objects not only tell unique stories, but they bring a bold personal style and identity.
Inspiration: The sea is my main inspiration. The color palette I love to use ranges from sandy pale yellow tones to different bleached turquoise, grays, and whites. As a professional photographer and someone who lived literally by the beach, I developed this passion for photographing the sea. My work is increasingly becoming an essential part of my home. And Deborah Needleman (editor and writer) is someone I feel I have a certain affinity with. Her idea of how we can elevate our experiences through interior design seems to match with my vision of living and feeling at home.
Favorite Element: I’m obsessed with building large lighted marquee letters and signs. I always had the fantasy of having a big bright star in my living room. I still remember some beautiful letters on a sale in Selfridges, London. I also visited a colorful antique shop called Lasco, near London Bridge; they had the most original marquee letters. That inspired me and a friend to launch what is today @sosimple.lightstyle, a lighting brand.
I have a 60cm star lighting up my reading corner, next to the fireplace; that’s my favorite spot of the house where I also like to relax and listen to music. I also installed a few hanging stars on the white brick wall, next to the dining table. This installation creates a peaceful and calming atmosphere.
Biggest Challenge: We bought this house from the early 1900s, a time when typical Buenos Aires architecture was influenced by the huge European immigration in Argentina. The house was in awful condition, near to collapse but very affordable. We started a very long and complex refurbishing process. It took us three years for completion, due to the ups and downs of the country’s economic climate. We also had massive challenges with the constructor but despite all the storms and hiccups, we finally achieved our goal of having our beautiful home.
Proudest DIY: With the wooden beams from the original door frames, my husband designed and built two beautiful mirrors, one of them is in the guest bathroom. We kept their rustic antique look as the light wood can be seen beneath the distressed paint.
Biggest Indulgence: My biggest Indulgence or guilty pleasure is shopping when I’m abroad. London has been so far my favorite city to do that. I love discovering places with character or charm and finding unique pieces for home. However on the way back, I struggle to fit all my new acquisitions in my luggage.
Best Advice: A tip: I often heat an essential oil up on the stove. It releases a lovely fragrance in the house.
- Furniture — Inherited piece of furniture from my father-in-law, it used to be part of an old TV set but we gave it a twist painting it carefully in black to bring some contrast in the reception area.
- Vase — Gift from a friend for my 40th birthday.
- Photograph — “That moment” from the Sea series, by me, Majo Montiel
- Glass jars — Mono Giraud. The sea snails and starfish (which are not real) were bought in a store in Buzios, Brazil.
- Basquet — Nono Artisans Fair, Córdoba (Argentina). On vacation I always take time to visit those fairs and get unique items.
- Sofa — Goral deco
- Cushions — Delevie Telas
- Table — Goral deco
- Wooden blocks — Goral deco
- Side antique table — Family heirloom, it used to belong to my grandparents. It was lacquered in grey to bring a more contemporary and modern flavour to the room.
- Wicker chairs — Casa Didot
- Rug — Elementos Argentinos
- Star — So simple Light & Style. It is a 60 cm star made completely of handmade wood, with five LED lights that illuminate large spaces.
- Sofa — Missura Disegno
- White table — Tok & Stok
- Cushions — Delevie Telas
- Photograph — “Calm” from the Sea series, by me Majo Montiel
- Star candles — Tok & Stok
- Pumpkins — Michaels
- White lamp — Habitat
- Frame — Paint “Bahiana” by me Majo Montiel
- Chairs — Goral deco
- Stars — So simple Light & Style. They are made of wood, completely handmade. In the summer I usually hang on it a climbing plant from my garden so as to give it a more romantic style. At Christmas time, I wrap them with Christmas lights and they stay on at night.
- Rounded mirrors — La tienda de Lola
- Big mirror — We bought this mirror on the road, on the way to Pilar. It is made from antique door frames. It was originally darker but we sanded it down to make the wood look lighter.
- Platos — Tok & Stok
- White Chandeliers — Habitat
- Candles — They are handcrafted by my friend Lorena Suez, made of pure beeswax, they are free of additives and chemical agents.
- Ceramic jug — It is a gift from a friend. I love it because it has a neutral color that matches with all my tableware.
- Yellow lamps — IKEA
- Green jug — Bought in Brazil, it is a carioca jug (Rio de Janeiro)
- Mortars — I love the texture of marble, which is why I love having them in the kitchen. Our favorite drink, the caipirinha, is prepared on them.
- Siphon — Inherited, we love vintage items in the kitchen.
- Tin sign — Bought in Notting Hill Market
- Drawer handle — Falabella
- Brazilian painting — Bought in a street art fair, in Rio de Janeiro. As an artist, the phrase “we have art so as not to die of truth” represents a very own feeling.
- Library — Handcrafted by a carpenter
- Linen — John Lewis & Partners
- Lamp — Tok & Stok
- Lampara de mesa — Tok & Stok
- Little Wooden elephant — Present from my brother’s trip in India. India is a country I would like to visit. The elephant is considered in India a guardian and protector of homes and families. People say elephants bring good luck and abundance, longevity, and wisdom.
- Cardboard boxes — Papelera Contemporánea .To store photographs and photographic films I need to have large storage boxes for all my stuff.
- Hats — Bought them in different beach towns
- Wallpaper — Paste
- Mirror — Made by my husband with antique door frames.
Thanks María and Alejandro!