Homes Around the World

This Small Spanish Apartment Is a Mix of Minimalism and Splashes of Fun

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The living-dining is quite small so it was important to find proportionate elements that didn’t make it feel too crowded.

Name: Irene de Mas, my boyfriend, and our dog
Location: Sarrià — Barcelona, Spain
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 516 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I bought this flat to live on my own three years ago. Even though it went through a complete renovation, I fell in love with it the first time I stepped a foot in it. It has tons of light from sunrise to sunset and it’s located very close to the mountain. I spent lockdown alone here and these two (light and proximity to nature) made it so much easier. Now my boyfriend and our dog live here as well. I work from home so my dog and I spend a lot of time in my tiny studio. When I set it up I would have never thought I would use it so much! I am a project manager (and as a side gig I run a restaurant finder and write articles about design, tech, and food) so I only really need a laptop to work, which makes my minimal set up more than enough. My boyfriend works in finance so he is always at the office. That said, no matter how late he gets home, we always watch something on the projector before going to bed. I had always fantasized about having one so it was one of the first things I bought for the flat.

One of our favorite corners to spend time looking out the window, reading or watching a movie on the projector.

When people ask me if I am an introvert or an extrovert, I never know what to say because I do enjoy spending time with people but I also need some me time regularly — and that is very easy to see in my home. There are a few corners where you can just sit and read, write or watch a movie but all the areas are connected. When I bought the apartment I removed all doors (except the bathroom’s) and opened the kitchen so it would merge with the dining room. One of my favorite activities is to cook while chatting with someone and having a glass of wine. My home is interesting because you can get a pretty clear idea of how I am just by being in it. It is a mix between minimalist, neutral lines, and splashes of color and fun, witty elements. I don’t like houses that are too generic, where anyone could live.

I like art in unexpected places such as kitchens and bathrooms. I chose this Wolfgang Tillmans’ because the way it is positioned it kind of opens a second window in the kitchen, as if you were looking at the people through a glass.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Bright, hyggelig, personal

These built-in shelves were here when I bought the flat and were one of the things that made me fall immediately in love with it.

What is your favorite room and why? The living-dining room. Unless I am working, this is where I spend most of the time when I am at home. There is tons of light coming in so I don’t need to turn on any lamps until the sun goes down. It has great views too — I love sitting on the couch and just watching the neighbor’s pine trees and the church.

I connected the two rooms the flat had to gain fluidity and I am very happy with the decision. It makes the whole space feel more connected and helps with cross-ventilation — the breeze in this apartment is wonderful, and the best substitute of AC, thanks to this.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A dark blue duvet cover set from Crisp Sheets! I wish I could live inside their promo pictures so I had been wanting to buy some sheets from them for a while. They feel amazing and are as beautiful as they look online.

Every corner can be made more personal so having a small home doesn’t mean having to renounce having lots of delightful objects.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Look for inspiration, don’t be too stuck in your own head. When picturing something that doesn’t exist yet, we tend to only imagine things we’ve seen over and over so it’s easy to end up choosing something just because of repetition without even realizing it. Nowadays you can find thousands of references without making any effort so why not leverage that and open your mind? Maybe your perfect home is one you have never seen yet. At the same time, I would recommend to go with your gut. If you like something or it feels right, go with it. Don’t care too much about what design magazines or other people say. After all, you are the one who is going to live there. Your home should reflect you, not a trend or someone else’s taste.

I found this German nutcracker in a flea market and love the idea that he welcomes you when you enter the flat. The bag is from the best design store to ever exist in Barcelona (Vinçon) — it closed a few years ago and I still miss it.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity. 
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