3 Brilliant Lessons to Steal from This Open-Concept Apartment Kitchen in Barcelona

published Feb 5, 2022
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Credit: Sandra Regalado

When Gemma Askham and her husband began looking for a home in Barcelona, Spain, the couple said right from the beginning that they wanted a place that was move-in ready. “When we set out to buy, one thing we said was ‘no projects,’” Askham says. Well, that initial stipulation went out the window as soon as they saw their future home.

The couple had looked at nearly a dozen places, and when they walked into this balcony apartment, there was something special about the vibe that just grabbed them, Askham says. “It had a lot of natural light, and it just felt very relaxed.” The only problem was that it needed a serious renovation. Originally, the 1,350-square-foot home, dating from the early 1900s, was compartmentalized with five small bedrooms. Renovating to just two bedrooms, the couple set out to create an open-concept kitchen and dining room space with an adjoining living room and office.

Credit: Sandra Regalado
Gemma and her husband, Jordi, and their dog, Diego.

We took the tour and love how bright and warm their home feels. While we scoped out the couple’s renovation, we spotted three lessons worth stealing. Let’s take a look!

Credit: Sandra Regalado

1. Uncover your home’s past.

When you buy a new-to-you home, the truth is, there’s almost always going to be at least one unknown element. You could discover termites (we certainly hope not!), or it could be gorgeous hardwood floors. In Askham’s case, she hit the jackpot. With the help of a local architect, Askham and her husband unearthed plenty of classic Catalan features buried behind plaster walls and laminate flooring. Finding bright modern tile, exposing a brick wall (take a look at the post below for before and during photos), and discovering a vaulted ceiling was like unlocking the home’s hidden treasure trove.

Before you start demolishing, take a peek at the layers of your home hiding beneath. Even if your home doesn’t have quite the history as Askham’s, chances are there’s some story to find and release. And when you’re ready for a remodel, you can try reaching out to the selling real estate agent, who might know a thing or two about the home’s past life.

Credit: Sandra Regalado

2. Splurge on what you love.

Askham readily admits her biggest indulgence in the apartment renovation was buying the stunning chandelier that hangs gloriously above the dining room table. “I seem to be attracted to anything breakable, beautiful, and really, really annoying to carry,” she says with a smile. The expensive chandelier, which she found at La Casa de las Lamparas, was a thrilling yet terrifying impulse buy, according to Askham. “But I love the drama of it against the exposed brick.”

Just remember that splurging doesn’t mean overspending. It may mean shifting money from one home project to another and prioritizing what you really value.

Credit: Sandra Regalado

3. Focus on the details.

Askham loves “plant life.” Throughout her home, both high and low, she has greenery tucked here and there. The various plants add a pop of color to the neutral tones, but also enhance a relaxed feeling. Along with the natural accents, Askham artfully displays her collected knickknacks in a section of her kitchen’s narrow, open shelves. Here she stores stemware, artwork, and cute potted succulents.

Credit: Sandra Regalado

The other surprising little detail? Askham’s stylish pick for electrical switches (the little strip shown along the wall) that came from Fontini. Friends tell her: “I really love your … light switches.” Askham initially expected the punchline to be that her pals adored the tiles. “Or, you know, even that I was having a great hair day. But after the fourth or fifth time of hearing the same thing,” she explains, pointing out the matching electric plug below. “I was like, okay, I do good power sockets, I’ll take that!”

Do you have smart remodeling tips you’d love to share? Tell us in the comments below.