Decorative Tiles Define Living Spaces in this Historic Apartment Renovation

Designed to cater for a family and their guests, this early 20th century apartment in Barcelona has been given a facelift by local architecture firm, Narch. The renovation process was a balancing act between maintaining aspects of the building’s history while introducing new features.


Historic Apartment Renovation - Nach - Barcelona - Living Area - Humble Homes

The original layout was divided up into 9 individual rooms. Narch decided to remove all the partition walls to improve the lighting and flow between the spaces. However, the original tiled floors remain and have been restored, providing you with a glimpse of the original divisions.


Historic Apartment Renovation - Nach - Barcelona - Living Room 2 - Humble Homes

The tiles are known as encaustic tiles and are a traditional floor finish in Barcelona. The team behind the project had to try and source extra tiles from the same period to fill in the gaps: “We used all the existing mosaics that we could – pulling up all the floor tiles, cleaning them and putting them back again – but the original kitchen and bathroom have non-original mosaics.”


Historic Apartment Renovation - Nach - Barcelona - Living Room - Humble Homes

The new floor plan contains a small entryway that leads directly into a study/living room, a dining area and the kitchen. To the right of the kitchen there’s a small but adequate bathroom, followed by a bedroom. A second bedroom can be found at the opposite end of the home.

Historic Apartment Renovation - Nach - Barcelona - Bedroom - Humble Homes

The measures taken to open up the 700 square foot (65 square meters) unit no doubt help it to feel larger. However, when privacy is needed, the occupants can pull across a series of translucent screens that help to maintain light levels: “The apartment is very deep, 14 meters long, so by using glass sliding doors, the light can pass though them. It generates a sense of lightness and also reflects the environment.”

Historic Apartment Renovation - Nach - Barcelona - Floor Plan - Humble Homes

The ceiling was also lowered slightly to hide unsightly beams. During the process they included some recessed perimeter lighting. As for the fixtures and storage spaces: “All the elements are reorganised into the perimeter, placing the kitchen and the storage areas along the walls to provide spatial and visual continuity.”

For more apartments check out this tiny transforming property in Hong Kong by Laab. Or, Apartment Filippo, a 45-square-meter flat remodel by Alexander Fehre. See all apartments.

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Photos: Adria Goula

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.