Old buildings remain extremely in demand in most major cities, despite the many issues and inconveniences that may accompany them. Poor insulation, leaky roofs, outdated central heating system… none of these potential problems is enough to dent the enduring popularity of genuinely vintage homes. Part of this popularity can, of course, be partially attributed to the relative rarity of older buildings; in the majority of urban regions, they make up only a fraction of the housing stock, as new and cheap buildings were thrown up to accommodate expanding populations in the second half of the 20th Century. This is especially true in Berlin, where post-war Soviet occupation resulted in a profusion of sensible, though largely unsightly, concrete tower blocks springing up in the eastern part of the city.
But it’s not merely novelty that accounts for the preference many renters and buyers harbour for a house with a past. The older a house is, the more character and quirks it is likely to have acquired over time; the more history it seems to provide. Not only this, many old homes contain features that are rarely reproduced in contemporary homes, and so really re more or less only attainable by opting for the real deal.
But wanting to live in an old home definitely doesn’t mean wanting to opt out of contemporary design. Far from it; for many, a hundred-year-old house with high ceiling and broad windows is just a canvas for their modern vision. Take this apartment by Gleba + Störmer – a pair of Berlin-based interior architects who clearly know the value of both the past and the present.
Paint gives the original wooden floors a contemporary update that fits in perfectly with the on-trend grey walls and scrupulously uncluttered open spaces of this bedroom. That trio of lampshades has to be the key feature of this bedroom, and the one that pushes this design from simple and understated to seriously cool.
One top tip, employed here, for making sure that sparsely furnished rooms don’t come off as cold or hostile is to include a little green wherever possible. The feel-good power of plants is never to be underestimated.
This is the explanation for the bedroom’s relative lack of furniture: there’s a separate dressing room just for getting ready. Right now it might seem a little dull, but filled with clothes it would be transformed into a cave of sartorial delights – the ultimate dream of every compulsive shopper.
Storage will never be a problem in this flat; in case the entire room dedicated to it wasn’t enough, the hall is also furnished with a series of inbuilt cupboards. The lighting, each bulb in a little cage-like shade, is the most unique part of this space, however.