Today on homify we will explore the refurbishment of a charming old art nouveau home in Geneva, Switzerland. Both the owner and the architect were keen to treat the original features with building with the care it deserved, but there was a lot of work to be done.
The original configuration and required changes were unique so the challenges were immense. The ground floor of the building is used for business purposes as a photo studio and the upper residential levels desperately needed their own private access. At the same time, the 7-storey wooden building was noisy and needed additional sound-proofing. In addition to all this, the owners wanted under-floor heating as well.
The planning team at Fastarch came up with a solution to gut the interior, install a central concrete elevator shaft—all while preserving the original charm. Come with us to see how things panned out.
Here we have the gutted, raw state of the apartment. The floor needed to be completely stripped in order to install the under-floor heating and there was just one internal supporting wall left intact. But from the bare bones we can still get a sense of the charm of the underlying structure and the lovely, light-filled potential of the place.
The parquet floor finish is immaculate, the walls are newly painted and the original timber beams have been left intact. The old world charm is perfectly present, but it's almost impossible to discern the radical changes that have taken place. Under these floorboards are new heating elements, the walls are properly soundproofed and the structural changes are immense.
The new internal private lift blends into the old-world style of the home with perfect subtlety. The width and height of the lift has been carefully selected to suit the old existing door and window heights. To complete the effect, the ornate skirting boards and timber panelling reach right to the meeting point of old and new.
While many of us may be nostalgic about older style homes, few people are really keen to forgo the convenience and simple pleasure of a contemporary kitchen or bathroom. The white contemporary kitchen here has a definite minimalist appeal. The sliding kitchen cupboard doors are handleless, the worktop is white and the stripped down minimalist kitchen island blends in with the more old world features in the apartment. This is a great example of how vast expanses of white can be used to connect old and new elements together in a home.
If we move into the kitchen and look out towards the balcony, we can see the contemporary elements of the kitchen against the raised-panel wainscot on the walls. The kitchen island has been perfectly sized to mirror the width of the opening to the balcony and continue the sense of visual cohesiveness.
As with the kitchen, the architects here have combined a few older style elements with a new, contemporary style bathroom. The small white bathroom here is an example of how perfectly the architects have focussed on the needs of the home over any desire to impress. It's a modest bathroom with contemporary comforts and lots of narrow, tall features to suit the shapes of the existing windows, doors and other elements in the home.
The original art nouveau staircase was retained and has become a feature point in the home. The staircase has a lovely sweeping curving quality that really infuses the space with elegance. The finish has wisely been left unpainted so as to reveal the beautiful old timber finish.
For our final photo, we'll look at the lovely, classic exterior with its original balconies and cream walls. Older style homes are particularly precious for historical reasons and it's always a little tricky combining contemporary elements while retaining the original charm. But this home has been a pleasure to tour because it's been treated with such care—and it's not even under historic protection!
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