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Interior with history. An apartment with columns in a 1930s Krakow building

Dobrawa Bies
22 of October '21
Technical data
Name: apartment in krakow tenement
Location: , Cracow
Interior design: Aleksandra Gawlik


48 m²

Photos: Dominika Wilk


The 1930s Krakow town house, which used to be a single-family house, houses fifteen apartments, and among them one very special one. Its hallmarks are antique columns and stucco and a bright space. We talk about the history of the apartment, the idea behind the project and the difficulties of implementation with architect Aleksandra Gawlik of the FORMATTO studio.

w krakowskiej kamienicy, charakterystyczne kolumny

The star of the interior is the preserved columns and stucco

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

Dobrawa Bies: The apartment we're talking about is located in a 1930s Krakow townhouse. How did you approach such a design challenge?

Aleksandra Gawlik: The apartment is located in a small tenement, once a single family home. The property deteriorated over the following decades, until it came into the hands of a Krakow developer, passionate about old buildings. As a result, the tenement was thoroughly renovated, rebuilt, the space was divided into fifteen apartments, and balconies with views of Kopiec Kosciuszki were added in individual units. The developer took care to leave elements testifying to the years of splendor of the place, including stained glass windows in the stairwell. The woodwork of the exterior doors and windows, although made by a contemporary carpenter, refers to the original designs. The first floor, where the said premises are located, was once a single space with a series of columns and stucco. Unfortunately, their condition has allowed the preservation of only two colossi in one of the newly separated 48-square-meter apartments on the first floor. The functional layout of the space created by the developer was strongly obligatory especially in the area of the kitchen and bathroom, but I think that in the end we managed to combine the soul of the place with the investor's expectations. From the beginning of work on the project, I knew that the theme of the interior was the stucco in the living room along with the columns. In combination with the investor's personality and lifestyle, they were quite a treat.

w krakowskiej kamienicy, salon i kuchnia

The architect tried to combine the soul of the place with the investor's expectations

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

Dobrawa: For whom was the apartment designed. Did the investors have any special requirements?

Aleksandra Gawlik: The apartment was to become a place of rest for the investor associated with the fashion industry, and in the future with the possibility of renting. Thus, on the one hand we were constrained by the budget, and on the other by the recipient's multiple styles. She is a thirty-year-old woman surrounded by an explosion of colors, fabric patterns and forms on a daily basis. The apartment had to give a sense of tranquility to the eye, hence the color scheme as much as neutral - grays and whites, enriched with nature influences such as bleached oak, in the case of the floor, and a gray-brown oiled table also made of oak. The investor was enthralled by the atmosphere of Parisian apartments, where she frequents, but she also appreciates simplicity of form, and does not like cluttered spaces. To top it all off, she appreciates contact with nature. In addition, the developer prepared a mini recess for a kitchenette completely inadequate to the investor's habits. The plumbing in the bathroom limited the design movements, we had space for a shower, while we dreamed of a bathtub. Another aspect was the storage space for a collection of clothes and shoes of considerable size.

w krakowskiej kamienicy, przedpokój Mieszkanie w krakowskiej
kamienicy, fragment kolumny

The architect created a hallway with two closet closets

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

Dobrawa: Of particular note are the columns at the entrance to the living room and the beautiful wooden parquet floor throughout the apartment. Please tell us about the design work and the materials used.

Aleksandra Gawlik: The basis for my work is functionalism and comfort while maintaining the visible space of the room. The apartment was in development condition. Crossing the threshold of the premises, we were directly in the living room. In the glory years of this townhouse, there was a wooden paneled enclosure in line in front of the columns. I decided to separate the space from the entrance door to the columns with a wall, which gave me a hallway with two closet closets 90 centimeters deep. Both of them have a system of two rows of hangers and shoe shelves to the ceiling. One of them is made of mirror, which is a convenient form of utility when leaving the house, and also has the effect of visually enlarging the space of the cramped hall. Between the columns I used double doors, which further mutes the noise from the staircase, gives a sense of intimacy and is an interesting aesthetic composition, reminiscent of the old days.

w krakowskiej kamienicy, kuchnia Mieszkanie w krakowskiej
kamienicy, stół jako wyspa kuchenna

The small kitchen was laid out in the space designated by the developer

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

I decided to enclosethe kitchen space in a recess set aside by the developer, using small versions of household appliances, such as a dishwasher and granite undermount sink. The investor was keen on drawers, which also in a mini version constitute the bottom of the kitchen development. The upper cabinets form risers to the ceiling, giving more storage space, and, together with the hood, follow the lines of the columns. The kitchen design is topped with a granite countertop with a cascading leg. A large refrigerator with freezer proved problematic, which I eventually placed in the aforementioned cabinet divided into four panels high to the ceiling. The height of this closet allowed maximum use of the space and created an optical impression of a wall. The mirror placed on the side adds lightness and enlarges the space. The oak table is an allegory of the kitchen island, although it ultimately serves as a gathering place for a shared meal. Moreover, its line intersects the line of the corner, which clearly delineates the kitchen space and the one for relaxation. The downside is the path from the annex to the refrigerator, but in the end we decided that this was the best solution for the simple form of the kitchen and the investor's cooking habits.

 Mieszkanie w krakowskiej
kamienicy, salon

Additions from the natural world also add character

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

The star of this interior was undeniably the columns with stucco, which caused nerves from the beginning. The condition of the spikes near the ceiling left much to be desired. During the renovation, individual elements were stuccoed and glued back in place. Thanks to the contractor's professionalism, during the painting, the eyes of the realization team saw the faces of the angels at the finial of the columns, which gave us all optimism. The design of this interior had to be based on simplicity of modern form so as not to overshadow the main characters. The investor did not want a pseudo-palace effect, so when it came to the floor, French fir fell out of the running. I opted for a half-meter thick classic herringbone parquet to avoid the effect of fine rhythm. For more naturalness and symbiosis with the stucco, I chose a rustic version in oak bleached with oil-wax. The parquet has a neutral cool color similar to the sliced one. The semi-matte, unobtrusive surface gives the feeling as if it had always been laid here.

w krakowskiej kamienicy, sypialnia

The bedroom refers to the atmosphere of the living room

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

The bedroom is a slight reference to the atmosphere of the living room. The basis is an oak bed in the color of the kitchen table with a headrest of the same fabric as the corner. The modern form of the headrest is finished with a roll of fabric deceptively resembling melange wool in cool gray. The shabby look is given by satin rustling curtains of the same color. In the bedroom I put the investor's pre-war closet. She gives the final effect to the room. Wooden blinds in the windows allude to the color of the age-old piece of furniture, and additionally introduce the atmosphere of the natural world, which the investor is so fond of.

A separate theme is accessories from the natural world, such as, standing lamps made of antlers, carpet made of jute or buffalo skins. The playfulness of natural colors and textures of accessories is topped off by linen curtains and curtains in the living room woven in a pattern of waving grass. Modern lamps near the ceiling are alluded to in fine furniture with a black line motif, such as the leg bases of the 1970s Flototto bentwood chairs and a bookcase constructed of steel profiles and glass. A high profiled skirting board and a wooden door design with a narrow handle on a long sign dialog with the stucco ornamentation. Crystal sconces were hung upside down, giving the impression of a floral motif, but they also evoke the shape of antlers.

w krakowskiej kamienicy, jasna i minimalistyczna łazienkaFragment łazienki

minimalist bathroom

Photo: Dominika Wilk © FORMATTO

Another story is a minimalist bathroom, where difficult square footage and plumbing imposed a functional design. The most important thing for the investor was the bathtub, whose surrounding shelf was successfully combined with the development of a toilet bowl duo with a bidet [...]. The consequence of the use of natural materials in the design, such as wood and stone, is a tile that imitates calacatta marble. The simple shape of the radiator, combined with the rounded shapes of the mixer faucet and mirror, unobtrusively completes the neo-florist composition.

Dobrawa: The way to timeless interiors is?

Aleksandra Gawlik: My experience suggests two solutions, depending on which investors I deal with in terms of stylistic preferences . Unobtrusive classics without exaggerated ornamentation always. I am also a proponent of oscillating a simple modern form with influences of different styles on the basis of sophisticated eclecticism, but probably each of us designers has his own patent ... and that's the beauty of this field :)

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.

interviewed: {tag:AuthorAiB}

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