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Kilims and a half-couch. The new life of a 1970s Zakopane apartment

27 of July '21

In one of the apartments located in Zakopane's Kasprusie housing estate, time stopped in the 1970s. With the change of owners, it was time for a renovation that would highlight the qualities of the apartment, make it functional and refer to the history and character of the region. Architect Agata Popieluch is responsible for the complete transformation of this 50-square-meter apartment.

The 50-square-meter apartment has two balconies - the southern one offers a view of the Tatra Mountains. The main task of the architect was to create a functional space, allowing all members of a large family of investors to comfortably spend weekends and vacations in Zakopane. The owners wanted the interiors to refer to the communist climate and the character of the region, all on a limited budget.

Mieszkanie w Zakopanem,

The owners wanted the interiors to refer to the communist-era climate and the character of the region

Photo: Anna Michalek © Agata Popieluch

Agata Popieluch decided to completely change the layout of the apartment. The small, cramped rooms, thanks to the demolition of most walls, created a comfortable bedroom and a kitchen connected with the living room. The vestibule remained intact, and the bathroom gained more space.

The investors' dream was to use a solution native to a previous era - a half-couch, which, in addition to a fold-out couch, provides additional sleeping space. Another element that makes the apartment easily adaptable for more residents is a circular sliding table set in the middle, the architect says.

 Mieszkanie w Zakopanem,
rzut Mieszkanie w Zakopanem,

The architect decided to change the layout of the apartment

© Agata Popieluch

The color scheme of the interior is kept in a natural color palette, dominated by light wood and grays, which were emphasized with contrasting graphite and black accents. Spruce boards on the wall behind the bed give the bedroom a mountainous character. Interestingly, for the arrangement the designer used furniture and accessories left behind by the previous owners. Two armchairs (their upholstery was replaced) and a wooden desk gained a second life. Zakopane handmade wool kilims hung in the living room and bedroom, and one was used as a bedspread. Old furniture, juxtaposed with simple items from outlet stores and chain stores, created a harmonious whole.

Salon i otwarty

In the living room there is a half couch

Photo: Anna Michalek © Agata Popieluch

Dobrawa Bies: Does designing in Zakopane, a city with deep highland traditions, involve additional challenges/expectations for investors?

Agata Popieluch: Investors, especially visitors, want to feel the mountain climate in the interior. Accustomed to a kitschy rendition of the mountain motif attacking Zakopane at every turn, they often don't realize that the context can be addressed in a less obvious way than nailing skis to the wall and pasting a wall mural with a mountain view. It is quite a challenge to create a design that relates to the region, yet is fresh and modern, and to convince clients of it.

Kuchnia w zakopiańskim
mieszkaniu Salon w mieszkaniu
w Zakopanem

The color scheme of the interior is kept in a natural color palette

Photo: Anna Michalek © Agata Popieluch

Dobrawa: An apartment where you spend weekends or vacations is a different space than such an "everyday" apartment? In terms of design, can you afford to do more?

Agata Popieluch: When designing an apartment for a short-term stay, you don't need to take into account as much storage space as usual. So with a small square footage, it is easier to lay out the functions to accommodate everything comfortably. In addition, investors seem to be more open to suggestions and new ideas.

Drewniany stolik
i kilim Fragment sypialni

Handmade kilims got a second life

Photo: Anna Michalek © Agata Popieluch

Dobrawa: What was the biggest challenge, and what gave you the most pleasure during the design process?

Agata Popieluch: The biggest challenge was the investors' assumed, rather low budget for renovating the apartment. Achieving a striking interior therefore involved additional searches at discounts and outlet stores. However, thanks to the savings, much of the furniture and accessories found in the apartment were reused, and it was incorporating them into the new interior that gave me the most pleasure.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.

interviewed: Dobrawa Bies

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