Magda and Maciek, an architect and actor, decided to move from their apartment in the attic of a Krakow tenement to an old wooden cottage in Szczyrk, which they converted into a guesthouse. The task was not easy, as the 1930s house was in terrible condition, and finding a team to undertake a major renovation was even more difficult.
Dobrawa Bies: How did your adventure begin?
Maciek Kulig: Our names are Magda and Maciek. We are married to an architect and an actor. We lived together since college, and later with our children in Krakow. We had a beautiful attic in the very center of Kazimierz, which, by the way, we had also persistently renovated earlier, but with two children, living at that height and in the very center of the city was becoming more and more difficult. We started looking around for something else, and that's how the idea to move out of Krakow came about. At the same time it turned out that an old wooden cottage in Szczyrk, belonging to our family, was looking for a new owner, so we decided to renovate it and turn it into a guesthouse. This is how the idea for Daj Spokój in Szczyrk was born. The house was in terrible condition - it was an original Carpathian cottage from the 1930s. There was no water, no sewage system, no gas, fortunately the structure was fairly sound. We decided to move to Bielsko-Biała, I knew the city a little - I had played as a guest in the theater here, and before that I also went to high school.
Give Spokój, a house after a general renovation
Photo: Maciek Kulig
Dobrawa Bies: What were the most difficult moments of creating this place?
Maciek Kulig: In the beginning, in such a large renovation, the most difficult thing was to find a team to take on the work. No one today is paid to chisel away at old beams for a year anymore. During that time, companies are able to build an entire estate, for which they can charge considerably more money, so the prices we received in bids were astonishing. Almost everyone suggested tearing down the house and building "the same" from scratch. This, however, was out of the question - you don't tear down something you fell in love with. In the end, we decided to renovate in the economic system with the help of a Ukrainian team. It's amazing, because in Ukraine contractors still have skills and respect for old architecture. Almost every one of the guys once renovated a similar cottage at their home whether it was for their grandmother or brother-in-law.
The house was in terrible condition
Photo: Maciek Kulig
Magda did the design, and I came to the construction site almost every day and helped to the best of my ability. I mainly dealt with supplies. I bought a trailer and hauled all the materials, because the guys had no understanding of Poland and didn't want to go anywhere. After six months we had reinforced foundations, a deepened basement, new ceilings, replaced logs that didn't fit, cleaned beams, insulation, a new facade. I, on the other hand, was able to quietly become an expert on the average prices of materials in building depots. Then, already with the help of local companies, we did the roof, installations, deep well, windows, interiors. Each time Magda made sure that the new elements used were in harmony with the original character. At the back of the house, we renovated a shepherd's hut, which is even older than the rest of the house and now houses a ski and bike room.
Many of the interior elements are old family heirlooms and local antiques collected during the renovation, such as an old sideboard
photo: Maciek Kulig
Dobrawa Bies: What was particularly important to you in creating this place?
Maciek Kulig: The most important thing was to preserve the original character of the house. Despite the contemporary facade, which is very carefully designed by Magda, the house looks classic from the outside. We are very pleased that the house draws attention to itself with its traditional form, and not with flashy signs and flashing banners, which are not difficult to find in Szczyrk. This is at the same time unfortunate for us - a house that was once typical here, today by its typicality looks unique and draws attention. This shows how the architecture here has been distorted. Hardly anyone is aware of the architectural context. Pseudo-gothic, plexiglass, glass and glowing colors reign supreme. In such an environment, a simple, classic house really stands out.
Hiding all the installations so as to achieve the effect of clean, old walls was not easy either
photo: Maciek Kulig
Dobrawa Bies: Where did you get the idea for such interior design?
Maciek Kulig: The interiors were an offshoot of the assumption that it should be classic, but comfortable, and so it is. The most important thing for Magda was functionality. Stuffing three bathrooms and a kitchen on one floor while providing comfortable space kept us busy for several weeks. It required, also, a lot of unusual procedures, like a pull-up based on an old chimney, which was reinforced and poured with concrete so as not to put up a new column. Hiding all the plumbing and ventilation so as to achieve the effect of clean old walls was not easy either. Many elements of the interior are old family heirlooms and local antiques collected during the renovation, such as an old sideboard, skis, or a chair from an old lift to Skrzyczne.
Owners: Magda and Maciek with their children
photo: Maciek Kulig's archives
Dobrawa Bies: How are your guests supposed to feel here?
Maciek Kulig: Like at home! I don't know how this was achieved, but you simply don't want to leave. We ourselves took up residence in Daj Spokój during the pandemic, and we no longer associate the place with renovation, and we ourselves finally appreciated the results of our work. It is comfortable and cozy. For us, Szczyrk is all about mountains and sports. Our house was intended to be a base for biking, running and skydiving. This has also been successful. From the very beginning we try to infect our first guests with love for the Beskids and mountain sports. We organize night skitur trips to Skrzyczne and bike and running workshops for our guests. Simply put - we do what we like, and guests are happy :)