DB Apartment, São Paulo

When situated in the heart of a cosmopolitan city, a home should be a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of it all. Presented with an empty apartment within the vibrant streets of São Paulo, architects Samuel Garcia and Delia Sloneanu from Studio Papaya wanted their client to have a flexible, light-filled respite with “personality” when he returned from his many travels.

One remarkable design choice in the 56sqm/603sqft apartment is the removal of the existing terrace doors, extending the area into a bright indoor-outdoor space. With glass sliding panels surrounding the balcony rails allowing for a bird’s eye view of the lively streets down below, a sense of outdoor living is constructed—a rarity in city dwellings.

Upon entering, there is an immediate sense of refreshment. Thanks to the glass panels and an open-plan layout, panoramic views can be seen from the front door. The entrance itself is painted a rich dark green, the colour seamlessly flowing into the bedroom to create a clear visual link.

Designing a limited space requires attention to the smallest details, so the primary intent was to work with colours and materials that could bring identity while creating a smooth fusion between form and function.

Samuel Garcia and Delia Sloneanu

A warm wooden palette with pops of green runs throughout the space, along with moody shades of black and grey that contrast with minimalistic white walls—much like the colours in Apartment Andradas, Porto Alegre.

At the entrance, the architects created a custom-designed wall shelf unit made from Cumaru wood veneer, a golden brown hardwood originating from South America. This unit wraps around a corner, transforming into a study desk with floating shelves on either side, creating a versatile space for work, storage, and hobbies.

A section of the kitchen and dining room ceiling has been lowered, creating an oval cutout at its centre and a recessed shelf around its perimeter—ideal for both housing pot plants and concealing an air conditioning unit. The lowered section, made from wood, contrasts with the white painted void above it and mimics the oval shape of the table beneath it to neatly demarcate the dining space. This is reminiscent of a spotlight on a main stage, amplified by the pendant lamp dangling from above.

With the removal of the terrace doors, the terrace has been transformed into a large multi-purpose space—that acts as both an extension of the kitchen and additional living and dining space. The cabinetry, balcony cabinets, and large floor-to-ceiling storage unit are all finished in the same Cumaru veneer as the entrance, and connected with a sophisticated black granite countertop and splashback.

All that remained from the terrace door removal was a support pillar, clad in mirrors on all sides to make it simultaneously disappear in the space while also appearing larger and brighter. It also serves as an anchor for a bar-height table that accommodates up to six people, turning the multi-purpose space into an informal breakfast nook, amongst other uses.

By substituting two existing walls with bi-fold doors that intersect with sliding panels, the whole space is immediately more flexible. When open, the dining and living rooms are one generous, open-plan space and when closed, each space becomes more private and intimate and a guest room is available as needed. To enhance a sense of intimacy in this hybrid living room/guest bedroom and the master bedroom, warm hardwood was selected for the floors, starkly contrasting with the cool concrete floor of the entrance, dining room, and terrace.

For more clever uses of wooden bi-fold sliding panels to conceal a room, check out BRERA Apartment, Milan.

In the main bedroom, a custom platform not only elevates the bed but provides additional storage space. The grey cotton fabric used for the headboard and wall opposite provides thermal and acoustic proofing, while an L-shaped wardrobe in the corner of the bedroom utilises mirrors and wood veneer to maximise the sense of space.

Both bathrooms were thoughtfully designed to complement each other while serving different purposes. The ensuite bathroom, blessed with natural light, embraces a minimal white colour palette, while in contrast, the guest bathroom, without windows, adopts a darker and more dramatic ambience, using a round backlit mirror as its centrepiece.

In DB Apartment, we wanted to carefully integrate multi-functional areas, smart storage solutions, and flexible furniture arrangements to not only optimise space but also promote a sense of openness and versatility.

Garcia and Sloneanu

It’s a successful formula and one that delivers comfort, personality, and practicality, alongside an escape from the world below.

Samuel Garcia and Delia Sloneanu (architects) & the NTS team

For a small home clad in similar wooden tones and overlooking the gorgeous Tasmanian landscape, head over to The Pod, Tasmania.

Images by NeverTooSmall & Arthur Duarte