Kloedenstraße, Berlin

With one foot in the past and the other in the present, the design of this Berlin apartment is so much more than a homage to its heritage. The 46sqm/495sqft home, by architect Jessica Keupp of Dax I, harmoniously balances decorative cornices, rich colours, and vintage furnishing with clean lines, monochromatic themes, and modern finishes. 

Homage to Heritage

The apartment, which is housed in a pre-war building in the Bergmannkiez area, was not in the best condition prior to its renovation. Keupp was unphased, though; this is exactly the type of challenge she enjoys: “I love finding projects in conditions like this because it allows us to revise, redesign, or completely rethink everything”. Tasked with preserving the existing floor plan while making it more casual and functional, Keupp set about reenvisioning the space – gathering inspiration from the architecture and materials of the building and its surrounding areas.

Warm Welcome

The rich fiery red of the entryway, a colour by Little Greene, sets the tone for the apartment, which eschews plain white walls in favour of deeper hues inspired by the stucco facades of neighbouring buildings. “Dark colours can be an ideal solution for rooms with limited natural light,” Keupp told Never Too Small, “because they blend boundaries and make light wooden floors and white doors shine.” In the case of the entryway, the monochromatic colouring reduces visual clutter and creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere. A built-in storage unit painted in the same colour keeps coats and shoes out of sight by blending right into its surroundings.

Cosy Kitchen

The kitchen was relocated from an enclosed room into the apartment’s dining area, where there’s a round cherry wood table for eating. Compact but fully equipped, the all-black kitchen features nicely against the walls painted Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball. The deep, detached sink was inspired by the ones often used in artist studios and was constructed from black natural stone to match the counters. The brass hardware adds a lustre, while the drip tray above it ups the functionality. Across the room, a floating sideboard finished in the same colours as the walls provide pantry storage without adding any undue clutter.

Detail Focused

Keupp managed this same balance of modern and heritage across the entire apartment through an exacting focus on the materials and details. The modern platform bed and lamp fixture by DCWéditions (the same maker of the kitchen lights) in the bedroom, for example, rest beneath a wallpapered ceiling that was designed to play off original cornices. The German-made tiles lining the bathroom walls and floors were selected for their resemblance to those found in the subway and on historical buildings, while the discreet storage unit features a built-in laundry. Vintage furniture in the living room and on the balcony offers a “weathered” edge to the otherwise clean, minimalist space.

“Be gentle with the architecture”

True to her philosophy of “being gentle with the architecture,” Keupp illustrates how relying on the inspiration and materials around you can lead to a design that truly feels at home in its surroundings.

Images by Never Too Small

Watch now: City Veil, Hong Kong