The phrase “paint-by-numbers” is often used disparagingly to denote a project that adheres too closely to an established template. But the saying takes on new meaning in a Prague apartment renovation by No Architects, where a painting of two numerals inspired a playfully derivative mix of bright colours, bold forms and intriguing textures.
The artwork in question, a favourite of the maisonette’s owners, is by Czech painter Vladimír Houdek. Across four panels, he explores the visual similarities between the digits 6 and 9. (And while the architects note that the number 69 “has a special meaning for the owners of this space,” they clarify that it is not because of its, uh, “sexually coded reference”.)
Many of the two-storey unit’s most eye-catching elements can be traced back to this canvas, now prominently suspended between the kitchen and dining area. First, there’s the home’s colour scheme, which carries the painting’s bold blue through to both the lower kitchen cabinetry and a walk-in hallway closet (both of which, like all of the project’s furniture pieces, are custom made).
The pale pink used on the upper kitchen cabinets and wall-mounted shelves introduces a dynamic counterpoint, while other shades of blue pop up throughout the house to create spaces that feel harmonious but not one-note.
Meanwhile, the mottled border around Houdek’s artwork informs the rough edge that runs along the bases of the kitchen’s upper cabinets — a moment of rawness that makes for a fun contrast to the soft hues and gentle curves that surround it.
Apart from inspiring the space’s many rounded forms, the sinuous shapes of the painting’s integers also appear throughout the home in less abstract ways. Upon closer inspection, the perforations in the home’s metal vent grates are actually a pattern made up of many tiny 6s and 9s.
This detail hints at the many practical problems that were resolved during the renovation — along with modifying the unit’s layout to enlarge key spaces, the architects also revamped the heating system and installed an air conditioning unit. The new stairs represent another major upgrade, illuminated by under tread lighting and framed by a wall of wood that curves around a corner and swoops up onto the ceiling as one reaches the second storey.
Throughout the maisonnette, other artworks from the family’s collection inform additional design elements. Teardrop-shaped lights reference both the melancholic tone of a painting by Josef Bolf that hangs in the living room, as well as a nearby waterfall mural by Patrik Hábl that’s visible through the window.
All in all, the finished home is a rich extension of the art it showcases. And because it’s born from an equation that’s equal parts imitation and imagination, the final solution looks anything but formulaic.
Inspired by the digits in a family’s favourite painting, No Architects formulates an apartment reno filled with soft corners.