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Berlin’s pre-war buildings hold somewhat of a mythical status in the realm of German real estate. Light, airy and sophisticated, the historic Altbaus (old building in German) built in the early 20th century carry a distinct charm — but their configuration can appear outdated. Studio Loes, a Berlin-based design firm, was tasked with a complete interior re-design of one such apartment, transforming an inefficient layout into a graceful, elegant living arrangement.

To restore the 135 square-metre Altbau to its glory days — while providing a contemporary twist — Studio Loes reconfigured the apartment’s core to include both kitchen and bathroom. The compact design allowed for living and sleeping quarters to revolve around these essential components of the space. Many of the traditional Altbau features, such as the high ceilings and hardwood floors, are celebrated in a bold yet pared down intervention.

Custom furniture pieces by Studio Loes, such as a glass coffee table and an American walnut dining table take centre stage in the living area. Above the table, adjustable wall lights, made of mouth-blown glass, can be maneuvered up to 180 degrees to illuminate any area of the dining space.

Most intriguingly, a 26-metre-long floating terrazzo-topped sideboard runs throughout the apartment, all the way from the bedroom to the balcony. The terrazzo accent allows for a consistent, unifying feature to glide throughout the home — while highlighting the serenity of the uninterrupted wall space. The eye-catching surface is also echoed in other elements of the space, from the stovetop to the bathroom basin. 

Integrated joinery provides much-needed wall storage, allowing the interior to remain minimal and streamlined — and making room for less glamorous, but essential amenities such as a washing machine, fridge and walk-in closet. The client’s idiosyncratic needs were taken into account with specifics such as foldable bike storage and a rope hoist to lift and put away an inflatable canoe. 

Finally, the compact yet elegant bathroom is a definite highlight: a shower nook with rounded edges and deep, enveloping green tiles creates a “cave-like experience,” while a misshapen mirror above the bathroom sink adds intrigue and playfulness to the linear layout. Special attention was paid to the drainage solution in the bathroom to avoid visual clutter. Meant to be efficient, yet beautiful, Studio Loes’ design successfully transformed a “common” Berlin living quarters into a showpiece of adaptive interior design.

In Berlin, A Historic Altbau Gets a Modern Refresh

A contemporary interior transformation by Studio Loes reinvents an outdated apartment layout in the German capital.

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