Having written multiple stories on Colombe Design projects, I’m by now quite familiar with founder Marta Chrapka’s talent for creating new Old World homes that are elegant, luxurious, and traditional-with-a-twist. So I was surprised to learn that this lean, modern house (no graceful moldings or grand foyers in sight) in Podkowa Lesna, a suburb of Warsaw, is also her handiwork.
Upon closer inspection, though, I spied her signature touches—dramatic doors, impactful deployment of color, sculptural lighting, artful antiques, and an emphasis on craftsmanship—throughout the project, albeit tailored this time for a more modern and clean-lined aesthetic.
“Sure, it posed a challenge,” says Marta, about the house’s unadorned bones. “We didn’t have the proportions that I am used to, the nobly aged floor, and all the elements I am usually focused on to reveal their beauty—only the empty spaces. But the real challenge was an attempt to create an interior whose design would bring to mind functionalist/modernist interior but in today’s version.”
It was a challenge that she met with aplomb. Let’s take a tour of this unique house.
Photography by Pion Studio, courtesy of Colombe Design.
Above: A couple, both lawyers, hired Colombe Design to put their stamp on this blank slate of a home. In the modern kitchen, Marta was able to insert some Old World style in the form of hand-painted blue and white porcelain tiles, at right, from Majolika Nieborow, a family-owned business founded in 1881.
Above: The kitchen has a sleek and sophisticated look thanks to stained ash cabinets, a black granite countertop, and integrated appliances. The String Cone Pendant Lights are by Michael Anastassiades, from Flos.
Above: The custom glass and steel door leads to the pantry. “That was the hardest part of the design—a pivot hinge, tall height, and no frame. Nobody wanted to take the risk, but finally we did it,” says Marta.
Above: Inside the pantry, a surprise—a stubbornly old-fashioned larder. “It was the owner’s idea—he had an old table that belonged to his grandmother. So we created the space around this table, trying to recreate the atmosphere of 1930,” says Marta. The tiles are custom. “It’s a typical Polish pattern, found in every house in Warsaw. After the war, it was almost forgotten, but we found a guy who knew how to produce it in exactly the same way.”
Above: “There were many memories built around this table, and the owner did not want to get rid of it,” says Marta.
Above: The chic black terrazzo steps seem to spill out onto the first floor. “All modernist Polish houses had terrazzo on the staircases,” says Marta. To the left is the living room; to the right, a guest bedroom.
Above: The guest bedroom is anchored by a large Art Deco armoire. Underfoot is luxurious silk carpeting.
Above: In a corner, more old-fashioned charm.
Above: Marta decided to add red “piping” to the walls in this room to play with the architectural line created by the staircase. She used Farrow & Ball Cornforth White for the wall and Red Earth for the line.
Above: Along the stairwell are two custom Colombe-designed wall lights.
Above: The main bedroom was inspired by Polish modernism. The glass nightstand and sofa are by Glas Italia.
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