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21 Oct 2014 Last updated
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A Lisbon home renovated with love – and colour

Putting a little love into Grandma’s home

By Eva Martins
Added 00:00 | August 15, 2013
  • Lisbon apartment

    The Twiggy lamp from Foscarini illuminates the reading area of the living room where Ikea floating shelves hold a colourful display of books.

    Source:José Barreto Image 1 of 7
  • Lisbon apartment

    Most of the furniture in this Lisbon apartment was inherited from family and then upcycled using white paint and Designers Guild fabrics.

    Source:José Barreto Image 2 of 7
  • Lisbon apartment

    A bold turquoise fabric from Designers Guild was chosen for the reupholstering of these two wingback armchairs.

    Source:José Barreto Image 3 of 7
  • Lisbon apartment

    Source:José Barreto Image 4 of 7
  • Lisbon apartment

    The vibrant wallpaper in the kitchen is by Plasmaison (left). A Ligne Roset dining table is complemented by upcycled chairs and a statement light called Superleaves (right).

    Source:José Barreto Image 5 of 7
  • Lisbon apartment

    The guest bedroom is filled with antique furniture that has been repainted by specialist Portuguese firm Cortina Real.

    Source:José Barreto Image 6 of 7
  • Lisbon apartment

    Source:José Barreto Image 7 of 7

Everybody’s talking about reducing, reusing and recycling packaging, car parts, electronics; it is the wave of the future. But how about reusing furniture or houses? When Marta inherited this 200-square-metre apartment and all its contents from her grandparents, she knew right away that she would keep it for herself. She’d spent a period living there with her grandparents and valued its prime location in the coveted neighbourhood of Restelo in Lisbon. Her initial challenge, however, was how to bring the 50-year-old home into the 21st century and transform it into her own space.

Unsure of the look she wanted, and a bit overwhelmed by the many pieces of furniture left to her, Marta initially envisioned a home filled with light, punctuated with bursts of colour. So as a first step she lightened up 
the entire space by gutting the bathrooms
 and kitchen and painting every single wall 
white. For the sake of practicality she also replaced the exterior doors and windows and 
the dated plumbing and electrical wiring. The more difficult task was to find an outside party who could turn the apartment into a comfortable modern home.

Luck was on her side as she found decorator Filipa Ferreira. The two felt an immediate connection and Filipa was able to take Marta’s ideas and turn them into reality. Filipa understood Marta’s vision and began selecting items of her grandparents’ furniture and painting them white.

Marta admits that while she liked certain isolated pieces, if she had to choose she would probably have got rid of most of the furniture, not knowing how to use it. Instead, Filipa made use of many pieces, purchasing only a sofa and dining and coffee tables to add a modern, spacious dimension to the apartment. To create a reading nook in the ample living area she also invested in simple white bookshelves. To give the home pizzazz she applied splashes of bold, vivacious colours such as turquoise, raspberry, lime and avocado in the form of pillows, upholstery and wallpaper. At first Marta was hesitant about the choice of turquoise flowered wallpaper as the decorating anchor for the living room, but she eventually came round and is pleased with the overall effect. She agrees that it complements the colours found in many pieces of the inherited furniture which gained new identity with bright Designers Guild fabrics and a white paint job.

While the dining room, separated from the living area with mirrored sliding doors, has a modern feel with a Scandinavian-style paper-cut chandelier over the table, it also suggests an almost Breakfast at Tiffany’s feel, with retro avocado and lime striped wallpaper to match 
the classically lined dining chairs. Viewed 
from the living area, a large mirror against the far wall helps elongate the two rooms, while the greens reverberate against the raspberry sofa and love-inscribed pillow – one of the decorator’s favourite objects.

Filipa also adores the guest room, reminiscent of Snow White’s complexion, decked out in white with cherry red carpeting and furnished with two traditional Portuguese beds that once belonged to Marta’s mother and aunt. Even the white bed covers are original hand-crocheted pieces from her grandparents.

Marta designed the remaining rooms entirely on her own. In the kitchen she accented the white walls and furniture with a delicious shade of burnt orange and installed a practical standing breakfast counter and simple white frosted glass lamp overhead.

For the bathrooms she chose a neutral, timeless look picking pale beige floors and chocolate wallcoverings to complement the all-new fixtures, sanitary ware and lighting. In one bathroom, the daring paisley upholstery of a newly transformed chair contrasts with the natural palette.

And as always, the decorating remains a work in progress. As Marta settles into her ‘new’ home she will tweak the details. But there is no doubt that the collaboration between owner and decorator was a success. Not only did they remodel the apartment by making use of what already existed, therefore keeping memories of the past intact, they also joined their visions perfectly to create a unique contemporary home with eclectic decor ideal for socialising as well as relaxation. “It is the home I have always dreamed of,” Marta says. “And I hope to make use of it for a long time – I don’t see myself moving any time soon.”

By Eva Martins

By Eva Martins