An Apartment in Taipei: A Childhood Home, Updated for a Newlywed Couple
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Homework, an upstart interior design firm in Taipei, Taiwan, specializes in using plaster finishes and vintage furnishings to create hushed, self-contained worlds. A year ago, we featured a Tea House Built from Sentimental Objects and Homework’s own Bohemian Photo Studio. Today, we’re spotlighting an apartment in a 1990s building in downtown Taipei that the firm remodeled for a recently married young couple who are both in the fashion industry (the husband is a makeup artist and the wife works at Vogue Taiwan).
The husband had grown up in the 62 square-meter (approximately 667 square feet) flat—his parents and sister now live elsewhere, but the parents often come to stay and requested that their bedroom remain as is. Just about all else received a refresh, starting with the floor plan: “There were three bedrooms, two halls, and a small enclosed kitchen that blocked the natural light and air,” says Mindy, a member of the Homework team. “The first decision was to open up the subdivision and make full use of the sunlight from the balcony.” The living room now flows into a new kitchen in the center of the apartment, and the waxed pine doors introduced throughout make the rest of the world feel very far away.
Photography courtesy of Homework Design (@homeworkdesign_).Above: To enlarge the living room, the Homework team enclosed one of the apartment’s two balconies. All of the walls and even the floors are newly finished in a tinted “dolomite plaster.” Read about plaster options in Remodeling 101: Modern Plaster Walls, Six Ways. Above: The designers turned the enclosed balcony into an arched alcove. Above: A collection of vintage finds stands opposite the entry, including a light from an old film studio and a bentwood and rattan coat rack that was made in Taiwan. Homework Studio is the firm’s sideline business, a vintage shop offering furnishings and custom lighting, much of it assembled from old parts. Above: Built-in wooden shelves rise behind a canvas-draped divan. We ourselves loving putting drop cloths to all sorts of uses: see 8 Easy, Low-Commitment DIY Projects with Painter’s Drop Cloths. Above: A curved wall “adds a sense of flow” from the entry to the living area. The hanging light is a Homework piece made from an old glass shade. Above: Thanks to the removal of partitions, the living room opens to the enlarged kitchen. The couple love to cook and wanted a space ideal for gatherings. The pine door leads to a new storage room; elsewhere, wooden doors replaced the existing aluminum ones. Above: The kitchen’s painted wood cabinets were custom built for the space. The vintage dining ensemble and storage shelves are Taiwanese pieces collected by the owners. Above: The countertops are terrazzo, a once-popular finish that fell out of favor because it’s labor intensive. See it used in another kitchen in Chez Marie Sixtine and here’s a DIY Terrazzo Table. Above: This Taiwanese modern chair came with its original upholstery. “We waxed the doors by hand to give them a warm color,” says Mindy. Above: The couple’s small bedroom has a vintage rattan headboard, rosy plaster walls, and a view onto the remaining balcony. Above: The handmade ceramic lights are a new Homework design—”they haven’t been put on the shelves of our online store, but can be bought at cooperative consignment shop Earthing Way,” says Mindy. Above: A whimsical vintage lamp with a pleated shade was selected because “it matches the color of the walls very well.”
Floor Plan BEFOREAbove: The apartment had a small kitchen and a bedroom that had been converted into a store room. The parents’ room and the two bathrooms were preserved.
Floor Plan AFTERAbove: An improved flow, plaster finishes, and well-selected vintage furnishings give the apartment a new guise.
Here are some more projects that make inspired use of old and secondhand designs:
- 8 Lessons from Gillian Lawlee’s Anti-Trendy LA Cottage
- The Reclaimed Bath: 8 Favorite Retrouvius Designs Featuring Vintage Components
- Calm and Collected: At Home with the Duo Behind Aesthetic Movement
For shopping ideas, see our Gift Guide: When Secondhand is Better Than New