This remarkable, minimalist house in Bordeaux was designed by Spain's Himera Estudio. It needed a minimalist look without feeling empty. The right choices make this project a home with a soul and plenty of character.
Close to Bordeaux in France is a neighbourhood of great tradition, where most of the buildings are old wine warehouses that have then been converted back into houses. So the starting point could not have been more beautiful. As with all projects by the design studio called Himera Estudio, the team first had to determine which elements of the original architectural value they had and especially wanted to preserve and which they did not. In this case, they were the original stone walls and high ceilings. The clients, a young couple who had recently moved to town, were looking for that familiar tranquillity from Himera Estudio's portfolio. Thus, the use of neutral colours and natural materials became a priority. It soon became clear that the design team was going for Japanese architecture, but without losing the identity of the residents. To achieve this atmosphere without the space lacking personality, they started from a neutral base consisting of three main elements: warm white walls, light oak wood floors and the original stone walls, also with warm tones. To this base, they added small elements in black to create a contrast with this interior environment, as well as a large bespoke design piece of walnut wood, darker than oak, that hid a breakfast area and wine cellar and gave the space intensity and character.
On the other hand, the team worked on a fireplace whose design was in dialogue with the whole. In other words, above all, it had to blend seamlessly into the design, not stand out too much, but have character and relate to the existing architecture. To achieve this, they retained an existing brick wall and painted it white. By doing so, they created a large grey terrazzo base on which the new fireplace rests. The terrazzo turned out to be the perfect transition material between the wooden floor, the brick walls and the white walls. So much so that they also used it for the step up to the terrace in the master bedroom. It had the perfect weight and tone for the house we were designing.
Terrazzo proved to be the perfect transitional material
One of the challenges of this project was to make a beautiful and cohesive use of the entrance hall, which was a very long corridor that ended in the living room. After studying the family's needs, Himera Estudio chose to include a delicate freestanding and very lightly bleached oak bookcase, as well as a small office space in an area where the corridor widened.In addition, to take away the feeling of an endless corridor, they suggested a tall metal and glass door three metres high in the middle that let in light and views, but helped them to make the space seem less long. ‘As we always do before starting the project, we create a mood board with the help of the clients with numerous inspirational images, references, materials, etc., he says. It turned out that in that moodboard there were many Oriental references, light wood, dim lighting which together with the existing architecture formed the perfect duo,’ we hear. Himera Estudio always tries to optimise the use of materials, believing that far from having to be boring, repetition generates cohesion and dialogue between different spaces. The simple fact that a space is larger or wider causes it to be perceived differently from another space, even if the materiality of both is the same. This project is another good example of this. Using few materials to create a cosy and light environment that invites one to unwind. It feels like a real home and that is absolutely the most important thing.
Courtesy of Himera Estudio