sneak peek: emma balch of doble M design

buenos aires interior decorator emma balch spends much of her time sourcing and create one-of-a-kind object for clients and for export. so she was the perfect candidate to guide anthropologie’s Keith Johnson when he visited Argentina for one of my all-time favorite shows – man shops globe. (emma just returned from 6 months in india, which you can read all about here). she’s done a fantastic job transforming this commercial space into a home – i’m personally in love with that terrace! {thanks emma! and many thanks to esteban lobo for the lovely photographs}amy a.

[The apartment was originally an old almacen (general store) so I wanted it to retain some of that spirit. When we bought it, the only furniture in there were the two leather chairs by the fireplace. They were from the office of the father of the owner, and they looked so great that we asked to keep them and that started a bit of a retro theme throughout. Finally, there was a lot of polished cement, iron and brick, but i wanted it to have a really warm and cosy feel. we achieved that, and of everything that’s what I’m most pleased about.

image above: This my favorite corner of the room, around the fireplace. The huge mirror was the largest size I could have made. Turned on its side it just squeezed through our front door. It took eight men to lift it! It totally transformed the room though. I mostly love that the angle it sits at means we always see the old (and unusual) bodega roof, made from bricks and wooden beams, without having to look up.]

[image above: The orange patina on the kitchen units is the work of Sofia Aberg Cobo, an Argentine artist who is deaf and has a wonderful way of creating texture on wood and metal. The grocer’s weighing scales, an old almacen inventory list, and the old tins are small touches which remind us of the history of the building.]

[image above: The den is in the basement, in what used to be the cellar. There’s an opening in the wall (which is over a foot deep below ground!) where the chute was where they’d throw down supplies from street level, which is now a window. There’s also a big opening, over half of the basement space, so although it’s below ground it still has plenty of natural light.]

[image above: There is a small roof terrace at the top of the stairs but there was a big empty area with a corrugated iron roof. We build this deck on top of that, above the whole living area. It really completed the house and with Buenos Aires weather as it is, it’s always leafy and full of flowers, and all day sun. Painting the neighboring wall blue made a remarkably big difference, sort of bringing it all together as part of our terrace rather than being the neighbour’s wall. There’s lighting and lanterns around each edge of the terrace, and with all the trees, it looks wonderful from street level.]

CLICK HERE for more of Emma’s peek!

[image above: This giant sofa was handcrafted for the space and has to be the most comfortable sofa I’ve ever sunk into! We rent the house out now as a vacation rental and it’s a huge hit with every guest. ]

[image above: Although it only ever really chilly in Buenos Aires for one or two months of the year, but we light the fire for many more than that. It doesn’t really heat the house (we do have gas heating it if is cold) but it looks great. As it’s in the corner (behind where the front door to the almacen would have been) we can see it from almost every part of the house. ]

[image above: The terrace is actually on the fourth floor of the building. The photos don’t show it, but there’s the basement, the ground floor with the living, the kitchen and a small bathroom, the bedroom and main bathroom are on a mezzanine above the kitchen and entrance area, and then on the top floor are the roof terraces and a laundry and storage.]

[image above: I have always loved corner buildings and when I was small I used to go into the corner sweetie shop where we lived and imagine how I’d transform it into my house. Previously the building had been an almacen and a restaurant where famous tango singers used to perform, but it had been empty for five years prior and a bit of an eyesore in the neighbourhood. Sometimes people pass by and reminisce about evenings they’d spent there eating steak and listening to tango. They’re always curious to look in and see the floating stairs and see how it’s been transformed.]

  1. Teresa says:

    Just my sort of space. I think everything about it is stunning, especially the text on the walls!

  2. Shones says:

    I love the use of the space under the stairs. The living room is both contemporary and warm at the same time. Love the lighting and the texture on the walls.

  3. j. vorwaller says:

    I’ve been following your blog since you were on Man shops Globe! Having lived in Buenos Aires and Montevideo – I have a soft spot for these places and have to “go home” however I can – be it through my porteño friends or just seeing my photos and places like this again… what a wonderful home – thanks for the peek Emma! (ps I adore that plate on the license plate backsplash!)

  4. This is an incredible home! I love the incorporation of the text mimicking the architecture and the very functional pieces selected for the space. Gorgeous!

  5. I grew up in Buenos Aires and this is a beautiful update to an old place without losing it’s original details. I travel there every year, I would love to rent this house next time I’m there!

  6. Melissa says:

    This is an amazing sneak peek. I love the stairs, storage underneath and the text along them. Very original and beautiful.

  7. Bre says:

    What an amazing space. I love the texture of the walls and that staircase is fantastic. I love unique storage options. The text on the walls is so clever, I’ve always been a fan of that touch.

  8. Brian Edward says:

    I particularly love the open shelving in the kitchen. It gives no excuse for keeping around ugly dishes, glassware, etc. I like that you can see everything at a glance too and never forget about a beautiful soup tureen or platter you might own because it’s in the back of a cabinet.

  9. Leyla says:

    So glad I found this! I am very much into mixed looks for design – I like warm contemporary!

    You’re going on my RSS Reader

  10. Nancy says:

    Beautiful home. Love the wall scones in the fireplace room – any online sources for those?

  11. Heather says:

    What a great space! I love the idea of living in commercial space that has been converted into a home. It would be fun to live with that type of history!

  12. hena tayeb says:

    oh i always love a great under the stairs storage space

  13. max says:

    Fantastic home! I want a roof terrace like that…

  14. fabi says:

    such a great space! what a cool peek! maybe i felt so familiar to it because i’m brazilian but brazilian style is rather different. less colourful, less european and more on the modern side. but this space just feels fantastic. great atmosphere!

  15. Jeni Shirley says:

    I love the warmth in this room. I would love to sit and enjoy it.

  16. alissa says:

    Gorgeous balance of industrial and warmth!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    What does the text say? Also, more info about the couch ie material, size, where it was made?

  18. Roger says:

    Amazingly beautiful house, though I am conscious that a house becomes a home only by the love of the people who live in it.

  19. Marion says:

    This is truly my dream space. This is incredible and further confirms my belief that Buenos Aires has some of the best design on the planet.

  20. Ohhh… I scrolled down looking at the photos without reading the text at first – and when I got to the last picture I thought, “That is a corner in Buenos Aires.”

    And then read the words. And it was.

    It all made me a little homesick… but it was nice to travel there for a little while – even if only virtually.

    It’s a lovely home. Thanks for sharing it here.


  21. kim says:

    love the fireplace/stove/hearth, wondering where this was purchased or if it is a custom design

  22. MattyC says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. And you could probably sail around the world on that sofa.

  23. currystrumpet says:

    Lovely home with lots of character. What does the text on the wall say?

  24. Wow, what a fantastic space, I want to move in! The deck area is beautiful.

  25. Eva says:

    what-an-amazing space you have. The chairs were the right thing to keep, that’s for sure. Great work!

  26. Lucy says:

    just amazing

  27. Amazing house! love the cupboard under the steps!

  28. efia says:

    this is definately one of my favorite interiors ever. thanks for letting us in.

  29. Danielle says:

    i think Buenos Aires is calling me….Beautiful!

  30. StarR says:

    Love this space. WoWWah!

  31. Carlos says:

    Same thing as maria, only at the last picture i suspected that was Buenos Aires….. great design! i love it!

  32. Ariadna says:

    I stumbled on this post and I thought “Hn, this looks just like Argentina”
    Silly me…haha, it is! Lovely, I simply adoe the outside, and even more charming interior of this house!

  33. jaclyn says:

    my favorite is the huge mirror in the living room! it really makes the space seem larger.


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