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Interiorssneak peeks

Step Into an Illustrator’s Sunny, Spanish Flat

by Garrett Fleming

I have been daydreaming about Spain a lot lately. With a co-worker who travels there regularly to visit family and a best friend anxious to run with the bulls, I seem to be a magnet for España-talk lately. Hopefully it’s a sign, and an impending escapade overseas is on my horizon. When the country first started springing into my daily conversations, I feverishly sat and researched the markets, festivals and food that I’d hopefully get to enjoy very soon. It didn’t take long for me to leave the logistical, travel research behind for a wormhole of Spanish design. I have always been drawn to the Mediterranean’s unwavering use of color, distinct architecture and flare for the bold. It was in one of those very wormholes that I came across Blanca and Jos’ glowing home in Madrid.

Blanca, an illustrator, and Jos, a personal cook, have called this beautiful flat “home” for a little over a year. Having been built in the 1950s, however, it was not exactly dreamy from day one. Some serious sweat has been put into making it an open, airy and comfortable space. “When I first found the flat it was almost in a ruinous state,” Blanca explains. “Everything had to be (re)done from scratch.” The home’s asymmetrical shape, rounded corners and crooked walls were no small obstacle to overcome, but the two were determined to make it work as its location was ideal. “I came across the neighborhood out of chance about 10 years ago and from the very first moment, I knew I wouldn’t want to move out,” Blanca says. “So [this] new house is less than five minutes walking from the old.”

Six months of hard work with the close tutelage of an architect and the results are exactly what the homeowners were hoping for. They’ve created a place where they can comfortably entertain and get work done, all while basking in Madrid’s brilliant sunlight. With personally curated touches and a clever use of open concept, there’s so much to love about this couple’s spankin’-new pad. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Thipi CC and Blanca Gómez

Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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The majority of Blanca and Jos' living room is outfitted by Habitat. The ceiling lamps came from a local restaurant.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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Books and abundant light are what Blanca loves most about her living room.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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The studio lamp was a second-hand-shop find and a print by Olle Eksell hangs on the wall. "The Olle Eksell poster is staring at any neighbor who dares to peep." Eventually this spot will house another shelf for plants and other goodies.
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Blanca shows her passion for illustration throughout the home including here, with this Caroline Dulko pillow.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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Blanca is still deciding what to do with this wall above her bed. To fill the void, she made this bird print on a Sunday afternoon. The nightstands were her mother's and the remaining furniture is from IKEA.
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The mirror above her mother's old nightstand came from a local shop. Chair by IKEA.
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This dresser is the first spot to get sunlight in the morning.
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Before Blanca renovated, the entryway was even larger. She would have loved to salvage some of the building's original features, but it proved too difficult. For example, the home's original, wood floors were destroyed by vinyl covering.
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This dresser from Habitat holds some of Blanca's favorite things. The telephone was her dad's, the clock is vintage and the black sign was picked up at El Rastro -- the most popular, open-air, flea market in Spain.
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"The kitchen was the central point where all the renovation started. The kitchen table serves as a meeting point, sometimes even working place... I really like it because it is open but still independent from the living room."
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The kitchen's tile reminded Blanca so much of her mother's home that she couldn't resist installing it. When I first saw her home, it was this tile that immediately caught my eye. I adore how bold and uncompromisingly Spanish it is.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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Three big windows bathe the space in glowing light. IKEA proved to be the perfect place to outfit the space's new kitchen.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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Lamps, teapots and all these accessories came from local shops around Madrid.
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"The little table was a recent birthday present from my mother. It comes from an abandoned monastery."
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Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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The terrace off of the living room.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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The dining room serves as a makeshift working area when duty calls.
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"I really like the beam. It was great having an architect coordinating the renovation because she was tougher than us. For example, the workers decided that the ceiling beam wouldn't look good so they installed the ceiling (about) half a meter down... she made them tear it down and re-install it."
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"The letters were salvaged from a dumpster. They came from a bar in a nearby street. I had, like, 20 letters, but I have given several away." Blanca is still deciding what exactly to spell out so some stragglers are hanging around.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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View from the study into the living and dining area. "I made the study table with help from my father," Blanca explains.
Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge
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A framed letterpress print with a quote by Samuel Beckett and a copy of Spanish, satirical magazine "La Codorniz."
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"The poster comes from a bicycle shop (now closed) in the quarter. I love it, but I don't know where to put it, so it keeps going around. I stole the record player from my parents."
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When Blanca moved in, the hot water was incorrectly installed on the traditionally cold-water side of the faucet and vice versa. Her solve? Instead of switching the water lines to run correctly, she simply reversed the red and blue, "Hot" and "Cold" indicator rings on the handles.
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"The framed picture comes from a shaving cream advertisement from an old magazine. I found a box in the street near home full of old magazine cutouts. Several (of my) framed pictures come from there."
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Various Mexican and Portuguese soaps and a Faye Moorhouse print sit in the bathroom cabinet.
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The flat's floor plan.

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