Extreme Makeover: Spain Edition

The Challenge:

When I moved (back) to Spain in February to live with my boyfriend Isaac, our first task was to redecorate his apartment.

It’s not that it was bad or ugly; the apartment itself is luminous, with huge windows overlooking the hills of Galicia, and manages to fit two bedrooms into a very compact space. It’s five minutes from Isaac’s job in a tranquil part of town. But it was filled to the brim with the owner’s old furniture which didn’t fit our style and definitely wasn’t practical, and we wanted to find pieces that made the most of the very small square footage we live in.

But the overabundance of furniture wasn’t the only difficulty. The kitchen, by far the tiniest room in the house, had zero counter space but managed to take up a whole wall with the ever-present bombona (i.e. propane tank; don’t get me started – this topic is a post in and of itself) and washing machine. Plus, it’s covered in floor-to-ceiling tile, and since it’s a rental, that makes putting up any kind of shelf or wall-mounted furniture out of the question since we can’t drill holes or hammer nails into the wall. Same in the bathroom, which is competely covered in a dark brown tile that somehow manages to make a tiny room feel even smaller. Storage was our first priority since our two closets (the only closets) are a fairly good size (for Spain), but since the doors are only 2/3 of the size of the closet, that leaves a good 1/3 of completely useless and unreachable shelves. Oh, and did I mention that there are no right angles in the whole place?

the bedroom before

Please excuse the mess. We were already in the redecorating/merging-of-two-households stage when I got around to taking these pictures. We don’t normally live like savages.

the kitchen before

the dining room before

the living room before

The Result:

After weeks of planning and getting intimately acquainted with the IKEA website, several trips (including a few meals of swedish meatballs), and more measuring of surfaces (in centimeters, no less) than I ever want to do again, we turned Isaac’s rented bachelor pad into something resembling a real home. A lot of our furtniture came from IKEA – I would have loved a more rustic and eclectic style, but let’s face it – IKEA is one of the few places where one can find a countertop measuring exactly the (very odd and in no way standard) width and length of the ridiculous space between your tiny stove and tiny fridge. Pretty much everything else either folds up, expands or is made for storage. We managed to keep a few of the owner’s better pieces, like our nightstands and the sofa, which we can’t afford to replace. We’ve also picked up little things here and there, and have managed to find artwork that is both beautiful and meaningful – thanks to my grandmother who sent me several of the masterpieces she’s painted over the years. The place is still a work in progress, and I’m itching to bring over some of the many knickknacks and books I’ve collected in my travels over the years.

the bedroom after

the kitchen after

everything is organized and easy to find

the living room after

the dining room - featuring a painting by my grandmother

We also have a guest bedroom/office, but there are no pictures of it just yet because – um, well, because I haven’t gotten around to taking any. But I can assure you that we have a very comfortable sofabed and guests are very welcome!

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