x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Colourful accents bring an old family home back to life

Home of the Week Careful restoration and vintage furnishings preserve this 1950s-built home's heritage, while white walls provide an ideal backdrop for a higly contemporary colour scheme.

Hot pink is used sparingly in the main living area. This, along with the neutral grey walls and white sofas, and colourful accents such as the vivid green glass vase and purple ceiling lampshade, keep the bold, trendy colour from becoming overwhelming. Lukasz Zandecki / Gap Interiors
Hot pink is used sparingly in the main living area. This, along with the neutral grey walls and white sofas, and colourful accents such as the vivid green glass vase and purple ceiling lampshade, keep the bold, trendy colour from becoming overwhelming. Lukasz Zandecki / Gap Interiors

It's fair to say that Katarzyna "Kasia" Wojnarowska likes colour, especially pink. If the hot pink cushions set against the dazzling white sofa don't tell you this, then the delicious candy pink Smeg refrigerator, the bursts of coloured accessories and the orchids dotted around her 1950s-built home confirm it.

While the colour could easily overwhelm a room, it is used sparingly against neutral walls and furniture, and combined with pops of other colours such as a vivid green glass vase and a purple ceiling lampshade. The effect is striking and sophisticated rather than overtly feminine.

Kasia loves shopping online, which is how she sourced most of the accessories, curiosities and finishing touches that she has spent years collecting. She stores them in glass-fronted cabinets, on shelves and under her bed. Sometimes she forgets about them, and when she rediscovers them, she changes the whole interior to make them fit. With so much colour to contend with she says it was vital she kept her walls white and a cool dove grey - the perfect background with which to show off her colourful finds.

Kasia spent nine months painstakingly restoring the house, which originally belonged to her grandmother. She saved the parquet floor and several wooden windows, and diligently chose the windows she did replace so that they looked the same as the originals.

The uniformity of the rooms and the versatility of her furniture mean that Kasia can change the function of a room as she chooses. If she wants to have her bedroom downstairs and a library in the place of her current bedroom, it's easy to do. In fact, the main lounge/living space is currently located on the first floor.

Her intelligent use of furniture also helps to capture the property's sense of heritage, which Kasia was keen to preserve. In the living room, the furnishings range from three different periods. The glass-fronted walnut cabinet is the oldest piece, dating from about 1930, and houses glass and porcelain that her grandmother collected. The dresser is a 1960s design from the former East Germany. Teamed with Ikea sofas and bookshelves, and a mirror, lamp and low white plastic table from local boutiques, the retro versus modern balance is just right. Framed colourful cut-out illustrations - traditional Polish deco motifs called Lowicz (pronounced Lowitch), which Kasia describes as her "big love" - are dotted around the walls, introducing further bursts of colour.

In her bedroom and workspace, colourful collages that inspire her passions for interiors stand on a desk from the 1970s. Across the room, Ikea's Hemnes yellow glass fronted linen cabinet shows off her collection of colourful blankets and bedclothes.

The retro theme continues in the ground-floor dining room and entertaining space, where the furniture is exclusively second hand or recycled: an eclectic glass-case wardrobe, antique Chinese bookstand and elegant pre-war table and chairs.

In the kitchen, while the units are basic Ikea, the walls retain the original 1960s tiles. Teamed with the original chairs (which Kasia renovated), black and white checked floor tiles, retro refrigerator and 1960s-style bubble lamps, the result is a contemporary take on a vintage Hollywood diner.