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Home visit: inside an architect’s urban conversion

There’s nothing minimal about this industrial conversion. Architects Deborah and Adam have used their skills to transform a former salt factory in Berlin into a light-filled home that’s full of colour.

A living room with a red sofa and a wall of shelves in a converted Berlin loft.
A living room with a red sofa and a wall of shelves in a converted Berlin loft.
An open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining space in a converted loft with brick walls.

Patchwork style

“Our apartment makes us feel free,” say Deborah and Adam, whose home is a 110m2 apartment in a former salt factory. “We don’t have a traditional living room – our bath is behind the curved wall. We wanted to play with the diagonal and have a good spot to watch movies on the projector screen! Precise, perfect interiors are not for us. We prefer a patchwork of colours and patterns, and mixing old stuff – like Deborah’s parents’ 1990s IKEA rug and gran’s armchair – with new – like our sofa, which we picked for the simplicity of its form and because it’s long enough for me to stretch out and nap on.”

Deborah at the dining table in her Berlin apartment.

Open layout

Instead of opting for separate rooms, Deborah and Adam designed their apartment as one open space. “I love the light – and I love the feeling that we have achieved a genuine space for ourselves, by ourselves,” says Deborah. “It’s fluid, functions are defined by partition walls and furniture in such a way that daily activities can overlap. A conversation about what to cook for dinner can begin at our desks, inspired by a cookbook on the shelf, then move to the sofa, eventually to the kitchen and ultimately to the table – all without passing through a door.”

Life on show

Everything in Deborah and Adam’s small kitchen is on display. “We quite like it – we can see everything we have. We don’t want to overfill the shelves so we buy most of our food fresh, or shop every three days. It means we take the time to think about what to cook and don’t end up wasting food.”

Potted plants and a jug on a windowsill.
Cooking ingredients on open shelving against a brick wall.
Adam with his son, Louie.
Our style is resourceful, minimal, eclectic, but also modern. We have this mentality to use as much as possible of what we already have – it’s sensible, isn’t it?

Adam, Berlin

A home office with pink wall.

Homework

When turning people’s dreams of home into a reality is your business, there are benefits to having your office in your own home. “This is a projection of who we are; it’s like our showroom, so having potential clients come here for meetings is great,” say Adam and Deborah, who work side by side through the day. “But our working day isn’t typical – it’s more 24/7 than 9 to 5!” Having an open space can help inspiration flow. “We wanted to do something monumental on the pink wall to fit the proportions. Our boxes encourage action – the white ones with the doors mean you can put messy stuff in there and hide it, and we use the others to display things.”

A bedroom with exposed brick wall.

Room to grow

“We’re both interested in architecture that thrives on improvisation, adaptation and experimentation,” says Adam. “When our son Louie (eight months) came along, nothing much had to change. The space, like our daily routine, is pretty flexible and he fits in like the missing piece of a puzzle. Right now he shares our bedroom, but we have a plan of how to adapt the space when Louie needs his own room because we’re not ready to give up this home any time soon!”

Storage tricks

“Looking at our whole apartment everything is kind of open, which for some people is chaotic, but we love to display,” says Deborah. “If we want to hide anything, we tend to put things away in simple cardboard boxes on the hallway shelves.”

Open storage unit filling a whole wall.
Deborah and Adam.

How did you end up here?
“After many years spent living and working on projects abroad, we both had a strong desire to simplify and condense. Our twenties were less anchored. Now, the amount of energy and time we want to put into maintaining a sense of home has increased… the ‘settle’ mentality has gradually settled in.”

What’s the best thing about your home?
“The sense of freedom it gives us! This is a place where we can improvise and experiment and be ourselves, where life can flow at our pace.”

How do you stitch your patchwork style together?
“Our inspiration for the apartment’s colour scheme came from the natural yellow, pink and orange tones of the brickwork and grey concrete floors.”

A floorplan of Deborah and Adam's apartment in Berlin.

An architect’s playground

After designing several other apartments in the same building, Adam and Deborah snapped up the last available one to buy, and turned it into their own bespoke space. The entrance hallway opens up to the north-facing wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, framing the large open-plan living room, office, dining area and kitchen. Off the hallway is a bedroom, dressing area and bathroom, with steps leading up to the tub, which overlooks trees and train tracks outside.

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by
Interior stylist: Emily Henson
Photographer: Dan Duchars
noa.berlin