Since we started Reklektik Interior Studio, we have wanted to show you an exciting flat renovation throughout the entire process, from the planning up to the finishing touches. In the first part of our series, we presented the process of finding the perfect apartment, and the second part was about how we prepared the offer and timeline. In this part of our series, we are going to show you the blueprints, and we’ll give you feedback on your comments from our Facebook page. 

After several meetings and time spent on discovery, we have prepared the blueprint of the flat’s current state. We shared this with you on our Facebook page two weeks ago, as we were curious about your opinion about how you would renovate the flat. We have received many, many suggestions, and we (and Vica and Tamás) would like to say thank you for all of them. At the end of this post, we’ll share our thoughts on them with you. 

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The way downtown Budapest apartments are divided has changed a lot in the past hundred years. It’s nearly impossible to find a building in which the walls are still in their original state. You definitely need to take a look at the original blueprints, if you want to find out where the original chimney pipes ran, what the original place of the windows was or where the original walls were built between two apartments (and figure out if you need to apply another layer of insulation, because they are not thick enough).
Most of this information can be found at Budapest City Archives, and you definitely should check them, if possible. Unfortunately we couldn’t recover the original blueprints of this apartment on Eötvös street, but thanks to the neighbours we could collect a lot of information about the original state. 

As you can see in the blueprint, the main wall divides the flat into two parts. The brighter room closer to the street, facing East is currently the workroom, but will be the living room and the bedroom after the renovation. The darker room facing the courtyard, to the West is the kitchen. The opening in the wall that became the separating wall was probably widened, we suspect that originally it was a door. The placement of the entrance and the way it connects to the living room is far from ideal, as it creates an L-shaped hall. We learned from the neighbours that the wall of the current kitchen was built after WWII, and two smaller apartments were created in place of one larger apartment. 
Given the capabilities of the flat and respecting the needs of Vica and Tamás, we created two versions of the new arrangement. 

Version 1

The original functionality of the rooms don’t change in this version (the boiler and the rooms which require pipes will remain in their original places), so this solution is more cost-efficient. 
According to this plan, the walls of the current bathroom and kitchen would be demolished. A disadvantage of this version is that it makes the kitchen and bathroom smaller, but an advantage is the three rooms stay separated: a large living room, a bedroom with a wardrobe, and a workroom that is easy to transform into a guest room or a nursery in the future. The transformation of the apartment would come with less demolition yet the space would be larger. We designed many cabinets, the items that are not aesthetically pleasing can be easily hidden.

Kitchen

Vica’s and Tamás’s request was to design the largest possible countertop in the kitchen. Because of this, there is no kitchen drip next to the sink, we hid it in the top cabinet instead, to make the whole kitchen counter clear. Tamás wanted a big, two door fridge, but sadly he had to give this up due to lack of space, as neither him nor Vica like standalone kitchen machines. Because of this we hid these items into cabinets. One of the most exciting parts in the apartment will be the ‘cubus’, that will hide the hall cabinet, the kitchen tower (a fridge, an oven and a microwave), and will include a bookshelf with mirrored doors.

This is how a cubus looks like
This is how a cubus looks like

We devised this solution because we wanted to get rid of the current tube-like hall, while maintaining the grand and open atmosphere of the space. The cubus is only 2.1 meters tall, so it doesn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, and allows the sunlight to reach every part of the apartment.

Main hall

The cubus will provide space for a hallway closet, where the owners can put their seasonal shoes and coats, and the front door serves as mirror. We didn’t put anything on the left side of the main entrance, so the space wouldn’t feel too crowded.

Dining room

To save space, we placed a long bench to one side of the cubus, a table, and three chairs to the opposite side of the table, so six people can eat together, and if needed, they can make space for eight as well, by using the ends of the table.

Living room

Tamás asked for a lot of shelves, so we designed a built-in bookshelf along the entire main wall, this way the wall’s entryway is not so accentuated. The atmosphere of comfort is provided by a corner sofa and an armchair with a footrest.

Work room

Tamás wanted to keep the work desk that we designed for his previous apartment. Originally we wanted to move this desk to the window, but Tamás wanted to put it into the center of the room. To hide loose documents and rarely used items, we put a built-in cabinet on one of the walls.

Bedroom and wardrobe

Vica wanted this room to be solely for relaxing, so our aim was to keep the space airy. We designed a separate wardrobe, which will have three built-in cabinets. One 60 cm deep and close to the wall of the bathroom, to hang clothes; one 40 cm deep, on the wall of the bedroom, for folded clothes; and a slimmer one, perpendicular to the first two, to store shoes and bags. We placed a mirror between the cabinets.

Bathroom

We decided to keep the bathroom in its original place. The couple wanted to have a large bathtub, which we managed to solve by transforming the current toilet into a shower cabin and the closet into a toilet, this way we can put a bathtub and a separate toilet into the bathroom, and create a second, separate toilet that will raise the value of the apartment if they decide to sell in the future. 
The bathroom sink is opposite the toilet, with a large mirror above it and a cabinet underneath, so smaller items can be hidden. We decided to put a fake ceiling above part of the bathroom to integrate with a 1.4 meter hidden cabinet above the toilet and the shower cabin, for storing rarely used, larger items, such as suitcases, tools, etc. 

Disadvantages:

  • Smaller kitchen and bathroom

Advantages:

  • Three separate rooms
  • The work room can be easily transformed into a guest room or nursery
  • Less demolition
  • The space will be airy and the aspects which are not visibly pleasing can be hidden 

  
Version 2

The implementation of this plan comes with a lot more work, and requires an engineer, as this plan includes the demolition of the 15 cm thick wall between the current work room and living room. With old buildings like this one, in many cases not only the main walls carry the weight ceiling, but other thicks walls do as well, so these function as part of the supporting structure. Before demolishing these, an engineer has to determine what is possible so that we don’t compromise the structural integrity of the building.
 
In this version, we kept the two spaces divided by the main wall and handled the living room separately from the kitchen, the hall and the dining area. In this version we are planning to separate the hall with black framed glass that lets the sunshine in, but still divides the hall from the living area. 
There is no separate work room, instead we created a working corner on the side of the apartment that faces the courtyard. Since the main wall still divides the space into two, we designed a cubus that ends in the kitchen. The cubus hides the extra cabinet for the working area and allows for a clearer space. The laundry room is also in the cubus with the hidden boiler - this way we save space on the wardrobe. The door of the laundry room is made of the same material as the rest of the cubus, so it’s practically invisible. On the other side of the cubus is the living room, with a cabinet, then the pantry closet, the built-in oven, microwave and fridge. Then comes the kitchen counter with the sink, the hot plate and another cabinet. We placed a large counter here, perpendicular to the cubus, that could serve as dining table with some high chairs.
 
In the living room we placed a large corner sofa and two armchairs, and tall book shelves to the two sides of the bedroom door. The placement of the bedroom and the wardrobe are the same as in version 1. 
 
The walls of the bathroom and the toilet are at the entryways in the main wall, making the space larger from the working corner and making the bathroom larger. This solution would still allow for two separate toilets, with large storage space on the ceiling.

Disadvantages: 

  • The working space wouldn’t be separate as in version 1. 
  • Relatively large main hall.
  • two rooms instead of three
  • Requires some serious demolition work

 
Advantages:

  • Airy, bright, large space
  • Larger kitchen, bathroom and toilet with storage
     

Your designs

After uploading the original blue prints, we asked you to share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page. Your opinions reflect the two directions we chose, the only option we didn’t investigate further was transforming the current kitchen into a workroom. We don’t find this optimal, as this side of the apartment is very dark, and neither its location nor its size are ideal for this purpose. Tamás works a lot from home, and because of the couple’s future plans, this is not an ideal solution, so we decided to reject this idea right away. 
 
Many of you have mentioned that as the inner height is four meters, it would be practical to build a loft into the apartment. As we designed the apartment for two people (three maximum), the current size should be enough for them. Both Tamás and Vica asked us to keep the space as airy as possible, and they were specifically looking for an apartment with high ceilings for this purpose, so we stuck to the hidden storage rooms above the sink and shower cabin instead of adding a loft.
 
We also designed an american kitchen version, but this didn’t allow enough space for a separate work room, only a working corner. Tamás rejected this option, as he needs a calm space to concentrate on his work. 
 
You suggested we switch the current kitchen with the bathroom, but we didn’t want to lose the bedroom-wardrobe-bathroom trio. The kitchen would be approximately the same distance from the living room, but the bathroom would too far from the bedroom. As you have also mentioned - putting the bathroom somewhere else is expensive, so we don’t want to go with this option unless it’s truly necessary, but in this case the original placement works with our plans 
 
When transforming an apartment, we try to remain faithful to the building itself, and if the original windows are in good shape, we prefer to renovate them instead of replacing them. In this case, there are two beautiful double wing doors opening to the workroom and the bathroom, and we definitely didn’t want to replace them with sliding doors, mainly to keep the flat’s upper middle class style. 
 
Thanks to Kati Bódi, who sent three blueprints to Vica, Tamás and us! We hope she will continue sharing her thoughts with us, and all of our other followers as well. 
 
We are currently waiting for an answer from the engineer, then the couple will come to a final decision about the blueprints. In the next part, we will show you the moodboards and, as we are going to start the first discussions with the contractors, we will share that news with you too.