Light and Texture Create Drama in a Modern Urban Penthouse

A modern urban riverside penthouse on the edge of a large natural park in Bucharest, Romania is the perfect example of how to balance nature with timeless neutral colors and an edgy, hip design. The 200 square-meter apartment designed by Ralu Dofin, in the Cortina Residence complex near Herastrau Park has fabulous natural light that accents the spaces and illuminates the comfortable and stylish residence.

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Large-scale wall images add drama to the penthouse.

When entering the apartment, the most striking feature is the entryway, which is a dark hall, comprised of walls that have been painted with a style that imitates a corroded surface. An inset band of light bisects the walls and the floor in asymmetrical angles. The luminous lines appear as if they emanate from the light-filled room at the end of the hall. Additional light is provided by recessed fixtures in the space along the corner of the ceiling and the walls, which never actually touch, adding a feeling of volume to the space.

An unusual, dark entryway creates drama as people enter the apartment.View in gallery
An unusual, dark entryway creates drama as people enter the apartment.

In dramatic contrast to the dark hallway, the living room is defined by an abundance of natural light. The large open space is delineated into dining and living areas by the groupings of furniture. At one end, by the dining table, artful photo wallpaper gives the space a distinctive atmosphere. Designed by Draga Obradovic and Aurel K. Basedow for Wall & Deco, the custom non-woven vinyl wall photo carries through the industrial edge that was set by the entryway, but in a softer and much lighter fashion. The design is part of the Life! 15 collection. Overall, the furniture in the space sticks to a neutral palette and soft, fluid shapes.

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A range of materials adds interest to a neutral palette.

The dining table is also accented by the choice of table and chairs. The contrast established by the range of materials adds texture. Despite being disparate, they blend well and help define the function pf each piece: The hefty natural wood tabletop lends a feeling of solidity and permanence, while the glass base is ethereal, yet supports the substantial wood top. The Panton chairs from Vitra add a modern sculptural, element with their classic, sinuous shape

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Living spaces in the open area are defined by furnishings.

The use of this iconic chair is fitting for a space that is essentially a fusion of different style elements. Created by Verner Panton in 1960, it was the first chair to made from a single piece of plastic. Despite being made from plastic, the chair offers great comfort thanks to its design. The cantilevered structure, anthropomorphic shape and construction material that offers some flexibility come together in this versatile chair.

The iconic Panton chair is appropriate in any space.View in gallery

Even the most light-filled space needs lighting for the evening and night hours, and the designers have chosen a variety of brands and styles to illuminate each room in the home. Fixtures from Petite Friture, Karman and Flos, iconic in their own ways, are carefully positioned to provide functional as well as ambient light. In the case of the pendant over the dining table, it is a piece of art that plays against the companion white centerpiece. Named “Crash,” the ceramic lamp and centerpiece from Karman appear to have once been a single piece, shattered into two distinct items that could at any time be fused back together. Designed by Matteo Ugolini, the set is a modern, minimalist statement perfect for this space.

The pendant and centerpiece are all the adornment the table needs.View in gallery
The pendant and centerpiece are all the adornment the table needs.
The small "crashed' detail is eye-catching on the large pendant.View in gallery
The small “crashed’ detail is eye-catching on the large pendant.
The unique fixture turns a flaw into an artful feature.View in gallery
The unique fixture turns a flaw into an artful feature.

On the other side of the curio wall is a sleek kitchen that — just like the dining area — has enough elements to bring about a relaxed, comfortable feeling. The latest in kitchen technology is included and the absence of hardware on the cabinets and appliances helps keep the look modern. The state-of-the-art glass kitchen hood has room for plants, which are a welcome addition to a sleek space and also are a nod to the park nearby,

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A counter of wood and a touch of greenery add warmth to a modern space.

The kitchen bar is lined with award winning stools designed by Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet. Produced by Kartell, the Masters Stool is a global best-seller thanks to its comfort and design. The polypropylene stool design is actually a representation of three iconic chair silhouettes that are woven together. Although it is available on a full range of vivid colors, the black works best in the neutral range of this kitchen.

Dramatic, iconic stools are the only statement this kitchen needs.View in gallery
Dramatic, iconic stools are the only statement this kitchen needs.
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A dark sink is stylish and easy care.

The living area features another custom wallpaper with a natural scene and text that is rendered in black and white. Using large-scale images like these adds dimension while keeping the overall look clean. An assortment of smaller art pieces on the wall could seem cluttered in a space like this. The sole pop of color in the space is the designer chandelier, that allows the homeowners to add colored slips of paper with meaningful notes and memories.

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Increase the feeling of lightness by sticking with neutrals.

Maintaining a neutral palette that offers plenty of textures and visually interesting elements keeps the home feeling spacious and sophisticated. Adding too many accessories or colors would drastically change the space and jumble up the decor.

Disparate functions feel unified in this well-planned space.View in gallery
Disparate functions feel unified in this well-planned space.
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A statement wall is useful in an open space where it can be appreciated from any location.
A storage cabinet is critical for hiding necessities in an open floor plan.View in gallery
A storage cabinet is critical for hiding necessities in an open floor plan.

The master bedroom is a dynamic space that replays elements and textures used in other spaces of the house. Custom wallpaper features a serene natural image in muted tones that anchors the room. A minimum of furniture contributes to the tranquil aura of the space, allowing for restful nights. The overstuffed upholstered bed frame and headboard are a direct contrast to the more austere facets of the space: It is decidedly the focal point of the room and evokes the feeling of a puffy cloud.

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Bedrooms should feel like a retreat and this one certainly does.

The clean lines of the bedroom call for bedside lighting that does not break up the space and the IC Lights S1 from Flos fit the bill perfectly. Long brass rods extend from the ceiling and culminate in a blown glass sphere that puts out a diffused light. Designed by Michael Anastassiades, the series of fixtures explores the concept of balance and was inspired by a video of a contact juggler. There series includes table lights, wall lights, ceiling pendants and ceiling mounted lights.

Suspended lighting frees up space on the nightstand.View in gallery
Suspended lighting frees up space on the nightstand.

In the bathroom, the surfaces are smooth, sleek and varied. Different colors of stone form the floor and walls, and modern fixtures highlight the space. Recessed lighting provided plenty of illumination playing off of the shiny glass and metal elements.

Modern bathrooms like this have plenty of shine.View in gallery
Modern bathrooms like this have plenty of shine.

The bathroom vanity features a wall-mounted faucet and an angled round basin that seems to float on the dark. shimmering surface. The set is highlighted by the All Saints mirror from Kartell, which was designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba. The round mirror has a transparent frame made of PMMA that looks like it has been pleated. The translucent piece is versatile and great for contemporary, minimalist or eclectic spaces like this bathroom. It’s also a great piece for other living spaces in a home.

A statement mirror can become the focal point of a bathroom.View in gallery
A statement mirror can become the focal point of a bathroom.
Strategic use of glass makes a bathroom feel larger.View in gallery
Strategic use of glass makes a bathroom feel larger.

A second bathroom features similar array of textures and materials, but has an earthier feel thanks to the addition of warm brown wood. The natural material is an interesting counterpoint to the large glass mirrors and stone walls. While the fixtures are modern the rounded shape of the toilet and bidet, as well as the organic form of the sink, add a softer element to the space.

The use of natural wood warms up an otherwise stark space.View in gallery
The use of natural wood warms up an otherwise stark space.
The wood floor gives the bathroom a sauna-like feeling.View in gallery
The wood floor gives the bathroom a sauna-like feeling.

A third bathroom is all-white and dazzling, with its textured tile walls and gleaming fixtures. The small space seems spacious thanks to the brightness, tall ceiling and large mirrors — all key to making the most of tight quarters. Slim fixtures and the proper arrangement avoid the bathroom becoming cramped even though the area is small.

A small bathroom benefits from an all-white palette.
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Large mirrors make the bathroom feel spacious.
A well-planned arrangement makes the most of a compact space.View in gallery
A well-planned arrangement makes the most of a compact space.

As you can see, the artistic use of materials and textures, along with a harmonious functional arrangement, creates a premiere living space that is balanced and welcoming for family as well as guests.