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Apartment EL19 in Riga by Open AD


In a late 19th century eclecticism style building, one part of the apartment had acquired new layers in the Soviet years and “wild” 1990s after Latvia regained its independence. Fortunately, the other part still maintained many of its original features, such as cornices and coved ceilings.

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This contrast is one we decided to keep in place, play with and enhance. The tactful balance between the old and new forms the backbone of the design as we preserved what was left and injected brave new elements, upholding the distinction between the two parts of the apartment.

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Another guiding motive was the clients’ collection of art by Latvian painter Kristīne Luīze Avotiņa, whose expressive style resonates with their sense of taste and attitude to life. Her works markedly influenced the apartment’s colour palette and fabric selection. The clients – a family of five – allow themselves to enjoy life to the fullest, and their joy and passion both fuelled and inspired us too.

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All in all, our collaboration on this project lasted almost four years as we delved deep into the details, which together conjure a highly personalised home. One vivid example is the flooring. As the original floor was long lost, we created a Chevron parquet rooted in the authentic floors of historical homes and castles where each plank is different after years of being touched by the sun and the pitter patter of feet. The result exemplifies the quality of craftsmanship in Latvia, and the tailor-made furniture also expresses this. For example, the hallway closet, which leads into the kitchen whose units are standalone, so as not to damage the room’s original substance.

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In the dining room, the level of detail shines through every solution from the gold leaf on the walls to the bespoke cabinetry. The sideboard hints at historical aristocracy via the colour palette, materiality, and sheen. The room called for a table of over three metres in length, but we found that most ready-made pieces didn’t exceed 2,80 metres. Instead of opting for compromise, we produced a table, pairing wood and stone, since no single piece of marble was large enough to shape a monolith surface.

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To keep the focus on the authentic value of the space, we kept the living room furniture to a minimum. The TV stand, for example, is a one-of-a-kind design to serve the particular function.

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A striking green corridor connects the two distinct parts of the apartment leading from the shared living space into each family member’s personal universe. The corridor lighting is the work of artisan Edgars Spridzāns. While similar in some ways, the children’s rooms reflect each son’s interests. The master bedroom is deliberately darker, also because it faces an inner courtyard. The bed is also a bespoke design. At the end of the corridor is a reading nook and resting area for the family’s nanny.

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One of the lengthiest discussions revolved around the children’s play area and whether it was needed. The custom design incorporates climbing infrastructure, soft play areas, reading nooks and sleeping space for friends. In this way, while the children have their own little universe to get lost in, they are also present and involved in the family’s happenings because they are not behind the closed doors of their individual bedrooms. Now that the clients have moved in, they are grateful for the idea and appreciate its functionality.

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The play area is beside a small corner of the home, which holds special meaning for the mother of the family. Her hobby is caring for plants, particularly Ficus trees, and the orangery – a space doused in natural light – is created for the pursuit.

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All rooms of the apartment are rooms in their own right, including the bathrooms. Again, they are best characterised by the degree of personalisation, which is seen in the bespoke furniture and touches like the three sinks in the children’s bathroom – one for each son, depending on their age.

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The clients feel good in their new home. They describe it as a comfortable environment full of a lively energy.

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Total area: 250 m2; Interior Design: Open AD; Design team: Zane Tetere – Šulce, Linda Balode, Beatrise Dzērve; Photographer: Alvis Rozenbergs; Construction: Promark Construction; Location: Riga, Latvia;

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