Spanish studio Viruta Lab has recently completed the restoration and interior design of an 85 sqm house located in the historic and maritime neighborhood of Valencia, known as Cabanyal. Originally built in 1946, this two-story dwelling suffered neglect and the insidious effects of humidity over the years.
The restoration process has skilfully rekindled the house’s old-world charm, preserving the memories embedded within its spaces for the third generation to enjoy again. To do so, Viruta Lab identified critical architectural features at risk of deterioration and reimagined traditional materials used since the 1920s, giving the entire space a new look inspired by sea and salt.
The floor plan responds to the typical geometry of the Cabanyal neighborhood: a two-story house with a small facade and a vertical ‘communication’ at the back, next to a small courtyard. To preserve its essence, the studio has maintained the color of the facade and its ornamental distribution with the openings and the main staircase, as determined by the architectural legacy of that time.
During restoration, the entire house was stripped, leaving the original bricks exposed, and the pre-existing moldings were repaired to give height and nostalgic value to the interior design. On the main floor, open-concept day areas take shape. These connect the entrance of the house with the backyard, generating perspectives, enhancing geometric perceptions, and providing the space with direct cross ventilation and greater natural lighting.
In it, a large wooden box structures the area and works as a container for the toilet hidden inside. On the upper floor, Viruta Lab envisioned two bedrooms that share a central core: a complete closed toilet, in the form of a wooden box, with an outdoor sink area that serves as an island and aesthetic feature. This bathroom makes room for a double circulation filtered by recovering the house’s old glass and wooden doors.
The materialization of Casa Cabanyal follows a single direction: reinterpreting the original interior design according to current needs. Therefore, the studio preserved the original brick surfaces, complementing them with a blue and off-white mosaic carpet boasting a checkerboard pattern that spans the floors and half the walls, stitching the interior design to create a whole.
‘This is a typical element of the Cabanyal facades, which, from 1875 onwards, began to suffer an explosion of this geometric-shaped ceramic material that is still part of the popular imaginary of the neighborhood today. This checkerboard pattern provides a hypnotic optical effect that enhances the spaces and is presented as a differentiating, traditional element with its own unique atmosphere‘ comments Viruta Lab.
Considered the meeting point between past, present, and future, the central staircase becomes the focal point inside the renovated property. Its original one-piece granite steps is preserved, while its landing is dressed by the original black terrazzo with white grain leading to the new checkerboard floor introduced by Viruta Lab.
Both the access door and the passageways leading to the rooms have been treated, stripped, and waxed. In addition, the house holds a walkable roof that hosts the leisure rest area. This space is waterproofed thanks to a traditional, small-format clay tile, known as Catalan, placed in a staggered pattern. On it stands a wooden gazebo for contemplations of the views ahead.
The house preserves its traditional connection to natural light, as intended when it was originally built in 1946. Thanks to its Heritage protection, Viruta Lab has thoughtfully maintained the original openings that flood the interior with a captivating Mediterranean glow reminiscent of Sorolla’s art. Moreover, the backyard generously allows ambient light to flow into the kitchen through its expansive opening. On the upper floor, a glazed veranda extends from the facade, welcoming sunlight and inviting the sea breeze and fragrance of saltpeter; this thoughtful design pays homage to the past and embraces the present, creating harmony between the indoors and outdoors.