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DIY restoration of abandoned 18th century home in Barcelona

When Michele first entered his newly-rented apartment in Barcelona, it had been abandoned for 35 years so looked nothing like the count’s residence it once was several centuries ago. Michele didn’t have much money for repairs, but he’s an artist/carpenter/craftsman who much prefers the old to the new so he set out to restore the space on his own.

Using only materials that had been recycled, donated or found in the space, Michele slowly turned what had most recently been used as a warehouse into a home and studio space for himself and his partner Francesca. They both believe strongly in respecting the history of a space so instead of installing a modern kitchen and bathroom, they use the 18th century stone laundry sink for both cleaning their dishes and as a shower. They didn’t touch anything structural so the bathroom is tiny with just a small sink and toilet and their “library” is a hallway filled with books and a reading nook window.

Much of the couple’s furniture was found in the street and tweaked. Their bed is a DIY-reupholstered sofa bed. An old sink stand became a light. The carpentry table found in the space is now their kitchen table. Michele crafted the bedroom floor and kitchen ceiling using wood found in the space. He uncovered original ceilings, frescos and Modernist wallpaper.

The entire restoration process took a year and a half. When asked about why they would invest so much in a rental property, the couple explain that quality of life is more important than cost or time invested.