Inspired by its riverside location, this apartment in Lisbon, Portugal, feels like being inside a riverboat.
Located in Lisbon, Portugal, within a new residential development with landscaped gardens, cool cafes, and a bicycle path, this 2,388 square foot apartment with a large balcony was inspired by the idea of a river houseboat.
“The apartment is on the edge of the Tagus River, with breathtaking views all around, so we drew inspiration from the blue and the serenity of the river. Being in this house feels like being on a boat in the middle of the river,” says Lisbon interior designer Joana Aranha, who designed the apartment for a young Portuguese and Swedish couple with a three-year-old son.
Her clients wanted a comfortable and inspiring family home that harmonised Portuguese and Scandinavian aesthetics, where they could entertain guests. Other than that, they gave Aranha absolute creative freedom through every stage of the process.
“They liked a contemporary style and wanted a very light and modern concept. Their top priority was that the river view be an integral part of the interior concept,” she says.
The apartment has an elongated living area with three distinct social zones – a living room that embraces the view from the balcony, a dining area that sits 10 people, and a TV area with a plush sofa for long movie nights. It also has a laundry room, a master en suite bedroom with a closet, two bedrooms with a shared bathroom, a guest toilet, and an additional en suite guest bedroom.
When Aranha began working on the interiors, the unit was still under construction. This was an advantage as it enabled her to customise and adapt the interior architecture to respond to her clients’ lifestyle.
“The property had an outdated layout that did not fit the needs of the owners, so we completely changed it,” she says.
She and her team transformed the original floor plan to make the space more functional, reworking the interior architecture of the bathrooms, closets, doors, and kitchen with materials such as wooden floors and unique stones for the bathrooms and kitchen.
“We chose a magnificent solid wood for the floors throughout, and natural elements such as the stones for the bathrooms and kitchen. Venetian stucco covers the entire living room. Metal was also used a lot in the shower stalls of the bathrooms. We chose linens, velvets, and cashmere, and focused on materials that are natural and tactile.”
The kitchen is aligned with the entrance door, but the owners didn’t want a feeling of entering the house and seeing the kitchen right away. So Aranha created a panel that visually continues the wall as an integrated part of the architecture of the house. This helped to keep the kitchen out of view from the main door and allowed for the creation of a more elegant entrance hall.
The new kitchen, which has a casual breakfast corner at one end, was designed as an extension of the living room – a place where the couple can cook while entertaining guests.
There was no corridor connecting the living areas from the sleeping areas, and this meant that the doors of the bedrooms could be seen from the public zones. To create a more visual coherence between the public and private zones, she applied Venetian stucco – which was used for the walls – to the doors of the bedrooms, so the doors blended in discreetly with the walls.
In the bathrooms, she designed marble sinks with invisible storage drawer fronts made of the same marble, along with wall niches that provide more storage within the walls.
The curved sofa in the living room and the Eames armchair emphasises the more contemporary spirit of the house. In contrast, the sideboards in the dining room have a more classical look, with brass handles painted in the same tone as the furniture.
Like most of her projects, this apartment includes many custom-made Joana Aranha Studio signature furniture items such as round, chrome and marble coffee tables and a built-in TV mirror in the TV area; a table in painted chestnut wood and polished Celeste Blue stone in the dining area; wood and steel side tables in the living room; and a handmade basket in the master suite.
Other furniture items include a curved Flexform sofa, and floor lamp from Tato in the living room, a ceiling lamp from Gervasoni in the dining room, an Ingo Maurer pendant in the son’s room, table lamps from GUBI in the master bedroom, and a mirror by DCW Editions in the bathroom.
She also used wallcoverings by Cole & Son and Pierre Frey to add a sense of drama to the casual kitchen breakfast area, the bathroom, and the son’s bedroom. Fabrics from V&N, Pierre Frey, Dedar, Yutes, Kobe, and C&C, were used to add layers, colours, and textures to the overall design.
“The view and especially the relationship between the sky and the river were the biggest inspirations for the colour scheme of this house,” she says.
“The colour of the river and the sky inspired the colour choice for several pieces in the house, but we also included contrasting colours such as bright orange in the living room, and mustard yellow in the guest bedroom.
“For the bathroom, we combined the blue of the river and the green of the gardens overlooking the house and used contemporary wallpaper with leafy motifs to connect these two tones to create a remarkable environment. The small details, which blend classic and modern styles, really elevated the interiors of this home.”
Photos by Pedro Ferreira