In Spain, the Modern Transformation of a Family Home

In 2005, Joan Badia and Mireia Cerdà were at a crossroads in their relationship. After five years of dating, they were ready to move in together, but where they would live was another story. The couple had grown up in the picturesque Catalonian village of Arbúcies, about 50 miles northeast of Barcelona, and were content in the small town nestled in the rugged hills of the Montseny mountains. They considered building a home in the countryside, but they relished the idea of raising a family in their charming community with its pastel-colored row houses and cobblestone paths.

At the time Mr. Badia, had been living in a small apartment on the second floor above the family butcher shop, which was started by his great-grandmother in 1933. Mr. Badia had inherited the narrow, pale-yellow building that rises four stories. It was built around 1900 and is within walking distance to the town’s main square. The couple began exploring whether they could renovate the upper three floors and create a roomier home with a contemporary look.

In 2007, the couple took up temporary residence a few streets away and the sledgehammers started swinging. The entire three floors above the butcher shop, which was sealed off and remained open, were gutted.

Mr. Badia watched as the old wood and brick stairwell that traveled up one side of the narrow building was removed and replaced with a modern sculptural design, made of polished concrete steps on the first two levels and black metal steps on the upper levels. When a large crack formed in a wall dividing two rooms on the second floor, it was Mr. Badia who suggested that the wall come down, creating a large and airy loft space.

Today, the family’s home begins on the second floor, which contains the living and dining area as well as the kitchen. The brightness of the space is a surprise to visitors who make their way up the polished gray concrete steps through the butcher’s shop. “This is not typical, most of the homes in the village are dark in the interior and do not have an open floor plan,” Mr. Badia said.

The living area, which has a new polished gray concrete floor, is furnished with a bright orange sofa and a coffee table that Mr. Badia made himself by setting old ceramic tiles he salvaged from the renovation on top of a simple metal frame. Two freestanding metal shelving units designed by Mobles 114 Barcelona, a modern design home furnishings company, flank tall glass-paneled doors that lead out to a small balcony overlooking the village’s main street.

The kitchen takes up the middle of the spacious floor, with one wall lined with sleek white cabinets. A large kitchen island houses a Viking range top. Just behind it are appliances by Gaggenau: a stainless-steel refrigerator and a stacked oven and microwave. Thick slabs of charcoal-colored basalt were made into roomy countertops.

Next to the kitchen is a large dining area, which has a double-height ceiling that contains a trio of newly added skylights. This area has retained the original yellow and brown tiled floor. Ms. Cerdà, 30, a freelance graphic designer, insisted on keeping the home sparsely furnished, but indulged her love of art and color in the dining area with bright ceramic vases and bowls that she either made herself or bought at design shops. On the third floor above, she also hung a bright green ceramic wall planter by the French company Flowerbox (about $80) in the hallway outside the master bedroom.

Both bedrooms on the third floor are large and painted a stark white, with exposed wood ceiling beams. Mounted on either side of the bed in the couple’s bedroom is a matching pair of Lucellino wall sconces, which resemble light bulbs with wings, ($300 each) by the Italian designer Ingo Maurer. A large spalike bathroom with white walls and light-gray stone countertops separates the bedrooms. The toilet and washbasin are designed by Philippe Starck for Duravit. Ms. Cerdà added whimsical black vinyl stickers to the wall above the countertops that create life-size outlines of potted plants resembling cactus and aloe (set of three plant decals, by Chispum, about $65)

The fourth-floor attic has been transformed into Ms. Cerdà’s office. Down the hall is another bathroom with a sleek tub also designed by Philippe Starck for Duravit. A large floor-to-ceiling window next to the bathtub looks out onto a newly created terrace, now home to potted bamboo plants and two small citrus trees. These days, the couple marvels at the modern transformation of a home steeped so deeply in family history and tradition. Mr. Badia has fond memories of daily rituals like midday lunches with his large, extended family of butchers. “This house has been my world, my whole life,” he said. “I wanted to create a place that everyone would still want to gather in and we succeeded.”

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