Design firm Studio Hoka director and founder Karolina Howorko lives and works in Amsterdam, but the Warsaw-born woman has so many projects in her homeland of Poland that it made sense for her to create a comfortable space to call home while visiting.
Rather than booking a hotel room, Karolina decided to transform a compact flat in Warsaw’s Old Town that her mother had purchased around two decades prior. According to Karolina, her mother bought the property because her family members were travelers, and someone always needed somewhere to stay in Warsaw. Now, it’s Karolina’s slice of paradise called Studio H, and she has turned it into something extraordinary.
The conservative flat is tucked away inside an old warehouse that had been turned into apartments after World War II. At first, the apartment felt cramped and small, but Karolina quickly realized that a false ceiling was to blame.
Karolina had noticed that the apartments seemed taller than the interior really was, and she realized that a metal structure with thin concrete had been used to lower the ceiling. After removing it and revealing a beautiful 4.3-meter ceiling, she knew she had something special to work with.
And that’s where her apartment’s transformation began.
Karolina restored the ceiling, developed a multi-functional mezzanine floor to add 100 square feet of space, and introduced a combination of Scandinavian functionality and Japanese rustic minimalism to create something truly outstanding. Now, her apartment has been transformed from cramped and conservative into open, light, and spacious.
There are incredible views from all levels, multiple storage areas, a hidden washing machine, and a clever living and kitchen configuration that maximizes all available space. All furniture has also been chosen for its complete versatility.
It’s clear to see that Karolina has used her many skills to create something incredible for her and her family to enjoy for decades to come.
Karolina wanted to make her apartment larger and more functional, which might seem impossible when working with the same floor plan. Creating the mezzanine floor was an excellent first step, but Karolina also opted for minor changes that provided the most significant impact.
For example, she painted the walls white to offer the illusion of space. The two large windows were also helpful for letting in plenty of natural light and offering different space perceptions. Now, Karolina says the apartment is a cozy place to enjoy the city, relax, breathe, sleep, and cook.
The furniture played an integral role in making Karolina’s apartment more functional. The sofa in the lounge, while comfortable for relaxing, can also fold down to provide a bed for guests. The white walls are also softened by Karolina’s own vibrant paintings.
It would have been tempting to remove the old flooring and opt for something more modern, but Karolina was determined to retain some of the apartment’s original features. She decided to keep the original oak flooring, which is over 100 years old, which adds a layer of warmth when paired with the stark white walls and kitchen cabinetry.
The building in which Karolina’s apartment is located used to be a warehouse storage facility. After World War II, it was turned into housing. Karolina’s apartment had a false ceiling, which she removed to provide an additional 1.5 meters of space. Karolina turned this extra space into a mezzanine floor for sleeping and work, accessible via storage-laden stairs.
The kitchen might be small, but it has everything a homeowner needs. It boasts sleek white cabinetry, a dishwasher, an oven, and storage. Karolina also opted for a tempered glass backsplash, which reflects the landscape from the windows while also being easy to clean.
The kitchen and dining area is light, bright, and deceivingly spacious. The stairs to the mezzanine floor also contain a hidden pull-out dining table that you can tuck away out of sight when it’s not in use.
You might have noticed that the kitchen lacks a fridge, but that’s not the case. The staircase has a hideaway fridge and a pull-out cabinet for extra storage.
Karolina doesn’t like to picture food when trying to work, so she installed a curtain in the kitchen. This hides it from sight so she can give her work her full attention.
Karolina put a lot of time and effort into the mezzanine floor she created by removing the false ceiling. As you meander up the stairs, you’ll see a large mirror reflecting the sky and whoever enters. Adjacent lies a bookcase for her favorite novels and a large cupboard for clothing. There is also a folding desk adjacent to the handrail to function as a quiet study or workspace.
Karolina painted the mezzanine walls in the same crisp white color scheme as the first floor but opted for a lighter floor color.
The home office portion of the mezzanine floor doubles as a barrier between the ground and top floor. The desk can also be folded down when not in use.
While there is a sofa in the living space to function as a bed, the mezzanine floor also has plenty of space for a double bed, giving Karolina somewhere comfortable to relax after a hard day of work.
Karolina put a lot of thought into creating a bathroom that was modern, fresh, and connected seamlessly to the rest of the home. The flooring includes resin pieces that look like wood combined with grey coloring. She also placed mirrors in the bathroom to make the space appear larger.
While small, Karolina has made excellent use of the available space with a glass partition separating the shower cabin and toilet. All walls have white tiles, which are both modern and space-enhancing.