Enhancing the original character of a house whilst creating a concordant, contemporary addition is a constant design challenge. Here, in a townhouse in Toulouse, it is achieved through beautiful, minimal detailing with seamless junctions, an interesting mix of decorative mouldings and plain, unadorned surfaces, and the use of flat, monotone hues.
The materials palette is restrained but varied – rich, walnut cabinetry in one room contrasts with natural birch veneer in another. But the palette overall is reined in using similar mid-tones – the grey oak parquet floor adjoins a pale grey, seamless resin floor; a brushed stainless steel kitchen island cube takes on the colour of the adjoining mid-grey walls. There are two aesthetics going on here, one minimal and one ornate, where the old meets the new. They come together beautifully with these sophisticated grey hues, all in a matt finish to add softness. Floor to ceiling windows with simple frames draw the eye to the beautiful landscape beyond.
Joinery is beautifully detailed: a niche within the kitchen cabinets is lined in pale birch veneer contrasting with the deep grey of the cupboard fronts; in the bedrooms, entire walls of storage are seamlessly integrated. Freestanding elements are simple and monolithic – a black glass shower cubicle, the kitchen island unit with its perfectly mitred edges.
Furniture comprises simple, bold classics such as the angular Jean Prouvé dining table and chairs, and the fabulous mid-century Charlotte Perriand bookcase.
How different it would look if it were finished in shades of white throughout, not just in the bathroom. I think the mid-tones give it a richness and sophistication and work effortlessly with the surrounding landscape. What do you think?
Townhouse renovation, Rue du Japon, Toulouse by RMGB architects. All images, RMGB.