Warmer shades of grey
Delicate hints of pink and oatmeal bring an earthy tone to this contemporary go-to colour. Pale, interesting and potent: the updated hue has been used to transform a Berlin shop into this tranquil home
Delicate hints of pink and oatmeal bring an earthy warmth to this go-to colour. See how they transform this house in Berlin
Fashionable tints of grey, from pale Nordic palettes to moody charcoals, have brought a restrained cool to interiors for years – but what about adding warmth into grey schemes? Welcome to pink-pigmented, biscuit-tinted grey: it’s a quiet and natural neutral. Used across a whole house, as architects Mar Vicens and Ask Anker Aistrup – partners who run their own practice, Mar Plus Ask – have done in their Berlin home, the colour can breathe life into a space. It’s helped to turn this former pharmaceutical supermarket into a truly tranquil city-centre sanctuary.
‘ We’re in Kreuzberg, formerly part of West Germany and one of Berlin’s poorest areas, which, since 1970, has become known for its alternative scene,’ Denmark-born Ask explains. ‘It is a dirty and noisy part of the city, but the neighbourhood wears it in a charming way.’ He and Mar, who is Spanish, wanted their home to be a clean, monastic retreat, away from the street life.
Together, they set about reconfiguring the 1900 building’s sterile, 180-squaremetre retail space into a cohesive onebedroom apartment. The property’s thick walls, up to 80 centimetres deep, reminded the couple of the fortified structures of castles or monasteries. Inspired by these comparisons and the idea of a seamless interior, the homeowners chose a polished concrete floor and covered walls in a chalkysmooth, stucco-style plaster. It took many weeks of experimentation to find the exact colour for the plaster: the blush-beige-grey result renders this stripped-back space cosy.
The decoration within is a juxtaposition and celebration of the couple’s opposing aesthetics. ‘Danish design comes from weather-induced necessity, while southern Spain is a land of golden sun and honey,’ says Ask. ‘I’m Danish, but love everything Mediterranean. Mar is Spanish and loves everything Nordic!’ As such, orangey oak, copper, tan leather and woven wicker create a tactile, Mediterranean backdrop to classic Scandinavian designs. As Ask puts it: ‘Our furniture is a mix of vintage and affordable new stuff. We’re young architects, so our budget is tight. Which is actually great! Restrictions – even financial ones – can often lead to better results.’ marplusask.com
TREND IN DETAIL: WARM GREY How to use this new neutral at home Where to use it This abode is proof that warm greys work well in lofty properties, bringing a sense of serenity. However, if you want to use this palette in only one room, try your kitchen or dining area. The delicate colour looks especially striking in these more functional spaces. Which paint to choose Farrow & Ball’s ‘Slipper Satin’ is inspired by stone, but with the slightest ballet-slipper blush (£45 for 2.5 litres; farrow-ball.com), while Benjamin Moore’s matt ‘Kitten Whiskers’ has a sandy undertone (£75 for 3.8 litres; benjaminmoorepaint.co.uk) and Emery & Cie’s soft, chalky ‘Lamelle de Champignon’ references earthy mushrooms with a more peachy tinge (£24 for 1kg; emeryetcie.com). Why you should try plaster A raw, stucco-style plaster absorbs pigment more deeply, producing a natural look on your walls. If using it in a kitchen or bathroom, be sure to apply a glaze that will protect the finish from water damage. The materials to pair it with As proved in Mar and Ask’s home, warm greys work best when juxtaposed with timber (for added warmth) and concrete. Copper accessories will also add to the glow.
Dining area Mar and Ask made the table using wood left over from the renovation of the house. It is surrounded by a mix of chairs, including Hans J Wegner’s ‘Sawbuck’ for Carl Hansen & Søn, one by Børge Mogensen for FDB Møbler and a ‘Folding Chair’ by Egon Eiermann. Overhead hang Alvar Aalto’s ‘Golden Bell’ lights by Artek Kitchen Bespoke plywood fronts and copperplate handles have been added to the Ikea cabinets. The island is made from poured concrete and the tap is a design by Vola Stockist details on p169 ➤
Detail, above The curtain, made from rough linen, washed twice, acts as a divide between the bedroom and the hallway. There are no doors in this house Bathroom Copper piping, cast into the concrete wall, becomes a heated towel rail Bedroom The desk lamp is by Bauhaus designer Christian Dell, and the couple bought the floor light from a flea market, only later discovering that it was a designer piece – the ‘Daphine Terra’ by Tommaso Cimini for Lumina. The chair is a prototype by Mar and Ask Stockist details on p169