When Petra Hanáková and Radek Techlovsky decided to buy Masná 130, a Renaissance-era home in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic, in 2016, they didn’t quite realize what they were getting into. Though complications are to be expected in a 500-year-old building, it was clear that it had been neglected for decades; the foundations were damaged by flooding, the roof was dilapidated, and the home wasn’t even connected to the sewage system. “We only discovered gradually that taking care of even a small historical house borders on insanity,” they said. But the new owners’ intuition told them that underneath its decrepit exterior, the space was full of potential — and they were right.

Masná 130 as seen from the street

In 2018, the duo renovated the ground floor into a café — which they also operate — that serves as a lively gathering space for the local community. They intended to reimagine the upper level as short-term rental units but fell so in love with the space that they decided to keep it for themselves. With sustainability top of mind, they also didn’t want to overburden the already busy city, a UNESCO heritage site, with more tourism. The homeowners turned to Czech firm ORA (Original Regional Architecture), who specialize in historic preservation, seeking to restore the home’s original character while updating it for modern living.

Staircase with red treads

“We wanted to complement the historical interiors with something that characterizes us — a love of contemporary design and a minimalist style,” Hanáková and Techlovsky explain. “We did not want to create a historical ‘museum’ interior, nor a design showroom, we wanted to organically connect the historical and contemporary layers.” ORA immediately resonated with their vision and found inspiration in the house’s unique atmosphere.

Entryway with blue trim and black built-ins

The clients wanted to reveal as many historic elements as possible, including the original floors and wood beam ceiling. They also wanted to preserve the layout which featured a large salon that was, at one point, divided by a partition. During the renovation, the architects uncovered the original deep crimson wall paint, which sets a moody yet intimate tone for the open-concept interior.

Salone seating area and kitchen at Masná 130

Rather than erecting partitions to divide the space, the architects opted to use furnishings to create a sense of spatial organization. Adjacent to the salon’s vibrant yellow seating, the black kitchen, with its closed shelving, might at first appear to be a set of custom built-ins. Across the room, a small custom dining set made from the same dark-stained birch as the kitchen fosters a sense of visual balance. A light fixture is mounted on a bracket above the table, so as not to interfere with the historic ceiling.

Dining area at Masná 130

Like the salon, the bedroom also had its own hidden treasure. The architects uncovered a painting on the ceiling and left a fragment of it exposed, with the rest of the room bathed in a soothing cream colour. Unlike most bedrooms, where the bed is pushed up against the wall, it is featured at the centre of the room, turned askew to face the window and ceiling painting, separating the space into two distinct zones.

Bedroom at Masná 130

The oversized headboard is upholstered in the same yellow as the living room seating, injecting the space with colour, while integrated lamps make the bed an ideal spot for nighttime reading. The opposite side of the headboard does double duty as a wardrobe, also cordoning off a study nook complete with a small desk and floating brass shelves that match its legs.

Black desk with brass legs and floating brass shelves above

Accessible from both the foyer and bedroom, the bathroom is the most modern of the three spaces. Here, the architects introduced visual interest through geometric shapes: hexagonal floor tiles, square wall tiles by Ceramica Vogue, and rounded mirrors. Rendered in a monochromatic palette of icy blue tones that mirrors the entryway trim, it makes for a cohesive interior.

Bathroom with monochromatic blue finishes
Bathroom with monochromatic blue finishes

Acutely attuned to the needs and lifestyle of its owners — and their design style — Masná 130 makes the most of limited space, deftly combining old and new. And while they are certainly pleased with the end product (they live there the majority of the time, renting out to guests on occasion), the process was perhaps most rewarding part. “Along the way, we found out what needed to be renovated, learned to listen to the house, and acquired several old craft skills ourselves,” they say.

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