The modern kitchen invites uncluttered, simple meals with glossy Corian counters and plenty of pure white. A collection of colorful glass stands out against the monochrome backdrop of white walls and Corian stairs.
Red Kartell chairs create the illusion of modern petals around a white Leolux dining table.
Bestowed with numerous grand epithets – Paris of the East and Heart of the Danube – Budapest is a trove of Old World treasures, steeped in conflicted history both beautiful and tumultuous. However, as the Parliament Building stretches in its Neo-Gothic glory across the sparkling Danube, the windows of the building on Szabo Ilonka street conceal a gem that has little in common with Budapest’s darker past. With a youthful dynamic of art, culture and design emerging, the Eastern European capital has been enjoying a revival of its golden era, and this two-bedroom apartment in the city’s historic core is everything that is Budapest’s present: bright, vivacious and full of promise.
“We wanted to do something that provided us with joy and would give others something useful,” share Margit and Geza Hamori, the energetic duo behind Budapest interior design studio Margeza. Born in Hungary and residing on the Belgium-Luxembourg border, the retired couple now spends their days buying old, run-down apartments, and turning them into vibrant, one-of-a-kind spaces that have caught the design world’s eye.
“We don’t conform to rules,” tells Geza. “Our spirit reflects in our work.” Set in a circa 1928 building, the Szabo Ilonka residence was first a family home and later a four-apartment dwelling, meaning the 1,184-square-foot space was originally laid out in an awkward, multiple-room format. The Hamoris knocked down walls, modernized insulation, and replaced the sectioned windows with frameless panes and an expansive “glass wall” to open stunning views of the Danube and city skyline. “The piece of glass was too large to fit through the door, so it had to be lifted up by a crane,” recalls Geza. “It was quite exciting.”
A fun take on a house plant, the living botanical installation, watered by an automatic irrigation system, adds unexpected lushness to the white living room.
A sleek contemporary shower and modern stand-alone tub are incorporated right into the master bedroom space.
Airy and flooded with light, the home is awash in glossy whites and splashed unapologetically with bold color. The piece de resistance is a leafy swath of green on the living room wall – a living botanical installation fed by an automatic irrigation system. Yellow Italian armchairs from the ‘80s bring in a retro vibe, and crimson Kartell chairs wrap a Leolux dining table in a wink to midcentury mod. Creamy Corian stairs, counters and doors, white tiled floors, and a glass window seat lighten and uplift, with curving lines softening the minimalist aesthetic.
A white area rug, custom made by Margit herself and nicknamed “Budapest: You’re Here,” adds a whimsical and uniquely local touch: shaped like a map of Budapest, with different districts distinguished with varying textures, and crisscrossed in blue in reference to the Danube river. A red dot marks the location of the apartment itself within the city.
Bathed in golden light, Budapest’s legendary Parliament Building, visible from the apartment, stretches along the Danube shores. A bench floats on glass legs at the base of the floor-to-ceiling “glass wall” window; on the floor, Margeza’s custom-made, whimsical “Budapest: You’re Here” rug depicts a map of the city. Marigold Italian armchairs from the ‘80s bring in color with a funky retro vibe.
In the bedroom, a floating bed and curving cabinet, also designed by the couple, bring in more crisp whites alongside juicy red and yellow accents. A second bedroom and bath are on the upper floor, along with a small guest area. “One should work at the desk here, but people would much rather enjoy the sight of the boats sailing down the river,” shares a smiling Geza. Two terraces wrap the apartment, affording 200-degree views of the city.
“We wanted to create something worthy of the historic surroundings and wonderful panorama,” Geza comments. “The area was a given, but we could play with light and colors. Having a breakfast with the rising sun here or drinking a glass of wine with friends in the evening are equally outstanding experiences.”
Vivid red trim around the doors is Geza and Margit Hamori’s playful nod to their love of bright color in surprising spots.
The second level features a guest bedroom, bath and nook with a view.
How do you see Hungary’s design evolving today, and how does your own aesthetic fit into it?
In our opinion, today’s Hungarian designs are very conservative. We are out of the ordinary and unique in Hungary. One of the main reasons for this lies in our personalities; another in the fact that we follow the trends of the world in both design and interior decorating. We like to go to design markets, and we know and recognize the design chairs and lamps of the world. We find joy in educating ourselves.
What are some of your favorite sourcing spots?
We travel a lot, so we shop in many places. If we see something we like, we buy it. We regularly visit flea markets and antique shops, and, of course, the World Wide Web is always a great help to find the exact lamp, armchair or vase we seek. We like the Memphis Era items and furniture. We also enjoy designing unique pieces of furniture ourselves.
What did you most enjoy about this project, and what’s next for the apartment?
We keep inspiring each other, and we experience it as a gift that we can create together. The apartment is finished, and we can say from experience that it works well. We always move in, try out the dream in real life, and fill it with love and happy energy. In our opinion, it could be the ideal home of a childless couple who loves design, like ourselves. We are ready now to sell it to someone who will enjoy living here as much as we did; new challenges await us.
Photographs by Aron Erdohati.
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