Every century-old house has a past, but the landmarked 1929 Villa Bogenhausen in Munich has layers of history—personal, architectural, social—all of which factored into the recent makeover of its interiors by Arnold/Werner Architekten. Designed by prominent local architect Robert Seitz in a simplified château style transitioning into Modernism, the 16,000-square-foot, four-level residence was confiscated from its Jewish owners in 1933 and only restituted to the family after World War II. In the early 1950s, however, they sold the stately house to be used for commercial purposes. By the time the villa’s current occupants—a family of five—acquired the property recently, it was in need of major work.
The building’s original architectural elements, from its bones to its finishes, were worn but intact. The kitchen was water damaged and outdated. The floor plan was mostly unaltered, with grand public spaces on a ceremonial ground floor, including an impressive entrance gallery and a living room, dining room, and smoking parlor that form a handsome enfilade opening onto a wide terrace. The oak parquet and marble floors were finely crafted but showing serious signs of age, as were the paneling and moldings. The house’s signature feature, a spiral marble staircase—lightened by a delicate wrought-iron railing of winding tendrils—was in particular need of TLC.
The owner engaged two firms—Hilmer Sattler Architekten and Schindhelm Architekten—to restore and stabilize the building’s shell and systems and to earn permits from the city’s preservation agency. Arnold/Werner was brought on board to tackle the interior that,
depending on the specific space involved, required restoration, remodeling, expansion, or precision acupuncture in the form of new built-ins, contemporary fixtures, and fresh colors.
The Arnold/Werner team, led by interior architects Ulrike Buhl and Tim Honkomp, proceeded as if they had two clients—the family and the house itself—both of whom they “interviewed” in depth. Done in collaboration with the two other firms, the interrogation of the villa comprised painstaking study and documentation of the building so that any interventions would understand, respect, and renew its historic fabric. Interviewing the family, including the children, involved a series of formal and informal meetings aimed at ensuring that the recast interior fit exactly their expectations and living patterns. The family conversations established that the house needed to operate equally well at an intimate scale, with before-school breakfasts in a homey kitchen, for example, and at a larger social scale, since the parents regularly hold receptions for up to 50 people. While the family wanted the more public, less casual areas to be “welcoming,” Honkomp reports, they asked that the private quarters on the upper floors be “more relaxed—and calm.”
On the ground level, the checkerboard marble floor in the entrance gallery and the herringbone oak parquet in the three large rooms were restored, and their walls painted distinctive custom hues: pale-gray and white for the gallery and living room; salmon pink for the doors, window frames, and dado paneling in the dining room; and watermelon red for the walls and ceiling in the smoking parlor. “We needed colors that would read at night in candlelight and dim illumination,” Honkomp notes. The designers used custom light fixtures throughout, including striking chandeliers composed of overlapping brass rings in the gallery and living room. “We wanted what we added to be contemporary,” Buhl says.
Furniture selections were made by another firm, Robert Stephan
Interiors, which mixed midcentury Italian pieces like the dining room’s sleek Gio Ponti table from 1959 surrounded by Augusto Savini curved-back chairs from 1960s with more recent designs such as Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci’s glossy lacquered-metal console table in the smoking parlor. Contemporary items include the living room’s massive sofa and armchairs by Thierry Lemaire, which flank a pair of compact club chairs by Yabu Pushelberg.
The original kitchen, though Modernist in its time—designed in what Honkomp describes as “Mallet-Stevens style”—was conceived for a large staff, so it had to be gutted and reconfigured, much to the distress of the team. “We nearly cried,” Honkomp admits. The remade facility includes an adjacent mudroom for transitioning after sports; a large granite-top island incorporating an informal dining counter where parents can help kids with homework; and, tucked behind an end wall of dark oak slats that also conceals the refrigerator and other appliances, a professional galley kitchen where a chef prepares most meals. Working surfaces and undercounter cabinets are stainless steel, while the walls are paneled in oiled white oak, “to warm the room for a cozier feeling,” Buhl says. On the second floor, the original layout for the main suite and two guest bedrooms was retained. The large bathrooms were simply updated with sleek modern fixtures set on custom marble counters, each ensemble an abstract composition. An elegant extension to the spiral stairs gives access to the previously undeveloped attic space, which now houses the children’s bedrooms, a couple of which boast mezzanine sleeping lofts.
The basement also underwent a major transformation, including the creation of an authentic hammam—an expansive sequence of cool, warm, and hot rooms, all of them clad in Carrara marble and furnished with custom tubs, basins, and massage tables carved from the same material. It speaks to the rich architectural ambiguity established by the original house—and to the aesthetic judgement of the current design team—that this serene but sumptuous Turkish bath looks and feels part of the villa’s DNA.
Project Team: Sascha Arnold, Steffen Werner, Fleur Kamenisch: Arnold/Werner Architekten. Hilmer Sattler Architekten, Schindhelm Architekten: Architects of Record. Robert Stephan Interiors: Furniture Consultant. PSLab: Lighting Consultant. Norbert Wangen: Kitchen Consultant. Steininger Steinmetz: Stonework. Praller & Werner: Woodwork.
Product Sources: Dimoremilano: Console Table (Smoking Parlor); Atelier Areti: Sconces (Staircase, Hallway). Upholstery Fabric: Kvadrat (Hallway). Thierry Lemaire: Sofa, Armchairs (Living Room). Man of Parts: Club Chairs. Pietro Russo: Bookshelves. Molteni&C: Table (Dining Room). Hästens: Bed (Bedroom). Antonio Lupi Design: Basin (Wife’s Bathroom). Laufen: Basin (Husband’s Bathroom). Mutina: Wall Tile (Both Bathrooms). Throughout: PSLab: Ceiling Fixtures. Vola Denmark: Faucets. Topstyle Flooring: Oak Herringbone. Kt.Color: Paint.