Postmodernism — and Plywood Veneer — Get Cozy in This Tiny Warsaw Interior

In the Praga Północ district of Warsaw, the Polish design studio Mistovia has made the most of a small space using maximalist, Postmodern touches — large planes of swirling veneer, bright, saturated color — that somehow create a roomy, welcoming atmosphere that’s nowhere near overdone. The original layout of the 485-square-foot residence (located in the postwar Praga II housing estate, designed in a socialist-realist style by architects Jerzy Gieysztor and Jerzy Kumelowski, and constructed in the 1950s) didn’t change too much, but Mistovia’s founder, Marcin Czopek, opened up the kitchen to the living room and conceived of the place as a series of cubes around which to base the design: kitchen cube, living area, bathroom, bedroom. Existing high ceilings go a long way towards maintaining airiness, but so does the updated delineation of space and the mix of furniture from emerging Polish brands, vintage classics, and custom pieces.

The client, an art director who lives in the apartment with her pet dachshund, Gustaw, had a wishlist that included light gray micro-cement floors and materials like stainless steel, veneer, and glass bricks. Mistovia combined those elements into an outcome that’s a bold but balanced juxtaposition of patterns and shapes. The floor-to-ceiling American walnut burl veneer on the kitchen cabinets creates a woozy effect that lands somewhere between rippling water and an animal print. It contrasts beautifully with room’s clean, stark lines, stainless-steel cabinetry, ­and simple geometric white tiles that are also used elsewhere in the apartment. The same veneer is repeated in the bathroom, on a statement custom vanity topped with Brazilian green marble echoing the apartment’s entryway, and resting on squat, glossy cobalt legs. A pink light fixture from Polish brand Lexavala helps illuminate the space as do the curving glass bricks that face into the apartment’s living area.

This more public part of the residence is what you see when you first enter, and you’re immediately drawn to its dramatic backdrop, a grayish veneer designed by Ettore Sottsass for Alpi in the ’80s. It lends a psychedelic edge to a wall-spanning wardrobe, and other nods to Memphis are clearly evident throughout, with splashes of color like oxblood, bright green, navy, and purple-pink accenting otherwise neutral backdrops. Vintage Bruno Rey chairs surround an orange-pink terrazzo table for dining, and the Polish designer Oskar Zieta’s iconic Plopp stool is used liberally throughout the apartment. The effect is cozy Postmodernism at its best.