Unforgettable Gila and one of his most famous monologues: “We were seven brothers, my dad, my mom and a man in brown, who no one knew him and who was always in the hall.” An element that formed the backbone of a large part of the houses where we live, those of our parents and grandparents, and that as children could become, especially at night, an excursion only undertaken if the urge to go to the bathroom was too tight, since the length and dark tunnel strewn with doors did not invite walking. And if at the end you guessed one of those cabinets to store your coats, you better hold on. By day, yes, it was used for racing, the kilometers that have been done in them …
Most of the urban dwellings of the last century, larger than the current ones because families were too, made use of this element to be able to access the different rooms. And the houses were built like that, with those more or less long corridors that today every reform and new developments try to file to gain meters and give a more ‘modern’ air to the house. The rooms that were only opened for visits because the family used the living room, the bedrooms, the dining room next to the closed kitchen … are today memories in sepia. José Luis Revuelta, a designer from Bilbao with more than 30 years of experience in the field of architecture, interior design and lighting, uses the corridor to lead us on a round trip to the past of our homes.
HOUSING REFORM ‘TYPE’ OF THE ENANCHE WITH CORRIDOR. On the facade, living room with sliding door to the master bedroom. The hall, open to the kitchen and living room, gives access to the guest toilet and the master bedroom. Kitchen joined with sliders to a space for breakfasts, lunches and daily dinners, work room, TV room with sofa bed (we can replace the chair with a stationary bike). Recessed in the wall is the door to the night distributor, with closets and access to bedrooms and bathrooms. (joseluisrevuelta.es)
And … why if today those corridors are partially or totally eliminated to gain space and aesthetics, they were such a common denominator in the houses that we inhabited in the past? «The corridor has an exciting history linked to our longing for privacy that was previously only reserved for the wealthiest classes, the only ones who could enjoy private rooms and who relegated the circulation of servants to the corridor. Before the 19th century, many rooms had up to three doors that communicated with each other, but the development of individuality as a concept, which appears with Luther and is established with the French Revolution, makes us claim an intimate space that will take time to arrive. all and especially for them, and if not that they tell Virginia Wolf, who even in 1929 demanded for herself ‘A room of my own’. The answer to that need will be provided by the corridor.
Revuelta recalls that, at the beginning of the 19th century, the incorporation of building regulations to guarantee the health and hygiene of homes makes architecture pay less attention to the exterior ornament of buildings and focus more on responding to new ways of living the houses, articulated mostly perpendicular to the main facades; “The noblest areas are oriented towards them, such as the living room, dining room or master bedroom, and at the back, linked to the block patios, are the toilet and kitchen.” The obligation for all rooms to have ventilation added a reserve of space for interior patios, “towards those facing the rest of the rooms and a long corridor that runs through the blind dividing wall and that allows access to all these rooms. The bigger the house and the more holes it has, the longer the corridor. This is one of the most representative typologies from the early nineteenth century that remains in the old and wide-ranging centers of our cities.
«In the corridor there were also classes: 110 or 120 cm. wide for the rich, and only 80 for the rest »
José Luis Revuelta
Today, with the aging population, many of these old houses remain unreformed because their owners are pensioners who live alone and cannot cope with the work they would need, “something that in the old quarters – says the designer – is being done with government aid, but that in city centers it is costing more, since it is assumed, perhaps not entirely true, that those who live in the center have higher incomes. For this reason, there is a large real estate park that is already a hundred years old, of high-class but very old homes that need to be cleaned up, intervening not only in their facilities and accessibility but also in their structure, often made of wood.
With corridor worth less
Although the expert warns that money is at the base of everything, that’s why there were also classes in the corridors. You just have to see the size, in the most ‘stately’ houses they reached 1.10 or 1.20 meters wide, while in the less affluent this distance was reduced to 80 centimeters. At present, the owners of plots try to give them the highest possible yield and they know that the square meter of corridor yields less, is not so attractive, “with which they get less money or do not directly sell the house.” That is why we try to smooth that part out from the construction project, “and our work seeks to optimize the square meter and its adaptation to our contemporary ways of life,” explains Revuelta.
Obviously, apart from the corridor, old demands have also changed, such as having a separate dining room from the kitchen or a living room where the silver and porcelain tableware can be displayed and that was only used when there were visitors, that is, once a year, because already there was a little room with TV where to spend the day. «That model has disappeared; we make less life in our houses, we go out very early, both we and our children, and we eat around work and school, so we return home at night. On the weekend it’s time to escape sedentary lifestyle, go out, go on excursions and travel … ».
In cities, location has taken precedence over other very important issues for Revuelta, such as orientation or interior housing: “Suddenly, people are more aware of space because they have more leisure time, and the pandemic we are suffering has served to look around and realize that we do not have, neither do we, that private space that Wolf claimed, because the one we have created for ourselves we share with our partner and also with our children, who, by the way, do now have their own room, in which they have prohibited us to enter ».
Before, there used to be a cabinet or office in homes to carry out or complete liberal activities, something that is now being missed, so many are considering incorporating a space for teleworking. “That is why the reform is so interesting, because it allows you to leave the ‘pret a porter’ and move to haute couture, from the standardized suit to the tailor-made suit. We are, in a way, the result of the spaces we inhabit, rather than the other way around. When you rehabilitate a home you build a landscape for yourself that will determine your life from now on.
And when we began to see those kitchens open to the living room in the US series, “an invention of the 50s”, we began to question the order established in our homes. «« Before, with Franco, the kitchen was a hole in the house where women spent their hours locked up. You ate in the kitchen, but you also did your homework and welcomed your family, neighbors, and close friends. Now that model has changed; although we are still fascinated by large kitchens as before, but open, where we can be chatting with the person (man, woman or both) who is cooking while you have an aperitif. There are many meetings with family and friends that begin and end practically without leaving the kitchens, which incorporate islands, breakfast or snack bars and spacious dining areas with television.
Revuelta assures that in the imagination of the people the house of the summer town is a reference, but especially that of our grandparents and parents. Then, the specialized magazines that advocated continuous changes in decorations and styles, “and today it is Instagram that sets the trend. Many people spend energy making not the house they need but the one they believe will ‘one day’ sell better, and are condemned to living in smaller spaces in a more uncomfortable way without giving up one more room, which is going to be a storage room, as he considers that he will get a better price with three rooms than with two, a mistake. Our houses should be a reflection of our inner landscape. For this, we make up the reform project as a score where the music that will sound within it is written. The more precision and precision there is, the less improvisation and surprises when executing and paying for it ».
‘Intoxicated’ by Instagram
Authentic ‘Almodovarian’ classics
Revuelta considers that in fashions there is a reaction to the contrary with the previous one, of change, of renouncing the past, but at the same time there is the certainty “that everything returns”, although that is the part that least interests him, “the of fashions, which arises from whim and not from necessity, which is what has modulated homes until today.
Gotelé and moldings
We have spent a fortune to remove gotelé, a paint paste projected in the shape of a drop on a smooth surface to hide imperfections in the wall. And now it turns out that, as with cassette tapes, there are gotelé worshipers who are turning to it again, combining colors between the background and the projected drop, ‘combing’ the drops or using metallic paints … ». With the plaster moldings of the ceiling something similar happened, it concealed that the line of conjunction of wall and ceiling was not as perfect as it should be, and separated from the wall, it facilitated the task of wallpapering by hiding the upper cut of the pieces, something complex to masterfully execute. Today the moldings are still irresistible as decoration and no matter how ‘modern’ you are, everyone wants them.
The paper that once completely covered our houses with those geometric motifs is back in force after a few years in fallow; Searches for this element on Pinterest increase from year to year by 40%. The baroque drawings of exotic natures are glued together with force and the size of the hole does not matter: the larger the drawing, the better.
‘Sintasol’ and carpets
The famous ‘sintasol’ that we end up tearing off the floor of our houses is now called vinyl or PVC flooring and is fully up-to-date, “just like the reviled floating parquet that we now see everywhere and of which there are versions whose prices and qualities they far exceed that of a good natural wood flooring », says the expert. Carpets, which caused such a fury and which Revuelta has even found in bathrooms and walls, are today a cause for admiration and rejection in equal measure. “There are them as hygienic and healthy as any other flooring that will exceed in comfort,” he assures.
There was a time when kitchens and bathrooms were filled with colored tiles and floor-to-ceiling borders, the result of the fashions imposed by some famous ceramic brands through decoration magazines. Today this has changed. “But the ceramics and artificial stones of synthetic resins of big format save today the sales of the marble factories. There is now a fever for huge wall tiles that imitate finishes of natural or noble materials ”.
The ‘chandelier’ on the ceiling
Customers still think that the traditional central point of light that they have seen all their lives in their homes is necessary, that for the ‘chandelier’ on the bed of the bedroom or in the center of the living room, without realizing that it may not need it so bad. «These are authentic ‘Almodovarian’ classics together with the painting or the tapestry! of the deer hunt that fans of what they now call ‘vintage’ are looking for and that continues to triumph so much ».