When editor Natalia Swarz and her husband, artist Armando Mesías, moved from the seaside of Barcelona to Madrid’s coolest neighborhood Chueca, they knew one thing for sure: They were bringing the warm vibes with them. “We wanted our home to feel a bit like a Mediterranean escape in the middle of the city center,” says Natalia, who is the founder of travel site and shop Hotel Weekend and content editor for Spanish fashion brand Loewe. Hailing from Cali, Colombia, the couple notes that their Latin roots are always present in their lifestyle and design philosophy. Natalia explains, “[We have] a hammock hanging in the living room, which was custom made by Verdi in Colombia, some palm tree drawings hanging on the walls, and the soundtrack is always music from Cali, Cuba, or somewhere in Latin America.”

<div class="caption"> The sleek kitchen stands in dark contrast to the rest of the apartment. “Armando loves to cook when we throw dinner parties,” Natalia notes. </div>

The sleek kitchen stands in dark contrast to the rest of the apartment. “Armando loves to cook when we throw dinner parties,” Natalia notes.

The warmth of these Latin elements is offset by the minimal, wabi-sabi landscape of the apartment. Since the Japanese aesthetic has been a recurring inspiration to them, they decided to partner with Iker Ochotorena of OOAA Arquitectura on the renovation. “His style is very minimalistic, but not in a boring way. The neutral colors of the walls and floors are contrasted with black details, which we love,” says Natalia. Iker’s signature style incorporates distinct architectural lines, a neutral palette, and natural textures like wood and stone. In the spirit of wabi-sabi, his interiors focus on authenticity and therefore promote a sense of tranquility through simple design.

<div class="caption"> The dining room, kitchen, and living room are one big open communal space. Along the wall is Armando’s latest collage installation. “He started developing it when the lockdown started and it sort of kept on building on as a journal of our time and experiences together during confinement,” Natalia explains. The pendant lamp is from local store <a href="https://www.ruevintage74.com/en/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Rue Vintage" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Rue Vintage</a>. </div>
The dining room, kitchen, and living room are one big open communal space. Along the wall is Armando’s latest collage installation. “He started developing it when the lockdown started and it sort of kept on building on as a journal of our time and experiences together during confinement,” Natalia explains. The pendant lamp is from local store Rue Vintage.
<div class="caption"> “One of my favorite pieces is this Christmas gift from Armando,” says Natalia of the limited edition Bert Stern print of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. “It’s a nice reminder for us to keep it goofy around the house.” </div>

“One of my favorite pieces is this Christmas gift from Armando,” says Natalia of the limited edition Bert Stern print of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. “It’s a nice reminder for us to keep it goofy around the house.”

The result is a space reminiscent of a modern spa. “We live on a very busy main street so we wanted it to be a peaceful retreat inside our home,” Natalia notes. That tone is set as soon as guests enter the space: The couple implemented a no-shoes policy in the house, so guests are always greeted with a pair of slippers. Different candle scents fill the air in each room, and the spa-like experience is further echoed in the bathrooms, where eucalyptus leaves are tied to the showerheads. “I also have an obsession with brushes, brooms, and natural sponges, which we buy from my favorite store in Madrid, González & González,” says Natalia. The bedroom is the one space in their home that is tech-free, which helps them fulfill their zen-like criteria.

<div class="caption"> Among Natalia's bedside essentials are <a href="https://www.bachremedies.com/en-us/where-to-buy?gclid=CjwKCAjwt-L2BRA_EiwAacX32Qhy_EtgKLQ6bxnfWiHGArEFIkNKDKIUPBXnRiO5yGBdCvnf68Oq7hoCz0AQAvD_BwE" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bach" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bach</a> floral essences, <a href="https://www.hotel-weekend.com/the-nomad-home/anti-pollution-3in1-cleanser-scrub-mask-akf86" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ADAMA" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ADAMA</a> lavender pillow mist, and <a href="https://www.lotodelsur.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Loto del Sur linen spray" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Loto del Sur linen spray</a>, which they use every morning after making the bed. A vase by <a href="https://www.valeriavasi.com/shop" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Valeria Vasi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Valeria Vasi</a> adds a punch of color, and the <a href="https://fave.co/3hF5CwH" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zara Home" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Zara Home</a> sheets are paired with a pillow set from <a href="https://crispsheets.com/en/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Crisp Sheets" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Crisp Sheets</a>. </div>

Natalia reveals that her favorite nook in the apartment is the handmade hammock laced with copper fibers, offering a slightly more sophisticated approach to siesta hour. Around the space, you’ll find artwork such as a print of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg mixed with Armando’s own artwork and posters by local Colombian artists such as Macondo Herald. For the couple, it’s important to keep rotating the artwork around the home in order to keep things moving and flowing.

<div class="caption"> Architect Iker Ochotorena used microcement on both the walls and floors throughout the home to give the space a warm texture. The large artwork was made by Natalia during her residency at <a href="https://www.numeroventi.it/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Numeroventi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Numeroventi</a> in Florence. The smaller works are some of <a href="http://www.armandomesias.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Armando’s" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Armando’s</a> collages. “This is a spot we like to update constantly with new artwork from both of us, so every time our friends come there is something new to see,” says Natalia. </div>
Architect Iker Ochotorena used microcement on both the walls and floors throughout the home to give the space a warm texture. The large artwork was made by Natalia during her residency at Numeroventi in Florence. The smaller works are some of Armando’s collages. “This is a spot we like to update constantly with new artwork from both of us, so every time our friends come there is something new to see,” says Natalia.

The openness of the space is also characteristic of Iker’s design aesthetic. “The open kitchen is our favorite, as Armando cooks and I love to host dinner parties,” says Natalia. The living room is anchored by a large rattan ceiling light that hangs above a rustic wood table. Though every design choice in the apartment is deliberate, the space ultimately feels like a lived-in home—so much so that you may forget to leave your slippers behind when you leave.

<div class="caption"> The couple keeps a crocheted dachshund (named Oscar) by <a href="https://www.anneclairepetit.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Anne-Claire Petit" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Anne-Claire Petit</a> on their bed until they can have a real one. </div>
The couple keeps a crocheted dachshund (named Oscar) by Anne-Claire Petit on their bed until they can have a real one.

Do It Yourself

Keep one space tech-free For Natalia and Armando, it’s the bedroom. The couple bans computers and cellphones from the room to make their “mini zen space” stress-free.

Strategically implement scents The couple loves to have a signature home scent, but also places different ones around the house: Natalia’s bathroom smells like coconut, while their bed and linens are sprayed with a lavender scent. 

<div class="caption"> On the bedroom wall is a handsewn banner by <a href="https://www.instagram.com/thepalmist.club/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Palmist" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Palmist</a>, which Natalia sells on <a href="https://www.hotel-weekend.com/the-nomad-home" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hotel Weekend’s shop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hotel Weekend’s shop</a>. Armando keeps a drawing by one of the kids he worked with at the Educambio Foundation in Cali on his nightstand. </div>
On the bedroom wall is a handsewn banner by The Palmist, which Natalia sells on Hotel Weekend’s shop. Armando keeps a drawing by one of the kids he worked with at the Educambio Foundation in Cali on his nightstand.

Move things around to keep your mind moving too “I grew up changing houses every year as my mom loved to move and redecorate in a different way,” recalls Natalia. “When we were bored, we moved all the furniture and created a whole different mood.” Since her current apartment is small, they can’t move the furniture around, but they do move the artwork and decorations to keep ideas flowing and evolving.

Make your guests feel at home This is the Colombian way, something the wabi-sabi philosophy emphasizes as one of its fundamental characteristics in creating a home. Always be ready to offer guests teas and snacks. Natalia and Armando greet guests with their own slippers when they arrive so they truly feel at home. “The book Wabi-Sabi Welcome will guide you through more tips,” Natalia suggests.

<div class="caption"> “I love to keep it simple but at the same time, I love brushes and all things skincare,” says Natalia of decorating her bathroom. “I use Coqui Coqui [perfume] religiously—the <a href="https://fave.co/2UTnY35" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Coco Coco scent" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Coco Coco scent</a> makes me feel like I’m on holiday 24/7.” </div>
“I love to keep it simple but at the same time, I love brushes and all things skincare,” says Natalia of decorating her bathroom. “I use Coqui Coqui [perfume] religiously—the Coco Coco scent makes me feel like I’m on holiday 24/7.”

🛍Shop it Out

Suerte banner by The Palmist, $415, hotel-weekend.com

Cannée Screen ceiling lamp, $546, ruevintage74.com

Vacuum Vase by Valeria Vasi, $196, valeriavasi.com

Mountaineer hammock by Artissanos, $142, artissanos.com

“El Marinero” by Armando Mesías, $2,130, armandomesias.com 

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest