Where do you go for interior design inspiration? If your answer involves social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest, you might have a hard time coming up with ideas that are truly unique and original. With their creative renovations of attic apartments in Prague, two architecture firms demonstrate a better way: turn to your favorite works of art instead. For “The Art Maisonette” in the Letná district, Esté Architekti referenced the owners’ love of Czech graffiti art, while No Architects took inspiration from two modern paintings belonging to the owners of “Maisonette 69” in the Žižkov district.

The Art Maisonette

Esté Architekti remodeled The Art Maisonette as part of a larger renovation of the 1930s building in which it’s located. Preserving original details like the oak parquet floors and original concrete screeds on the walls, the architects introduced a new open layout to give the space a brighter, more modern feeling. The original wood beams stand out more than ever against crisp white surfaces, all the better for drawing the eye to the works of art the owners love so much. Everything is clean and neutral to provide an almost gallery-like backdrop, even the angles of the ceilings working to point out the art.

The apartment is centered around a chimney wall, with the two levels connected by a straight steel staircase featuring a transparent glass railing. The few colors purposely injected into the interior design are pulled straight from the art on display, including a vivid blue closet. As you move from room to room, the artwork almost strings together a loose narrative, prompting you to look for the next piece you know will be around each corner you turn.

“The rule of working with empathy for specific people, their lives and needs has been confirmed,” says Esté Architekti. “To step outside our comfortable minimalist design zone, the investors themselves inspired us with their distinctive taste and the investor’s non-conforming wardrobe.”

Maisonette 69

The art-loving owners of this Prague apartment asked No Architects to base their design on two paintings in their collection. The first is Number Sixty-Nine, a painting by Vladimír Houdek, which carries a special meaning for them. Hung in the kitchen, this graphic painting informed the aesthetics of the custom furniture throughout the home, the color palette in the kitchen and a fun custom heating cover branded with a 69 motif. Even the jagged contours of the kitchen cabinets are drawn from the frayed edges of the painting.

The second painting is a piece called Cesta domů by Josef Bolf, hanging on the living room wall. Contrasting the playfulness of Number Sixty-Nine, this one has a dark and melancholy quality echoed in the gray backdrop of the wall it’s mounted upon, as well as the teardrop-shaped pendant lighting in the kitchen opposite. It even visually connects to a massive multi-story waterfall mural by Patrik Hábl on an adjacent building, which can be glimpsed from the balcony.

Colors from both paintings are carried up into the private rooms, like a children’s playroom beneath a skylight upstairs. The custom furniture is gorgeous in its own right, like a pale blue built-in wardrobe full of vertical storage and decorated with circular wood inlays. Curving oak veneers within the stairwell soften the space, which is a 1990s-era attic extension of the original building.

“It is a simple living space for a family who understands art and wants to appreciate and enjoy it,” say the architects. “An interior where contemporary art is not just replaceable decoration.”