House of Color: A Vibrant Tiny Cottage in a Warsaw Garden

Located just a few train stops from the city center of Warsaw, Poland, an unexpected haven lies within the gardens of a family allotment of land. Designed by Karol Pasternak, Piotr Maciaszek, and Mateusz Jaworski of NOKE Architects, the electric House of Color reflects the bold personalities of its owners, Magda Grabowska-Wacławek (aka Bovska) and Grzegorz Wacławek. The multi-talented couple – Magda, a singer, dancer, performer, and visual artist, and Grzegorz, the founder of award-winning animation firm Animoon Studio – sought tranquility away from the city’s chaos without sacrificing its accessibility. Their modern sanctuary seamlessly merges the bustling energy of the center district of Śródmieście with the lush serenity of the Żoliborz neighborhood, offering a respite amidst the metropolis.

A red wooden cabin with a glass door, a patio with two chairs and a table, surrounded by lush greenery and trees, illuminated by a warm outdoor light.

Their selection of an allotment garden follows a growing trend in Poland, where these once overlooked spaces have gained popularity as urban dwellers seek solace in nature. “Not far from here, in Berlin, the frenzy for allotments has been going on for a decade. After all, it’s the simplest way to have your own little garden, green space, silence, and also grow your own flowers, vegetables, or fruits. And all of this is close to home, not somewhere at the edges of civilization,” says Karol Pasternak from NOKE Architects.

A small patio with two metal chairs and a table on a red wooden deck outside a glass door, partially covered by greenery.

Despite its idyllic setting, the architects faced challenges inherent to the plot’s trapezoidal shape and regulatory constraints. Permanent structures are not allowed to be built in the gardens and the size must not surpass 35 square meters. Yet, they transformed the limitations into opportunities, creating a modern cabin that works with its surroundings while maximizing space and functionality.

A shower area enclosed by blue-tiled walls, featuring a modern showerhead and fixtures. A large tree is visible through the curved glass roof.

The private locale makes the perfect setting for an enclosed, almost outdoor shower with a glass roof that allows views of the Warsaw skies. Glossy cobalt blue tiles bounce light around the oval shaped room making for a delightful space that’s bound to make any visitor happy.

A wall covered in shiny blue tiles features a rectangular niche with smaller, darker blue tiles. A modern faucet is partially visible at the bottom of the image.

“We’ve known Magda and Grzegorz for a long time, and we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate before. A few years ago, we designed a very bold, outrageously colorful office for them, Animoon, on Chmielna Street,” recalls Pasternak. “This time again, we were most inspired by their expressive personalities and aesthetically daring attitude.”

Blue-tiled room with a circular skylight opening to a view of trees. The skylight frames branches and leaves, creating a natural contrast with the vivid blue tiles.

A doorway with blue tiles leads to a room with orange walls and a large window showing greenery outside. Three round lights are mounted above the door.

A room with red walls and a partially open door revealing a blue-tiled bathroom. There are shelves with lights and a bed on the left side, and a black lamp on the shelf.

The main space boasts a rich raspberry color that finds its way onto the window frames, curtains, kitchen fittings, furnishings, and on the wall parallel to the glass front. The colorful interior juxtaposes the deep stained plywood exterior. While dark, the outside pops with cherry red details, like trim, chimney, and the ivy-covered trellises.

A bedroom with vibrant red walls and a partially open door revealing a blue-tile room. The bed is made with striped linens, and a desk lamp and small items are on the headboard shelf.

A colorful room with vibrant red walls, a small desk and chair, a window with draped red curtains, and a bed. Sunlight filters through the windows, casting dappled shadows on the floor and ceiling.

While compact, the cottage houses a bed nook, full bathroom, kitchenette, and workspace. Sliding glass doors open the interior up to the large front porch that spans the width of the cabin, making it appear larger.

Room with wooden walls, a round window with greenery outside, a white armchair, red curtains, and a red side table with a glass on it.

While the color choices are bold, the interior is equally balanced with light wood walls, muted gray floors, and soft beige textiles.

A small kitchenette featuring vibrant red cabinets, a matching red electric kettle, and a few pieces of fruit on the counter. Sunlight casts tree shadows on the cabinets, adding texture to the red surfaces.

A minimalist red kitchen with a round sink, faucet, stovetop, and kettle. Sunlight filters through trees, casting dappled shadows on the cabinets and counter.

A room with red curtains features a red chair, a blue desk with a keyboard, and a red lamp. A white, wavy floor lamp stands nearby. Natural light streams in from the windows.

A small black wooden building with a slanted roof and red accents is surrounded by lush greenery, including trees and plants.

A small black wooden building with a red door and steps is surrounded by lush green trees and shrubbery. Red stepping stones lead to the entrance.

Tree branches and foliage surround a red metal structure, with vines climbing up its angled beams, set in a lush, green forest.

A small garden shed with a red roof is surrounded by lush greenery. It features a red metal gate and stepping stones leading up to it through the overgrown garden.

A red metal gate with an ornate design stands beside a curved red lamp post in a lush, wooded area.

From the moment one enters through the distinctive red gate adorned with a portrait Magda drew of their dog, a journey through nature unfolds. From the alley, the cottage is well hidden, but once inside, a winding path of red stones leads deeper into the garden, where the cottage gradually reveals itself amongst the verdant greenery.

A person arranges flowers on a table while another person works on a laptop on a porch surrounded by lush green trees and plants.

Four people sit at a round red table in a lush, green garden surrounded by trees and foliage, enjoying a meal together.

Aerial view of a forest with dense foliage in various shades of green and brown, partially revealing a red-roofed structure near the center.

Four people are posing on the porch of a red house surrounded by greenery; one person is holding a small dog.

NOKE Architects (left and third from left) with homeowners Grzegorz Wacławek (second from left) and Magda Grabowska-Wacławek (right)

Photography by Piotr Maciaszek.

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