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Standing on Plaça de Lesseps which once marked the border between Gràcia and the city, is the Casa Ramos—one of Barcelona’s best kept secrets. Built in 1907 by architect Jaume Torres i Grau, the principal apartment was once home to the Ramos family, who later moved to Mallorca at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
These days it’s home to Sean Carbonell-Hogg and his family, who have lived in the apartment since Sean was twelve years old. His mother is Scottish and his father, Catalan, and they are a close knit family of architects who treasure the sumptuous space they call their home.
Spread over 600 square metres of indoor living space, and over 700 square metres of gardens, every exposed surface is abundant in modernista details. Sean is quick to mention that no structural restoration or refurbishment has been carried out, and the excellent state of the original features is down to good, vigorous cleaning. There are two sides to the apartment. One side is based around a dining room, where the rooms follow on from one another, whereas the other half has a more traditional corridor-style layout. Some rooms are floor to ceiling with intricate tiling, others with decorative silk motifs, all of which are original and have been beautifully preserved and maintained over the years.
The furniture is an eclectic mix of antique, ornate pieces, and some unique family creations, like dining chairs upholstered in cling film—Sean made these over three years ago and to this day they still serve their purpose. Sean describes his family as very sociable, and they host regular parties in the house and gardens. “It never fails to impress people when they walk in,” Sean says. “Last year we had an Arabic party in the Moroccan room. The guests are still asking when the next one will be.”
Sean laughs whilst discussing the spaciousness of the apartment. “It’s crazy, I remember when we needed lamps to brighten up the rooms. We knew we needed quite a few so my father went out and bought 20. That was clearly not enough to light the whole place. I think my father eventually counted a total of 106 lamps”.
Famous amongst family and friends, the house has also been the setting for many movies including Almodóvar’s Academy Award-winning Todo sobre mi madre, as the family home of Penélope Cruz’s character.
There’s certainly nothing ordinary about this house, and it exemplifies the best of modernista architecture that this city is famous for. Yet, regardless of the intricate tiling, the Arabic arches and palatial details, you will be surprised to discover a couple of cats and a tortoise pottering in the garden, reminding us that it’s a family home.
Parts of the apartment are also available for booking at www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/959089