Spare Time


Long after they attended college together in Madrid, interior designer Isabel López-Quesada and art dealer Aina Nowack remained close friends, but from afar. While López-Quesada stayed mostly in Spain, establishing herself as one of Europe’s leading designers, Nowack moved to Buenos Aires with her husband. However, thanks to the bond they maintained, when the time came for Nowack to move back to Spain with her husband and three sons as the boys reached school age, the two women readily picked up where they left off. “Everything is easy with Isabel,” says Nowack.

Given their common professional interests and close friendship, it was a simple decision for Nowack to tap López-Quesada to work on the renovation of her family’s new home in El Viso, an upscale neighborhood of Madrid, where López-Quesada also lives and works. “It’s a beautiful, leafy area with nice homes and gardens, and we wanted to be near each other,” notes López-Quesada. After searching for some time for just the right property, Nowack found a spacious L-shaped multistory residence built in the 1950s on a large lot with ample greenery. “I immediately knew it was the right house—much larger than the houses from the 1930s in the area and also free of the historic preservation restrictions that limit design possibilities in the older homes,” says Nowack.

Yet, the home was not without its challenges, as López-Quesada notes. “Like many houses built after WWII, its materials and construction weren’t of good quality, and the rooms inside were small and dark. So, we knew it would need a complete refurbishment.” With considerable effort required to improve the home inside and out, López-Quesada enlisted another friend and colleague, architect Marta Marin, to collaborate on reshaping the shell and reconfiguring interiors. “We removed the small vinyl-framed windows and replaced them with large ones framed with wood,” says Marin. “We also replaced the damaged brick facade outside with white stucco, and we knocked down walls to enlarge the rooms, adding pocket doors to improve the flow and open the interiors to the gardens and light outside.”

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This story appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of MILIEU.