Dragging 19th century houses out of their gloom and into the 21st can be a bit of a struggle. After all, people then didn’t have access to the technologies we have today, and nor did they live like we do. Portuguese architect Pedro Gadanho knows the answer, just play with scale and don’t be shy of the color.

Besides being an architect, Gadanho teaches and writes for (among others) the blog Shrapnel Contemporary. GMG House is located in Torres Vedras, Portugal. This 19th century townhouse was dark and dreary to begin with. The first thing Gadanho did was to rethink the entrance and stairwell. The stairwell was given a triple volume space to sit in and painted a cheerful turquoise. Color was a major player in this renovation. It complements the many original details, like the wooden floors and cornicing, and injects lightness into the space. It is also used to demarcate space, as in the library. Oversized furniture with space-age lines bring the cavernous rooms down to a human scale. A hall bathroom sits in its own red capsule, while another end has been changed into a reading nook with its own elevated seat to look out a little window. The master bedroom, located in the attic, has been finished in pristine white and given an angular ceiling. It looks out onto a terrace and down to the lap pool, finished in classic Y.K blue.

GMG House is packed full of drama. Gadanho used bright colors and modern furniture with 19th century proportions to bring this beaufitul house back to life. It just goes to show, a little bit of fun can go a long way.