There are signs of the presence of a little boy in this beautiful, light-filled Viennese apartment: a police car with flashing lights, a little blue ball (that will later be deftly kicked around) and some children’s books. And equally, of the striking taste of his parents, architect Claudia Rockstroh and artist Carlos Perez. With its soaring ceilings, art and design-filled spaces, tropical greenery and tranquil bedroom the family of three share, this is a home filled with love, joy and positive energy. Claudia, Carlos and Leon welcomed us in one warm spring afternoon, and we chatted over Prosecco and snacks. I’d love you to join us in touring their lovely home.
Claudia and Carlos, how would you describe your beautiful home?
Bright, spacious, well-proportioned and filled with feel-good vibes.
What does home mean to you?
A space where each member of our family feels secure and loved—the place each of us most wants to be.
Do you both have the same design aesthetic? How do you take decisions concerning aesthetics and decor?
By and large, we share a common understanding of what we think is good design. We each search for things in many different places: the Internet, shops, flea markets and other sources. We share our finds and the pieces we like with each other, then invariably fight, with each accusing the other of having bad taste. However, 95% of the time we do end up agreeing on everything. We’re both big fans of the Bauhaus aesthetics and Danish design. Things that are simple, functional and beautiful, in accordance with the principles of the Bauhaus.
Each room has a sense of monumentality, a very interesting scale and volume: can you tell us more about that?
When you live in Vienna, the rooms don’t seem so monumental at all. In Vienna, a lot of properties that were built in the Gründerzeit (the predominant architectural style in Vienna from 1840—1867) remained intact, in contrast to Germany, where many cities were bombed during the World War II and re-built after the war. These high, nearly square spaces are specific to that style.
How has having a child influenced your sense of design and decor?
Actually, having Leon hasn’t changed a thing about our style or our home! We moved into this apartment two years ago, shortly before he was born. It was clear from the beginning that we wouldn’t be able to have a nursery, which suited us fine. The three of us share a bedroom, an arrangement we're very happy with. In the beginning, we did wonder about how our little one would relate to our home: if anything would break, get damaged or dirty, or if he’d hurt himself. But as it turns out, very little of all that actually happened and our son negotiates this "adult apartment" beautifully.
Are there nighttime rituals you share?
We don’t have any rituals except for the usual washing-up and teeth-cleaning. Leon usually has a bottle of milk in the evenings, and we’ve learned that singing to him at bedtime makes him hum along with us instead of putting him to sleep. He’s a very active child, too restless to be read to, so just turning off the lights and creating silence, with the knowledge that Mama or Papa is next to him, is the best way for him to fall asleep.
White-washed floors in a historic building in Vienna are probably incredibly rare: what inspired this decision?
This is probably something that's almost non-existent in Vienna: anyone we shared this idea with just shook their heads in disbelief that we’d want to ruin a beautiful wooden floor. We just wanted something new and modern, and the concept of white wooden floors—so common in Scandinavia—was something that excited both of us. The floorboards were also in very poor condition and would’ve had to be re-done anyway. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with our landlady, and she allowed us to paint the floors white.They work really well in our apartment, especially since we have so much art on our walls, and these are particularly well accentuated by the surrounding white.
You have such a beautiful furniture collection: where do you source these?
Carlos has been the driving force behind our collection—he invests a lot of time, energy and passion searching for and procuring each piece. Each of these has an interesting story behind them, and for us, a deep meaningful connection. When it comes to picking objects and pieces of furniture, ergonomics matter much less than meaning and emotion: many of our pieces are vintage or second hand and they start a new life with us. Our shared history with these objects is what gives them meaning and worth, and what infuses our home with a sense of love, safety and warmth.
Carlos, how do your Guatemalan roots make their presence felt here?
Guatemala is so green, nature there is so vibrant and present everywhere. Vienna has four seasons, a cold winter and spells of grey weather. I needed to bring a balance to this, and our plants are one of the ways of doing that. Growing up in Guatemala, there was a sense of satisfaction—about the life one lives, where one lives—family is very important and home is a place to be safe, to grow and to share. Through the attention we pay to each and every detail here in our home, it is this sense that we’re trying to re-create. Home is also the nest where children are born and nurtured, until the point they fly away. Love and attention are the most important aspects in creating this cocoon where our family comes and lives together.
What is your favourite thing to do at home?
There isn’t one favourite thing we have. The wonder of our home is that it offers so many beautiful moments: Now that summer’s arriving, it is wonderful to have breakfast on our terrace, watching our plants grow. Between us, Carlos is the one with the green thumb and he waters the plants with Leon, who loves doing this—and I love watching them both at their task.
Claudia and Carlos, thank you so much for sharing your home with us! We wish you a beautiful summer and many beautiful moments here.
Images by Sonja Schwarz