Team - Iya Turabelidze, Emil Dervish, Katerina Bandura
Location - Kyiv, Ukraine
Total area - 175 sq.m.
Implementation - 2022
Photo - Yevhenii Avramenko
Historical apartments, it seems, find our studio by themselves. They know for sure that we will treat them with respect. This time, our apartment is located in Lipki, one of the historical districts of Kyiv; cosy and green. The apartment is located on the second floor of a house designed by the architect Verbytskyi in 1908. Down the street, the turbulent city begins, but our house stands peacefully amongst old linden trees.
The apartment has an area of 175 sq.m. and four-metre high ceilings. The front part of the flat is full of vast windows so the light, which penetrates the dwelling, is truly fantastic. A bay window with a splendid balcony and the presence of a functioning fireplace in the living room sold this apartment to my clients. The space had a lot of potential, but before the transformation started, many dismantling and planning decisions had to be made. The dismantling process took two and a half months. We cleared away the layers of time, back to the time of the creation of the house itself. We revealed and widened the doorways up to their original sizes, noticed the traces of the 1941 fire, removed an incredible amount of old plaster and rotten beams. In the archives we found the plan from 1908 and tried to follow it, while adding modern functionality.
Our clients are an adorable family with two children. They came to us with a brief to create a space filled with historical elements and senses, but, at the same time, not cluttered with unnecessary things. These people are true minimalists when it comes to commodities, taking a conscious approach towards purchasing anything new. Sometimes it may seem that interior photos are purposefully cleaned up, but in our case, these images represent everyday reality!!
The living room has become the centre of our apartment, to which we attached the kitchen area. In order not to spoil the classical plan of the premises, we divided these two spaces with an arch, preserving the contours of the stucco on the ceiling. The arch also hides built-in cupboards, the fridge and air conditioning unit. We played hide-and-seek with contemporary home appliances, with the intention of preserving functionality without losing beauty. The living room has a fantastic area - 64 sq.m - and when we open the original doorway to the bedroom we gain an even greater perspective of up to 17 m long. The apartment space is divided into two blocks: an adults’ block and a children’s one. Due to circular passages in each block, the apartment feels airy, and the real square footage is scaled to more manageable proportions. The structure, on which we built our project, is quite classic, but owing to the applied materials and colours, the space sparkles with a modern palette.
The central philosophy of our studio is that the space that we create should be timeless, and the materials used have to age with dignity. Therefore, we use only natural materials, rather than creating perfectly smooth surfaces.
The texture of the walls is rough and uneven; all the corners are rounded and the colour is warm white, contrasted by the snow-white doors and windows, which were custom-made in accordance with classic drawings of the building. The stucco was also custom-made from sketches made by our studio. It is our interpretation of the era of art nouveau. The sketches of the original stucco were unfortunately lost. The floor is made of two materials: parquet with a checkerboard pattern (typical of the art nouveau period in Kyiv) and white marble terrazzo. Italian travertine adorns the kitchen and the fireplace, shading the monochrome of the walls.
According to our philosophy of the timelessness of space, one of the most important elements is to use vintage interior items, with each object thoughtfully selected. It is certainly possible to create an apartment using new items, but in this way, we believe that a great deal of the value of those objects is lost, as well as the excitement of hunting for them. Every vintage item of this flat has its own story. For example, the chandelier on the ceiling of the living room, as well as the armchairs, is a work of Italian mid-century art of the 1960s. The ottoman was found in Lviv in awful condition and was restored by our craftsmen. The carpet in the living room was found in Western Ukraine at the last moment - one month before the completion of the repairs. The oak dining table was modified to our dimensions, to fit perfectly with vintage chairs found somewhere in France.
These vintage objects are combined with custom-made hanging bookcases and coffee table, a kitchen with modern equipment, and hidden electric appliances. The atmosphere of the living room vibrates with air and light; many styles and timelines merge into one melody, simultaneously complementing one another.
The bedroom is full of pieces from Ukrainian history. There is a homespun antique rug from the western regions of Ukraine, and a Hutsul chest, considered to be the energy centre of the house (according to Ukrainian traditions, a chest, in which the family puts a dowry and wishes for a good life, is given to a girl when marrying). These objects are perfectly combined with modern wall and ceiling decorations and lamps from FLOS “Diabolo” manufactured by Achille Castiglion in 1998. The curtains hide a spacious wardrobe system and add a sense of privacy to this space.
The bathrooms have a common leitmotif, although each one has its own individuality. For example, the guest toilet is both playful and pompous; its red velvet curtains hide the laundry equipment. The main bathroom, on the contrary, is calm and nuanced. We were captivated by the taps, made of natural brass, which acquire a natural patina with time, and a rare Austrian pre-revolutionary bathtub, which we restored by ourselves. The children’s bathroom has an interesting layout, which enabled us to create an arched shower and to make a passage from both children’s rooms, which are located either side of it.
The children’s bedrooms form one block, with the bathroom and vast walk-in wardrobe, where we created a large functional storage space. This block is in tune with the rest of the apartment. You won’t find cribs or colorful wallpapers in these bedrooms; and the kids who live here are unique as well! There are some vintage items here too: large paper lamps from HAY on the ceiling, a black oak table, and a zone for the PlayStation. Because they are kids, after all!
We started this project during the Covid pandemic and finished during the full-scale war. On February 24th, the parquet craftsmen were supposed to arrive at the apartment. Of course this did not happen. But when they called somewhere in the middle of March and, eventually, got back to work, it gave us all a glimpse of hope that life goes on.
Yes, regardless of the circumstances, one by one, contractors and supplies began to appear in the apartment! The greatest gift of fate was our door, which at the beginning of the war was in Irpen and by some miracle was in the only hangar that did not burn down in the industrial area during the offensive on Kyiv! With special tenderness, we searched for every element of decor from all corners of Ukraine and unpacked Shevchenko's "Kobzar", a gift to our customer from her grandfather!
I can really say, without exaggeration, that our studio makes genuinely individual projects - and in each of our projects, we leave a piece of our heart! The day finally came when our customers spent the first night in their home, waking up there and telling us that it feels like their real place of strength. Such comments are an inspiration to us!