Today we are excited to invite you to an apartment that impresses with a unique design achieved through a creative mix of colors, materials and shapes. Enjoy the unique vision created by a Bulgarian designer!
The original architectural plan and construction structure of the residence did not initially match the expectations of the homeowners, but they still decided to buy it mainly because of its convenient and quite impressive ground floor layout including a large courtyard and a view to the Vitosha Mountain.
Early during open-house inspections they realized the potential the flat had, so they invited Miglena Stumbova, an interior designer from the “ShkafA” Studio, to discuss with them an adequate transformation and interior design concept. This led to a challenging development project involving a massive transformation of the space, to still ensure top functionality and outstanding design.
The master bedroom was fitted with a walk-in closet and moved to the northern part of the flat, separated by wide interior French doors. In this way, the southern part of the space, boasting floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows and access to the courtyard, was left to accommodate the kitchen/dining and living areas.
The children’s rooms for the baby and the elder brother were also designed with southern orientation. The boy’s (and his dad’s too!) dream-come-true is the unique minibus-bed, a scale model of the famous 1950’s minivan recreated down to the smallest detail. The bed was entirely handmade, featuring genuine wheels and tires, steering wheel and leather upholstery. It even spoils functioning car lights!
The homeowners are passionate about traveling, love old Europe and are all about using sustainable materials. That explains the color palette of the apartment displayed through timber, ceramics, leather and linen, in soft tones with statement color pop-ups. A special interior accent is the unique coating of the doors to have them look like old leather suitcases.
The corridors are simple, with walls covered by wooden lining and exhibiting a few pieces of modern watercolor art by a young Bulgarian artist.
Two separate bathrooms, for the parents and the kids, were carefully designed, featuring sanitary fittings of fine Italian ceramics and dedicated lighting. The lighting of the entire flat is actually of top Italian brands.
To help you get more familiar with the details of the project, we contacted Miglena Stumbova, who kindly answered a few questions:
AH: You mentioned that the initial layout of the apartment was not functional and that many changes had to be done. Did those also involve demolition / construction of walls, displacement of plumbing installations or other essential repairs?
MS: Indeed, several walls were removed to structure the space in a better functional way. Initially, the kitchen corner was located at the back of the apartment, away from daylight and as part of an 18-meter long walkway from the front door. Taking advantage of the ground level of the residence and the existing yard, we moved the kitchen / dining area closer to the exterior, and used the darker corner to accommodate the bedroom. This allowed building a spacious walk-in closet and an ensuite bathroom. The lack of daylight and fresh air, I compensated with a 3-meter-wide glazed door which, when opened, merges the bedroom with the living room space, allowing light and fresh air streaming in in abundance.
Changes in the plumbing layout were also substantial, as we shifted slightly the location of one of the bathrooms, as far as the vertical installations permitted. Moving the kitchen also required serious changes in order to feed water to the kitchen island.
AH: Taking into account the repairs and the fact that most of the furniture items were custom made, how long did the project actually take?
MS: Design and completion of the project took 18 months. Every detail was carefully designed and meticulously implemented to achieve perfection. This home can be called a dream-come-true because everything was taken into consideration so as to fully satisfy the confidence of the investor that we were offering the best solutions. We also took up very tough tasks with regard to the technical solutions that needed time to implement. One of those solutions was the child’s bed, a scale model replica of a WV T1 minivan from the 50’s, to satisfy the boy’s passion for cars. The unique bed features a real metal structure lined with sheet metal and is coated and painted with real automotive paint. It is also properly wired so as to have functioning car headlights, emergency lights, a horn and even a rotating steering wheel. The mattress is fitted upon the luggage compartment on the roof. This project only took full 10 months of professional work by a team of serious enthusiasts to complete.
AH: Did the homeowners come up with their own particular task and concept, or did they trust your experience and aesthetics?
MS: Yes, the family had balanced their responsibilities on the project. It was the lady who was mostly concerned with the overall design and appearance of the residence. The task was not strictly specific, but they provided me with certain keywords – whimsical, non-standard, different, use of natural materials. I have to admit that in the course of designing the interior we had to pass through a trial / error stage until matching our ideas and tastes, but the result shows that it was all worth it. Despite the indirect route to achieving the goal, I can say that the family had full confidence in me and allowed the implementation of my most surprising ideas in their residence. I had their support and approval at all times and today I am happy to call them my friends.
AH: The color combination is truly impressive, featuring warm and relaxing earth tones in the corridors and the bedroom, to bright accents in the living room and the kitchen. How did you decide on the brave trio of red-yellow-blue?
MS: Sometimes design cannot be explained or have some clear logic. It is bold, true, but like the homeowners you, too, will agree that the result is a success. It all started with the blue kitchen, where the choice of such a bold color ensured a statement making character of the particular area. The yellow lights came as a natural extension, while the red appeared “accidentally” while choosing a best matching color for the dining room chairs. The air duct pipe is one of those “designer’s solutions” where we turn a defect into an effect. We had to reach the chimney and the exposed pipe was an element of the industrial concept. The choice of color however was one of the last things we did. Somehow it all matched naturally.
AH: The custom-made furniture items perfectly match the rest of the furnishings of popular Italian brands. Is furniture custom-making by your design a common practice, or do you go for it when clients require something extraordinary?
MS: I have always had this “problem”, where I imagine things in a certain way but cannot find a product that would match my specific vision. Since I was a little girl I have had this “issue” with choosing clothes, for example. Today, in my work I’m just used to relying on my team of professional manufacturers of furniture, metal structures and other non-standard items. For me, this the freedom that allows me to develop my imagination, and I think that this is what distinguishes us as artists designing interiors. And yes, indeed, sometimes things don’t turn out the way I have expected them to, and yes, it sometimes leads to some unexpected problems I have to deal with. But I have realized that this is the right way of finding my ‘right’ people who I can share the same vision and meet any challenge with.
AH: We understand that the idea of coating the doors to make them look as travel suitcases is some witty banter to the homeowners’ love for travelling. Are there other accents in the interior that also reflect their personality?
MS: The entire interior reflects the life of the homeowners. Their passion for walking in the woods and hiking in the mountains is the reason for the use of so much timber and green color which is an unobtrusive and natural tone that brings tranquility as a forest breeze. The kid’s room is designed to reflect the 5-year-old boy’s obsession with cars, as he loves playing with all sorts of tracks, buggies and cars with a remote control. I did my best to avoid designing a room based on fleeting interests in childhood heroes or on some temporary addiction, and instead chose a design that would last with time. The men who made the car-bed fell in love with the project so much that they would gladly have such a bed, too.
AH: The furniture features modern, retro, vintage and industrial elements. When designing the project, was there a certain interior style that you were required to stick to, or did you focus on the creative mix we see now right from the start?
MS: I did receive certain guidelines from the investor that looked to me quite in line with the industrial style. When I got ready with the first draft of the concept project and I showed it to them, there was a long pause and then a question: “Are you sure you have looked through the pictures I sent to you?” That same evening I received a message saying: “I’ve looked again through the photos I’d sent to you. Now I understand why you have come up with this design.” Since then, I always make sure to discuss the images reflecting the client’s taste, because, you see, different people can often interpret one and the same photo in different ways. Besides, it also helps greatly for matching the personal tastes of both, the designer and the client. When we finally learned to understand each other, it all got running swiftly down a strong current of creativity where the unusual, the whimsical and even the slightly foolish became dominant. I’d rather allow the process take some extra time to develop and achieve a great design, than having no commitment or continuity and choosing to just impose a certain concept. For me, the design has to tell a story and send a message; it gives meaning and content to this specific kind of creative work.