When I first got this property, it was a dull and scruffy space that provoked feelings of disgust, sadness, and abandonment. After the one bedroom apartment renovation, it transformed into a sun-lit, relaxing place that worked efficiently despite its small size.
Before moving to Australia, I did renovate and either used it myself or rented long-term or short-term several properties. This is my apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria, and is currently a short-term accommodation.
During the years, the previous owner, an elderly musician, did not do much to maintain the apartment, let alone renovate it. That gave me a blank canvas to turn the apartment into a snug and relaxing place to escape the buzz of the city … in the heart of the city!
What do you want your place to feel like? This is the first and most important question to ask
I approached this full renovation with two ideas. The first was to make it comfortable to use by carefully planning the functional areas and the storage in it. My second wish was to create a home full of the natural light that the classic building was so abundantly offering through the large windows and high ceilings. And also to add a bit of interest and elegance in this so small and previously so sad and somber elderly bachelor’s den.
Before the renovation, the entry was a dark and uninviting space. Almost like a room that is not there, so much was the lack of any positive emotion when going through it. My first goal with this space was to make it bright, feel lively, and welcoming. I wanted, despite its main function being to house the largest storage in the tiny apartment, to arise curiosity when you step in. To want to see more from the home.
Always chose a style that builds on the existing features of the building
The other goal in updating this first point of impression was to give it a bit of glamour. To make it fun in a way. You don’t need a lot of money to do that. I added a wide mirror that I did adorn with a a scone in the same style like the chandelier. These filled the space with light that the mirror reflected. On the other wall, behind pearl-coloured patterned doors we installed the wardrobe and a hidden laundry. These doors have intentionally kitschy oversized handles that glimmer with fake stones matching the teardrop crystals of the light fixtures.
In the main room, I used the high ceilings and large windows to preserve its old-world style while making it feel more modern with the furniture choices. A discreetly-patterned wallpaper gave the large space a texture and three-dimensionality.
The bathroom and kitchen are designed in darker colours. The bathroom is so tiny that to make it feel less claustrophobic, I decided to go with the feel of a … burrow. A snug, warm-feeling space where your senses can rest while taking your shower. In the kitchen, the colour of the cabinet doors pops out and teases with its ripe-chery semblance.
Careful space planning is crucial when renovating small homes
To create a home that feels good in the small space, I knew I need to plan well for the storage.
As we were making a full-scale renovation, we removed every piece of the old built-in wardrobe that takes up the full wall of the entry and redesigned it to fit new functions. The new is divided into three sections – shelving, wardrobe with hangers, and laundry with cleaning supplies storage shelf. I can even fit a vacuum cleaner there. As the build-in takes the space up to the ceiling, there is a lot of room for storage. And everything is neatly hidden behind uniform doors that sort of dissapear because they resemble the colour of the walls.
Multifunctionality of the rooms is a necessity for making small spaces feel cosy and easy to live in
After that, the next important part of planning the space for functionality was to create zones.
Except for the storage, the entry has two additional functions. A dressing table fitted perfectly in the space under the mirror and within the white scheme of the entry. That made it a perfect makeup station with all the items needed nicely put away in the almost invisible drawer.
The third function is, of course, of being a passageway to the rest of the apartment. That meant the traffic flow – from the front door to the main room and the bathroom needs to be wide enough and clear at all times. In an emotional sense, that was the way to the inner sanctuary that the main room represents.
The main room is large enough to allow multifunctionality. The bed takes the central stage, altought it is tucked in the corner. It is the place to rewind and rest. Between the two doors – one going to the entry, the other to the kitchen – is the place to work. A desk with a chair and a floor lamp all add to the ambiance for focus-requiring work.
Along the window, there is a set of rattan chairs and a small table. This can be used for reading when you want to take advantage of the natural light in gloomy days. You can also serve tea or coffee when friend is visiting. And every now and then, it might be used for leaving your clothes on them while putting order around or preparing your outfit for the next day’s work. Or, as it was in my case, packing for your next trip. Finally, on the wall next to the bed, there are box shelves that allow for more storage – mainly books and memorabilia.
From a cluttered unused room to an enjoyable functional kitchen
The little kitchen, used by the previous owner mainly to dump clutter, has a direct sight to a small courtyard where an old fountain snugs in the middle. While the fountain does not murmur with water anymore, a large leafy tree makes for a lush view in spring, and in summer shades the apartment from heat.
To make the best of the natural light and the view to the courtyard, I set the dining table in the corner. To divide visually this functional area but also to create a feeling of dept in the tiny kitchen, we installed a cladding that appear like a timber wall. A light on the wall adds a glow and sense of tenderness to the otherwise squarish space.
Although very small, the kitchen offers all the usual amenities a normal-size kitchen will have. By using the whole hight of the walls, we created an ample storage space and fitted in full-size fridge, oven, microwave and twin cooktop.
The renovation transformed the space from claustrophobic and dark to restful and snug
This one bedroom apartment renovation was challenging because of the very little space that needed to accommodate all functions for life of two. It was also essential to brighten it up, make it more gaily, and to modernise the amenities. With careful space planning and playing with materials and colours, the home now feels cosy and soothing, just what you need when living in the heart of a city.