Interior designer Katsiaryna Garashchuk of EleGant Design says she was first drawn to the old-world architectural style of this 1956 apartment in Minsk, Belarus. “I was immediately struck by details such as the cornices, ceiling roses, aged wood parquet, old-fashioned water pipes and radiators that were still intact,” she recalls. “I was inspired by what the apartment could be.”

The space hadn’t been renovated in over 60 years, but the designer was up for the task. “It was a great stroke of luck for me that the apartment, with its large windows and 2.8-meter (9 foot) high ceilings, faces south,” she explains. “It is very bright, as the windows look out on a park and the city skyline behind it. I wanted to preserve the atmosphere of the place with its own history, but a retro-style interior with the 1950s influences was not what the owners desired. In the end, we agreed on Scandinavian style with the elements of the classics.” 

There were a few challenges, with the layout being particularly tricky. Three small, separate rooms were connected by long and narrow hallways. “My main task was to develop a functional layout that was open and spacious enough,” Katsiaryna explains. The functional requirements included a kitchen-living room, a bedroom, a laundry room, a walk-in closet, and a spacious bathroom.

The interior was taken down to the studs to replace existing electrical wiring, plumbing, and allow for an open-concept layout. Style-wise, a palette of white and light gray complements the light-toned hardwood floors while black details add moments of punctuation. An (unexpected) bonus is the original charm that still stands: “The owners’ willingness to expose the old brickwork on the exterior walls helped to create a unique atmosphere in this apartment,” Katsiaryna says. “Initially, according to the plan, we intended to apply a light beige tint onto the bricks. However, after the floor was laid and the walls were painted, the clients and I saw that the brick looked excellent in its original form and we decided to leave it as is, only applying a transparent protective varnish.”

 The extensive renovation was completed in a span of 6 months. “We were able to completely restore and enhance this apartment to meet the demands of modern life,” the designer concludes.