Name: Monika Pietrusewicz, Nicolas Bouriette and Lila
Location: Ipanema — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Size: 484 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, rented
Besides the Pilates equipment, almost nothing in this small home is "new." Monika and Nicolas buy decor in flea markets, antique stores and second-hand markets. Or they find stuff in the streets. Or they even make furniture themselves — Nicolas made all the beds, all the furniture in their daughter's room, and the long shelf and desk in the studio. "We haven't spent more than $2000 for the whole apartment."
Monika and Nicolas settled in this beautiful apartment four years ago. Monika was born in Poland and is a specialized body therapist for pregnant women. Nicolas is a French designer and photographer. They are the happy parents of three-year-old Lila.
They decorated their apartment to make it as pleasant and relaxing as possible for them to live in, but also for Monika to receive her patients and work from home. The apartment is minimally furnished and carefully organized, as it is quite small. Impressively, nearly all the decor is from flea markets, found on the street or made by themselves.
Their style is a natural and elegant mix of the '50s, '60s and '70s, with a preference for objects that carry history — that show the marks of time. (They don't particularly like new things.) The couple feels this combination brings harmony into their home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: We like mixing different styles, above all French and Brazilian design from the '50s and the '70s with a natural touch of raw materials, especially wood.
Inspiration: Brazil, anything beautiful and natural.
Favorite Element: Our bed (laughter). Speaking seriously, most of the objects and furniture become fully appreciated by us when we arrange them to fit into the scheme of the whole apartment.
Our design approach is really flexible — we change and rearrange objects frequently. As a photographer and furniture designer, I like to create and exhibit my photos and furniture work. My latest creation and current favorite is the metal easel for my desk. But as the space is small, we must be versatile and learn how to detach from possessions. Monika is a body therapist and she likes the homey atmosphere created in her studio. A touch of artsy pictures break the coldness of the equipment with warmth and personality.
Biggest Challenge: To decorate and furnish with the least amount of money as possible. We buy in flea markets, antique and second-hand markets. And we find pieces of wood on the street to make into shelves.
Thinking now, I realize that the only object that we bought brand new is the Pilates equipment in Monika's studio. We haven't spent more than $2000 for the whole apartment. I did all the beds, all the furniture in Lila's room, the long shelf in the studio and my desk. A few elements of decoration such as linen curtains and some of the lamps were purchased at IKEA in France.
What Friends Say: That our apartment feels good! We were really lucky to find this apartment on a quiet residential street with trees enveloping our windows in a 1950s building whose architecture, room arrangement and window distribution is really interesting. The apartment itself imposed a particular kind of style and we adopted it.
Biggest Embarrassment: Mosquitoes, there are many here in Brazil.
Proudest DIY: The entire house
Biggest Indulgence: The wooden cupboard in our bedroom. We instantly fell in love with it.
Best Advice: Listen to your heart, try, experiment and decide.
Dream Sources: We read magazines and blogs but our main source is us.
Sofa, armchair, magazine ranks, table, chest of drawers — flea market
Photograph — Nicolas Bouriette
Lamps — found in the street
Bottle vase — found in the beach
Bronze Buddha — from Bodhgaya, India
Nicolas's first camera
Table — second hand
Chair — second hand
Desk — Nicolas Bouriette
Lamp — flea market
Chair — found in the street
Pendant lamp — Basket transformed into shade, bought in Garapua, Bahia, Brazil
Photographs — Monika by Nicolas Bouriette, Brigitte Bardot by Douglas Kirkland, Francisco Cuoco , photographer unknown
Equipment — Physio Pilates
Shelf — Nicolas Bouriette
Photograph — Pina Bausch, Pina Bausch Foundation, Poland, Nicolas Bouriette
Bed — Nicolas Bouriette
Table and chair — Ikea
Storage cupboard — Nicolas Bouriette
Lamp — Nicolas Bouriette
Photographs — Nicolas Bouriette