A 550-Square-Foot Moscow Home Shows How to Use Decor to Make a Space Feel Larger

A 550-Square-Foot Moscow Home Shows How to Use Decor to Make a Space Feel Larger

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Name: Natalia Mitrakova, my husband, Alex, our 20 year old daughter, Liza, and our Yorkshire terrier, Busya
Location: Outskirts of Moscow, Russia
Size: 550 square feet
Type of Home: Two-bedroom apartment in a 16-story apartment building
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Our daughter grew up and it was the time to buy another apartment. The complex we purchased an apartment in brought up great memories, as I spent my childhood and youth in this building; there are a lot of my friends and loved ones who still live in this area. It is a small (500 square feet) two-bedroom apartment in Moscow.

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The interior was formed under the influence of the spirit of Louisiana and New Orleans. I fell in love with New Orleans at first sight more than 20 years ago. For me, this apartment brings back the best memories: bright accents, eclectic furniture and decor, and art from all over the world resemble the multicultural French Quarter. And the wild swamps are reflected in the custom-made wallpaper with cypress trees, Spanish moss, and racoons created in collaboration with a Russian artist.

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My Style: I would describe the style of the apartment as modern eclectic. Since Moscow is not the sunniest city in the world, and cold, gray winter days last here for six to seven months, I compensated for the lack of light and color with bright accents, natural materials, and our favorite things that we collected for years and brought with us from our old apartment. If you don’t look out of the window at the pale, wintry city, you can imagine you are somewhere in the south of Louisiana.

Inspiration: The main bedroom is designed in the cozy style of the Southern bed and breakfasts. And of course, the kitchen is in the color of boiled crawfish. In my daughter’s room, who is studying Japanese language and culture, you can see notes of Asian culture. In my interior I used NOLA lamps from the Flambeaux brand, the artwork of local NOLA artists Ashley Longshore, Katya Vaz, John Preble, and posters and postcards that I brought from my multiple trips to New Orleans.

Favorite Element: My love and pride is the wallpaper with swamps of Louisiana. My fellow artist and I worked on it for a long time, acquiring inspiration from the works of Louisiana photographers and artists. I did not want the wallpaper in a realistic style, rather I wanted something more graphic, naive, and slightly ironic. That is why we added three raccoons who watch us from thickets in the dining area. 

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was the size of the apartment and the ceiling heights (8 feet). To solve the low ceiling problem I used my favorite strategy—I made the doors, kitchen cabinets, and wardrobes flush to the ceiling. Visually, it makes the ceilings seem higher and gives the space the feeling of lightness. The size challenge was harder to solve. I had to choose between a comfortable dining area and traditional living room with a sofa, armchairs, and coffee table. I love to cook and invite my friends, who usually sit at the dining table. This is why I sacrificed a living room for a dining zone. However, by the table I put a cozy, vintage sofa where it is comfortable to sit, to have a nap after dinner, or just to watch TV. 

Proudest DIY: The vintage armchair in our daughter’s room for studying. We found it by chance on an online flea market for $20. The chair was broken and rusty, very sad looking, but we liked the unusual form of legs and armrests. My husband grinded the metal parts to get rid of rust and painted them. Then he cleaned the armrests down to the original wood, varnished them, and put the new wheels on the legs. We chose a cozy plush to upholster the chair. We ordered the pillows to be made. At the end it turned out that it is the most comfortable chair we’ve ever had!

Biggest Indulgence: It was the kitchen. We made sketches of cabinets and ordered them to be made in the carpentry workshop. To find the cabinets of the right color and configuration in the store was impossible. In addition, the countertop is made of natural stone. The cost was great but it was worth it, yes! The kitchen turned out to be spectacular outside and very functional inside. Not an inch was wasted. Only the very high shelves are not used every day as I can not reach them without a ladder.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love our Knoll Drop End Sofa. It is unbelievingly comfortable and beautiful! It has brass decorating elements and tassels. Also there is an opening mechanism in the armrests to make the sofa longer and if you take away back pillows, it will become a comfortable bed. I am very happy with a vintage dining table from Holland. It is not a big table, but you can unfold it and fit a couple more guests.

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? If you don’t know where to start, think of a place where you felt good and why. Try to express the atmosphere of that special place. Follow your heart and intuition. Don’t be afraid to use bright colors and to combine strange but favorite objects of different styles and epochs. Your house is a reflection of your lifestyle, taste, memories, and heritage.



  • Custom wallpaper
  • Ceiling paint — Little Green “First Light”
  • UCM Museum poster — John Preble
  • Console table — Antique
  • Asian mangowood curved stool
  • Built-in custom-made wardrobe
  • IKEA PAX/Vikedal built-in niche
  • Side table — Vintage Thonet


  • Table — Holland vintage
  • sofa — Vintage Knoll reupholstered to DECOMA wool fabric
  • Vintage Windsor chairs — From Holland
  • Side table — Cassina
  • Chandelier — Lucas and McKearn
  • Small painting  (the butterfly) — Ashley Longshore  , it was a gift from her very long time ago
  • Large oil painting — Russian Artist Nataliya Radionovskaya
  • Sea star décor on window — Palecek
  • Rug — Turkey


  • Kitchen — Custom made
  • On the wall — Vintage lithographic Poster promoting the 1976  Marc Shagall exhibition in Columbus, Ohio


  • Paint —Little Green # 33b03
  • headboard — Custom made LEE Jofa fabric upholstery
  • side table — Palecek
  • Art above headboard — New Orleans artist Katya Vaz
  • Desk and antique chair — Universal furniture
  • By the mirror — Caracole armchair and Palecek side table


  • Walls paint — Little Green color  First Light 49
  • Bed — Made in Moscow
  • Curtains — JAB fabric Lampions
  • Chair and desk — Vintage
  • Table lamp — Lucas and McKearn
  • Silk Rug — Turkey


  • Sink and cabinet — IKEA Hemnes Rattviken
  • Curtain — Made from Casadeco fabric

Thanks Natalia!

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