This Minimal and Modern 538-Square-Foot Ukraine Studio Apartment Feels Much Larger Than It Is

published Dec 16, 2022

This Minimal and Modern 538-Square-Foot Ukraine Studio Apartment Feels Much Larger Than It Is

published Dec 16, 2022
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Name: Mariia, Bogdan, along with Joser the cat, and Cooper the dog
Design professional names: Dubrovska Studio / Natalie Dubrovska
Kyiv, Ukraine
Size: 538 square feet
Type of Home: Studio Apartment
Years Lived In: 2 years, owned

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Bogdan, who works for a consultancy and audit company, and his wife Mariia, a former ballerina who now coaches barre and stretching, own this small Kyiv apartment located in a house built in 1966. Bogdan says it’s a “classic ‘stalinka’ — a colloquial name for apartment buildings constructed in the USSR from the late 1930s to the mid-’60s.” Previously owned by Bodgan’s family (he even lived here during school), the space was very different looking, and has an interesting past. “I know that long before this apartment was owned by a musician couple, who used to invite their friends, play piano, and have a lot of fun,” wrote Bogdan. “I believe this atmosphere stayed in the walls and is still very positive and welcoming.”

Bogdan and Mariia worked with designer Natalie Dubrovsk, owner of Dubrovska Studio, to turn this small apartment into a minimal and calm home, which was the original plan, anyway. “But after dismantling, we unexpectedly found a stucco decoration above the plasterboard ceiling, as well as a beautiful red brick on the walls,” explains Natalie. “Without much consideration, we decided to change the whole project towards a more natural and raw-looking space. We decided not just to fill the space but to show all the heritage of the last century. The main goal was to evoke senses of calmness and harmony by creating a warm, textured, intimate space with dim, cozy lighting, and the scent of cedarwood.”

The kitchen cabinet’s facade was made of un-lacquered copper that will age naturally, adding even more texture to the space after time. The bathroom was divided from the rest of the studio apartment by glass partitions that add separation but not heaviness. Beautiful wooden furniture like the Fritz Hansen table and Fredericia chairs complement the stunning herringbone floors. The piano was purchased by Bogdan and Mariia from a vintage market in Berlin, and it adds tons of personality while complementing the modern shelving, both contrasting with the brick wall. And artwork by Ukrainian artists was “meticulously selected for the space to make the look complete.”

Though Mariia and Bogdan were living in Berlin for awhile after the war started, they are back in Kyiv, even working on a new project with Natalie, who is based in London and continues to run her practice no matter what. Photographer Yevhenii Avramenko is in Kyiv, still doing interior photography in Kyiv and western Ukraine. And Nadia, the fantastic PR person I’ve worked with on this Ukrainian house tour (as well as the previous one) is also in Kyiv, learning how to work effectively in between the electricity going in and out. Nadia has said that folks looking for ways to continue to support Ukrainians can consider the volunteering foundation Eyes on Ukraine. “They collect money internationally, buy all the necessities in the Netherlands, and supply for their partners in Ukraine. They are really helpful and 100% trustworthy,” she explains.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Homeowners Mariia and Bogdan’s Style: We like to keep things simple but also focus on high quality and details.

Homeowners Mariia and Bogdan’s Inspiration: Apartments seen in Germany, France, and Scandinavian countries. Particular inspiration also by the Birds Nest, home of a Swiss film director living now in Kyiv as well.

Designer Natalie Dubrovskas Inspiration: Aiming to bring mindfulness to interior design, we always focus on the personal needs of our client. But not only. We also think about what we can do for a space itself. This project, Cedarwood, is a bright example. Initially, the interior was planned to be minimalistic and calm. The owner had been already living in this apartment and his personal request was “to bring a sense of freedom and fresh air.”

After dismantling a plasterboard ceiling and walls we unexpectedly found around 20cm of extra space, as well as stucco decoration and a beautiful red brick. Our client was excited about the discovery, and so were we, so we decided to follow the principles of essentialism: clean up, restore, and save. The result is quite inspiring, as you can see it now. Having common values with our client helped us not only meet his needs but also save the architectural heritage of ’60s (Stalinka) from the merciless design of 2000s. Couldn’t wish for more!

Homeowners Mariia and Bogdan’s Favorite Element: Actually the whole place is our favourite. Everything is selected with care. We enjoy our dining table a lot. There’s always enough room for everything cooked or delivered. Our library has favourite books and always something to discover.

The piano has a separate story and of course we love it as well. We started lessons to get better but certainly we need much more practice. But in the end it’s all the small details that make this apartment one whole. And we love how those details match with each other.

Designer Natalie Dubrovska’s Favorite Element: Kitchen and dining area with dim light and lots of different natural materials in furniture. I aimed to plant the feeling of grounding in this small space, and to fill it with scents of burning candles, good wine, and cedarwood. For me, all these nice things whisper about inner peace and fulfillment when the world is going crazy on the outside.

Designer Natalie Dubrovskas Biggest Challenge: We worked on the layout for a very long time. The main goal was to create the most compact option for placing all the necessary household items. I wanted to not clutter up the common area, but to make it as spacious as possible. We thought for a long time how to harmoniously fit the storage amenities, how to get the most impact on the space without creating complex structures.

Homeowners Mariia and Bogdan’s Proudest DIY: My proudest design ideas are the rounded wall corners and the availability of a projector and a screen that can be rolled out just in front of the library.

Homeowners Mariia and Bogdan’s Biggest Indulgence: I think it was the combination of our dining table and the chairs. I had to think about it three times.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Mariia and Bogdan – It’s unique to be able to take a hot bath and exchange thoughts and ideas with your wife, who is just next to you in the bedroom. In summer we also like to get the chairs out to the open balcony and enjoy the afternoon sun. The apartment is even better when the sunset color fills the room. During this time we enjoy making tea (or choosing wine).

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Designer Natalie Dubrovska – In order to create an ideal space, you don’t need just to fill it with objects, but show its features. Never forget about the context you have: location, construction elements, architecture, window view — every detail is important and can inspire for something special.

We always recommend to check out the flea markets in your city: you can find real treasures there. Uniting the new and the old under one roof always gives a fulfilling outcome.



  • Walls — Little Greene paint “Hammoc”
  • Ceiling — Paint and Paper company “Stone 2”
  • Electrical outlets — Berker 1930


  • Boomerang armchair, design Hvidt & Mølgaard — AndTradition
  • Stools coffee table (1960), design Charles and Ray Eames — Vitra
  • 9602 Floor Lamp (1935), design Paavo Tynell — Gubi
  • Tini L coffee table, design Natalia Bulanova and FORM bureau — Staritska Maysternya
  • Vintage piano — Vintage market
  • Paintings by Anna Scherbyna and Alina Yakubenko — The Naked Room gallery


  • Analog table, design Jaime Hayon — Fritz Hansen
  • J39 Mogensen Chairs (1947), design Børge Mogensen — Fredericia
  • Troll Vase, design Anderssen & Voll — Menu



  • Bowler table, design Shane Schneck — Hay


  • Taps — Bugnatese
  • Sink — Found in Marble store on sale

Thanks Mariia, Bogdan, and Natalie!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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