A Small and Whimsical Ukraine Apartment Has the Most Gorgeous Book-Filled Library Living Room

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Sitting area with green wall-to-wall bookshelf, floral chairs, and round leather ottoman

Name: Helen Henz, mum, one spoiled dog, and two cats
Location: Odessa, Ukraine
Type of home: Apartment
Size: Just over 1,001 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My mum and I decided to gut and completely remodel her new apartment in an old historic building. We both travel extensively and have pretty clear ideas in terms of the overall interior decoration. She and I both love the English decorating style, but equally my mum loves reinterpreted botanical prints. She has a great sense of humor, and one of her conditions for undertaking the remodel was that our apartment should be well-designed, but nevertheless whimsical and fun (enter the folkloric mural wallpaper in the living room/library).

We have over 1,000 books, and the collection just keeps growing. Equally, we took the opportunity to plan and build a dedicated wardrobe and to get rid of random closets and cupboards. Our dog and two cats are allowed everywhere in the apartment, hence, all upholstery fabrics were pre-treated against stains or ordered in performance-grade equivalents. We also positioned the decorative wall moldings high enough to ensure that the cats would not be tempted by the wallpaper and used washable paint throughout. Having moved in the middle of the pandemic, we can now truly relax in a home that reflects who we are.

The soft color palette with various soft greens, earthy browns, shades of dusty pink, soft blues, and aged bronze accents is totally me. This experiment in color and pattern-combining has taught me to be braver with my decorating choices and to trust my instincts. A typical modern home in the Ukraine is beige, gray, or white, with a clear nod toward minimalistic decor. However, every time I come home, it feels like a totally unexpected celebration of color and pattern.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Layered, full of colors and textures

What is your favorite room and why? The living room/library. I love sitting at the bay window or on one of the armchairs, reading and listening to the birds in the garden.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A scent diffuser from Carlyle Avenue Home. I love their African Daisy fragrance, and I suspect the cats share my obsession.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Be honest with yourself in terms of how you live and what you need to be comfortable. Write a detailed wish list, plan ruthlessly (and expect to be surprised along the way), develop a detailed budget, and determine what you can and cannot trade off. If you can, don’t invest a disproportionate amount of your budget into the latest appliances. At the end of the day, the first thing that gets noticed when someone comes to visit you is not the washing machine, but your decor…

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