Located in a historic building in the heart of Minsk, Belarus, this one bedroom apartment has been thoughtfully renovated by Third Wave Architects, a team of three young Belarusian architects, who drew from its history as revealed in old photographs to create a modern home that nevertheless recalls the timeless elegance of its past. Underpinned by a modernist ethos of 'less is more', the team focused on the functionality of the layout, purity of form, and quality of detailing, and the result is a home of architectural poise and graceful nostalgia.
In what amounted to a comprehensive renovation, the first order of business was to redesign the existing layout which dividing the modestly sized apartment in separate rooms connected by a corridor. The space is divided instead in two zones, an open plan living space where the new owner will spend most of his time and a separate zone comprising the bedroom and bathroom. A built-in wardrobe separates the entrance from the rest of the living space without cutting it off while also accommodating kitchen cabinets on the reverse side.
Blessed with two tall French windows that open up onto a balcony, the living space is flooded with natural light. A neutral colour palette of light grey walls and matching curtains, as well as natural wood flooring, further increases the impact of the light coming in while also enhancing the sense of spaciousness. The subdued colour scheme is only interrupted by the selective use of red veneer for doors, cabinets and wardrobes, as well as the headboard in the bedroom, which imbues the apartment with a heightened sense of elegance and establishes a cohesive aesthetic.
Although minimalist in principle, the interior design subtly conveys the mid-century sensibility of the apartment’s past through several features inspired by old photographs and effortlessly integrated into the new décor. The most prominent of these are the wide ceiling cornice that appears throughout the apartment, and a selection of vintage lamps and furniture pieces. The inclusion of slender contemporary pieces such as the metallic coffee tables and night stands, which have been designed by the architects, ensure that the aesthetic, far from becoming retro, is assuredly modern.
Perhaps what best exemplifies the designers’ marriage of past and present are the two artworks that have been strategically hung: namely a monochromatic grey canvas of Abstract Expressionist sensibility, and a fragment of “Virgin and Child with Angels”, an early 17th century Baroque painting by Italian artist Bartolomeo Cavarozzi. Whereas the former hangs in the living room, exactly where you’d expect to find the TV, the latter hangs across the bed and is thus the last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up.