Eugenia Mikulina gives us a tour of her Moscow apartment, a collaboration with interior designer and friend Elena Pritula
AUG 14, 2020 | By Eugenia Mikulina
“My apartment in Moscow is a labour of love—that for my hometown and my family. Both my husband and I grew up in communal flats in central Moscow. During Soviet times, several families had to live in one large apartment in old buildings, sharing the bathroom and kitchen.
“The mouldings on the ceilings, the oak floors, beautifully proportioned rooms hinted at the magnificence these apartments possessed before the revolution. For us, these hard times are cherished memories of childhood and we wanted to bring to life the image that the seemingly shabby spaces of those cherished times reflected—‘to create the perfect old Moscow apartment’.
“We found just the right one, an approximately 1,520 sq ft, five-room apartment in the heart of Moscow. It had high ceilings and oak floors but was in a sorry state. Serious reconstruction was needed. Despite being an architect by education, I spent 20 years as a design writer and lacked practice. So, I invited my close friend, interior designer Elena Pritula, to work on my place. We worked us a team, where she supervised all architectural and construction work, based on the design decisions we made together.
“The apartment had the perfect layout, so the only change was the addition of a guest toilet near the foyer. To the left is my husband’s study, decorated with an art nouveau chandelier, antique desk and custom made bookshelves.
“Next comes a living-cum-dining area with a comfy Chesterfield sofa and a round dining table with antique 19th century English chairs. Here, an antique cabinet that we bought with the apartment, which, in fact, stands in the same place! There is a connecting door between this lounge and the study.
“The main passageway runs across the apartment and is lined with bookshelves. On the right is a large kitchen with an antique buffet and round breakfast table. Beyond lie the children’s rooms. The bathroom is at the end of this corridor, adjacent to the master suite.
“A significant amount of construction work was undertaken. We had to recreate plaster mouldings, make new wooden floors, repeating old patterns. And Elena created an amazing pattern of tiles for the kitchen floor. We also made new windows with a historical pattern of frames and wide marble window sills. All doors and bookshelves are wooden and custom made.
“The main decor feature of this home is colour, which is different in every room. The plaster walls are painted olive in the master bedroom, navy blue in my teenage daughter’s room, sky blue in the other daughter’s boudoir, ochre in the living room, custard in the kitchen, etc.
“Colourful walls are a Russian interior tradition and they make the space warmer. Also, the home has a lot of antique furniture, for which we hunted in different shops and restored later. We also restored the entrance door, which dates back to 1905—when the house was built. Other furniture in the apartment is traditional, except for our eldest daughter’s room, which she wanted to be more ‘midcentury’.
“The family feel is imbibed into the interior by personal items—antique carpets, which are family heirlooms, books, comic book posters, my husband’s collection of fossils, and my watercolours decorate the walls. In just over a year, we created the “true Moscow home” that looks as if the horrors of the 20th century never happened. Yet it is nothing like a museum because every colour, furniture piece or decor item was chosen for personal reasons, not for its ‘design’ value, and that is why they blend into a harmonious whole and make everyone feel truly at home.”
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