Real Penthouse: Let There be Light

A high-rise penthouse in Sofia, Bulgaria, offers a serene haven from the city below. This family home fulfils the clients’ brief, providing a home with clever planning and an astute awareness of detail, quality finishings, balanced palette, custom furnishings and an overriding commitment to design.

Calm in Nature but Big on Style

The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, meaning this apartment offers 360 degrees of the best of both worlds — scenic and people-watching views. Taken on by Susan Knof of KNOF Design, the apartment was remodelled and converted into a new 3600 square metre space that is calm in nature but big on style.

The penthouse was originally two apartments that were made into one to suit the international family of four whose design brief was for an open-plan home that contained plenty of light. The concept of natural light formed the nucleus of this build, meaning the colour palette and design aesthetic essentially revolved around the sun. “Making the most of the light throughout the day meant the interior scheme was predominantly created in natural and light colours, from the pale wash of the timber flooring to the pure white of the kitchen,” says Susan.

But the presence of colour isn’t missing in this penthouse, with pops of aqua blue in the living area and hues of peach, purple and citrus in the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The unconfined nature of the apartment is a key feature that contributes to its already generous size. The living, dining, kitchen and entertaining spaces are all unobstructed rooms that seamlessly flow onto one another, enabling the views to be taken advantage of when desired. “The open space is subtle and sophisticated, and allows the gorgeous mountainous natural environment beyond to take centre stage,” observes Susan.

The bedrooms are located away from the main living area, ensuring privacy is maintained and offering a nook in which to relax and unwind. The master bedroom contains grey as well as subtle hints of warming coral tones and contrasting textures evident in the custom bed head and selected linen. Storage is concealed with sliding doors and drawers, adding to the seamless nature of the bedroom. A bespoke unit designed by Susan features a built-in vanity with a white quartzite work surface and compact storage drawers in contrasting tones of dyed veneer. “I always seek to make use of every available space and have furniture with a real attention to detail,” says Susan. “The small, intimate spaces that get used on a daily basis do not go unnoticed. It’s my intention to make the user feel special every time they’re in the apartment.”

The children’s bedrooms are located on the other side of the plan and are pockets full of excitement and color. On the south facade, one bedroom features hues of green, yellow and purple while the other is more feminine in style, with soft pink and peach providing contrast against the pearled wall coverings and built-in joinery.

Although the penthouse exudes nothing but calmness now, it conceals an obstacle-filled history that sparks an immediate sense of chaos. Existing plumbing stacks meant there was no room to move when it came to bathroom locations and, as such, the new design had to revolve around this. Core walls had to remain in place to ensure structural integrity and floor-to-ceiling windows offered limited space for new ceiling and lighting logistics. And the biggest roadblock of all? Mechanical and electrical services were planned along the perimeter of the full-height glazing walls, blocking the views and the installation of curtains needed to ensure privacy. But all this was overcome by reimagining mechanical layouts and plans, with air-handling units brought inside the internal core walls and concealed in custom joinery units — problem solved.

“Above all, this penthouse scheme fulfills the clients’ brief, providing a home with clever planning and an astute awareness of detail,” says Susan. “But more often than that, the quality of the finishing, balanced palette, custom furnishings and overriding commitment to design fuse together and culminate in a sophisticated and harmonious contemporary penthouse.” And we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Ten Budget-Friendly Ideas for Bedroom Decorating

Ideally you would start from scratch, giving your room a complete makeover, but that may not always be practical. So we offer hints and tips for revitalising your bedroom, whether you are going the “full monty” or just looking for a quick spruce-up.

No matter how large the “makeover” you intend undertaking, the first step should always be to set yourself a budget. Consider what you want to achieve and how much you can allocate to the task. This will help you establish the parameters of your room’s makeover. If dollars are not a problem, you can go the whole hog and repaint, source new furnishings, lighting and even floor coverings. If you are starting with a more modest budget you should consider how you can get the most from what is already on hand. You’ll be surprised how new cushions and throws and a dash of colour on the wall can make a room look better.

Ten Budget-Friendly Ideas for Bedroom Decorating

Try rearranging your furniture. This won’t cost you anything and can give a room a lift. Just be sure to use safe lifting practices, otherwise you might need to pay for an unexpected visit to the chiropractor.

Make yourself a new headboard out of a salvage find. An old gate, fence panel or some carved wardrobe doors could be set into a frame for a cool country bedhead.

Try splurging on new cushions. They are much cheaper than new bedlinen and can really give a bed a fresh face.

Visit some charity shops or garage sales for some character-filled finds to add to bedside tables.

Try a new feature wall colour.

Add some pattern to your room by covering a small chair or try throwing a nice length of fabric or a sarong over a curtain rod to add another layer of interest to your windows.

Replace your bedside lamp shades with something striking, like red beaded shades or floral shades.

Visit the $2 shops and buy cheap canvases to decorate and use above the bed. Try one long canvas or four small ones grouped together. Cover with interesting papers or fabric off-cuts.

Have another look through your wardrobe for scarves or wraps that could be used on the end of your bed or to wrap around a cushion.

Don’t forget to throw open your windows to get rid of musty smells, then bring some fresh flowers or a nice candle into the room to add fragrance.