Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

What do you think about when you imagine how people are decorating in Sarajevo, Bosnia? Perhaps photographs of this gorgeous apartment in Sarajevo with decoration inspired by the city may give you a fresh impression. This apartment belongs to blogger Sabina Cudic who says, "This corner of the world has not been covered (in the world of decorating) and I hope this little submission serves to change that." Yes, it will! In addition to her blog, Sabina teaches Political Science and International Relations at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology. She is also an avid former competitive debater, is passionate about photography, fashion, interior decorating and of course politics and international affairs.

I asked Sabina about the design scene in Bosnia and she wrote such a great reply that I didn't want to water it down by revising it or turning it into my own words so I'll let you read her reply. It's fascinating!

About design in Bosnia: "Decorating resources in Bosnia are, as you can expect limited. There is not a single major/international furniture chain present (the closest IKEA is more than 400 kilometers away and majority of on-line shops shipping policies tend to avoid Bosnia), however I still wouldn’t consider it to be a deprivation - and would go as far as to argue that this type of “isolation” encourages organic creativity!" I have to agree with her on that point, having fewer options does lend to finding creative alternatives.

About her apartment: "My boyfriend and I purchased a 60m2 apartment several months ago and having spent our entire budget on basic renovations, we are left with nothing more than creativity for decorations. This means that we used mostly our old furniture which we upholstered in new (and I have to admit, very cheap and sold by kilogram) natural and neutral fabrics. I purchased the doted fabric which we used for chairs on a major sale at an IKEA in Germany, together with other couple of decorating details which I could “smuggle” back to Sarajevo. Stubbornly setting my mind onto something also means that I sometimes spend an entire flight back home holding a lamp shade in my lap, or a ceramic deer that I cannot live without. This also means that on more than one occasion I chose “luxury” over necessity, clearly indicated by the fact that we still do not own a TV or furnished bedroom (Bosnians are known for, here and there, acting on emotions and not reason.) But it also encapsulates my home decorating policy of ensuring that we are surrounded by things we love and cherish and that necessities will eventually take care of themselves." I like that as I can relate -- it's better to decorate with what you love than to just buy something for the sake of filling a room.

Her decorating style: "The palette we chose for the apartment is neutral with decidedly white walls everywhere but in the bathroom which we cozied up with the shades of cream and gray and stone tiles. As the entire apartment is facing south and is on the eighth floor, we enjoy the enormous amount of sunlight and prefer serenity of whites, creams and natural wood, adorned with objects and pictures we collected over time, instead of explosion of colors." To that I say, beige is not boring!

What makes Sarajevo special: "There are several aspects that make home decorating in Sarajevo a pleasant challenge: there is a great number of extremely talented artisans whose work is unfortunately severely undervalued. Beautiful carpets and rugs, fabrics and upholstering, as well as hand made furniture are among the cheapest and least discovered in Europe. For those with a curious, patient and creative mind Sarajevo can be a heaven."

Where do you shop for the home in Bosnia?"There are several shops and artists whose work I would highly recommend: A nearly hundred year old family business called Rukotvorine from a small town of Konjic in Hercegovina and Artisan from an even smaller town of Tesanj. Rukotvorine’s work is rooted in Bosnian tradition - it’s sideboard called the Wave is poetry and needs to be felt by hand to be fully appreciated. Artisan is more influenced by the Dutch and Danish schools of design, and offers equally beautiful, Bosnian solid wood hand made pieces. There are of course plenty of other artist and designers whose work unfortunately cannot be found online." It sounds like there are many untapped treasures there...

Why does Sarajevo inspire you? For those with a less ambitious budget several antique stores offer a variety with an occasional true gem in a form of a beautiful carved wooden storage boxes, mid century pieces or glass kitchen cabinets. Naturally, peaking into elderly neighbors’ apartments can be equally exciting and a habit that Bosnians with their laid back neighborhood relations do not mind. This leads me to the ways in which this city inspires my decorating – Sarajevo is a place where friends and family knock on your door unannounced and the interiors often reflect that. Comfort, gracefulness, surrounding ourselves with people and objects that mean something to us and unpretentious entertaining is what inspires me in decorating and making sure that there is always an extra pillow and a blanket. Considering that my boyfriend is from Kosovo, I look forward to incorporating those cultural influences in our home. Having lived in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany I can also trace those aesthetics in my decoration daydreaming. So if and when in Sarajevo decor8 readers should feel free to wave and stop by, and perhaps we can give you a little tour!" Oh, how sweet you are, Sabina!

I don't know about you dear readers, but I took so much away from this interview, but mainly the value of using what you have and appreciating what makes a house a home - family, friends and meaningful objects with meaning. Thank you Sabina for visiting us today!

(images: Sabina Cudic)