This 420-Square-Foot Home in Kazakhstan Is a Colorful Escape for a Family of Six

This playful 420-square-foot project was a bit of an outlier for interior designer Elina Mussakulova. “Usually, our clients aren’t involved in the design, but we worked as a team,” says the cofounder of boutique interiors studio “It was fun!”

The one-bedroom apartment, located in the heart of Almaty, Kazakhstan, belongs to a family of six who live about an hour outside the city. The couple’s three daughters (they also have a young son) attend school nearby and participate in oodles of extracurriculars—math, tennis, and more. “They wanted a stopover where they could hang out and relax for an hour or two between the end of the school day and their activities,” Elina explains.

The bright red bedroom door reinforces the idea of the partition as architecture.


The team completely gutted the unit, which is on the third-floor of a four-story residential building that was constructed in 1966. “We like to work with clients who will rethink the entire space,” Elina notes. “Here, we changed the layout so they could have a proper bedroom and kitchen that would accommodate longer stays.”

The custom credenza and storage cabinet with blue interior float above the floor to impart airiness into the small space. By the same token, the one-armed sofa doesn’t block the living space upon entry. Posters from Oner Dukeni hang over the credenza.


The vintage wardrobe, which stores coats and bedding, was a great $20 flea market find. “We normally travel to Europe or Georgia [to source] unique, high-end pieces,” Elina says.


When it came to devising a scheme, the clients didn’t specify a particular style or suggest particular colors; they simply wanted a lighthearted, laidback look. It was a great match for the firm, whose work combines a sense of joy with an easy elegance that’s unique without being in your face. Elina made the story about color. “If we have flexibility, it’s always about the color,” she says. Painting the walls and ceilings white made the space feel bigger and brighter—the ceilings are just over eight feet high—and established a clean, crisp base. Red, yellow, and powder blue pops and wood tones both light and dark temper the overall effect. “The natural wood floor balances the bold colors,” the designer says.

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