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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)

Posted by decor8 in Decorating Tips, Home Tours on March 24, 2011

Your comments...

  1. Jem commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 11:06am

    What an incredibly inspiring post!! Much like necessity being the mother of invention, perhaps IKEA and other stores being miles away is nothing but a positive in some ways!! Sabina’s home is beautifully put together!
    Jem´s last blog post ..Royal Albert- Old Country Roses

  2. Arianna commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 11:10am

    This is cute! cool interiors – I love the simplicity but full of creativeness & originality. Really sweet.
    Arianna´s last blog post ..Fabrics From London Design Week

  3. meenal @ maison marigold commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 11:18am

    one of my favourite posts in some time , holly…making the most of what one’s got is a lovely lesson to learn from sabina…i love her home as well…so soothing and restful and looks as if washed in milk..just beautiful..thanks for opening this little window into sarajevo..xx meenal

  4. meenal @ maison marigold commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 11:23am

    one of my favourite posts in some time, holly…making the most of what one’s got is a lovely lesson to learn from sabina…i love her home as well…so soothing and restful and looks as if washed in milk..just beautiful..thanks for opening this little window into sarajevo..xx meenal
    meenal @ maison marigold´s last blog post ..The english rose goes silent

  5. ishtar commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 11:48am

    such an interesting post!! thank you Sabina!!!
    ishtar´s last blog post ..Tutorial ♥♥♥

  6. Sanja commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:44pm

    This post gave me goosebumps as it comes from my homeland :)
    We also have a great potential in young product designers, soon to go online. Untapped treasures? More than you could imagine :)
    Sanja´s last blog post ..Unemployed on Wednesday – Develop a Drinking Habit

  7. juliette commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:51pm

    This was a great post! I really enjoyed reading her perspective on being creative with what you have. It’s easy to get stuck in the ‘have-not’ mentality, but in so many ways it’s really just a sign of needing a new perspective. I’ll definitely be trying to keep this in mind as I work on ‘spring-ifying’ our home in the next few weeks.
    juliette´s last blog post ..German DIY e-mag- Eigenwerk

  8. beck commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:53pm

    I LOVE that horse!
    Where on earth did it come from!!! I would love to track it down!

  9. Fenny setiawan commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:55pm

    It’s an eye opener for me about decorating, style, personality of the other side of the world (Bosnia), I carried away with this post story. How someone has such beautiful creativity within the limitation. Thanks fir sharing this story to Holly n Sabina.

  10. Sanda commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 4:58pm

    I am Bosnian abroad but I have few traditional handmade Bosnian peaces at my home and I love them.Thanks Holly for this great post and Sabina for answering your question!!!

  11. shalini commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 5:58pm

    What a great post! So interesting reading about Sabina’s experience in decorating in Bosnia.
    shalini´s last blog post ..wandering the Bastakiya quarter

  12. Rebecca commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 6:27pm

    So nice to see the city I’ve been calling home for the last ten years featured here! Thank you! It is indeed as Sabina describes it. The artistic scene here is very vibrant and talented. Unique art and excellent craftspeople. Sabina definitly has a great taste too!

  13. A Plum By Any Other Name commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 6:57pm

    I love the idea of white everywhere. I wish I was adept enough to embrace it. I’m a bit too clumsy for too many light colors, though I think stone would probably be safe. ;)
    A Plum By Any Other Name´s last blog post ..Protection with Meyer Lemon Parsnip Puree

  14. Monica commented
    March 24th, 2011 at 10:25pm

    What a beautiful home, very inspirational. Thanks for sharing.
    Monica´s last blog post ..More of Less

  15. GIANNA commented
    March 25th, 2011 at 10:17am

    I really love looking at your photos here on your blog. It’s inspiring many to style and design their own homes. Thanks! Also try eco-friendly home decor made from artisan women. Really helps a lot!

  16. mirandajane commented
    March 25th, 2011 at 5:28pm

    A beautifully improvisational home. I want to see more Bosnian spaces!

  17. Christina commented
    March 25th, 2011 at 5:45pm

    What a sweet person Sabina is! This week has been full of joyful and unexpected interactions with positively charming people from across the globe for me. Makes me proud to be human. Haha. <3
    Christina´s last blog post ..Dining In

  18. Gül commented
    March 26th, 2011 at 11:09pm

    She’s beyond borders, we all love this lady.

    Love from istanbul!

  19. Sabina commented
    March 29th, 2011 at 10:17am

    Thank you all for the lovely comments!

    Honored and moved,

    Sabina´s last blog post ..My Name is Red

  20. Julia commented
    April 6th, 2011 at 2:26pm

    Sabina, thanks for sharing! Like you, I live FAR from decorating chainstores but have “smuggled” a few pieces from Ikea and inspiration from my short time abroad. I agree that local taste and elderly people’s homes are the most valuable decorating resource when you’re decorating on a budget (or not!).

    My absolute fav of my things brought from faraway lands? An Ikea Knappa lamp that has turned into a conversation starter.

    PS. Your blog is pretty cool too!
    Julia´s last blog post ..A matter of tunnel vision

  21. Amira commented
    April 13th, 2011 at 10:59am

    wow, I have been reading your blog for a long time and it is one of my favorite blogs. This is first time that I actually made a comment because I am also from SARAJEVO ;) and now I even love you more hahah.
    I love Sabinas pictures and must agree with everything she said.
    Thanks for sharing this story.
    Dont mind my bad English

    xoxoxoxox from Sarajevo

  22. Laurie commented
    April 25th, 2011 at 5:20pm

    What an inspiring article! I am so impressed at her ability to do so much with so few options. It is also a great reminder of how lucky we are in the US. I am in the middle of redecorating some condos and I will definitely take away some great ideas from this article. Thanks!

  23. Amna commented
    July 22nd, 2013 at 9:14pm

    Sabina, thanks for sharing, we all love you! Thanks!

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