Real penthouse: Let there be light


A high-rise penthouse in Sofia, Bulgaria, offers a serene haven from the city below

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

It’s my intention to make the user feel special every time they’re in the apartment
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 colour. On the south façade, 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 pearlised 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 fulfils 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 finishings, 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.

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Written by Annabelle Cloros
Photography by Assen Emilov

Originally from Home Design magazine, Volume 18 Issue 5