Vladimir Chaika, a pensioner from the Ukrainian city of Kiev, spent 15 years turning the staircase of his Communist era apartment building into an artistic masterpiece reminiscent of 17th and 18th century chateaus.
Vladimir says that he had always been fascinated by the interior design style of 1600s and 1700s castles and estates, and having worked in constructions for many years, repairing various structures around Kiev, he had the skill and experience needed to undertake such a complicated project. It was time that he lacked, but following an accident that left him clinically dead in 1997, he was forced to retire and ended up with a lot of free time on his hands. He was very familiar with the decorating style of 17th century French chateaus, construction materials were cheap, and after asking a friend to supply him with a variety of custom molds, he was ready to get to work.
There’s no denying that the style he opted for is infinitely more complex and laborious that the minimalism most people favor nowadays, but that doesn’t explain why Vladimir only managed to finish the first three floors of his apartment building. He admits that he is partly to blame, because he took too long trying to make sure that every single detail turned out perfectly – for example, he redid the ceiling of the first floor four times before he was satisfied with it – but the increased cost of materials like plaster and paint was also a factor.
However, these three floors that he managed to fully transform are nothing short of breathtaking. From the intricate plaster patterns and gilded motifs to the photocopied portraits of aristocrats decorating the walls, the place actually looks a lot like the interior of a charming French chateau.
Chaika says that the work he put into redecorating his apartment building helped him takes his mind off his personal problems, and the positive feedback from his neighbors gave him to confidence to push on. Sadly, the drastic increase in prices for plaster, decorative paint and other materials have kept him from completing his project, and now the pensioner says it’s unlikely he will ever finish the upper floors of the building.
One of the most impressive features of his Ukrainian chateau is the garbage chute, which has been cleverly transformed into a gilded column. It looks so beautiful that some neighbors are reluctant to use it for its intended purpose for fear of damaging it. He says that his work has become famous around Kiev, with people coming into the building regularly to see it for themselves. The apartment building has also become a popular photo shoot location for newlyweds.
Although at one point Chaika offered to redecorate his neighbors’ homes to match the style of the staircase, he says they refused, and admits that he himself didn’t implement 17th century elements in his own house, except for a small fireplace.