Natalia Solovey Creates a Light and Bright Café and Shop From a Derelict Building in Ukraine
When Natalia Solovey, principal of SoloveyDesign, first saw a 1960s building on the bank of the Southern Bug river in Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine, she said it took her breath away. Rather than notice the mold or the detritus, she focused on what the space could become. Working with her husband, entrepreneur Oleg Solovey, she transformed the building into White Rabbit Surf Café, an airy café and stand-up paddle board shop. The renovation took about a year and a half. “We did it gradually,” she explains. “Partly with our own hands.”
They divided the space into a café in front and a paddle board shop in back by removing parts of a brick wall. Directed by the designer, Oleg Solovey wielded a hammer to knock out bricks and create an asymmetrical divider between the café and the shop. Plaster was removed from walls and the bricks beneath were painted a clean white. A large custom counter was inserted in the café, along with custom seating and some pieces from Ukrainian designers. “There are no unnecessary details but a lot of light and air,” Natalia Solovey explains. The resulting café and shop is popular, with crowds gathering on the deck in the summer and huddling around the fireplace in the winter.
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