A house full of fantasy

Romy & Ilya's home

Just beneath the smoke of Amsterdam, Ilya and Romy have transformed a 1930s house into a place where everyone is welcome, and where, alongside love and hospitality, colour plays the leading role..

Romy: ‘We have the best of both worlds: our house with many kilometres of walking area nearby and the bustling city of Amsterdam, where we work, a mere twenty-minute drive away. I can’t live without the energy of the city, but I also need the outdoors, and Ilya likes to hang out among the trees as a “wild Russian”. We only need to walk a couple minutes from our home and we’re in the middle of nature. I’m not sure who is the happiest: us or our dog Umka.’

‘I always enjoy the moment when I walk through our little garden to the front door and step into our colourful house. The house is one in a row of four identical houses from the 1930s. Unlike our old house in Amsterdam – which is now our studio – this house is quite wide. This makes it feel nice and spacious inside. There are three of us living here: Ilya, our youngest daughter Sonia, and me. Our other two children, Nika and Stas, have left home and live in Amsterdam. In addition to our bedroom, Ilya and I now each have our own room where we can work, draw, and read.’

‘Home means peace, taking time for yourself. Where you can live your life the way you want. Lounging around on the sofa, cooking, and eating together. Home is also the place where we get together with friends and family, who can sleep over if they want to. Our door is always open; life is for sharing.’

‘Pink and red hues make me happy. I don’t know how often I exclaim: “Can I add a dash of red?” Pink and red are so beautiful together, but they also combine beautifully with greens and blues. And with bright yellow. I’ve always had this love of colour: as a child, I collected pieces of embroidery from the flea market. I was enthralled by the different colours in those depictions made with thread. I also have a flair for colour trends. I was already working with lilac and cobalt blue before those colours started showing up in other places, in fashion and in interior design. I find patterns more complicated. I get tired of those more quickly. All the walls in the house have a colour, but it’s not overpowering. We prefer to display art on the wall.’

‘Ilya is the handyman of the two of us. He’s a real hands-on guy. When we bought this house over a year ago, no work had been done on it since the 1960s. We spent twelve months renovating. Ilya is originally an architect. He’s a big-picture person and often sees at a glance the best way to organise a space. He gets an idea for something and he makes it. I’m not a handyman, I like to arrange things, to think about where to hang which pieces of artwork.’

‘One of my favourite designs, the lobster, is hanging in the kitchen. But actually you can find designs from Studio Roof all over our house. I make collages of all sorts of items: I combine masks with insects, birds with fish, I make colour combinations, mix large and small. The nice thing is that every room in the house is suitable for exhibiting different designs from our collections. That could be in the kitchen, the living room, the children’s room, or in the hall; you can display them anywhere. To get a nice composition, I sometimes put the items together on the floor first and then slide them around until I like it. Then I hang everything up, just with a small nail. Everything is lightweight. The drill and the screws can stay in the tool box.’

‘Building on the mix & match idea, now we also have the Wall of Curiosities in the collection, a package with items from the various collections. So, birds, insects, fish, and leaves as a ready-to-go collage. And there are so many more beautiful things to come! Such as custom-made unique items based on products from the existing collection. And large flowers made of wood, which you can put against the wall, for instance. After more than fifteen years of experimenting, designing, and producing, we still have so many ideas. We never run out.’

‘My lifestyle? I don’t have a specific word for that. I’m very intuitive; I’m moved by shapes and colours. I let trends pass me by. Our yellow Muuto sofa is the first designer sofa we have ever purchased together. Before this, Ilya would simply build a sofa or a table himself. Our house shows who we are; it is typically Ilya and Romy. Playful and personal, a mix of old and new. Above all, a house needs to be liveable.’

‘For us, there’s no separation between work and personal life. Our children play an important role in Studio Roof. And it’s not only colleagues that we work with, but friends as well. Some may be closer than others, but we all work together as one big family. What we make is just as personal, although of course we also listen to signals from the market, to the stories and wishes of our customers. I stand behind every design we create and release. Studio Roof has been around for over fifteen years now. In the beginning we would make a tree. Or a horse. The collection didn’t really have a unifying theme. That’s different now. Our collection is a coherent whole. We pay careful attention to how it is structured, and items from different subcollections can be easily combined with each other.’