All photos by Toby Golus.
Miloš and Kat met at university in South Africa. Kat was born and raised in South Africa, and Miloš moved there from Serbia around the age of 12. Following graduation, they journeyed to Japan together to teach English for two years, after which time they didn’t really know what to do. “We knew we didn’t want to go back to South Africa right away,” said Miloš, so they settled on Barcelona as their next home base because it was a viable location for Miloš to set up a branch of his family’s music school. “We were basically jumping off the deep end,” said Kat. They didn’t visit first. They didn’t speak Spanish, much less Catalan. They didn’t know the ins and outs of starting a business in Spain. “It was terrifying,” Kat said in all seriousness.
The next few years proceeded as a long transitional period for her. It started with acute culture shock. “South Africa is more like America,” Kat explained. “You can get everything in one place.” As opposed to Barcelona—especially back in 2008 when they arrived—where you have to buy your veggies in one store, your chicken in another and your olive oil across town. “I was so stressed, like where is the peanut butter,” Kat said animatedly. They’ve also moved a lot over the years, which made them feel displaced.
“Actually, it wasn’t until we found this apartment and moved in that I truly felt settled here,” Kat acknowledged. Now the couple has a cat named Professor Zulu Puffling—whose daredevil, long distance pouncing accounts for the bamboo fences at the edges of their terrace—and they are expecting their first baby. Their business, Shine School of Music, is lucrative and still brings them joy. And they know which store sells which necessities for everyday life. “Now Barcelona feels like the place we live,” Miloš said.
When they first looked at this apartment—and were instantly reassured that Barcelona was right where they were meant to be—they were like “We’re taking it. How much money should we give you now?” “It had an ambience that was missing from all the other places we looked at,” Kat said. “Even though it has plenty of curious things about it.” For example, nothing is straight. No wall, floor or ceiling is perpendicular to another.
Two and a half years later, and the atmosphere of their home is even more vibrant, positive and creatively cosy thanks to Kat’s imagination and constant redecorating. “Kat’s personality and talent are so apparent throughout the whole space,” Miloš gushed.
Initially, they painted everything. Kat hated that every doorframe was a different colour, and they wanted more originality in the décor. But the adorning has never really ceased. “One week all the walls are pink, then she’ll get bored and do something else,” Miloš said. Kat responded sweetly, “I guess I’m lucky that he doesn’t seem to mind.” At one point, Kat started to construct the framework of a house inside the flat—she intended to stand the façade of her project next to the flat’s front door and the back on the other side of the living room, with its rafters over the couch and coffee table. Miloš drew the line there, and now just the faces of the ‘house’ line the entranceway, providing natural separation between the door and the living room.
Currently, the walls of the living room are pale pink, making their magenta couch pop, and upstairs their bedroom walls are baby blue, with a turquoise spiral staircase connecting the two floors. It’s not hard to figure out why they call this the ‘ice cream flat’.
Miloš often gets coerced into helping Kat bring her visionary interior designs to fruition. However, he insists that DIY is not his favourite hobby. “I’m too much of a perfectionist,” he said. They have done a lot of work in the garden, as well, which he enjoyed. The leafy garden is nice, but quickly overlooked when you step onto their double-decker terrace and take in the view. Slightly to the left are the tiled tops of the buildings at the entrance of Parc Güell. Closer to the sky, you can clearly see the spinning Ferris wheel of Tibidabo. And the terrace’s proximity to the Collserola mountain range is virtually the most green you can relish while remaining in the city. The couple and their guests can appreciate all this from cushions or the blue hammock installed in the corner of the upper terrace.
Miloš and Kat furnished a lot of the apartment without ever entering a store. “We used to exclusively shop on the street,” Miloš said. And a majority of the decorations were done by Kat. She studied fine arts, and works as an illustrator. The illustrations hanging on the walls are narrative-based and add to the apartment’s whimsy. In one a young girl with pink hair and black eyeliner is posing with a giraffe on a lease made of delicate ribbon. Another shows a porcupine riding a bicycle almost as if in pursuit of an ice cream cone at the edge of the frame. “I don’t know why I always wind up painting girls and nature,” Kat pondered.
She further discussed how the girls in her paintings are characters of their own stories, and each picture is a snapshot of a moment in their lives. “I like there to be an air of fantasy so people can make believe what they want about the girls,” she said. Kat also confessed she would feel weird with only her art in the apartment, so there are things people have gifted them and sentimental items from their travels displayed, as well.
Kat and Miloš have come a long way since that initial culture shock and have come to love so much about Barcelona. They can walk everywhere they want to go and are content with their life inside and outside of the ‘ice cream flat’.
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