Pensioner gives Kiev apartment block a baroque makeover

Volodymyr Chaika being interviewed in the hallway Image copyright Ukrayina TV
Image caption Mr Chaika showed off the fruits of his labour to a reporter from Ukrayina TV

A Ukrainian pensioner has spent 15 years turning the common areas of his apartment block into opulent baroque-style spaces.

Volodymyr Chaika has transformed the stairwells and hallways on three floors of the building, decorating them with gilded plasterwork and classical portraits, the Segodnya news website reports. The building is in Troyeshchnya, considered one of the less desirable parts of Kiev, and from the outside looks like an ordinary modern block.

Mr Chaika, 65, says he was inspired to begin the work after suffering a near-death experience. "In 1997 I survived a clinical death... from that time I wanted to do something beautiful and unusual for myself and others," he tells the website, adding that the neighbours like it. "When I am doing this I forget about all my problems," he says.

While some may consider the design baroque-inspired, Mr Chaika describes it as his own style. Segodnya's report says it looks like something out of the Palace of Versailles or St Petersburg's grand Hermitage Museum.

It's only the entrance areas that have had the colourful makeover though - his own apartment is untouched, apart from the fireplace. Mr Chaika says he's particularly proud of the rubbish chute which is now a column adorned with gold statuettes.

Neighbour Oleksandr Yakubenko, a student, has taken an interest in the changing look of the interior but says he couldn't imagine doing it himself. "You have to have so much patience to in order to do all this," he tells Ukrayina TV.

This isn't the first Troyeshchnya apartment building to get an unusual makeover. In 2013, another owner transformed the 13th floor of his building into a psychedelic grotto, with toys, model animals and religious icons embedded in the walls.

Mr Chaika says currently he doesn't have plans to redecorate any more of the building's staircases. "My pension isn't enough," he says with a laugh. "I want to just finish what I started and then we'll see... If people ask, I will!"

Image copyright Ukrayina TV
Image caption Mr Chaika's son says his father is "in love with art and history"

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