Lowered ceilings, layers of old-fashioned wallpaper and a boxy layout. That was the uninspiring sight that greeted René Løkkegaard Jepsen and Kristina Mie Hansen when they first stepped inside this ground-floor apartment in Copenhagen’s leafy Frederiksberg district.
The couple had a very clear idea of what they wanted from the space, though. With a young son – one-year-old Bernhard – to consider, they envisioned an open, welcoming space for the family to spend as much time in together as possible.
Far from a lost cause, this late-19th-century home was blessed with good natural light. The challenge was to make the absolute most of this gift. ‘Without affecting the architectural frame, we wanted to create a new layout customised to our lifestyle,’ explains Kristina.
‘In our last house we had discovered that we spend almost all of our time around the kitchen, so we decided this area should include the living room and cover almost half of the domestic space.’
Overseeing the renovation of the apartment themselves, René and Kristina tore everything down, removing the small bathroom that used to sit at the core of this home to create their more open-plan central space that, says Kristina, is ‘much more than a traditional kitchen’. With access to the garden, which in summer becomes an extension of the living area, it has a relaxing connection to nature.
‘It’s not a canonical layout,’ admits René, ‘but the beauty is that it is exactly suited to our needs. We have a whole section of the kitchen dedicated to coffee equipment – a passion of ours – and moving the bathroom meant that the new one could be larger than you normally find in Copenhagen apartments.’
Away from the heart of this home, there are also two bedrooms, as well as a study area cleverly squeezed into the hallway. Each space has its own personality, but the defining characteristics are the prevalence of Nordic furniture – from modern pieces by Hay to lights by Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen – and a skilful combination of often very bold colours.
In the kitchen, pink glazed tiles sing out against dark navy cabinetry, while in the bedroom a burnt-orange wardrobe, designed by René and Kristine, is paired with soft sage green. ‘We are not the type of people interested in the trend of the moment,’ says René. ‘All we wanted was to create a house that reflected our way of being. I think we succeeded.’
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration May 2021
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