Naturally festive 1950s home on the outskirts of Copenhagen

Created by mid-century Danish architect Jørn Utzon, this house on stilts has been given a Scandi Christmas makeover

jorn utzon house copenhagen
Peter Kragballe

When setting the table for Christmas and the many feasts that surround the festive season, Henriette Staib, owner of the flower shop De Fire Årstider, likes to raise up her floral arrangements. Placing bouquets on plinths, in thin-stemmed urns and vases, is just one of the subtle nods she makes everyday to the unique design of her home.

Raised on stilts and overlooking Furesø lake in Holte, on the northern outskirts of Copenhagen, this 1950s property was designed by renowned Danish architect Jørn Utzon.

Best known for designing the Sydney Opera House, Utzon made a less dramatic impact on the skyline with this property, showing the influence of the great modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe on his work instead.

jorn utzon house copenhagen christmas tree
Peter Kragballe

It is a local landmark that Henriette passed everyday for 15 years as a neighbour. She admired the home’s simplicity of form – a long, narrow and single-storey structure – with a vast glass façade providing a panorama of its lakeside setting. When, four years ago, the house went on the market, she and her husband didn’t even hesitate before putting in an offer.

Of course, taking ownership of a home with this kind of architectural heritage comes with certain expectations and restrictions. Almost everything was protected by heritage laws, from the wood panelling to the blue and red details that appear on walls and around its windows. Even the colour of the radiators couldn’t be changed.

jorn utzon house copenhagen christmas dining table
Peter Kragballe

The one place Henriette could effect change was in the kitchen, as it was not part of the original design. Here, by choosing simple but beautifully crafted cabinets by &SHUFL, she has taken inspiration from Utzon’s key principles.

It’s no surprise that she adopts the same approach when it comes to decorating for Christmas. The house’s colour palette is used as a starting point, to which dusky, understated, complementary shades are added. Then, natural elements are layered on top.

jorn utzon house copenhagen living room
Peter Kragballe

On the table, a scattering of small ceramic mushrooms by Meyer-Lavigne and decorative fruits adds interest, an oversized bunch of mistletoe is suspended above the stairs, and the tree, that centrepiece of the season, has a stripped-back elegance with just a few carefully selected baubles.

‘I like to collect things and memories, especially Christmas decorations,’ says Henriette, for whom this level of minimalism is a work in progress. ‘When we moved in, it was a total change, not only spatially but aesthetically. We have tried to make our style simpler, even though it’s sometimes difficult,’ she admits.

jorn utzon house copenhagen bedroom
Peter Kragballe

Restraint isn’t a word often used when it comes to Christmas, but this home proves that it doesn’t have to be a time of excess. Here, comfort comes from focusing on the important things: nature, family and heritage.

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