Small-space living: An elegant Swedish 'Ettan'

An ettan (a one) is the word Swedes describe a one room apartment. But just to avoid confusion, this usually means one room plus a kitchen, just like a tvåan (a two) describes a two room flat plus a kitchen and a trean (a three) describes a three room plus kitchen. You get the gist! But what's important, isn't the size, it's the way it's organised, and how it caters for your every need. Plus of course, in true Scandi style, it needs to look beautiful too! 

I stumbled across this light and airy ettan (measuring 39 sq.m / 420 sq.ft) this morning and was immediately captivated by its elegance and charm. I also love how a simple, muted colour scheme can be given an instant lift with layers of texture and a few pretty, patterned cushions and flowers! Students decorating a dorm room - take note! Let's discover what else is at play. 

Rooms with angled walls aren't always easy to furnish. Here, a large round mirror helps to visually widen the narrower section of the room. 

Throws and blankets are essential items to create that all important mys (cosy) factor. Plus, if your bedroom is in the sitting room, a throw is a perfect way to disguise the bed in an instant! 

The chair in the corner serves as a perfect reading spot by the window, but it can also be pulled forward to create a social setting when guests arrive. 

Glass and other see-through items are ideal for small spaces as they have a 'barely there feel' and allow the light to flow through. 

A spot in the hallway doubles up as a home office.

The kitchen is lovely and spacious allowing for a table for up to six! I love the antique style. Dark wood has become hugely popular once again and I've heard rumours that the rich and famous of the USA are snapping up items from the 'Swedish Grace' era - i.e. extremely well-made furniture from the 1920's to the 1950s.  

If you look closely at the worktop immediately beside the oven you'll spot a horizontal wood strip. That's a chopping board which can be pulled out when cooking, and then pushed back in once cleaned and finished with. It's a great space saving hack! 

Notice how there are plants, a lamp and a candlestick on the windowsill - but no curtains or a blind. This is typically Swedish! By day, the plants give the illusion that nature is close by, even in the winter when the plants and trees lie dormant. By night, the lamp and candlestick emit a warm and welcoming feel from the outside - while from the inside they shield the darkness while ensuring you don't feel 'closed-in'. Don't forget that in the far North of Sweden it can be dark almost 24 hours a day in mid-winter - you don't really want your curtains closed for that length of time! 

Here is a floor plan for you so you can make sense of the space: 

Glossary: Entre - entryway, vardagsrum - sitting room, kök - kitchen, uteplats - outdoor space, inre hall, inner hallway. 

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Did anything stand out to you in particular? If so, please do comment below and join the discussion! 

I night add, this lovely apartment in Gothenburg is for sale! Could you be the next owner? 

Looking for more small space inspiration? Check out this archive - it's full of beautiful compact spaces that are big on charm! There's a chance this one. night pop up first, if so, just scroll on down to find the others. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 


Photography courtesy of Alvhem, with thanks. 


  1. I especially like the spacious kitchen and more and more appreciate what a bonus such a feature is. I've come to think it's more important than having a separate bedroom, as per this apartment.

    1. Agree! 100% the kitchen with dining area is everything!

  2. So much smart style and charm. There are enough furniture pieces for function without overcrowding the space. It’s all lovely, but I especially like the sitting area and the kitchen. That table is very handsome! It leads you to think it would be interesting to have a conversation with the person who lives there.

  3. What I love about so many of the apartments that you feature is that even if they are small, they have high ceilings, large windows and some kind of balcony/outdoor space. The apartments don't even seem small because of this. So many apartments in my area of the USA do not have any kind of balcony, sadly.

  4. This is a standout apartment. What a wonderful table! The whole space has an airy and spacious feel.

  5. This is such a beautiful space! i wish i could buy it!

  6. This is a beautiful space and looks much larger because of furniture and color usage. I have a question that might be silly. I'm wondering how Swedes feel about the amount of clothing they have. I look at the photo's you post and I don't see many clothes. Do they purchase less than Americans? I'd love to have so much less.

  7. This layout is great having a real kitchen opens up the possibilities of comfort although the apartment is small.


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