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Charming Details In a Danish Allotment Cottage


'God morgen' as they say in Danish! How was your weekend? I read that today is referred to as 'blue Monday' - considered by some the saddest day of the year. Apparently, it's down to a number of factors including bad weather (check), long nights (check) and of course this year, a certain word beginning with C! Well, not on my watch friends, because we're going to be wrapped in a warm bubble of 'glæde' as we tour a charming kolonihavehus (allotment cottage) in the Danish countryside! It may be pared-back - but it's also full of warmth thanks to the carefully selected vintage furniture - as well as the small, joyful details which give this little space, a big heart! Welcome to Danish knitwear designer and interior stylist Gaia Brandt's world!


Are you familiar with the 'kolinihave' concept? These little Scandinavian cottages are built on allotments - and were originally designed to provide shelter in between toiling the soil. These days, they have become a picturesque summer holiday retreat for many city dwellers. I've shared more details about this type of Scandinavian housing here

Usually, there are tight restrictions on how many days a year you can stay - and the water is turned off between Autumn and springtime. But come summertime, these little cottage communities come alive and provide a perfect summer oasis! 


As with most Scandinavian summer cottages, the look here is simple, with a focus on bringing the outdoors in. 

Look closely though, and you'll spot lots of wonderful details - a unique pot here, a wall-mounted dolls house there, and lots of mobiles, which draw the eye upwards. 


A simple Danish rag rug helps to protect the wood floor in the kitchen. 


Playing with over-sized items helps to bring the living room area alive! 

Could that be a TV behind the sheet? 

An otherwise disused corner of the room has been transformed into a display area for a vintage collection of hearts, dried flowers and other ornaments. 



On warm summers day, the doors are thrown open so Gaia and her children can flit between the outdoors and inside. 


I bet many a strong coffee has been enjoyed right here!  


So lovely, don't you think? 

I can practically feel the warmth on my skin from the pictures (taken by Gaia's sister Kira Brandt - a talented photographer - for Danish magazine Boligliv

I'm also finding this tour so inspiring for the tiny cabin Per and I are planning to build this year (more to follow very soon!). 

Did you get any ideas for your own home? 

I forgot to mention that Gaia is a real dab hand at DIY / crafts. Check out her styling work for magazines here and see pictures of her latest home over on her instagram feed

And - for more inspiration to brighten up the start of your week, you might like to check out: 


Blue Monday? What blue Monday! 

Niki

Photography: Kira Brandt / styling Gaia Brandt for Boligliv - shared withy kind permission. 

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Warm Earthy Tones In An International Family Home in Denmark

The sun is shining in Malmö today -  a rare and wonderful site! Over the Öresund bridge, graphic designer Diana Mwabala, her husband Kadima and their adorable daughter Miriam are also enjoying the bright sunshine in their beautiful rental flat. Located in southern Denmark, the Mwabala family home has a wonderful, earthy vibe and has been decorated with a blend of thrifted, upcycled and handmade pieces. I caught up with Diana to find out more about her style, the warm golden tones she and Miriam's cute bedroom! 

We'd love to hear more about you and your family
My name is Diana, I am Romanian and moved to Denmark in 2013 to study. I stayed because I met my husband, Kadima, a Zambian whose been living here for over 16 years. So, we are a pretty International family - spanning two continents who found each other in little Denmark :). We have a two-year-old daughter called Miriam, and another little one on the way. I work as a freelance graphic designer / concept developer. 


How do you describe your style?
I aspire to a mid-century modern and Japanese / Scandinavian style. However, I think right now our home is more a mix of Scandinavian and bohemian (Scandiboho). 

Are there any references to your international roots in your home?
Yes, definitely. It means a lot to us to blend in our roots so it's not Scandinavian all the way. Evidence of this can be seen throughout our home. For example, the white rug on the wall was handmade by locals in a small mountainous region of Romania. And we also have lots of African / Zambian pieces such as the basket on the wall as well as smaller items on the shelves. Even the earthy clay colours remind me of our trip to Zambia and South Africa.

What is important to you when it comes to decorating?
I love it when things are practical, functional, cosy and pretty. I think these words define our home and our intentions. Our home should also be child-friendly, but without compromising on aesthetics :). I always look for pretty solutions to practical problems - often with Miriam in mind. For example, we built the shelves behind the sofa so we could hide a cup of tea there, instead of placing it on the coffee table, where she could come and spill it! 

Where do you find the pieces for your home? 
Most of our home is thrifted and upcycled or handmade. We love DIY! At first, I'd come up with the ideas and my husband would make them. But, with time I have learnt how to build things on my own, so now my husband knows that it's dangerous to leave me home alone! 

I love the golden tones in your home, can you tell us a little more about them?
I'd say our home is painted in earthy tones. We've used neutrals as a base, and then added colours through accessories. Some of the paint has a colour code, others I mixed myself using leftovers. 

Here are the colour codes / names of the paint I know:

- Wall behind dining table: Calm Nude from Flügger
- Bookshelf behind sofa: Marrakech from Jotun
- Miriam's playroom: 3357 from Flügger
- Our bedroom: self-blended but reminds me of Adventure from Jotun. 


Miriam's room is beautiful! Can you describe the creative direction?
It's the most colourful room in our home. I love her little universe, it's my favourite! We painted the floors yellow, chose a peachy colour for the walls and added a yellow bed and red wardrobe. Her room is like a fairy-tale if you ask me. I love the retro style and added old vintage finds, combined with playful and educational pieces and lots of pretty storage for toys. 



Thank you so much for inviting us on a virtual tour of your beautiful home today Diana. We'd better tiptoe away before we wake Miriam! 

You can see more of Diana's lovely home over on this little corner of the 'gram

Is there anything about Diana's home that stood out to you in particular? I absolutely love Miriam's room - it's full of pretty pieces - every time I look, I spot something new! 

For more Danish home tours today, check out the Danish home archive - which includes yesterday's 'thatched cottage' before and after. 

I hope the sun is shining where you are too today!

Niki

Photography courtesy of Diana Mwabala, shared with kind permission.

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Before & After: A Century-Old Danish Thatched Cottage Is Given a Revamp!

I love a good before & after - how about you? And the beauty of today's transformation is that the century-old cottage was in pretty good nick when Danish psychologist and photographer Christina Greve found it - but needed freshening up (I couldn't believe the bit about the woodlice infestation below - UGH!). The pair were keen to put their own stamp on the house and add a simple, yet exclusive Scandinavian country feel. Christina and her husband set about working on the exterior and interior as well as carrying out a loft conversion. After 5 months of intensive work, the pair were ready to move in. Excited to see what they did? Here are the before and after pictures! 

Exterior
The pair kept the original windows on the main building and then searched for new windows to install on the attached building. They also painted the property a fresh white and brushed down the thatched roof to remove moss and algae as well as added wood decking to enjoy in summertime. 

She opted for a handcrafted kitchen with a marble top and brass sink, as well as brass doorknobs. The French vintage Jield lamps* were restored in Copenhagen. 

Christina picked up the shelves for €20 in a second-hand shop and painted them to match the cabinets. 


Wine cellar
Christina's husband had the *awesome* vision to transform the cellar (used as a fridge in the olden days) into a wine cellar. When they first found the house it was dark, cold, wet and black with woodlice.

"It was so awful, that the first time I saw it, I ran and said to my husband: "I'm never going to buy that house!" says Christina. 

Once the unwelcome guests had been cleared, the pair dug down to improve the ceiling height - even adding space for a 'bar table and chairs' (sounds like a great speakeasy to me!). They also added a bespoke glass hatch - which although sturdy, was nerve-racking to walk on at first - and something Conrad, the family dog - refuses to walk on to this day!

How awesome! Honestly, if we didn't have a communal garage beneath our home, I'd start digging! Not sure ours would be this full though! Could you imagine having a wine cellar like this in your home?  




Sitting room

Instead of changing the wood floor in the sitting room, Christina sanded it down and added a white lime wash for a lighter look (we did this in our home too and it worked a treat!). They also removed a lot of the storage at the base of the stairs.

Home office


If you work from home - which many of us do right now (I can actually hear Per holding a maths lesson online from my stepson's bedroom right now!), you'll know how important it is to find the right spot. Christina earmarked an area in the hall as somewhere she could run her online photography workshops (love the look of those!), edit photos and write - bathed in natural light (made even better by the new window). The table is a vintage find.

Sunroom / Hallway

Christina and her husband are thrilled with the transformation in the hallway - an area which also connects the old cottage with the newer black wood building. They swapped out the doors and tiles and painted the walls with a light beige chalk paint (see Kalklitir for similar). 

Note: If you're on a tight budget and don't like the look of grouting which has darkened over time, you can clean it with bicarbonate soda, water and a toothbrush. It'll come out as good as new! 

Bedroom


A tremendous amount of work went into converting the attic into a bedroom and living area - including raising the ceiling and erecting a dummy wall to hide the chimney. 

Today, the bedroom has a fresh, summery, coastal vibe! 


Check out the radiator cover - perfect for covering old, slightly unsightly or wonky radiators. Always check if it's OK to cover a radiator first though - obvs! 

Bathroom

And last but not least, the bathroom! For this room, they decided to start again from scratch (saving only the loo roll holder!). The washing machine has been concealed behind one of the drawer sections - you'd never guess, would you? So clever! 
 
Today, the family love to relax and enjoy the wonderful views out over the Danish coast. Until they start flipping their barn that is. Watch this space for another before and after in the future!

That setting! 

Such an inspiring renovation - and a truly beautiful cottage, don't you think?

The great thing about 'before & afters' is that even if you're not renovating an entire property, there are always small things you can take-away and implement in your own home - like the grouting and radiator covers. 

Did you get any ideas? 

Follow Christina's latest projects over at @christinagreve - and keep an eye out for her upcoming online photography workshops (I see there's going to be a FREE five day one soon!). 

And check out the full 'make-over' archive for some incredible transformations! 

Happy Lillördag (little Saturday!) friends!  

Niki

Photography by Christina Greve, shared with kind permission.

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A Delightful Danish Family Home Full of Art and Design

Why, hello there friends! It feels so great to be back after the holidays! We took our Christmas tree down yesterday (which may sound a bit late, but in Sweden, tradition dictates the 13th to take down Christmas decorations. And it looked so pretty, I wasn't quite ready to part with it earlier!). And now our home feels all fresh, calm and ready for 2021. Which reminds me, thank you so much for all your wonderful comments on my last post, I'm so happy you like my new ideas for My Scandinavian Home (and thank you to everyone who sent me private DMs with suggestions too - all taken to heart! Here's to a year full of Scandi inspiration! 

I thought I'd kick off a wonderful Danish home tour, so, pull up a chair and get comfy - you're in for a treat - Copenhagen style! 

Mette Helena is one inspiring woman! A Danish stylist and artist - the Mother of two is the owner of beautiful web shop Retro Villa - selling vintage wallpaper and Danish design, and co-founder of Kunstsalonen - pop-up galleries for the public in private homes. Little wonder Mette Helena's own home in Amagerbro, Copenhagen is full of vintage design and the most wonderful art! Let's take a peek inside. 



One of Mette Helene's own painting hangs beside a Flos 265 wall lamp in the family sitting room. The coffee table is vintage. 


A black and white piece by Mie Olise Studio as well as countless other designs have been hung on a calming pale blue wall in the bedroom. 

And just look at all that storage space! Be still, beating heart! I need to show this to Per! How much would you also love to have this much storage? - perhaps you already do. 


Mette Helena has gone for statement blue tiles in the bathroom. I love that her rod sometimes doubles up as a clothes dryer (see below) - I do this too (sometimes my family wonders if it's become my actual wardrobe!). 

There's so much art and design love going on in Mette Helena's hallway. The mobile is by Peter Johansen, with a piece by Line Busch behind. The pair to the right are by Matilde Duus and on the floor is a piece by Jeanette Hillig

What a beautiful, inspiring home! Thank you for inviting us on a virtual tour today Mette Helena - and thank you to Tia Borgsmidt for these fabulous photos! 

See more of Mette Helena's home over at @mettehelena and visit her online shop here. If like me, you're curious about her public pop-up galleries in private homes, you can find all the latest news here. Let's hope everything rolls again soon!

Curious about other Danish homes with a ton of art and vintage pieces? Take a peek at: 


Wishing you a wonderful start to the week. 

Niki

Styling: Metta Helena
Photography Tia Borgsmidt

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