Fresh Start – Modern Scandinavian Apartment

Fresh Start – Modern Scandinavian Apartment

When I first met S & B (not of Gossip Girl fame…) late in 2018, they were just about to take possession of a new Inglewood apartment. I instantly loved them. They are the warmest, chattiest mother-daughter with such a close, wonderful relationship. There was quite a mix of emotion in the process of selling and buying, as they are grieving the loss of their husband and father. This apartment was a fresh start, especially for mama B, who said she wants to start focusing on enjoying and living life fully, even as she carries the loss and grief with her.

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Upon first walking into the apartment, there is a small entrance with a closet and a long hallway with 9 foot ceilings. Since they were downsizing quite drastically, extra storage was a top concern. As we talked more, I learned they also had their hearts set on a wall full of family photos but were unsure how it could work in a modern, uncluttered way. Using a bank of IKEA Eket cabinets nearly the length of the hallway, provided lots of storage for papers, keepsakes, and other items they wanted handy but tucked away. I suggested printing photos in black and white, and hanging them in a grid to fit with their aesthetic, and to keep things looking tidy and well curated.

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We replaced the builder-grade spotlights with some lovely modern orb pendants in brushed nickel that I found for an unbelievable price, on clearance. The top of the cabinets are styled minimally, with lots of empty space for your eyes to rest, so as not to detract from the beautiful photos. The white books are an artist/designer spotlight series with the garish dust jackets removed. A few pops of greenery in silver vases, and a display box full of rocks and fossils given by a friend add contrast and interest amongst the mostly white objects.

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Down the hall and around the corner is an open concept living/dining/kitchen area with a little nook next to the kitchen. We hung floating cabinetry from IKEA’s Besta line in that space to create more storage. We opted for an interesting, asymmetrical design. On the bottom, the cabinets are deeper, and the grey doors with the concrete-look finish ground the unit and break up the sea of white. Above are two shallow cabinets, and to the left is a picture ledge to display some very precious items. This is a handy little flex space- it holds mail and office supplies, as well as extra dishes. The bottom unit is topped with glass for durability and can be used as extra service space on special occasions as needed

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The galley style kitchen had far less storage space than they were used to, and they were having a hard time figuring out how to fit everything in, even after purging several times. There was a tiny nook beside the oven, and I suggested we turn a tall cabinet into a pantry for them. After looking at the available options, we opted for an IKEA Pax wardrobe for two reasons: it’s size (one of the few options that was available in our tall, narrow, and not too deep measurement range) and the ability to easily customize the interior. On the bottom, we left the shelf open for heavy items such as flour and sugar, then installed three drawers within an easy to see range for smaller and packaged items, and shelves the rest of the way up. To help the cabinet blend in and look like it was always there, trim was added from the top of the cabinet right up to the ceiling. High back white leather counter stools at the eating bar offer comfort with a minimal visual impact to help keep the kitchen looking tidy. You may also notice the pair of storage ottomans stashed below the window for extra seating when family visits.

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In the living room, the TV and speakers were mounted on the wall, and the TV stand offers a place for a much loved turntable to rest. Early on, I learned from S that mama B loves to have a relaxing coffee and look out the window each morning. That presented a bit of a challenge for the layout of the space with the large column in the best corner of the room! We had already flipped the original layout to make room for a sectional (the TV was previously on the opposite wall) and I suggested a gorgeous swivel chair from West Elm to offer flexibility in the room. Now, when mama wants to have a leisurely coffee, she just spins the chair around, and can enjoy the view easily. The rest of the time it faces inward, creating a cozy conversation area.

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The aesthetic goal for the space was minimal, cozy, bright and open, but each of them mentioned several times that they wanted the main area to be really special, and great for entertaining., so I began moving in a direction that would bring some glam-factor into the room. By layering in metallic finishes and luxe textures, we were able to create a balance between minimalist glam and cozy Scandi styles. The builder-grade track lighting was swapped out for a modern sputnik-style chandelier and a shiny chrome arc lamp adds more control over the lighting levels, and removes the need for art on the narrow wall between the windows, which keeps things looking open and clean. The silver accents are repeated throughout the apartment in the throw pillows, furniture legs, lighting and accessories.

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The living room is quite small, and finding a sectional in the right measurements took a fair bit of searching. We briefly considered an IKEA option with lots of storage space, but no one was really excited about it. They wanted white but were apprehensive about staining a new sofa. I knew leather would be an easy solution, but was pretty sure it would be out of the budget, until I found this gorgeous sectional, on clearance, at Structube for a really reasonable price. Serendipity!

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To create a comfy-cozy feeling in a minimal, modern space, the easiest path is to use thoughtfully mixed textiles. A two-toned shag rug, knit pouf, velvet pillows, a plush, fringed throw blanket, leather sectional and twill chair create subtle layers of texture and pattern that warm the space up. Natural elements such as the wood plank floors, plants and flowers, marble tables (and more!) further adds to the layered effect without overwhelming the room.

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Mama B kept mentioning that she wanted colour in the space, but nearly every inspiration photo they each picked was monochromatic and neutral. To balance those competing desires, I chose accessories in soft shades of seafoam green, and we’ve commissioned a piece of art for the wall behind the couch in colours that will work well with the decor. I am so, so honoured to have been a part of creating a fresh start for this wonderful pair.

Wishing you more light than dark as you move forward S & B.

yesterday – i was the moon
today- just an eclipse
something in me travels; some days it’s to
the dark
some days it’s to
the light

-Noor Unnahar

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1 thought on “Fresh Start – Modern Scandinavian Apartment”

  • Thank you Freya for profiling so well the interior design process we pursued together. My daughter and I are very pleased with both the process and the outcomes. You really understood what we wanted and you led us and kept us on the right track. I must say that my daughter and I agreed from the very beginning on what we wanted to achieve, but in certain opportunities, you realized about our sometimes very opposite tastes and you were able to conciliate our differences and to even get us to a win-win situation. Thank you for your honesty when telling us that a particular approach or preference would simply not work or that there were other possibilities. Thank you for your so committed hard work. You are so easy to work with because you are such an easy going, gentle and respectful person. I really wish that other people like my daughter and I find you because they will not regret going into an adventure with you. I wish you big success in your career endeavors. Berta

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