Small Space Living Ideas with Nordic Days

We’re super excited to be speaking to Flor from Nordic Days this week about small space living ideas. Below we look at Flor’s beautiful home, and learn how she manages to maximise the sense of space in a small home.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your background?

I’m Flor (31), a historian who works at MuseumTV and in a gallery. My father is an interior architect, so I suppose Eames and Miffy were introduced almost simultaneously in my youth. Nearly two years ago I got married to my husband in Las Vegas, with a live video stream for everyone at home. We love to travel, eat and explore culture together. Last year I lived in London for two months and I’m still very homesick!

Why did you start your blog, Nordic Days?

Simply put: I wanted to inspire people by showing them very beautiful homes — while the historian in me also wanted to familiarise them with the history (and people) behind some of the most famous designs. I was relieved to find that there is an incredibly large online community with the same interests. Last summer, Nordic Days received its 2 millionth pageview, which of course made me very happy.


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Where do you seek your inspiration?

I love browsing through Instagram and Pinterest in the evenings, but I also get a lot of inspiration from design history such as Mid Century Design (Eames! Bertoia!) or Memphis. I also love checking out those tiny Brooklyn, London and Berlin apartments for inspiration.

What elements of Nordic design appeal to you the most?

Good quality, an element of timelessness, minimalism, geometric shapes and in many cases lovely natural (and often matte) materials.

Who are your favourite designers and/or brands?

I often gravitate towards brands like Muuto, HAY, Marimekko, Iittala and String. My favourite designers are Cecilie Manz, Eames and the Bouroullec brothers.

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What are your interior design ‘pet hates’?

Of course, everyone should decorate their space in the way that makes them feel at home. But I always joke that if I ever obtain any legislative power, my first edict will be to abolish the colour beige. Furthermore, I saw some photos of Trumps interior in New York and it still gives me nightmares.

How would you describe your home?

Our home is very space-efficient for its 38m2 and therefore seemingly spacious and bright. It’s a combination of classic yet modern Mid Century pieces and New Nordic design by brands like Muuto and HAY. It also shows that I love geometric shapes and typography.


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Which is your favourite room, and why?

I love the open space of the living room and the wide view the large windows offer. You tend to forget that you’re one minute away from the bustling city centre of Utrecht (the fourth largest city of the Netherlands).

Does your space reflect your personality? If so, how?

I think I’m (generally) a well-organised yet spontaneous person. I think my home reflects that. As a whole, it seems spacious, minimal and clean, but the details add some life to the place— such as the bright yellow pieces and some quirky elements.

If you could keep just one item from your home, what would it be and why?

Probably my HAY Mags sofa, that I basically live on 🙂

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What are your 5 top tips for achieving the perfect home if you have little space to work with?

The best compliment about my home I’ve gotten so far is that my home seems larger every time the complimenter visits. This might seem like a weird favourite compliment until you realise that my home is only 38 square meters! Luckily, I don’t need a lot of space, but it does require some inventive decorating — and restraint. Below are five tips for decorating your compact home and making it appear larger than it actually is.


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Minimalism
The philosophies by minimalist experts like Marie Kondo may seem like a no-brainer in theory but they might be quite hard to live by in practice, because we all love those tiny trinkets: candlesticks, little bowls and what not.

If you want your home to appear larger, you might want to refrain from buying too much stuff. Try to think in terms of timeless eyecatchers like a beautiful chair or lamp instead of a lot of tiny items fighting for attention.

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I tried several methods for minimalising clutter in my home, like getting rid of one item a day for a month and of course the put-it-in-a-box/attic-for-a-month-and-see-if-you-miss-it method. Also, make sure to check your kitchen cabinets for doubles (who needs 15 tins of beans?) and also check your wardrobe for unnecessary duplicates. Do you really need 15 black dresses or shirts if you always reach for the same three? In those cases, it’s better (for you and for the environment) to buy a few good quality items instead.

There’s also the matter of displaying the items that you do keep. Open cabinets are a great way to display your books and other little treasures. Unfortunately, when they are filled with a lot of items they tend to look very crowded. Closed cabinets (preferably white) make your apartment appear that much larger! Tip: buying cabinets on legs is even better!


Colour, light and mirrors
If you have a small home, you’ll need as much reflective light in your home as you can possibly get.

The best (and obvious) way to obtain light is by using a lot of mirrors and by painting your walls white (or at least a light colour) while using light furniture. But…this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t use any colour on your walls at all. Be creative and paint some colour blocks or diagonals on your walls to add some colour to your home while maintaining its optical size.

When I decorated my home I used a consistent colour palette: black, white, grey, light wood and mustard yellow. This results in a tranquil space. To make sure it won’t become too matchy matchy I did try to add some quirky details, some items that don’t necessarily seem to belong.

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Think outside of the box
My wardrobe is actually.. a children’s wardrobe. I have about 1,5m in straight walls, after that they form a very high triangular ceiling – so a taller wardrobe was simply not an option. And those extra cabinets in my kitchen for potato chips etcetera are actually.. quite fancy fold-out shoe cabinets. I swear: no one has ever noticed.

What I mean to say is: dare to be a little inventive and creative when it comes to selecting your furniture. Look beyond their official job description and think of alternative ways to use it in your home. Multifunctional furniture is also a good solution.

You could opt for a sofa bed, a fold-out table or you could get an ottoman with hidden storage space within. But you might also want to think smaller, like a pizza wheel that also functions as a bottle opener (like the one by Normann Copenhagen) or a cutting board system that also houses your knives.


Proportions
Make sure that your furniture pieces have the right proportions for your home: you don’t want your small living room to be 50% sofa! Think about that when buying pieces like a house plant or a coffee table as well. Opt for two small ones instead of one very large one. In the bathroom, I installed a very narrow sink that creates a lot of space and I also own a half size dish washer, which keeps marital disputes to a minimum, as we both hate doing dishes.

Use the space you have
This tip might be very obvious, but use the space you have! That includes the space underneath your bed, sofa and stairs, but also that small area between your washing machine/refrigerator and the wall etcetera!

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