This Gorgeous Norwegian Apartment Is Soothing Scandinavian Style Embodied
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Name: Kathy Hao-Hsuan Chang and her Norwegian husband
Location: Oslo, Norway
Size: 1076 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, owned
I still remember the first time my husband and I took a walk to our neighborhood. We wanted to check out the area before coming to any more open houses — we had been to more than 30 up till then. It was a dark evening in Norwegian autumn and we walked through some busy roads, but the moment we turned onto this street, all the noise disappeared into peace and silence. Tall trees stood along the path as yellow street lights shined through the leaves. All of a sudden, a déjà vu feeling captured me. “This neighborhood brings back my childhood memories,” I told my husband. “Really? I was going to say exactly the same!” my husband replied.
Funny thing is, I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, and my husband is from elsewhere in Norway. Yet, this specific street made us both feel like home — our own sweet childhood homes. We went to the open house and felt in love with the inside of this home, as well. The apartment has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and the biggest living room and open kitchen I have ever seen for a 1076-square-foot apartment. It also has two balconies facing south and west respectively, surrounded by greeneries. We knew we wanted to live here, instantly.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Scandinavian style with a touch of Asian practicality
Inspiration: “Claire de Lune” by Debussy. A song so harmonious and soothing that it can be played as background music, but also so beautifully constructed with highlight moments that can be appreciated as a theme song.
Favorite Element: I like every room but perhaps our main bedroom is my favorite room. We used to live in a 376-square-foot apartment. The bedroom was quite tiny, and the bed was tucked in between walls. One of us always had to climb over the other to get in or get out of the bed. Now, our bedroom has an en suite bathroom, plenty of space for bedside tables and side a table, and even an attached balcony that can be turned into a nice reading corner in the Norwegian summer! We kept the walls white, but brought in the colors from the public area — the blue, the gray, the beige, and a little pink. I always feel thankful and relaxed spending time in our bedroom. We also upgraded our bed linens to reasonably priced Egyptian cotton.
Biggest Challenge: We have a long balcony that is only 4.6 feet wide, and so the previous house owner didn’t use it at all. My husband and I decided to be creative about the space and built four homemade stools that bring flexibility to the space: Using four stools together, we get a big luxurious dining table for four people. Putting only two stools together, we get a nice tall bench for sitting high-up to enjoy a cup of tea while watching the sunset.
Proudest DIY: The entrance has several solutions that we are quite proud of: The cabinet is from an IKEA Pax system. The bench is tailored and homemade: we bought an extra shelf plate from the IKEA Pax system, trimming it to the size we need for the bench’s seating area, and installed the legs from IKEA’s Kyrre stool to make this bench. The key holder made of oak is minimalistic but functional, which is built by Buene Studio in Norway using the leftover wood from building other furniture. Last but not least, behind the painting is actually an electricity box — we found a painting to hide it.
Biggest Indulgence: The Kiyola KF-10 digital piano made in oak is quite an expensive item. However, it is totally worth it! Its minimalistic look generates much less visual noise as a upright piano would do. Any piano bigger than Kiyola would probably take away too much space and unnecessary attention from the living room. Fun fact: guests usually don’t realize that it is a piano until we tell them. They always think that it is a side table made in oak. I have always enjoyed playing piano but have never had a piano at home for a long time until now — this piano has become my good friend ever since the day it arrived.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Discovering new corners in our apartment is very important to me. I like to move things around and create new places to work or relax. Hence, we bought a very flexible modular sofa. All the puffs are square shape, and can be easily configured into any setting — a L-shape sofa, two three-seaters facing each other, or even a large sofa bed if we need one.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The Marisino floor spotlight from Astro Lighting. I really like the beautiful palm tree leaf shadows that the light creates on the ceiling. With a time switch, the light turns itself on at 8p.m. and off at 1a.m. — it is just the right amount of brightness and atmosphere when we want to relax in the living room.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? I have a special trick to share: Sometimes we will wonder “what is missing here,” or “which furniture fits better.” My trick is to take a picture, picturing the photo as a painting, and then ask myself “what would I have painted here.” It always works because you are much more creative when you are a painter! This trick will bring out the artistic side of you.
- Marika Mørkestøl is my cool, Norwegian photographer friend who specializes in real estate and interior photography. In an early autumn afternoon, we had fun taking photos of my apartment, chasing the lights—and I learned some posing tips from the master herself. Her Instagram @marikafoto is a gem for people who are interested in Scandinavian interior design!