We sat down with Londoner Lisa who gave us some tips on creating a warm, Danish-style home in a small London flat.
Where do you live? Finsbury Park, London
How big is your home? 1 bed, 47sqm
When was your home built? It’s a Victorian property so let’s say ‘Victorian era’.
Who do you live with? I live with my camera-shy boyfriend.
We bought the flat 2 years ago but we've only been living here just over a year and a half as we spent a lot of time redecorating.
It took about 4-6 months of house-hunting to find this flat. By that point we were just putting in offers on anything so it was more a case of having an offer accepted than finding the perfect home. Then we had the challenge of making it a great home for us.
We both grew up in the extreme north of London so Finsbury Park offered a great halfway point between work, our friends and our parents in Barnet. Plus it has a massive park, loads of cafes and pubs, great transport and the all-important Nandos.
When we bought it, the flat was totally liveable and cute but had been tenanted and I think it’d been a while since it had gotten any TLC. We pretty much changed everything, from flooring and lighting to the kitchen, bathroom and windows. The doors are the only original thing still standing. We had to do the whole thing on a really tight budget so it’s been a fairly gradual process. 2 years on there’s still stuff to do.
I don't think I have a very specific style, but generous people might call it eclectic. We bought most furniture in isolation and just hoped it all looked okay together. I've mixed old furniture with new and I have clashing woods everywhere. My mum is Danish so I think there is a decent amount of Scandinavian influence from our annual trips to Denmark.
The first item we bought was the Monty extending dining table. I was adamant that even though our flat is small, we’d have a proper dining table to eat at. I wanted something small and stylish that could extend to cater for more people when we had friends and family round, mostly for coffee - I can’t cook.
As time went on the collection grew and I have a lot of MADE’s smaller Scandinavian-inspired pieces. My most recent purchase was the Brisa bed linen which is sooo comfortable and has a light, industrial vibe.
Our biggest indulgence? We bought a row of 6 coat hooks from a Danish furniture store on one of our trips there which was £160. On our budget that was pretty excessive.
The main freebies we've received were those from friends and family as moving in gifts. They have very generously gifted us with cute plants and cacti, slate coasters, cookery books and my personal favourite, a Georg Jensen monkey.
One day I would love to own a Hans J Wegner chair. He was born in the same town as my Mum and loads of his chairs are displayed in an old water tower which we visited as kids every year and spent hours trying them all out. At the moment we’re making do with a £10 poster I picked up from the museum and stuck in an Ikea frame.
My favourite thing about my home is that it's a small space but it doesn't feel claustrophobic because it's light and pretty open plan. One advantage of being on a main road is that it’s also great for people watching...is that a bit creepy?
One of the big challenges we had when we were renovating and decorating was that our floor is 10cm higher at one side of the room than the other side. It made fitting a new kitchen pretty tricky, although it was more a problem for the guys who installed it. The chimney breast is deeper on one side than the other and the alcoves are different widths which made a symmetrical layout impossible. Also, the bathroom door opened out onto the living room which limited the wall space so we had that moved into the hallway. Small, old flats have lots of... erm... character.
It was stressful, but it was worth it. I had sleepless nights about where to hang the towel rail. So my advice to anyone decorating their home from scratch is to know that it will be stressful, but you'll get through it, and it'll be worth it.
The only regret I have was I wish we hadn't put spotlights in everywhere. It made sense at the time as it prevents anything hanging into the room making the ceiling feel lower but I wish we could have some pendant lamps, especially to hang over the dining table. Next house maybe...
We have people round a fair bit for coffee and dinner, and we like entertaining. Sadly not so much in the way of parties. We’d have to operate a one-out-one-in policy once numbers reached more than about 5. Hoodies and trainers are welcome though.
I've found that lower furniture seems to impose less in small rooms. My advice for space saving is don’t be afraid of unconventional layouts. When we viewed the flat, the living room had a more traditional format: the sofa facing the chimney breast, with storage either side and TV hung above the (redundant) fireplace. We felt the sofa cut the room in half making it feel really cramped. Now, it’s a bit strange as we have the TV hanging in between the windows but it’s opened out the room so much more.