Inspiration: Brian and Maria

No stationary toys in the living room and a well-functioning storage system make Brian and Maria’s apartment a lovely place for all family members.

Interior design lessons learnt

Where: Copenhagen

Who: Brian (39), Maria (37), Josefine (5), Oliver (2)

Type: Apartment

Living surface: 118 m2

In a nutshell: ‘Easy going interior’

‘When we moved in in the beginning of 2018,’ Maria says, ‘we made a promise to ourselves not to create a dedicated play area for the kids in our living room. We used to have one in our old home and it had slowly begun to eat all empty space. What had started as a little corner became a giant playground for the kids over time, where us adults also were allowed to be.’

And even though Brian and Maria are easy going and are not bothered by a little mess, it had become too much. Maria: ‘We were completely outnumbered by the toys. So when we moved to our current place, we decided to just have a play-kitchen in our open kitchen- and living room and nothing else. The rest of the children’s toys are in their bedrooms.’

The 118m2 apartment consists of three bedrooms on the east side of the apartment and a large combined kitchen-living room facing south and west. A large balcony offers views on the nearby river. Maria: ‘It is so soothing to watch the water and see lots of small boats passing by.’

The kids still like to drag their toys into the living room, because they are a little too small to play in their own rooms. But Maria has found a smart and practical solution to help the kids do their part in tidying up at the end of the day: ‘I’ve invested in a lot of boxes, that are dedicated to different types of toys. I’ve taken pictures of the toys, which I’ve taped on the outside of the boxes, so the kids can see where their stuff needs to go. It actually also helps them in deciding what they want to play with.’

Maria has also discovered another positive effect: ‘It helps us adults to clean up too. Before we’d just pile everything in the corner, but now we both know where to store the toys as well.’

All family members usually hang out in the large kitchen/living room, where most furniture is black or dark grey. ’That is actually not on purpose,’ Maria says. ’We just like it, and because we have so much natural light in this part of the apartment, it doesn’t become too dark.’

Maria is the driving force behind all interior decisions at home. ’I like decorating, but I usually only buy new things when we have a practical need for it.’ Husband Brian is very relaxed: ’When I make a suggestion about a piece of furniture, he usually reacts very positive and says ’go for it’, which is very lucky. Sometimes he’s a little hesitant, but then I show him some examples and if he’s still skeptical, which is rare, I’ll wait a few weeks before I ask again.’

Maria finds inspiration on social media channels such as Pinterest and Instagram and usually involves Brian before making a choice. Their most recent, big purchase was a large kitchen cabinet which is meant to display their lovely Royal Copenhagen tableware, but it also was chosen due to its functionality and its sturdy, yet elegant design. Maria: ’In the other apartment we had open shelving. I adore the look of it, but it gets so greasy when you cook, so that’s why we wanted to have something with doors.’

There was only one thing the couple didn’t agree on when decorating the new place: ’I’d seen a lovely marble coffee table and we needed one in the living room. Brian thought it was too old fashioned with the marble.’ A few weeks of careful priming started for Maria. And now a green marble coffee table with brass legs is the shining focal point of the living room. Smilingly Maria says: ’And he loves it.’