I have a bumper home-tour post for you today, as it encompasses not one but three beautiful studio apartments. All form part of a new passive housing development in the Swedish city of Linköping and are great examples of how small spaces can be designed to maximise style, comfort and practicality. Stockholm-based Refine Design Studio was tasked with creating the interiors throughout, and I was instantly smitten with images of the first trio of apartments to be finished when they dropped into my inbox a couple of days ago.
I’ll focus on each apartment individually below, but I want to start by highlighting a number of clever design tricks that run across all three. Firstly, pale grey-beige walls and white-stained oak floors bounce light around, creating a bright, spacious feel and making each apartment appear much larger than it actually is. The layouts further enhance the sense of airiness, thanks to mezzanine floors that add extra living space without reducing the ceiling height, internal crittall windows that allow natural light to flow from one room to another, and industrial-style stairs with open risers.
The kitchens in all three apartments feature matte beige-brown cupboard and drawer fronts, plus sparkling terrazzo worktops. It’s a striking mix, but one that’s been carefully considered to ensure it doesn’t overwhelm or dominate the open-plan living areas. Banks of built-in cupboards line the entranceways adjacent to the kitchens, providing plenty of storage space.
The furnishings, lighting and accessories are a mix of cheaper items from the likes of IKEA and H&M Home, and more expensive statement pieces from renowned Scandinavian brands such as &Tradition and Menu – a great way to create a high-end, individual look on a budget. There are also lots of snuggly textures in the form of rugs, cushions and throws, adding a wonderful touch of cosiness to the otherwise minimalist schemes.
The decor in the first apartment mixes soothing beiges with black and white accents, resulting in a soft, gently warm look that’s accentuated by the loose-fitting linen sofa covers. Pieces that stood out for me include the Thonet-style dining chairs, which reflect the shade on the walls, the Northern ‘Acorn’ pendant light above the table, and the stunning DCW Éditions ‘Mantis’ wall lamp by the sofa. I also love the accessories, particularly the Kristina Dam ceramics, and the fluffy colour-block cushions and rug in the living area and hallway.
The second apartment offsets the grey-beige walls with muted greens, taupes and dark browns, creating a nature-inspired scheme reminiscent of fields and forests. A trio of ‘Formakami’ pendant lights, designed by Jaime Hayon for &Tradition, provide a stunning focal point that emphasises the soaring ceiling. The sofa is from IKEA’s modular ‘SÖDERHAMN’ series, which is incredibly versatile and ideal for small, awkward spaces, and the coffee tables are by HAY. The beautiful smoked-glass lamp dangling over the dining table is Menu’s ‘Bank’ pendant.
The colour palette in the third apartment is similar to that in the first, but a few charcoal-grey accents have been introduced to give a smart, sophisticated twist. &Traditions’s ‘Formakami’ lights again feature, and they fit perfectly with the scheme. I also love the ‘Curved’ side table by Kristina Dam, whose sculptural shape contrasts wonderfully with the fluffy rug beneath.
All of the apartments provide plenty of inspiration for anyone grappling with how to decorate and furnish a small space, but I’d love to know which is your favourite. I’m struggling to decide, but if I had to pick I think I’d opt for Apartment Three…. How about you?
All photography by Elisabeth Daly