Julie Alise is a good friend of mine and despite her very young age she is already an accomplished and talented interior design consultant working at Ikea Norway, dreaming and designing beautiful living spaces for a countless number of happy clients.
I was really curious about how her private space looked like, knowing she has an eye for “the good stuff” and she was more than happy to welcome us at her place.
She owns a lovely apartment in the pretty town of Grimstad, along the amazing coastline of South Norway, referred to often as the southern Norwegian archipelago. Beautiful place indeed.
Do you own this apartment?
Yes, I own it. This early autumn will be two years since I acquired it.
And what about your family roots? Are you from this area?
No, I was born in Arendal, the neighbouring town, but my family comes from Finnmark, the northernmost part of Norway, from a tiny place called Bugøynes. It is my father’s birthplace and he used to live there with my mother for a while. Later on the family moved to Oslo. Nevertheless, we ended up in Grimstad, because my mother’s family is here and we are very fond of Sørlandet, the south of Norway. We have been living here since I entered the second grade of primary school.
I cannot help but notice the lovely details of your home and I could also trace some designer pieces here and there. Which designers do you prefer, whose products are on your must-have list?
I must say I like many, but Scandinavian designers are the preferred ones, an example I love is the cognac sofa designed by Anderssen & Voll, but I am also inspired by people on Instagram. I love Denmark, the home of a lot of good furniture and great designers, but I think that Norway has a lot to offer in design as well.
My work is one of the reasons I am very interested in design and I use the inspiration when I plan an interior. It does not have to be a style that I like. It must be something the client is pleased with.
Do you have a favourite spot in your home?
Yes, I do. It is the dining area, the chairs in our dining space, which truly made a difference in the interior. I also like my gallery wall and I very much look forward to enjoying my brand new Gubi lamp over the dining table. It is on its way, so we might have to meet up again to tell you more about it and also to show it. I truly believe that when the lamp arrives, the dining corner will be a really nice area of the home. I use it a lot, it is my work space at the same time, given that the apartment is not very large.
Was there anything challenging about the interior when you decided to refurbish it? And if there was any, what kind of solution did you find for it?
Firstly I had to think about the space. Having a small budget, I had to start at a lower level. Painting is always a good idea when you have a smaller budget, but you want a change. So I had some of the walls painted to make a difference between the functions. This is an open space comprising the dining corner and the living room area. I opted for a darker shade on a larger wall in the latter, to make it cozy in the corner where we have the TV. The darker tone helps the TV blend into the surrounding space, so there is no need to hide it in a cabinet and it is not in the focus when family or friends are visiting.
Did you knock down or add any walls in the apartment?
No. I wanted to keep it simple and quick and acquired this spacious and cozy couch. Its name is Söderhamn and it comes from Ikea, It is a very practical choice, because the room has a slope ceiling and a lower sofa does not occupy too much space. And I chose a light cover for the sofa to make sure it would be nearly invisible and blend nicely with the light wall. There are white lists around the door and the window to bring the outdoors in and let the green prevail.
Another trick you can apply when you want to refresh you interior is to change the cushion covers very now and then. They add a nice pop of colour.
How many rooms do you have?
Let’s see … a hallway, a bathroom, an open-space kitchen-dining-living area and a bedroom. This is a temporary solution, hence I wanted to make it simple and easy when remodeling. One of the challenges is the lack of generous storage space, although the kitchen is quite spacious. The bedroom is relatively small and it took some time to think of a storage solution that suits the style of the room. The result is an open wardrobe for clothes.
The hallway proved to be the best place to store shoes (there are plenty, trust me!), so I had a few nice sleek Ikea shoe boxes fixed on the wall. They are nearly unnoticeable. A PAX wardrobe comes in to play as well to store bedlinen, work clothes and everything else banished from the bedroom.
As an interior designer you have to come up with good and logical storage solutions as well and have to think about how to organize a living space in a practical way.
All in all I think storage was the biggest question mark in theapartment and I am content that we managed to plan a good layout. Function is as important in a space as aesthetics. I posted a question on Instagram, asking people about whether I should have three or four shoe boxes in the hallway and most of them said three with some decor on top. I agree, but there are still too many shoes to store so probably I will add one more box.
Photography and text: Andrea Rebendics.