A compact city apartment gets a Scandinavian-style upgrade, maximising the small space using simple shapes and light and natural materials. PENNY McCORMICK meets the interior designer …
“At just 80 square metres, this is one of the smallest projects I have ever worked on,” says Danish-born interior designer Helle Moyna. The transformation of the two-bedroom apartment in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock was completed late last year. It involved a complete rethink of the layout, colour scheme and the furniture. Thanks to Moyna’s aesthetic – contemporary with a Scandinavian vibe – which is ideally suited to small-scale projects, the space now seems far bigger.
“The kitchen was a tiny box in the living area with no daylight. It was tired and dated. There was cheap laminate flooring throughout, and the built-in wardrobes were awful. As there was no cohesion to the design, I suggested to the owner that we strip everything back and start again.”
With panoramic views taking in the Bord Gáis theatre and The Marker hotel and, on a clear day, the Wicklow mountains, Moyna’s approach was to ensure the redesigned living space made the most of them, advocating flexible furniture and a neutral paint palette with pops of colour for impact. “I wanted to have chairs that were easy to lift so they could be moved around to enjoy the views, for the owners and their guests to be able to have dinner and enjoy the city lights, or sit and read with the sun coming in.” She chose the “Slaked Lime” tonal range by Little Green Paint Company as a warm and soft backdrop: “It’s timeless and gentle.”
Interior designer Helle Moyna
In the living and dining space, a classic Platner glass table by Knoll, chosen for its light and sculptural shape, is surrounded by Pia chairs by dk3 in smoked oak with papercord woven seats. Rather than a single large coffee table, two Bølling tray tables on castors can be moved around easily and used anywhere. “The tray tops are removable too, so can be used as serving trays.” Two Lean Back armchairs by Warm Nordic are arranged opposite the Friend sofa by Finnish brand Adea which is upholstered in a textured wool mix. A wool rug by Massimo, throws by Molloy & Sons and a selection of cushions in different textures soften the strong lines. Moyna turned what was dead space in the recessed alcove into a focal point with a bespoke green marble-topped cabinet which is used as drinks cabinet and for storage. “It is smart and very practical, a useful and attractive focal point in a very simple space.”
The apartment’s two bedrooms, one of which is ensuite, the other with a small balcony overlooking Sandymount Strand, were redesigned with sleek built-in wardrobes and storage drawers and neat bedside tables. In the second bedroom an “odd” alcove was converted into a linen cupboard. The two bathrooms were kept simple with warm terrazzo-style floor tiles, white walls and vanity units with honed granite tops. “We added hidden storage behind mirrors in both bathrooms.”
“In Scandinavia, investing in your home is part of our heritage, and we start collecting pieces from young adulthood. It’s normal to save up for special design classics – in my case it was an Arne Jacobsen 7-series chair – and then we add another when we can afford it. It’s a sustainable approach. I believe there will always be value in original design. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big name brands, just good honest design.”
The kitchen-dining area includes a breakfast bar with Danish Co-Pilot steel bar stools upholstered in oxblood red leather. The bespoke bar cabinet is painted in Hunter Dunn by Paint & Paper Library with green Guatemala marble, antique mirror detail and clear glass shelving; the circular glass dining table is by Knoll Platner, surrounded by Pia chairs by dk3 in smoked oak with papercord woven seats; the blue ceramic bowl is by Ro Collection.
A view of the living area with the Friend sofa by Adea, a Finnish brand, upholstered in a textured wool mix. Instead of using one larger table, Moyna used a selection of smaller coffee tables in various oak finishes. The rug is by Massimo and the throws are by Molloy & Sons.
Lean Back armchair by Warm Nordic; the side table is by The Pair by Møbel; the round coffee table is the Petit Palais by Asplund.
The movable side table on castors is the Danish classic Bølling tray table by Brdr Krüger; the Tripod floor lamp is by &Tradition; the vases are by Klassik Studio; the limited edition artwork is by Atelier Plateau; all available from Nordic Elements.
In the bedroom, the units were designed by Moyna and made by carpenter Shane Duffley in three different heights. The centre unit was set back to allow more space to walk around the bed and give a sense of space.
The beds are by RE Beds with frames in smoked oak with natural linen upholstery, which suit the natural oiled oak flooring. The bedside light is The Flowerpot VP3 by &Tradition.
Photographs by Ruth Maria Murphy
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