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Storage perfection built in-situ

Pantry storage built in-situ, tailored shelving above the wall panelling and smart storage hanging on the backs of doors. Welcome to a home that exudes Scandinavian chic, with pure and simple storage perfection!

Text Charlotta Flinkenberg  Photo Fredrik Bjelkerud

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The beautiful 1920s apartment in central Malmö is characterised by a combination of exquisite, low-key aesthetics and sophisticated and pleasing storage solutions. The colour schemes, interior and furniture are the epitome of the expression “Scandinavian Chic”.

“I’ve probably had the most say in what our home should look like,” laughs Josefine Thilhamn, who has spent almost her entire career working in the furniture and interior design industry. 

Her partner Sebastian is also very interested, but trusts Josefine’s taste and judgement when it comes to style. You’ll understand why when you see the apartment’s refined sense of harmony and order, despite the multiple gadgets. Elfa’s acclaimed shelving system can be found in all rooms.

“If you have a lot of items that need storing, you should have a muted colour scheme throughout. This makes a space feel more airy. You can then add attractive pops of colour in accessories. For example, our books are sorted by colour on the shelves to create a calm mood. It’s a look that suits the atmosphere of our home.” 

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The couple fell in love with the location of the apartment, its 1920s charm, fantastic original lattice windows and the beautiful view over an old cemetery.

“Original details have become almost an obsession of mine. Beautiful floors, original doors and windows must remain in place. People often move the kitchen to a living room or incorporate an adjoining room to create a larger bathroom. I think it feels best if the layout is left as it was originally intended.”

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The asymmetrical positioning of the Elfa bookshelves in the living room creates a dramatic effect.

The apartment with 123 square metres of living space had plenty of potential, but needed carefully and completely renovating before they could move in one year ago.

“We want to live in the centre of Malmö, but can’t have a larger place than we can afford. This means maximising storage in a smart way.”

You have installed Elfa’s storage systems in all the rooms of your apartment. How do you manage to harmonise the contemporary and modern look of the storage with the older style of the apartment?

“The trick is to be guided by the architecture. The best thing about Elfa’s shelving system is that it is flexible and can be configured and modified to suit the space. Elfa’s system makes good use of the wall space above the panelling in the living room. The dimensions can be adjusted almost to a millimetre.”

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This storage space is a combination of kitchen fittings and Elfa’s shelving system.

Do you have any good organisation and storage tips for smaller spaces?

“Try to extend your storage all the way up to the ceiling. That’s useful in the kitchen, for example. We’ve done that in our kitchen and pantry space too. A gap between the top of the kitchen cupboards and ceiling gathers dust, is difficult to clean and tends to draw the eye. You achieve a more balanced effect by building storage all the way up. Make use of unusual places, such as the back of doors, where quite a lot of extra storage can be created for small items.”

There are several spaces in the apartment where Josefine’s fondness for wall-mounted storage is apparent.

“The hall is only 120 cm wide so I like to leave some empty space at floor level. This makes cleaning easier and creates a more spacious look.”

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Her son’s room has both open and closed storage. Alvar’s room has an uncluttered look, because it is only the toys and things that he wants out to play with that are visible. The shelves on the wall can be adjusted as Alvar grows. Now they are at the right height for the stools where he sits and draws.
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The trick is to be guided by the architecture when you’re installing storage


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It would be easy to suppose that Josefine and Sebastian have always preferred the pared-back Scandinavian style, considering how they’ve decorated their home. But their previous décor preferences were a mix of varied styles.

“Sebastian grew up in Mexico surrounded by lots of colour. In our previous apartment we had patterned wallpaper. Here, we wanted to let the ornamental ceilings, high skirting boards and wall panelling guide the style and use a calm colour scheme for a uniform look.”

How did you decide on the colour palette? It must have taken time?

“It certainly did! I probably bought 40 samples and painted and taped paper samples to all the bedroom walls. It looked like a patchwork quilt. I eventually narrowed it down to five shades. Some of them we’ve used in several places throughout the apartment. The long narrow spaces, such as the hall and corridor, are in the same shade. The living room is the same shade as the bedroom ceiling. It creates a harmonious and calming feel.”

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It’s a smart idea to create more space with a deeper bottom shelf. It makes a useful desk or work table.


Elfa’s flexible shelving system can be adjusted almost to a millimetre


Josefine lived briefly in Japan and some of her inspiration comes from there. But classic Scandinavian design is close to her heart. She likes Bruno Mathsson furniture and has bought many items at auctions. They even named their son after the iconic Finnish designer Alvar Aalto!

“I love a mix of vintage and new furnishings. I like the pared-down, minimalist style most of all. My keywords are soothing neutrals, light woods, glass and plants – preferably large ones. I like playful details as well. Animal motifs are fun. Storage plays an important role in the home. It needs to be ample enough to hide all the things you don’t want on show and should coordinate with the rest of the interior to create that perfect balance.”

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Josefine’s interior design tips!

  • Take the architecture of your home into consideration when you’re installing anything. Do not create unnecessary corners and crevices where dust can collect. Older architecture, like from the 20s, looks best when you build storage in situ and take care to retain the original features.
  • Choose colours that enhance each other to create cohesion throughout the home.
  • Avoid artificial tones of colour. Go for soothing natural colours when choosing fabrics and materials too.
  • Choose textiles crafted from natural fibres.
  • Make maximum use of the flexibility of height, depth and width that Elfa’s shelving system offers.
  • Lighting is incredibly important. Multiple points of light bring a stylish and dynamic feel to the room. We have 14 or 15 lamps just in our living room!
  • Choose chairs, tables, stools and other furniture in a material that picks up on the beautiful wooden floor.
  • Buy pictures and art from car boot sales or art exhibitions... they give your home a soul and add a personal touch.
  • Plants are important too. Preferably have a mix of different sizes. Plant cuttings can look very decorative in small glass vases on the table or bathroom washbasin.
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The back of the door is utilised by attaching a wallband with mesh baskets that are hooked in.

This is where we live

Josefine and Sebastian, age 39, and their two-year-old son Alvar live in a 1920s apartment in central Malmö.

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