A life in one room

01 September 2015

When Nor Toma moved from coast to coast, swapping her home town of Gothenburg for the Swedish capital Stockholm, she downsized big time – cutting her living space by 80%. But choosing life in one room didn’t mean choosing to live small. ‘I love to try new things, to dare to try,’ she says. The PR and communication expert has filled her home with travel finds, fresh and beautifully withering flowers, keepsakes from loved ones and plants that will become her next meal. ‘I like things that have a story behind them. They give this space an extra layer of warmth you can’t always explain, but you can feel. When I moved here there was nothing and I thought maybe I’ll keep it that way: minimal, white and a nice wooden floor. But then it started to grow as I thought about things I had boxed up back in Gothenburg.’ 

Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos Sitting room with sofa piled with cushion and textiles. Shelving with eclectic mix of books and mementos
A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen A portrait of homeowner Nor in her kitchen

Small but mighty

‘I don’t think of this space as one room. I have rooms in my room – places where I do different things. I sit at the kitchen counter to work; I paint on the floor; the far end of the sofa is where I sit and listen to music; I have my bed… It makes living in one room work for me,’ says Nor. ‘It is tricky moving from big to small but you usually have more space than you think. This room has a high ceiling so there is a whole lot of space above eye level for me to use. I can have a double row of cabinets and shelves full of things I rarely use up out of the way. Once I found my rhythm, I realised the challenge was not so much about having “enough” space as it was thinking about what matters to me and making room for that.’

Small moments of bliss

‘I try to focus on the present, to feel calm in everyday moments. It is a conscious effort but it is so rewarding,’ says Nor. Adding a rug and favourite cushion to the windowsill has turned Nor’s windowsill into a seat and given her a spot to collect her thoughts before the working day starts. ‘I’m here at 7:10 every morning. I boil coffee and pour a mug in time to see the sun rise over the apartments opposite.’

‘I’ve created corners, unofficial spaces that aren’t on the floorplan but are like rooms within the room. It feels cosier like this’

Nor Toma, PR and communication expert, Stockholm

Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen Hanging storage in kitchen

Hang it up

Hooks and rails can always make a difference. Nor’s small kitchen is where she sprouts beans, grows herbs and prepares quick raw meals. Her hooks let her display treasures and still have free counter space.

A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space A portrait of Nor working on laptop in her living room space

Home hub

A kitchen doesn’t have to be big on space to be a big part of everyday life. ‘My island-style countertop has so many uses – I work here, use it as an extra chopping station, chat with friends. In here, everything’s flexible.’

A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats A run of hooks provide hanging space for coats and hats

No waste of space

Using the full height of her walls for storage means Nor can keep a lot of her floor space clear. ‘I stash things up there that I don’t use often – except my Champagne glasses, but I’m good at using my stool to grab them!’ 

Creative space

‘I love experimenting, finding new ways to be creative. Losing yourself in the process of making something is wonderful. I recently started to paint with sugar – you take the sugar water and paint it on your paper, then dot on your paint and the water transforms it in different ways. You never know how. It’s interesting watching to see how it will turn out.’

‘My home is the place where my dreams become reality. In here I never say no – I experiment, find new passions, try out ideas. It’s great to be able to find what you need in your own home’

Nor

A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles A pile of beautiful IKEA textiles

Floor show

‘I love being on the floor! I keep a stack of cushions under the coffee table and use them to turn the floor into one big sofa when a gang of friends come over.’

Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall Homeowner Nor’s paintings pinned to wall

Express yourself

‘Colour makes me happy – blue especially, it features a lot in my creative experiments. Some things I make are good, some are “beginner-ish” but I still like to put them up. I stuck these paintings along the balcony door frame for a touch of colour.’

Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table Create a display: candles and ornaments on white coffee table

Inner warmth

‘I’m a big fan of lighting candles, at any time of day. Even first thing in the morning. They give such a cosy light.’

A corner of calm

Nor’s bedroom is open to the room but she has used an absence of colour to zone it. ‘There is something soothing about white – it really can make your head feel calm and order your thoughts. I think that quality is important in the bedroom so I keep this corner neutral. It needs to be a peaceful place,’ she says. Smart additions like built-in drawers give extra storage that helps keep clutter under control.

‘I want coming home to feel like walking into a hug’

Nor

Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display Shelving: with eclectic mix of mementos on display
A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home A display of personal items, flowers and picture in Nor’s eclectic home
Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home Butterflies and dried flowers on display in Nor’s home

‘All around my home are mementos and trinkets that give me pleasure. But I don’t think it’s this way because of any plan, it’s developed as I’ve settled in and found my rhythm’

Nor

Look out

‘My balcony is small, but there’s room to sit and grow and do more if I want to because the table and chairs fold away. In the morning, I can look across to the balcony from my bed – it helps me get up! Some mornings I sit out here and enjoy the quiet of the courtyard. If friends were over the night before and we had a bottle of wine, I think about putting on my clogs and walking to the communal recycling bins. That short stroll before work is bliss.’

‘I love the country-cottage feel, the sense of being grounded, so I like being able to grow herbs and vegetables in the city’

Nor

Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan Sketch of floorplan

Making space

Nor’s first-floor Stockholm apartment measures less than 25m2 but she has worked with the open plan to maximise the sense of space and light in the room. Her small galley kitchen makes use of the high ceilings with a double row of wall cabinets for extra storage, while her island-style counter unit has a drop-leaf that folds flat when not needed. Built-in wardrobe storage is hidden behind a curtain while cushions that can be stacked away are used as extra seating.

take a 360º LOOK around nor’s bohemian studio

Photography Polly Wreford  Styling Sam Grigg