When Ulrica moved into her one-room apartment in Malmö with her three-year-old son Rufus, she had big plans, but quickly got stuck. What should go where? Then live interior designer Åsa Dyberg stepped in to help solve the puzzle.
Meet Ulrica and Rufus
meet ulrica

Ulrica used to live in a bigger place, and found downsizing hard, ‘especially as there’s very little storage here. I absolutely love this apartment – the high ceilings, beautiful floors and big windows. And although an open-plan space might be an unusual choice for a single mum and a child, I wanted an open area for Rufus to run around in.’
overview apartment

Rethinking the space and creating clever multi-functional zones made all the difference to Ulrica and Rufus’s apartment. As Åsa kept the main area open, it still feels spacious, and is much more user-friendly.
Ulrica’s challenge
challenge bedroom

Problem 1: Zoning

‘I was still thinking in rooms and of course here there aren’t any. The ‘bedroom’ was the entrance space by the front door, so it wasn’t working. I was just constantly moving things around and couldn’t find a solution.’
overview storage

Problem 2: Lack of storage

‘I seriously underestimated how much stuff comes with a three-year-old. Nothing had a place so I could never find anything. Whenever people came round I had to frantically stuff things into drawers.’
overview living area

Problem 3: Adding personality

‘I was scared that making our space practical and functional would make it boring.’
Åsa’s big plan
Åsa’s plan apartment

The apartment

‘My overall thought was to give Ulrica and Rufus lots of different storage possibilities,’ Åsa explains, ‘and to bring in some lamps and spotlights to help create new zones without walls. I decided to keep the walls and base units white but to add pink, green, grey, black and white textiles to tie in with Ulrica’s paintings. She’s got some lovely pieces of furniture, it was just a question of where to put them!’
Åsa’s plan kitchen

The kitchen

‘We weren’t originally going to include the kitchen in the makeover, but I thought that a wall of extra storage in the kitchen was the key to making space for all of Ulrica’s things. It provided a permanent home for all her crockery and wine glasses. In a small space, it’s really important that everything has its place.’
Åsa’s plan the living space

The living space

‘I decided to build a wall of banquette seating with mattresses on, which creates a cosy seating area in the day but becomes two beds at night. Getting rid of a dedicated sleeping area freed up space so Ulrica and Rufus have room to entertain again.’
How Åsa did it
1. Zoning
the new entrance

...The entrance

‘When you entered Ulrica’s apartment, it felt like you were walking straight into the kitchen. Back-to-back wardrobes create a kind of hallway. They give double-sided storage – for outside clothes on the side near the door, and for cookery books and toys in the kitchen. We fixed the wardrobes to the wall for safety and finished them with a sheet of MDF painted to match the huge mirror I hung there. The mirror works well in a small space by reflecting light around the room.’
the new kitchen

...The kitchen

‘A light hanging low over the table and some new chairs create a cosy cafe atmosphere for when Rufus and Ulrica eat together. As the floor in this part of the apartment is wipe clean, it’s also the perfect place for Rufus to paint. I gave him some special storage for his painting things in the new cupboard.’
picture of Rufus

‘Ulrica has lovely high ceilings, but she’s never really used the height of the walls to her advantage. A double bank of wall-mounted BESTÅ units in the kitchen provides lots of storage for glasses and crockery. We personalised them with black-and-white pictures of Rufus.’
New eating and working area

...Eating and working

‘I wanted to create an adult zone for Ulrica to relax in when Rufus is asleep, and a space for her to entertain adult guests. A circular table provides a place to eat with grown-ups and to work in the evenings. The table extends, so there’s room for more guests if the occasion calls for it.’
storage music collection

‘Ulrica told me that she really misses her books, so lots of shelves, positioned at different heights and depths, means she can display her book collection once again. A white BESTÅ unit beneath them adds yet more storage – and makes a home for Ulrica’s music collection.’
new sleeping and socialising area

...Sleeping and socialising

‘During the day, white banquette seating down one side of the living room provides a cosy sofa for Rufus to bounce on and guests to lounge on. I dressed it with cushions in Ulrica’s key colours – pink and green.’
Rufus bedroom

‘At night the cushions come off and the bedding comes out from hidden storage boxes underneath the seating. This discreet solution means that Ulrica and Rufus have space to sleep at night, but guests don’t feel they are walking into their bedroom.’
2. Storage
storage under bed

‘Storage under the bed makes it really easy for Ulrica to put the room back into shape in the morning.’
storage by sofa

‘Wall-mounted BRIMNES storage by the sofa really personalises the space. There’s an end for Rufus’s things and an end for Ulrica’s more grown-up items. In the sleep zone they each have their own light so they can read at night in their own beds.’
extra storage

‘I felt it was really important that as Rufus gets older he feels he has his own space. Ulrica agreed, so I gave him an EXPEDIT unit as extra storage, which I customised with fun fabric. I left a few shelves open to display his books and toys and put closed boxes in others for him to keep his secrets in!’
3. Adding personality
Vintage pieces

Vintage pieces

‘Ulrica had some really nice family heirloom furniture, like the cabinet she inherited from her grandfather, and the table in the dining area, which was Ulrica’s parents’ in their first flat. We both agreed that we really liked the mix of vintage and new, multi-purpose furniture.’

Introducing textiles

‘Ulrica showed me some textiles that she had been collecting, but never managed to use. We had cushions made from her grandmother’s curtains and I based the colours of the room around them.’

Displaying art

‘Ulrica collects art and I wanted to make a kind of gallery for her. Displaying the pictures on white MALM units allows them to stand out and means that she can rearrange them quickly and easily, without damaging the walls.’
The verdict
Ulrica and Rufus

And how does Ulrica feel about the end result? ‘I love the mix of old and new, it feels really personal. Ours. We’ve settled in already. Rufus is so proud, he’s been giving guests guided tours! Our home finally feels like us, fun and unique.’