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A new home for a fresh start

15 June 2016

When fate shook up Paula’s life, she decided to change course and start over. That meant making a home in a new, smaller space – a two-bedroom apartment in the city centre. Seven months after moving in, Paula invited us round to see what she’s done with the space: ‘This is my restart! New beginnings make you strong and inventive.’

Choose storage solutions that work for you and your family
Portrait of Paula and two of her children

Paula’s home truths

I LIVE IN… A 75m2, two-bed apartment in the heart of The Hague.
MY HOUSEMATES ARE… My four children and our cat.
OUR LIFE IS FLEXIBLE… Part of the week all five of us are here, other times it’s three or four.

Choose a modular sofa that can be used as extra beds when you have friends and family to stay

Flexible friends

Flexible living calls for flexible furniture, like Paula’s double L-shaped sofa. ‘It’s great having somewhere we can all snuggle up, but the real beauty of our sofa is that it doubles as beds for two of the kids when five of us are here.’ Picking a sofa with removable and machine-washable covers also helps. Paula’s sofa is vintage IKEA but for similar flexibility, try VALLENTUNA, the new modular sofabed with built-in storage.  

‘I look at everything I have and think how else can I use it, what more can it do? It’s constant, creative invention’
Paula, Trend Forecaster, The Netherlands

Family homes don’t need to be bursting with colour, Paula likes the calming effect of white

Monotone living

For Paula, only one colour will do: ‘I need the calming effect of white,’ she says. ‘White is easier to live with than you think. And there are so many shades of white that you can layer them up and mix your textures to bring a really warm feeling into your home. Pick easy to wash materials and have a tin of white paint and a roller handy so marks and scuffs are easily taken care of.’ 

Open shelving, clear jars and lots of labels make it easy to keep kitchens organised

A help yourself kitchen

‘Our home is designed to make it easy for everyone to do things for themselves. In the kitchen we have open shelves and clear storage jars so it’s easy to see what we have and where it is. I even label the plugs so we know which appliance they match!’ 

 To make your bed feel really comfy, layer with extra cushions and blankets

‘I think you get a lot of energy from a comfortable home’

Paula uses floor-to-ceiling open storage and labelled baskets to give everyone their own storage space

All in order

‘People think it takes energy to be tidy but actually I find a messy home makes me less focused. Finding ways to keep five people’s stuff tidy is often the starting point for the ideas I use at home. It means we don’t waste time looking for things, or tidying away clutter whenever we want to do something fun. Storage systems that make it easy to mix and match pieces that fit my needs and space are great for this.’ For a solution like Paula’s, look out for the new ELVARLI storage system, in IKEA stores from August.

Bunk-beds help give children their own space in shared rooms

Living beyond our limits

‘Now I live in a smaller space, I realise that this is what really challenges you to be inventive. Finding a way to give all the kids privacy and somewhere to relax when we’re all here meant thinking beyond how many beds I could fit in a room. Small ideas like removing the bedroom door and replacing it with a blind, and adding wheels to furniture so it’s easy to move things around and change how a space is used have made the difference.’

‘Listen to your gut, for me that’s the human part of making a home that works for you. It goes beyond trends’

Floorplan of Paula’s home

Flexible family apartment

‘I’m creating the ultimate compact-living apartment for me and the kids,’ says Paula who moved from a three-storey townhouse to a 75m2 rental apartment. The rooms are arranged on one floor, all leading off the small entrance hallway. There are two bedrooms that Paula has arranged to provide privacy for her and the four children when they are all home together. 

Made by

Photography: Daniel Farmer  
Styling: Åsa Dyberg