whiter shade of pale
By choosing a neutral colour scheme, Birgitte Scharling was able to mix iconic design classics with high-street finds
Iconic design classics shine against a neutral backdrop in this Danish 1940s townhouse
Birgitte and Mugge Scharling were undaunted by the diminutive size of the Danish property that was to become their first family home. Its allure, located just 30km from Copenhagen and within easy walking distance of the historic town of Hillerød and the surrounding countryside, proved irresistible. ‘ We knew that it was far too small for four people, but we simply fell in love with it,’ says Birgitte nostalgically.
Twenty years ago, the house was a very different prospect to the one it is now, but the couple planned to extend it as their family grew. Accompanied by their then young children, Amanda and Milla, now 22 and 20, the Scharlings lived in the house for two years before making any changes. This enabled them to have a full understanding of their future needs. ‘It was a one-storey building, so we added another level, just for the girls,’ explains Birgitte. ‘It has two bedrooms, a small cloakroom and a sitting room.’ On the ground floor, the kitchen-diner was expanded to create a large, open space.
‘Winters can be very long and dark in Denmark,’ says Birgitte, ‘so it’s important to bring in as much light as possible, which we did by fitting more glazing. We like the connection this has given us to the garden, even though we’re not particularly green fingered.’ Outdoor space has therefore been kept simple, with a lawn complemented by flowers, shrubs and herbs.
Birgitte recalls the ever-changing face of the property. ‘When we first moved here the exterior was yellow,’ she says. ‘ We repainted it light brown and, at one point, it was even pink, but once we’d given it a lick of white about eight years ago, we knew we wouldn’t go back.’ Pale shades continue
indoors, too, where neutral decor allows Birgitte to switch accessories and fabrics according to the season. This crisp palette is punctuated by turquoise and muted grey hues, with an unexpected blast of colour in the mint-green kitchen tiles.
The couple favour simple furniture and classic designs, so iconic pieces from Eames and Kartell, along with Artemide lighting, sit comfortably alongside items from Ikea. In the mix, Birgitte has added holiday finds and her all-important treasures passed on from family and friends. ‘I love belongings that tell a story and aren’t just bought from a concept store,’ she explains. ‘I’ve rehomed several pieces of furniture, which we now use all the time, such as my brother’s old sofa in our sitting room, and an extendable dining table, which I painted.’
There are plenty of reminders of the time they spent in Greenland, and Mugge’s career as a climatologist is also represented with books and rock formations collected from expeditions. ‘Among our favourite possessions are paintings we bought from Greenland,’ says Birgitte. ‘They’re now over 20 years old, but work wonderfully with the accent colours we’ve chosen.’
Although both Birgitte, a nurse, and Mugge come from relatively scientific backgrounds, an instinct for interior design runs in the family. ‘I’m very creative and my brother has a furniture shop in the nearby town of Ringsted,’ says Birgitte.
Of course, no Danish home would be complete without a woodburning stove, with the Scharlings’ own occupying a quiet corner of the sitting room. It sits alongside Birgitte’s grandmother’s wardrobe, of which she says, ‘I’ve repainted it several times and I’ll always keep it. Pieces that have meaning make a home special.’
kitchen Glossy white cabinets ensure a bright and spacious feel. Metod cabinetry, from £74 for a base unit, Ikea. Try the Waring PB20CX Kitchen Classic Blender, £258, Amazon
kitchen- diner the absence of doors allows an uninterrupted flow of light through to the sitting room. See Concrete Project 60DG dark grey matt tile, £68.60m, Designer Tile Concepts
sitting room Birgitte favours adjustable lamps to create a modern and adaptable lighting scheme. artemide tolomeo sospensione decentrata ceiling lamp, from £376, ambiente direct. edelweiss coffee table, £89, Made.com, is similar 1 sitting room the...