‘my style is international, with influences from southeast asia,
China, Africa and Europe,’ says Maja Thylander. ‘Whenever I visit a country, I always bring home a treasure in my suitcase. When I look at a jar I bought in Italy, or a figure from Namibia, it reminds me of my trip as much as any photograph could.’
The Danish former model has spent much of her life travelling – she began sailing with her parents at the age of 14 and as a model in her twenties, lived in London for five years, which is when she first began buying and renovating properties. While she still has itchy feet, home today for Maja, her husband Lars, and their son Kristian is a landmark building in Frederiksstaden, Copenhagen. Close to the city’s citadel and old harbour, their apartment offers stunning views across the bay to Sweden. ‘We’d been living in the suburbs, but bought this property three years ago,’ says Maja. ‘It’s the perfect location. I can wear high heels and head in one direction for restaurants and shops, or put on my trainers and walk to the park. But really, we came here for our son – he was 17 when we moved in and wanted to be closer to the city.’
For any parent wondering how to combine the needs of a teenager with their own adult life, this is the dream. The spacious apartment has a large central living space, which is flanked by two towers. ‘One end had five bedrooms, so I had walls knocked down to create a suite for Lars and myself, including an en-suite bathroom and dressing room, as well as Kristian’s bedroom,’ says Maja. ‘At the other end of the property, Kristian has his own living space, plus a music room in the second tower.’ When the family aren’t in there jamming – quite the three-piece on drums and guitar – this soundproofed space is where Kristian and his friends hang out before hitting the town on a Saturday night. ‘There are often lots of teenagers staying here at the weekends,’ says Maja, laughing. ‘Fortunately, the space is big enough for everyone.’
At 600 square metres, the apartment could seem cold and unwieldy. But Maja is proud that every room is used and loved. ‘I work in the office, although I’m more likely to spread tear sheets out on the floor than my desk. And when we have company, I’ll often serve drinks here before we move into the dining room or living room,’ she says. ‘The living room is for talking and reading, but the TV room is where we go to feel cosy. Every space has its own atmosphere.’
Maja has carefully curated a welcoming interior that creates a sense of warmth. ‘I wanted it to feel as if the rooms embrace you when you walk in,’ she says. ‘I chose rich tones of grey, navy and dusky pink for walls and furnishings. Walls, windows and woodwork are painted in the same colours, so there’s nothing to distract the eye and take the focus away from our travel finds.’ The result is strong and dramatic: an industrial zinc and copper wall in the dining room contrasts with luxe brass fittings in the bathroom; a Chinese lacquered desk is complemented with mirrored panels from a Paris nightclub; animal heads from Africa gaze over Balinese furniture. ‘When we moved in, it was important to me that I brought pieces from our old house to mix in with new items, because I wanted to imprint our identity onto the space,’ says Maja. ‘I feel every piece has a narrative and I’m the storyteller.’ A true traveller’s tale.
For info about Maja’s interior design projects, visit lutzau.dk/ maja-thylander-interioer-design