Liv­ing for the city

De­signer Tone Kro­ken used pared-back fur­nish­ings, well-trav­elled finds and serene shades to bring an air of ru­ral calm to her Oslo apart­ment

Living Etc - - CONTENTS ⁄ ETC - Pho­tog­ra­phy ⁄ Yvonne Wil­helm­sen/house of Pic­tures * Words ⁄ Ser­ena Fokschaner

tone kro­ken’s dreamy oslo apart­ment blends pas­tel hues and tex­tured sur­faces

We’ve all read about those stressed-out ur­ban­ites who quit the city, for­sak­ing flat whites

and 24/7 sushi for the open vis­tas and star-scat­tered, vel­vety nights of coun­try liv­ing. But Tone Kro­ken, an in­te­rior architect and de­signer, flipped the fa­mil­iar on its head when she de­cided to sell her farm­house, with its pic­ture-win­dow views of waves and fields on the Nor­we­gian island of Brøn­nøya, to move to an apart­ment in the heart of Oslo.

There were prac­ti­cal rea­sons be­hind her de­ci­sion. Her two chil­dren had moved out to go to art school and Tone, re­cently di­vorced, craved some ur­ban so­cia­bil­ity. So, in pur­suit of the ‘best of both ru­ral and city liv­ing,’ it was, she says, ‘love in an in­stant,’ when she found her apart­ment in a hand­some turn-ofthe-cen­tury build­ing in Oslo. The views of the nearby park and church, the faint tang of ocean air (the sea is five min­utes away) ap­pealed to Tone, who had spent 20 years on her island with pigs and chick­ens and no cars, where her chil­dren would cross­coun­try ski to school in the win­ter. ‘As soon I saw this place, I told the owner “this is mine.” It has it all. I can walk to the sea, there are great restau­rants on my doorstep; it’s ur­ban with­out feel­ing built up,’ says Tone.

The scale of the apart­ment, where ceil­ings soar to three me­tres high, adds to the sense of pri­vacy. Span­ning 170sq m, the space was also large enough to turn into two sep­a­rate flats, one for Tone and one for her two chil­dren. The rest of the apart­ment, how­ever, was less ap­peal­ing. ‘The dec­o­ra­tion looked ter­ri­ble,’ she says, laugh­ing. ‘Ev­ery room was a dif­fer­ent, aw­ful colour: blue, yel­low, red. It was all very Seven­ties.’

A busi­ness-school grad­u­ate, Tone spent 10 years work­ing as a project man­ager be­fore she changed tack and found her call­ing as an in­te­rior de­signer. The shift from cor­po­rate life to cre­ativ­ity was easy. ‘Be­fore we moved to the island we lived in a house that I designed and built from scratch my­self – de­sign has al­ways come very nat­u­rally to me,’ she says. Her work now takes her across the world, with re­cent projects in­clud­ing P’tit Habibi, a chic riad ho­tel in Mar­rakech. In Swe­den, she col­lab­o­rates with lead­ing architect Jo­han Is­rael­son. ‘His ar­chi­tec­tural style is eco-friendly, min­i­mal­ist; my role is to fill the in­te­ri­ors with pieces that make the houses feel like homes, that’s what I re­ally love about my job,’ ex­plains Tone.

Her own style feels sim­i­larly in­stinc­tive. ‘It’s so im­por­tant for me to not have any rules,’ she says.

Start­ing from scratch, she re­mod­elled her flat so that there is now a spare bed­room and bath­room for friends. The kitchen – once a liv­ing room – was de­cided in an in­stant. ‘It’s the heart of my home so I chose the room with the best view,’ says Tone. ‘It’s where I spend the most time, be­ing with friends, cook­ing.’ The six-me­tre­long island is by Bulthaup. ‘I had one in my last home and af­ter 18 years, it still looked mod­ern. So the day af­ter I found this flat, I went to the show­room and, luck­ily, this one was for sale, so I bought it,’ ex­plains Tone. To make the space feel less func­tional and more so­cial, she added the antique daybed for ‘read­ing the news­pa­pers, hav­ing a morn­ing cof­fee or chat­ting to friends’.

In con­trast, she chose to set the liv­ing room in the small­est room. This is where you find Tone’s favourite, slouchy Ger­va­soni sofa flanked by the shelves she designed as a back­drop for ob­jects and books. ‘When I was a child, I lived in the li­brary and since then, I’ve never stopped col­lect­ing books, but I like to mix them up with sculp­tures and un­usual finds to bring depth to a room,’ she says. Like most of the flat, the walls and floors are painted in white as a back­drop for her col­lec­tion of art­work, in­clud­ing a tranquil land­scape by Christo­pher Råd­lund, which brings a gust of for­est air to the ur­ban set­ting. ‘A home with­out art feels life­less,’ she muses.

For Tone, de­sign has al­ways been ‘about the mix’. Not just that old-and-new pair­ing, but con­fi­dent jux­ta­po­si­tions – the antique gilded con­sole be­low a mod­ern, over­scaled mir­ror, or a plant pot swathed in pa­per ‘to soften its size’ – which give this home its laid-back in­di­vid­u­al­ity. The antique lanterns, muted rugs and sculp­tures pep­pered around the apart­ment trav­elled back in suit­cases from far-flung places and still have a life of their own. ‘I move ev­ery­thing – cush­ions, ceram­ics – around the apart­ment, small changes can give a room a dif­fer­ent feel,’ ex­plains Tone. She has a fluid ap­proach to colour, us­ing con­trast­ing tones to evoke dif­fer­ent moods. From the Nordic cool of the liv­ing room, you step in to the warmth of the bed­room, where swirly aubergine walls are as co­coon­ing as a quiet coun­try night. Through the bed­room win­dow the view is of a dense canopy of tree­tops. ‘When I look out, all I see is green, it feels to­tally pri­vate, a bit like liv­ing in the coun­try again.’

Find out more about Tone’s work at lazy­ and on In­sta­gram @tonekrok and @lazy­

‘Be­ing a de­signer came very eas­ily to me. It’s in­stinc­tive – ideas just flow. I think that if you are too or­gan­ised it can sti­fle your cre­ativ­ity’

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