A Minimal, Modern Norway Apartment Is Simple and Small

A Minimal, Modern Norway Apartment Is Simple and Small

Jacqueline DuBois
Mar 22, 2016

Name: Mariana and Manuel and their cat, Bamboo
Location: Tøyen — Oslo, Norway
Size: 525 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; renting

Welcome to Scandi Week—Apartment Therapy's seven-day focus on all-things Scandinavia (often defined as the countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway). Sometimes it seems like the whole world is obsessed with trying to copy this corner of the globe, from its timeless style aesthetic to its now-famous coziness rituals. For the next week, we'll take a look at all of it—cleaning, pop culture, and of course tons of eye popping design inspiration. Pull up a blanket and get hygge with us. This tour is a rerun of a gorgeous Scandinavian home we toured a few years ago.

Mariana is a well-traveled architect, originally from Argentina, whose style is defined by simplicity and respect for a space's original qualities. She shares this simple, small apartment in Norway with her partner, Manuel, and their feline friend, Bamboo. Reflective of her nomadic lifestyle, she chooses items for her home with restraint, showing a strong commitment to quality and sentimental value.

(Image credit: Jacqueline DuBois)

This fourth-floor, early-1900s apartment is a five-minute walk from downtown Oslo and overlooks the city's Botanical Gardens. Mariana feels it is important to bring nature indoors and successfully mirrors the apartment's green surroundings. Upon entering the building, one is met with a gorgeous original staircase that serves both as a beautiful reminder of the building's age and as a decent workout, given the apartments' 10-foot ceilings. These high ceilings and tall windows are pillars of this architectural era in Oslo and the source of the apartment's greatest appeal: the light.

Mariana is a master of utilizing space. Lacking closets, she makes use of the ceiling height with custom shelving to convert the hall into a functional and stylish storage space. The small bathroom serves as a laundry room, with a half-size washer and a cleverly installed shower rod across the room's width that acts as a clothesline. The bedroom, the most minimal room in the home, is a peaceful sanctuary where fresh air and light pour in from the balcony. No clutter, no overload. Mariana's focus is clearly on how the home feels. The space is interesting, clean, and, while very minimal, incredibly warm and inviting.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Simple, fun, green. I focus on quality and not brand names.

Inspiration: My travels and the building itself. I try to be inspired by the space I am in more than I try to inject my style on the space.

Favorite Element: Plants. If there was a fire, the first thing I would grab would be the plants! Aside from the plants, I love the natural light.

Biggest Challenge: There are no closets in this apartment. I don't have a ton of stuff, but I have had to get creative with my clothing storage.

What Friends Say: Most people comment on the natural light first. I also hear that it is comfortable and people like that it feels lived in even though I haven't been here so long.

Biggest Embarrassment: If you are in my home, you are my friend. There is no reason to be embarrassed about anything.

Proudest DIY: The shelves in the living room. I combined three small IKEA Rårgrund corner shelves that are actually part of a bathroom series to make a long shelving unit along the wall in the living room. It fits the room and is a nice place to display books and plants.

Biggest Indulgence: The TMM floor lamp in the living room.

Best Advice: Take time to get to know your space. Understand the light and how it acts at different times of day. The higher up you are in the building, the better the light. I always look for apartments above the third floor.

Dream Sources: Flea markets.



  • Bedroom: lined with classic Norwegian fiskeben—"fishbone"—wallpaper


  • Shelving: Norrgavel
  • Small orange clock: a gift from Paris


  • Sofa: secondhand
  • Living room chairs: flea market
  • Tables: Habitat
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Lamp: TMM Floor Lamp by Miguel Mila via Vitra
  • Cardboard lampstand: TGR base, IKEA lamp
  • Shelving: IKEA Rårgrund corner shelves placed together
  • Woodstove: Ulefos, original to the building


  • Dining table: Hay
  • Chairs: IKEA
  • Lamp on dining room table: flea market


  • Mary statue: handmade from Cordoba, Argentina
  • Small figures in front of Mary statue: Japan, China, Mexico, Argentina
  • Mate brewer: handmade from Cordoba, Argentina
(Image credit: Jacqueline DuBois)


  • Bed: IKEA
  • Dresser: flea market
  • Clothing rack: IKEA
  • Lamp: IKEA
  • Bedside table: flea market
  • Curtain tie: handmade from Salta (a province in Argentina)


  • Desk: flea market
  • Chair: Charles Eames

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Thanks, Mariana & Manuel!

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