When Christian Albinsson from Halmstad decided to re-do this apartment in Norrmalm, Stockholm, it was the third time for the renovation expert, who has made money from Stockholm's tough housing market by completely renovating two other apartments.
This delight turned out to be a home to keep however. “It is a record now, I have lived here for two years,” Albinsson says.
“I basically started from scratch and tore off everything, until the concrete ground was the only thing left. That does take time and energy, and there's always something unexpected happening that you have to deal with. And on top of that you have to live in a suitcase in the meantime.”
“I didn’t know anything when I started, but have learned over time. The first couple of times you make many mistakes. The most common might be to not plan your orders to suit the construction process – that decelerates the project which leads to unnecessary compromises. This didn’t have to happen this time around, since I’ve learned from my mistakes…”
Who lives here: Christian Albinsson, founder, sales and project manager at the communications agency Oh My!
Location: Central Stockholm
Size: 79 square meters
“This is my third project in Stockholm and my best advice is to hire a knowledgeable person to draw, and a really good building firm. I have worked with interior designers from Covet and Brame Bygg to make the renovations more manageable. I have had the same team for all the renovations and with the results of the third one you can tell that we’ve gotten to know each very well by now, they know what I want,” Christian explains.
This time, Christian wanted to have a hotel theme with a minimalist, uncluttered, and timeless spirit:
“Slightly 'luxurious' without misusing the word. It is a cliché. Just like a 35-year-old single guy from the countryside working in the media industry. All of me is a cliché!”
The ceiling beams in the flat have been sanded, polished and stained in a dark brown colour, which makes them stand out in contrast to the white walls. The roof is raised and has new windows.
Albinsson did the same with the first apartment he renovated. “That was what made it possible for me to create this real estate career – I found an apartment on Sveavägen with two metre high ceilings that we rose. That is the little experience that I got, that they had other ideas in the 90s – the attic apartments that were built often have a roof that can be raised. Since the broker had not taken that into account, I made a profit after the renovation.”
Albinsson chose to keep the walls as they were and just re-paint them. He finds the apartment slightly impersonal, which is a side effect of the hotel style. He has solved that by decorating with colourful armchairs and consistently using art by his friend Jesper Molin.
“The picture is painted by my friend that I grew up with and started my first company with. I thought it could be fun to stick to only his stuff in the home. There are photos taken by him here too, he is also a photo artist.”
The apartment has several round windows with expansive views.
“From what I have heard, this penthouse was built as a writing place for Pär Wästberg, who is a part of the Svenska Akademien (the Swedish Academy). So he sat here and wrote books a long time ago.”
The kitchen is from Ikea, but built with new doors. Albinsson does not think there is any reason to buy any of the super expensive kitchens available, and adds that it is enough to focus on the surface. Ikea is very good when it comes to function.
The terrace has lovely views of Norrmalm's rooftops. But not all the details of the project have worked out perfectly, Albinsson admits, asking for advice:
“Sometimes you make mistakes. I wanted a big and high table, a place to gather around and be social. But the one I chose was not strong enough for us, apparently. It broke. I do not know what to choose now, but I’m looking to put up a big hammock as there is sun on the terrace during the day. What do you think? People are welcome to come with tips!”
The fireplace was in the apartment when he moved in, and has simply been refreshed with new paint.
The bedroom in the apartment is divided by a trendy glass wall. It was custom made by the construction company and fits like a glove in the a little crooked space.
“We built the glass wall instead of a normal wall to bring in more light. It was site built and turned out very good. That is an example of why it is best to use professionals, you get it back in the end result.”
The kitchen and small toilet had to make way for a larger bathroom with bubble pool.
“The kitchen did not feel good, the ceiling was so low that I could not even walk straight in there. The toilet was very small and dark, so I knocked out a wall and built a new, bigger one. The first thing that came to mind on the viewing was that you could build a bubble bath by the round window! I do not bathe every week, but when I used to play handball and came home from training on a winter day, it was quite nice to listen to sports radio on speakers in here and open the window slightly. It got a bit like a steam room.”
“We were unsure if the bubble bath would even fit in the space. It was tough to get it up here, and getting it into the small area. We just about got it in.”
The brass bowls are a different storage solution and an exciting contrast to the tiles.
Sleek furniture makes the bathroom feel larger. Gold coloured details match the brass bowls by the bubble bath.
“I got inspiration for the hexagon patterned tiles from a hotel bathroom that I was photographing. Overall, I had a hotel room feeling in mind when I renovated the apartment. It might not be the best option for families, but for me it's perfect.”
The historic house is from the early 20th century. In addition to Pär Wästberg, the place has also hosted ambassadors over the years, including some from Russia. Albinsson is fascinated by Stockholm's achievement of preserving the city's older buildings, instead of, as in many other cities, mowing down and build new ones.
“The downside is that things break very often in the house, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, especially with a sustainably renovated apartment. It is interesting that everyone in Halmstad wants to live in the newly built house, while many in Stockholm want to live in old apartments. I wonder why that is?”