As a college student in an old New England mill town, I spent much of the 90s living in converted Victorian mansions well past their prime. Since then, I’ve property-lusted after places like Charlize Theron’s eclectic Victorian apartment in Sweet November, Anne Hathaway’s bohemian studio in Love and Other Drugs, and Amelie’s timeworn Montmartre flat. Now, 20 years later, this gorgeous new-to-me c.1911 vintage apartment pretty much fulfills every vintage apartment fantasy I’ve ever had… except for the bathtub. There’s never a bathtub in Denmark!
Tucked away on a quiet street in an owner-occupied building, this tiny 62 square meter two room apartment feels like it’s been waiting 107 years for Opie and me to arrive. Everything aligned for me in buying this apartment. It came on the market at a critical time, it was a fair negotiation, and it more than satisfies my lust for a vintage apartment with tons of character and some to spare :)
I’m still decorating so I only have realtor photos to share, but here’s a peek at one of the best little apartments in all of Aarhus…
My Vintage Apartment: Balcony
Recently added off of the bedroom, they did a pretty good job aligning it stylistically to the rest of the apartment. It’s heated, so it’s practically a third room for much of the year! It’s got olive trees, a lemon tree, and one of the nicest courtyard views in the city. I can’t wait for spring :)
My Vintage Apartment: Bedroom
Exposed brick, a balcony, and a whole wall of closets… it doesn’t get much better than this! I’m thinking about installing a small clawfoot bathtub in the corner against the brick wall. It’ll all make sense when you see the bathroom.
And I can hear church bells! I’ve always wanted to live in a place where I could hear church bells.
My Vintage Apartment: Living Room
That nook. That dentil molding. The plaster ceiling decorated with seashells and dolphins because it’s close to the sea. Could this room be any more perfect?
My Vintage Apartment: Kitchen
One of my Danish real estate pet peeves is the white Scandi-modern kitchens that seem plague 98% of houses and apartments regardless of their heritage. Fortunately, the previous owners renovated this one with the building’s history in mind. Not only is there more storage space than I can use (no small feat in 62 m2), but it’s so adorable that I’ll forgive them the baby boy nursery blue walls and the induction cooktop.
My Vintage Apartment: Bathroom
The bathroom is about a meter and a half long and less than a meter wide!
When the apartment was built, everyone shared a common bathing area and toilets. At some point, private water closets (literally water closets) were added to the back stairway. Unfortunately, mine isn’t heated. I have a heated balcony and an unheated bathroom… go figure!
Showering in this bathroom is interesting in a quirky way that could be fun for a weekend in an Airbnb but is a bit tedious for everyday life.
It’s a good thing I’m tiny because showering takes place in the small space between those two shades. When I’m finished, I have to dry the floor, the walls, and the shades because the water in Denmark is extremely hard and will make a mess otherwise. Then I open the window to help it dry the rest of the way. Do you know how cold it is in Scandinavia in February? I swear one morning there’s going to be ice in the toilet!
Fun fact: The back stairs are the only way to the community laundry room in the cellar (former shared bathing facilities), so the first time I met one of my neighbors was in a towel coming out of the shower as he was on his way to the laundry room. OMG!
Making This Vintage Apartment My Home
When I moved in, my best friends in the whole world (hi, Vicky & MacGyver!) drove 7 hours each way and spent a long weekend in Aarhus to help me get the place in order. Best housewarming gift, ever!!!
We (ok, mostly they) worked like crazy and got the walls and ceilings patched and painted, a new kitchen sink installed, light fixtures and curtain rods hung, and they even helped with switching out my induction cooktop for gas. I’ve been pining for a gas cooktop since I left the States in 2010!
By the end of the weekend I had a blank canvas to work with. I’m carrying over some elements from my first Danish apartment, but living in Denmark for nearly 8 years has definitely influenced my taste. This apartment will have a definite Scandinavian feel to it with some Danish midcentury modern furniture and mostly white walls, but you’ll know it’s mine by the vintage velvet furniture, thrift store art, fairy lights, and lace curtains.
It really is pretty perfect…
You worked your butt off that weekend too! Watching you patch holes in the walls, paint and use power tools was soooo worth the drive <3
I learned so much from you two… you taught a woman to fish :)
Now that you can fish you don’t have to settle for one of those sad little misshapen turtles that got caught up in the plastic rings of a 6-pack. Hahaha. So proud of you!
LOL! You mean the kind you think is cute and want to help until it snaps your finger off trying to get to your wallet?
Linda Marie says
WOW! IT’S GORGEOUS. Please adopt me. I’d love to live there!
I LOVE it! The views! The views! The views! I especially love the view from the kitchen window! Your apartment is PERFECT. So happy for you!
Thanks, Michele :) I’ve been saying that this is the first place I’ve lived where I look out the window and think, “wow! I really do live in Europe!” That view is worth every kroner I paid for it!
Wow, it ‘s beautiful ! And you look pretty glamorous to my eyes as you install that coat rack! Good on you as you move forward, spirit strong, creating and maintaining a lovely life.
You’re too kind, thank you :)
Looks cozy and like the perfect space to heal and reestablish your life! That balcony view is like a post card.
Can you do a post on the legality of your divorce and how it compares to the US? Do you need lawyers, is it a long drawn out process, etc like in the States? Were you at a disadvantage not being a native there?
Lastly I hope you got to keep all the jewels. Even if you don’t want to wear them, sell them and buy yourself new treasures.
I paid for the jewels, I kept the jewels, I’ll wear the jewels, and I’ll buy more as the right pieces come along :) I’m planning to unload the Art Deco sapphire & diamond engagement ring and the French Art Deco wedding ring next time I’m in London, but you can bet I’ll be trading them in for something even more fabulous! I was actually going to buy myself an Edwardian amethyst and diamond “divorce” ring this past weekend, but it was already sold by the time I’d made up my mind :(
There’s a post coming about the divorce process in Denmark. It’s definitely not a drawn out process. It costs less than $100 and it’s all done online. It would actually cost me more to change my name back to my maiden name than it did for the divorce. Divorce here is too easy, IMO.
Your apartment looks wonderful. It looks modern yet cozy. I love your kitchen. I also have a blue kitchen but a wood floor. I love your black and white tile floor.
I bet your blue with the wood floor is gorgeous! I really don’t like this particular shade of blue and will be painting it over first chance I get! Colored paint is tricky in Denmark because even the paint stores can’t color match and something always seems off about the tone of the stock paint colors.
Farrow & Ball? It’s my favourite brand for paints here in the Netherlands. Looks like it’s available in Denmark as well. They do the best colours!
I love Farrow & Ball, but where did you see that it’s available in Denmark? So far, I’ve only found two interior design firms in and around Copenhagen that sell it.
Yes, the one I saw is in Gentofte. But maybe that’s quite a drive for a can of paint :).
Anyway, hope you’ll find something you like. I wish you and Opie all the best in your lovely new apartment!
Thanks :) It seems that the Netherlands has a much better selection of paint (and many other things) than we have in Denmark. My friend told me that shopping in Denmark is like shopping in the Netherlands was 15 years ago…
Lisa Zahn says
Oh my, what a gorgeous place! I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with it.
I’ve been reading your blog for a little while, have never commented (sorry to be a lurker!). I’m sad to read about this horrible divorce you’ve had to go through, but so thrilled for you for finding this lovely apartment, and excited that things are going your way. I love your attitude!
Thank you, Lisa. And it’s ok about being a lurker… I’m glad you’ve been reading even if you haven’t commented :)
Rita Tocta says
I want to comment properly on this gem that is your new apartment later but seeing your last photo would you please consider doing a beauty routine post? Your skin is beautiful!!
Thanks Rita :) My skin really isn’t that great, I credit the lighting in this photo, though I suppose it’s pretty good for someone in their 40s.
I posted about my skincare routine awhile back here: http://www.sageandsimple.com/2015/08/diy-vitamin-c-serum-recipe/
Some things have changed… I use copper peptides and emu oil instead of the Boots & Olay products in “Nighttime Skincare Routine I” and I’ve added the Boots serum under my day cream in the mornings.
The Offbeat Adventuress says
A gas cooktop!? That really is the holy grail of American expat in Europe apartment living! Never move! In all seriousness, I’m so glad you’ve found a new place to call home.
I know, right? All of the Danes I know LOVE induction and think I’m crazy to give up cupboard space and take on the hassle of an 11kg propane tank. If I end up installing the clawfoot tub in my bedroom I’m seriously never moving!
Vanessa Palma says
Gorgeous! The views and the light are amazing. And that kitchen is to die for!
Kathryn Brown says
Love it! Courtyard is such a delightful place, and when life gives you lemons, it’s wonderful!
Can you show a plan view of the bathroom? I totally don’t get it. Do you have to walk thru the shower to get to the toilet?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a drawing of the bathroom :(
But yes, I have to “walk through” the shower (barely one full step) to get to the toilet. If I didn’t lower the back shade, I could conceivably sit on the toilet while showering and brushing my teeth! When it’s lowered, the back shade actually touches the front rim of the toilet.
Barbara Paola says
It looks beautiful Sage! I’m so happy for you and Opie..
Thanks, Barb! We love it here… Opie mostly loves it because he can watch birds on the balcony and because it’s pretty easy to escape out the back door while I’m in the bathroom. If I pull the door closed, it locks! Such a quirky little place :)
Congratulations on your new apartment, Sage. It’s beautiful. I envy your views. And the entire apartment is lovely.
Thanks, Ruth! I can’t believe I was so devastated to leave that old cavernous and unfinished apartment for this positive space that feels every bit as lovely as it looks :)
I just adore your new apartment Sage. Congratulations on finding the resilience and focus to land in such a wonderful home despite everything he threw at you! I’m just smitten with your balcony and am curious, how is it heated?
Thanks, Erin… I really love it here :)
Here’s a picture of the balcony heater, it’s mounted above the seating area and actually puts out quite a bit of heat!
This is the coolest apartment I’ve ever seen in my life.
Becky Lynch says
I love looking at your lovely apartment!