I couldn’t help but think of Goldilocks and the Three Bears after hearing about Silke Bonde’s life in the Danish countryside. In the town of Birkerød, Silke, her husband Kasper, and their two children downsized from a 3,000-square-foot home to one with “a little garden and everything we need.” They get lake views and nature walks, but they’re also 30 minutes from Copenhagen. Not too big, and not too small, everything seems just right. Take a look…
UPSTAIRS LIVING SPACE
Sofa: Erik Jørgensen EJ315 3-Seater. Coffee table: Hans J Wegner, similar. Side dresser: Moebe, similar. Floor lamp: Isamu Noguchi Akari 9A. Ceiling pendant: Flos IC Light. Bookshelf: Moebe. Mirror: Moebe.
On moving to the countryside: My husband and I were drawn to the way of living we grew up with, close to water and trees. There is something charming about every season here. Winter in Birkerød means early sunsets and snow. Spring is hopeful when we again feel the warmth of the sun. Summer is swimming and staying up late in the bright evenings.
On downsizing: When we moved to Birkerød six years ago, we bought a beautiful large house. But when our first child, Norr, was born, we found it too big. Cleaning 300 square meters [about 3,000 square feet] and maintaining a huge yard wasn’t something we wanted to spend time on. So, we downsized and bought our current house. We like it so much better.
On evenings upstairs: After dinner, we go upstairs to relax before the children go to bed. We have a floor mat for practicing tumbling, and we read books. It’s my favorite time of day. I grew this avocado plant from a seed. This spring, it will turn six!
On minimalism with kids: Many people, including Danes, would probably think my home is too empty, but I can’t think creatively if there is too much stuff. That said, I do practice letting the floor flow with toys and push back against my desire to keep everything tidy! And when they grow out of things, it’s very popular to buy and sell used toys on different Danish apps.
Headboard: handmade, similar. Duvet cover: purchased in Mexico.
On parental resilience: When it comes to parenting, the intensity of the responsibility has surprised me the most. And also what we as parents are capable of. I feel so much stronger than ever before. We have been through four wild years with young kids, but we’ve made it.
On weekend jaunts: Growing up in a small town in Jutland, I didn’t have much access to culture and I want my kids to grow up with it. Now, we’re only 30 minutes north of Copenhagen, so it’s great to be able to access concerts, design museums, and the food scene. New cafés and restaurants are popping up all the time, and we try something new each visit.
On winter strategies: Being social is energizing when it’s dark and cold. We frequently have friends over for coffee. For me, the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ means cozying up with great food, loved ones, and laughter. The fact that the concept is now spreading to other parts of the world is just fantastic.
Kitchen: Ikea. Cabinets: Reform Basis.
On renovating: The renovation was so satisfying — the changes felt enormous! For example, instead of three small windows facing the lake, we combined them into one huge window. And we moved the stairs, which blocked the lake view, to the opposite corner of the dining room. When the renovation was finished, I couldn’t stop staring at the lake. Since we are high up on a hill, we see the change of the seasons so clearly.
On a cabinet makeover: We have an Ikea kitchen but used a company called Reform to add different fronts. The white cabinets brighten up the kitchen, and the green linoleum countertop gives it an edge. We love the minimalist look of the round handles. Years from now, we could change out the fronts for a totally different look, instead of buying a whole new kitchen.
On growing up with nature: When I was a girl, I spent so many hours on little projects outside. My grandmother taught me the joy of flowers, birds, and the change of the seasons. We often wrote each other letters, where she would describe her garden at that exact moment.
On free play: Kids have to meet expectations at home, school and public spaces, but in nature they can just be themselves. When we take the kids outside, we try not to bring anything and instead let them find things to play with themselves. Even when we’re simply walking home from school, we all generate new energy, and my shoulders drop completely.
Artworks: Silke Bonde.
On working in and out of the home: I worked from home for about five years, which was great most of the time. But after this second maternity leave, I wasn’t able to ignore the domestic mess, and I missed having colleagues. Luckily, I found a nearby shared studio with other artists. Now, in the morning, I put the kids in our cargo bike and ride to daycare and then to my studio.
Artworks: Silke Bonde.
On finding yourself: For years, I’d been working with watercolors — I love the unpredictability of the colors on wet paper — but I got tired of flat paper. So, I began experimenting with different techniques to try to make it three dimensional and alive. I discovered that I loved cutting and folding paper. Now, after seven years of working as an artist, I feel like I’ve finally landed on the right shelf. I feel the desire in my whole body to create paper art, and if I could, I would work all night. I hope my art is a daily reminder of the importance of nature and taking the time to see the beauty in every detail.
Thanks so much, Silke! You are wonderful.