Black, White, and Gray All Over: Monochromatic Copenhagen Townhouse

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By Emily Shapiro / Published by Dwell
A design-savvy family in Copenhagen crafts their dream townhouse.

The 2,000-square-foot Copenhagen townhouse that Sofie and Frank Christensen Egelund share with their four children is a modern haven with a distinctive design sensibility. Designed in a monochromatic palette, the home is the perfect combination of Scandinavian minimalism and homey comfort. And it’s no wonder: both Sofie and Frank work for Vipp, a third-generation, Danish company specializing in high-end kitchen and bath accessories. (Frank is the vice president, and Sofie is the communication and concept director.) As such, the pair has spent much of their lives learning about and seeking out good design.

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“The kitchen is the room we use the most,” Sofie says. The dark gray walls and tonal accents make it cozy and cave-like, while natural illumination and light-toned accessories introduce airiness and circulation. Even in the colder months, the Egelunds spend most of their time there, and Sofie maintains that the stark darkness makes it a homey place to entertain guests and spend time with the family. “And,” she adds, “you can always go to the other floors if it gets too dark!” The kitchen island, shelves, glass, and ceramics are by Vipp.

The home itself—built in 1898 and renovated by the Egelunds eight years ago—is a typical Danish townhouse, with five small levels that might traditionally serve as homes for five different families. The couple, however, has separated each floor into distinct spaces for themselves, their children, and communal living, yet managed to skillfully blend these levels into one cohesive space. The interior combines monochromatic palettes and minimal wall decoration with carefully chosen furniture pieces, heirlooms, and lighting to achieve a simple and strikingly modern yet personal design.

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The kitchen is “the most exciting room [in the house],” in Sofie's mind. However, the minimal gray interior makes choosing furnishings and accessories extremely important. “You have to be very careful setting the scene, like in a theater.” The dining table and chairs are by Poul Kjaerholm and the light is Ingo Maurer's Zettel’z chandelier.

"In Scandinavia we have a very strong tradition and history of furniture," Sofie explains. Choosing their furnishings carefully allowed the family to keep their space open and unencumbered, while expressing their personalities and paying homage to the history of design. "Our decorations reflect that things should have a certain heritage and personality, and these things will live longer than shorter trends." 

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The Egelunds rely on the light fixtures and small ceramics to add contrast and texture.

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The iconic waste bin that gave Vipp its start is a mainstay in the Egelunds’ home, as are many of the company’s streamlined design solutions. The waste bins, shelves, glasses, and ceramics are by Vipp.

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On the upper floors, bright white walls and plenty of natural light make the bedrooms and living rooms feel large and spacious. In the master bedroom, built-in cabinetry hides clutter. The art photography against the wall is by Anders Hviid, the bed is Hästens, the laundry basket is Vipp, and the lamp is Fontana Arte.

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Even the children’s rooms, though peppered with colorful details, retain the stark white walls and minimal feel of the rest of the Egelunds’ home. The wooden bed is by Juno, the doll bed are by Flos Lampadina, and the shelves are Vipp.

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Custom details like this corner bed with built-in shelving keep the younger generation’s spaces playful, but still sophisticated. With four children, utilizing space wisely became a top priority, and the family relies on custom shelving and built-ins to keep clutter at bay. The bed is custom with IKEA frames.

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“We didn’t go out and buy a living room collection,” Sofie explains. “In our home, we tried to avoid trends. The furniture we have are things we have collected over many, many years.” Vintage Eames for Herman Miller lounge chair; Isamu Nuguchi table; and Rocking elephant by Rocking Zoo.

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Sofie and her husband searched high and low for a vintage Herman Miller piece, finally finding a 30-year-old Eames lounge chair to complement the family’s living room. The carpet is by Hay, the painting is by Claus Carstensen, and the lamp by Jielde.

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Sofie and Frank built a box around an ordinary glass fiber shell bathtub, then covered it in a mosaic of shower tiles. Natural light from a large dormer window gives the tiles an almost iridescent glow. The toilet is Duravit.

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A vaulted loft room complete with a typewriter and natural wood furnishings serves as the perfect hidden workspace. The chair is a vintage Cherner chair, the side table is Nanna Ditzel, and the wood lamp is a Muuto Wood model.

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A 500-square-foot outdoor space with a grill, a table, and a hammock sits just off the entrance level of the townhouse, offering extra room for dining, relaxing, and entertaining. The corner couch is a custom piece inspired by the large cushions of Moroccan sofas. The Fermob table is paired with Hay Hee dining chairs by Hay.