Designing a Small Danish Apartment for a Family of Five

by hookedonhouses on June 9, 2014

Oprah Tours Small Danish Home | hookedonhouses.netA reader in Denmark told me about this not-very-big apartment that architect Stine Holscher designed for her family in Copenhagen. She says that Oprah once toured it on her show and “It was portrayed as a typical Danish home, which it really isn’t. But it’s still interesting as a new and futuristic way of living.”

Stine Holscher's House in Copenhagen

Oprah visited Stine’s very modern and minimalist home in Copenhagen when her daily talk show was still on the air. I’m always curious to see how people make smaller spaces work, so I had to check out the video. (These are screenshots from her tour.)

Modern Holscher Apartment Copenhagen | hookedonhouses.net

As Oprah comes up the stairs into the apartment, Stine explains, “It’s a typical Danish design. It’s modern. Very straight lines. Big windows.”

Oprah tours Copenhagen house

They eat every meal as a family in this glass-enclosed dining area that extends out from the building. Stine says, “We like to spend the time together as a family.”

Oprah tours Danish house 3

When Oprah saw the full bathroom that is open to the living area with only a glass wall dividing the two rooms, all she could say was, “Wowie, kazowie!”

Small Danish Home on Oprah | hookedonhouses.net

She shows Oprah the small fridge in the kitchen. With a family of five you would probably make frequent trips to the market:

Oprah tours Danish house 2

When Oprah peeks inside the built-in pantry, Stine says, “Now you will see chaos.” Loved that. Can you imagine having such an orderly life that these shelves looked like chaos to you?

Oprah tours Copenhagen house - pantry

They have three children under the age of 6, and the two older ones sleep in a “cave” with built-in bunk beds. They climb through that opening in the wall to get to it:

Oprah tours Holscher architects Danish house

Oprah couldn’t resist climbing in and checking it out, and I can’t blame her — I’d want to get up in there, too!

Oprah tours Copenhagen house - kids cave

Does the idea of living in a small apartment like this with your family appeal to you, or do you think you’d get sick of each other? (Ha.)

Oprah tours Copenhagen house 5

I’m not sure I could live with that much open space (and glass), but I was kind of fascinated to see how they make it work for them. Thanks to Ditte for telling me about it. To see more, take the video tour on Oprah.com and visit the Holscher Architecture website.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura June 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

Small apartment? Maybe. This place? No. I’d feel like a prisoner in a cell (or an animal at the zoo). To each his own, I guess!

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Alie B June 9, 2014 at 9:39 am

I dislike this, very much. It’s too small for realistic living and too open to provide any privacy which, to me, is very important. The cubby in the wall that the kids use as a bedroom is fine while they are little, but the novelty will wear off quickly as they grow. On the other hand, if this family can make it work, power to them! It’s probably reasonably priced, if nothing else.

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Sherry June 9, 2014 at 9:58 am

Nope nope nope!

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The Country Girl June 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

Completely unrealistic. With that set up you’d have to assume the parents have gained no weight since age 18, ever want private time, are in any way modest, have more than two outfits each and that the kids have no toys. Truthfully….it’s a little creepy.

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Kristen June 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm

This comment reflected my thoughts. In addition, it states 3 kids but not the genders. What happens when the children become teens?

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Good question!

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jep June 9, 2014 at 11:37 am

I like the idea of a tiny house and subscribe to the tiny house website and the small house swoon website. This apartment is too modern for me, but if it works for that family then good for them.

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 11:41 am

I like those tiny house sites, too. I’m just always interested in seeing how different people live!

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Karen June 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Lets hope that they are able to spend a lot of time out and about!

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Nadege June 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm

No, no – this apartment is strange and claustophobic. I have seem many small and intimate spaces that are beautiful in both looks and functionality. How in the world can a parent teach the young children how to care for their “room”. Squeezing an adult body through that space is ill- conceived not to mention kids grow very quickly. I imagine anyone residing there to feel as if they are a hamster in a glass cage. For me panic and anxiety would be the order of the day.

The bathroom – open and in glass?????

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Amy June 9, 2014 at 1:40 pm

That’s a really nice apartment for one person who works a lot and is never home. :)

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Fiamma June 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I am all for small living, but this is just not my style in any way, shape or form. That bathroom would freak the hell out of me if I was a visiting guest. LOL

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Yeah, I do wonder what they do when they have company! Could be a little scary…ha.

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claudia June 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

This kinda reminded me of that Bravo show 9 by design (Novogratz) with their multi-floor converted factory home on all those levels- but they had an elevator. And when I looked at both the website and oprah’s video, there is more to this than the one floor (when Oprah goes back down the stairs and views another bedroom there is also another bedroom and 2 other bathrooms!). When viewing the floor plans, there is also an elevator and says it is 580 sq. meters which equals 6000 + square feet – not that little! My guess is they want to be close to the kids – she says they are 1,4, & 6 years old so it makes sense- who could navigate those stairs /elevator at 3am? Anyway, if you look at the floor plan it makes a tad more sense and not so crazy (but I’m still not a fan of the design)!

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm

It is similar to the Novogratz place now that you mention it. I hadn’t thought of that. I wonder what they’re using those other floors for if the sleeping spaces, kitchen, etc., are on this one? I thought it was office space for her architecture business below but maybe not. Thanks, Claudia.

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AWJ June 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm

The other floors are used by another family, the architectural partner of her husband. They designed and built it together, to house their families.

As mentioned in the article, this doesn’t represent the “average” Danish apartment in any way, but seems more like a personal showcase for the architect, her husband, rather than Danish architecture. Which is fine, but then it should have been treated as such. As an aside, the place was for sale for $1.18 million during the Oprah segment, getting it valuable exposure. Their stated reason for moving was a need for more rooms for the children. I believe the building may have been subdivided into individual apartments.

More pictures to be found here:

http://bobedre.dk/article/164373-prisvindende-privat-bolig-arkitektur/gallery/688085 (same article which shows the husband and the partner, and the building from the outside etc).

In Danish, but you can just use the numbered buttons to view the pictures. Should be pretty self-evident.

http://www.rasmusbronnum.dk/2011/03/02/arkitektens-hjem-nils-holscher-dr/

The second link, also in Danish, is a documentary on the place, and about the architect, if you want to see more of it.

Just mute it if you can’t stomach Danish :)

And I would agree as a vision of possible future living, it’s interesting, but I would find it difficult to live there. Though the view is amazing.

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Very interesting! Thanks for all the additional info and links!

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Dean June 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I saw this when it originally aired. It was actually a show that featured 4 or 5 women who lived in various countries and their differences and similarities. (The others that I remember were in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and somewhere in Central or South America.) Very interesting show.
If I were a family of 5 though, there is no way I could live in this space without going bonkers. I distinctly remember how odd I thought the kid’s “room” was and how Oprah looked Alice-in-Wonderlandish in the space. I would feel like a zoo animal or window display as well. Love modern, but this leaves me cold.

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Wish I’d caught that episode. I would’ve liked to have seen what they showed about the other countries, too!

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Dean June 9, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I did some hunting and came up with these. The first is from Dubai. The second is more of the Danish woman with her friends. Third is women answering questions post-show. Fourth is text summary of all the women featured. I can’t seem to locate the entire show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuJqAy7to7o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOSIY0xhfeE

http://www.oprah.com/world/Women-Living-Around-the-World-Video

http://www.oprah.com/world/Inside-the-Lives-of-Women-Around-the-World

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hookedonhouses June 10, 2014 at 6:25 am

Wow, Dean, thanks! So nice of you to track those down for us! :-)

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Julia June 9, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I’m sorry, I can’t seem to get past the chaos of that pantry…

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hookedonhouses June 9, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Ha! :-)

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Kim June 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I’m all for small living, but this apartment looks very uncomfortable to live in. There’s no privacy and it’s definitely not my style, but if it works for this family, good for them.

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Interioridea June 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I think it’s nice if it’s for only a couples with no kids. hahah
But I really love that children room. It’s such a good idea. I can’t resist climbing in it for sure!

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Esther George June 10, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Hi Julia I remember this particular apartment thinking I would feel closed in. I have to be on terra firma looking out onto my garden, I guess working in town on levels 15 at one stage and level 38 for about 10 years that’s all I can take. I know this is a silly question about your tv shows but do you watch Royal Pains filmed in the Hamptons? well NBC were talking to the main actor and he was saying the show has been called Architectural porn, must say it is visually stunning. I just thought to throw that in. Till next time thank you for sharing. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS Royal Pains is my Sunday night staying up late treat…sigh

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hookedonhouses June 11, 2014 at 7:26 am

Hi Esther! I have to agree about “Royal Pains.” The houses are my favorite part of the show! :-)

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Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com June 10, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I like danish modern and minimalism, but this is taking it too far for me.

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Linda June 11, 2014 at 9:42 am

It’s an interesting space – very clean, modern and minimalistic. I have too much clutter so I don’t think the space would work for me but it seems to work for the family.

I did look at the floor plans on the architect site and it does look like there is a bedroom/entry downstairs along with a full bath. The other bedroom looks like it is part of another unit in the building.

I also did wonder about when the children get older and want their own space. It may be by that time the family will move to a larger home.

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Rachael June 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I saw this episode when it originally aired, and the thing that I remember the most is that in Denmark, mothers leave their babies outside in their strollers! They say the babies need air. Apparently baby snatching is not a problem in Denmark. I’m pretty sure the woman who owns this apartment had a baby and they left it in it’s stroller by the front door.

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hookedonhouses June 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Oh, wow, I can’t even imagine doing that. I wonder if they think we’re overly protective of our kids here? Interesting!

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Patience June 12, 2014 at 8:13 am

I like the tiny refrigerator. I feel so oppressed by my big refrigerator and I never seem to know what is in it. My own kitchen would be so much bigger and brighter if I could make the switch to a small under-counter fridge, but then my house wouldn’t be marketable. Hmm…

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