According to Julie


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How to REALLY live in a small space

Tips for “living in small spaces” and “furnishing tiny apartments” are all over my Pinterest. Sometimes these articles give you legitimately good tips for living in cramped quarters, like this one about a couple living in a 240 square foot apartment (that’s 22 square meters!) But I’ve found a lot of bloggers and journalists whose definition of small is very different from mine. Case in point: Apartment Therapy’s small spaces can be 850 square feet! That is not small.

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I lived behind these bushes, in a 107 square foot (10 square meters) apartment in a basement in Paris back in 2008, and it was fine. Here’s advice for how to make it work:

Paris 2008 0461. Your space is three-dimensional.
Ceiling height matters, especially when square footage is low. Of course, this is kind of hard to change in your current small space, but it’s worth taking into account when you’re looking for a place to rent or buy. My Paris place had a high ceiling, which gave me more opportunity for storage, more light coming in through my window and more air. Use your vertical space.

2. Hang mirrors
Most of one wall of my tiny space was covered in mirrors, reflecting light and making the space feel bigger.

3. Make your furniture multi-task
I had a chest of drawers under the window, where the bottom drawers had clothing, and the upper drawers had kitchen supplies. I used the top as a kitchen counter. My table was also my nightstand. And of course, my bed was a sofa during the day.

4. There should be space under your bed.
If you can’t put anything under your bed, that bed is a stupid furniture choice for a small apartment. Under my bed, I stored a vacuum cleaner and two suitcases – one filled with the off-season clothes I wasn’t currently using, one filled with dirty clothes waiting to be taken to the laundromat.

5. Make conscious choices about what you need.
My partially furnished basement came with a television, but I gave it back to my landlady in exchange for a microwave. There is no room for excess stuff if you live in a closet.

6. Stick to a color scheme.
In one-room apartments, you will see all your stuff at once. An eclectic, artfully mismatched style will just look like clutter. So I took down the orange and green striped curtains that came with the place, chose one color – a denim-like blue – and made sure everything else I could see was neutral.

Paris 2008 047

7. Keep your space clean and tidy.
Drop one sweater on the floor and the entire place looks like a mess. Everything has a place and everything should be in it’s place. That means making storage options a priority.

8. Location matters.
The smaller the home, the more important the location. I made good use of the park across the street (Les Invalides) and all my local cafés. Living in a smaller space means you might end up spending more money on socializing at bars and restaurants rather than entertaining at home. But it also makes it easier to get up and do stuff on days off – like taking long walks. Spending a lazy Sunday in ten square meters just isn’t that appealing.

Paris 2008 049My first two weeks in Paris, I bought the following truly useful things:

Pretty storage boxes –I filled these with underwear and displayed them on shelves high up on my high ceiling, so that I could free up drawers for kitchen supplies

A big, sturdy, fairly dark-colored blanket that covered my bed – tossing this onto my bed every morning made me feel ok with people sitting on it in jeans while eating pastries.

Coffee cups and a big plate that matched the color of this blanket – making open shelving in the kitchen look less cluttered and more like a deliberate style choice.

I desperately missed having a full-sized kitchen, but other than that, I am surprised at how easily I adjusted to living in a walk-in closet. When I eventually moved back to 46 square meters in Oslo, it felt like living in a palace.

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Check out my interior design board on Pinterest


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Ønskeleseliste

Noe av det beste ved å lese blogger, er at jeg får så mange fine tips til hva jeg ellers bør lese. Her er min liste over bøker jeg nylig har fått anbefalt fra andre bloggere, og som jeg håper jeg snart får lest:

lese med kaffeSiden jeg skal til Berlin snart, vil jeg lese bøker fra den byen. Kanskje jeg skal lese Tre Kamerater igjen…

Jeg vil lese Parissyndromet, anmeldt av Piggsvin, for jeg tror jeg vil kjenne igjen en del fra mitt eget utvekslingssemester i Paris:

Ingen får et nytt hjem på ei uke, heller ikke vår heltinne. Det er mye hverdag, mye savn og mange vanskelige, og til dels motstridende, følelser. Det er nemlig den store, stygge hemmeligheten oss som har reist på utveksling eller jobbet et år i utlandet bærer på.

Jeg vil lese The Big Short, som Kristian også har lest, fordi jeg har hatt lyst til å lese den lenge:

Disse finansmennene er kanskje vår tids beste vitner på hva slags følelse det gir å få (veldig) rett når alle andre tar (veldig) feil.

Og hvis jeg da først kommer i gang med finanslitteratur, har Finansakrobat en egen leseliste for den slags.

Jeg vil lese The Battle of $9.99, omtalt av Paul Chaffey, fordi jeg anser det som pensum:

Apples inntreden på arenaen med iPad ga forlagene akkurat det forhandlingskortet de trengte for å konvertere hele ebokbransjen fra "wholsale"-modellen til det boken kaller en "agency model", der distributøren mottar en fast prosentsats, typisk 30 prosent, av det sluttkunden betaler. Og prisen kunden betaler er det forlaget og ikke bokhandelen som bestemmer. Det spesielle som skjedde i bokbransjen da iPad kom var ikke Apples forretningsmodell, den kjenner vi også fra iTunes og App Store, men at også Amazon raskt ble presset av forlagene til å gå over til den samme modellen. Og at resultatet ble dyrere nye ebøker.

Jeg vil lese The Ocean at the End of the Lane, anbefalt av SerendipityCat, fordi det er Neil Gaiman, så jeg liker den sikkert:

Jeg synes Gaiman beskriver mye av barndommens usikkerheter så godt i boka. Frykten for å sove alene i mørket, den forferdelige dagen da ingen kom til 7-års-bursdagen. De voksne som visste alt, kunne alt, og som det var umulig å motsi. De voksne, herskerne over virkeligheten.

Jeg vil lese bøker om London, spesielt White Teeth av  Zadie Smith og There But For The av Ali Smith. Disse bøkene er anbefalt av Kathleen, som skal bruke litt av sommeren på NW av Zadie Smith. Den har jeg allerede lastet ned til Kindle’n, så jeg kan jo begynne med den.

stay inside with book

Bilder kommer herfra og herfra.

Les alle bloggpostene mine om bøker her.


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The perfect city

The great tragedy of having lived in more than one place is that I will never, ever live close to all of my friends at once (more on that topic here). The great annoyance is that I am constantly being reminded that no society can be good at everything. For everything London excels at, it fails at something else. And while I can spend the rest of my life travelling in search of a city that has it all, I know that will only make me miss whatever I liked about my other cities more.

Just in case any of you know where I can find my ideal city, this is how the perfect synthesis between Oslo, Paris and London would work (I haven’t included Boston, because I haven’t lived there as an adult):

The city would essentially look like central Paris: a mix of wide boulevards and charming cobble-stoned pedestrian streets, with sidewalk cafés and well-dressed people. Some of the parks would be designed by Englishmen in the late 1800s. There would be at least one dramatic modern building in the style of the Oslo opera house. The city would be surrounded by Norwegian nature.

Buildings would all be built by Norwegians, as they are the only culture out of the three who prepare for winter rather than deny its existence. Single-glazed windows, insufficient ventilation and inadequate heating would be illegal. All apartments would have nice kitchens.

The British would be in charge of public transportation, as well as providing information about this service. All other forms of communication and information technology (including online banking) would be run by Norwegians. There would be telephone service everywhere, from the tops of the surrounding ski slopes to the deepest tunnels of the underground system – and free WiFi in parks, thanks to a suggestion from the French.

The French would have the overall responsibility for food, but they would be forced to import international wine. Norwegian salmon and Norwegian bread would be available even in the smallest corner shops. Most restaurants would work like in Paris: with affordable three-course standard menus served by waiters who took their jobs seriously and didn’t expect tips. Influences from the Brits would ensure some international flavor varieties like Indian, Mexican and Chinese food, but the English would be discouraged from trying to sell their own pies and mashed things to people. The cafés would be French, but with coffee from Norway.

The pubs would of course be English, but with a wide selection of draught beer from around the world. Everyone would cooperate on other forms of nightlife, but the Norwegians would be completely barred from any attempts to control alcohol policy, including prices and closing time for pubs and bars. This would instead generally be governed by the French.

People would buy their French clothes, French lingerie and French shoes from British sales assistants. These sales people would take lessons in customer service from Americans, but tone it down to a less insistent European level. Thanks to the Norwegians, winter boots and other shoes with good sensible soles would always be available. Norwegians would teach people how to dress in winter; the French in every other season.

In public places, the people would somehow combine the passion of the French with the manners of the English. They would queue and make reserved small talk, but still kiss each other in public. The English would be in charge of television and humor and entertainment in general, so there would be a lot of trilingual wordplay.

If anyone should ever wish to leave, the airport runway would be de-iced by the Norwegians.

Related posts:

Image sources: Paris Guinness Nature


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Paris off the top of my head (translated into English)

This is a translation of a mini-guide to Paris I sent to a friend years ago. I posted the original Norwegian version on this site back then, and now that a friend who doesn’t speak Norwegian is off to Paris, I’ve translated it.

Let’s start with the view from the top floor of the Pompidou Art Museum in the fourth arrondissement:

Paris 2008b 007

I prefer to see the Eiffel Tower either like this, or from Champ de Mars or Trocadero. If you insist on going up to the top of Eiffel Tower, take the stairs as far up as possible. There is a line specifically for people who want to walk (shorter than the line for the elevator) and it’s cheaper. To get up the very top, you have to buy an additional ticket.

Museums are often free in the evenings on specific days if you are under 26 (student or not). I’ve added the days of the week when they were free back in 2008 to these brief museum descriptions:

  • Pompidou, the world’s largest collection of modern art. The building is interesting in itself, and it’s in my favorite part of town. Go up to the top floor and enjoy the view. (Free on Wednesday nights)
  • Musée d’Orsay, the art museum you should see if you only see one. All the great impressionists, in an old train station. (Free on Thursday nights)
  • Louvre, actually really stressful. I think the paintings are too close together, and it’s just too big. Go in with a plan, know what you want to see, and then get out. (Free on Friday nights)

My favorite of the 20 arrondissements is the fourth. In addition to the Pompidou, this is where you find Notre Dame, the world’s best ice cream from Berthillon on the island behind the Notre Dame and Le Marais, an area with cobble-stone streets, fantastic fallafel and Jewish bakeries. There are plenty of bars and restaurants here too, as well as my favorite place for coffee in Paris, Soluna Caféotheque (52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, Pont Marie metro stop). (Read my guide to coffee in Paris for more coffee info) This is also where you’ll find the stalls that sell used books on both sides of the Seine, and on the left bank, Shakespeare and Company, the English language book store where “Before Sunset” starts.

    Once you’ve crossed over to the left bank, you’re in the Latin Quarter in the 6th arrondissement. This is the traditional student area, so there are affordable restaurants and lots of bars. You can eat a traditional three course meal here for less than 20 euros. Afterwards, I recommend sharing pitchers of sangria at Le Dix (10, rue Odeon, Odeon metro stop).
    For slightly more than 20 euros, you can get a slightly better version of the traditional snails+baguette+duck+vegetables+crème brûlée at Au Pied du Sacré Coeur (85, rue Lamarck). It’s in Montmartre, right by the Sacré Coeur (hence the name). There are MANY good restaurants in Paris, but if you’re in Montmartre, this is a nice one. Then go up to the cathedral, enjoy the view and watch people drinking beer and playing music on the church steps.
    If you get off the metro at Opera, you’ll be surrounded by shopping opportunities, including all the chain stores and the big department stores Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. I did most of my non-grocery shopping at Lafayette when I lived in Paris (both the shoe department and the lingerie floor are excellent). The Marais also has some good stores, and vintage shopping in Rue de la Pompe in the 16th arrondissement is good. Les Halles and rue Rivoli also have all the standard brands for clothing and shoes. My favorite French brands are Comptoirs des Cotonniers (clothes, including good trench coats), Aubade (lingerie) and Parcours (shoes).

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Illegal = global

I never downloaded music illegally at all – until internet radio Pandora became off limits because I didn’t live in the US.

The market for illegal mp3 files is global, while the market for legal music is still supposed to be limited by international borders. Why?

Øyvind Solstad at NRK Beta writes (in Norwegian):

One world – not 200 countries.

The music- and film industry seems to think we still cross the Atlantic in steam boats, and that we don’t hear about things that happen in the US just because we live in Norway. So they ignore the fact that young people don’t think about international borders and where things come from. (…) People don’t understand why they can’t listen to some songs on Spotify in Norway, but if they drive over the Swedish border and go to an internet café they can. They don’t understand why they can’t see American music videos on YouTube or shows on Hulu.com. They don’t accept that slow bosses in the music- and film industry still haven’t come up with a system where an artist can release their music all over the world (Øyvind Solstad, my translation).

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about this problem for journalism class at the American University of Paris (click “continue reading” for the full article).

A week later, my American friend was trying to buy a song from iTunes. She couldn’t, because her laptop was American. I could buy it for her, because my laptop was Norwegian.

We were both in Paris at the time.

That is absolutely ridiculous.

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Joyous playlist

During our last weeks in Paris, Julie and I listened to her “Joyous playlist” on her iPod as we walked back and forth between my basement apartment by Invalides and her host parents’ apartment across the street from the Bonne Marchée.

Some people say I listen to depressing music. I once played Damien Rice’s “O” at work, and my co-workers seemed worried. I don’t think it’s depressing. Unless of course, you have something to be depressed about.

So in case you need it, here’s a joyous list of songs. It starts with one that will always remind me of sitting on a yoga mat at Invalides, eating strawberries before finals, being happy and knowing that everything is about to change.

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