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In Anne Nijstad’s Eixample apartment, there’s a fine line between indoor and outdoor. Not a single divider has to be pushed open to get from the long, skinny entranceway to the kitchen, through the spacious living room, and out onto the terrace. Then if you make a U-turn amongst the potted plants sitting in the sun on the red brick patio, you can step up onto the wooden deck and straight into her bedroom—separated from the living room by a simple, white sliding door, which is rarely shut. Because of the open-plan concept of the apartment and the back wall consisting of floor to ceiling windows, even when you’re sitting at Anne’s wooden dining room table, you still feel as if you’re outside. The fresh air and soothing breeze flow freely day and night. Plants are not confined to the terrace either; cactus and lemon trees give way to other leafy green plants that stretch their sprouting branches into the living room. Anne admitted that all the plants throughout her apartment are easy to keep alive. “I am not a good gardener,” she said. “These plants have to do the best they can on their own.”
Anne is from Amsterdam and likes to fill her home with furniture and decorations made of natural materials (no plastics), lending an essence of nature to the space. Wooden floors stretch from the outdoor decking area into every room. Round, wicker, spotlight lamps provide light from low corners. A large, steel, cylindrical coffee table—too heavy to be moved to a new location—sits atop flat, woven rugs of burgundy, pink and white that Anne acquired in Morocco. Follow a coiled rope on the floor and it turns out to have a light bulb attached to the end—another one-of-a-kind light that Anne has snatched up. She also found a coat and purse rack that looks like a giant tree branch growing directly out of the hardwood floor. And to top it all off, her black and white cat, named Tom Tom, is constantly pouncing up on the highest ledges, slinking under low-hanging leaves and jumping sky high to catch the occasional fly in her claws. She keeps the atmosphere of the apartment wild, as well.
Ten years ago, Anne found this magnificent space on idealista.com. At first she was a little wary that it was an interior apartment. “I’m not keen on quiet,” she said. “I’ve never been one to wake up from street noise or anything like that.” But the peacefulness of her secluded terrace and the charming hush of the rest of the apartment won her over. Also, the pictures shown on the website were of the apartment when renovations were still underway—not the most appealing image. But between the ladders and paint pails, she spotted the round, elegant interior columns and the ribbed ceiling, and she could sense the potential. Anne fell in love with the bones of the apartment. The carpentry of a closet door can hold her attention for some time, one of the many things that delight her about her home. Anne explained that the architects who worked on the apartment’s interior design live on the same floor as her and modelled her place after their own. “They did a wonderful job,” Anne praised. “I think this apartment is so beautiful on its own. That’s why I have kept everything pretty basic.”
She says this, but at the same time confesses that she is ‘a browser’. “I can be kind of greedy,” she said. “I’m always browsing the internet for things: decorations, furniture, cats, whatever.” However, as she continues to accumulate new things, she puts older possessions into storage, maybe bringing them back out a year or two later. “No interior design lasts long,” Anne said, “but this way, I make sure the space remains fresh.” From all her online browsing, Anne has found some extremely unique pieces. Although she surfs the web to do her research, she always contacts the designer directly to place her order.
The first thing to catch your eye—at the end of the entrance hall—is a cluster of clothes hanging out in the open. ’20 hangers’ is a wardrobe designed by Alice Rosignoli, an independent Italian designer based in Paris. In this design, wooden hangers are attached to a bundle of long, black strings that are anchored into the high ceiling at a single point. It’s certainly unlike any clothes rack you could find at Ikea. She also has a ‘bookshelf’ created by a Danish couple, which consists of a rectangular piece of wood nailed to the wall and string loops hanging from it that strategically fit around the pages of a book, leaving the impression that the books are suspended in midair, rather than sitting on a shelf. And finally, Anne’s quirkiest items have to be two black ravens, which appear to be straight out of an Edgar Allen Poe poem. The designer, Mikael Nilsson, hand-carved them with an axe and a knife from black-stained lime woodchips and twisted wire for their clawed feet.
Anne’s ability to transform a space into something comfortable yet visionary has made her apartment enviable, and has also helped as Founder of DestinationBCN. DestinationBCN offers 15 apartment-suites to Barcelona visitors. Each of their locations has an individual name and identity with striking original features. Besides the necessary office work, Anne gets to oversee the interior design of the suites. She said, “It’s by far my favourite part of the job.” So whether she’s at work or at home, Anne is always on the hunt for new ways to reinvent a living space, to make an apartment something that absorbs and radiates the natural world, culture and imagination.