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Berlin has for a decade been a pulsating metropole, attracting both the aspiring and established designers and artists, – not least the ones from the Nordic countries, who fall in love with the raw beauty of the city, the apartments with high ceilings, and the buzzing atmosphere of the big city.
The duo behind Salty Interiors, Ellinor Belven and Annetta Kristjansdottir grew up in respectively Sweden and Iceland but met in Berlin where they found each other over a shared love of Scandinavian designs and a good laugh. They recently founded their stylist consultancy, bringing the Nordic atmosphere and design to Germany. We visited one of their newly decorated homes for a talk about light, nature, and good design.
As we enter the newly renovated apartment on the fourth floor, it’s not difficult to understand why this apartment was chosen over the one they had before on the ground floor. The winter sun of Berlin lends a helping hand, but the apartment overlooking a small green square has an inflow of light which is unbelievable. Everywhere we look, the light makes the sculptural designs, vases with flowers, and water glasses on the dinner table cast shadows, creating a dramatic and stunning dynamic in the living room.
The table is set, just as we know it from home: The best talks happen over coffee and cake, the traditional Swedish fika.
Hi Ellinor & Annetta. How did your path take you from the cold, Nordic countries to Berlin?
Annetta: I was living in London where I met my German boyfriend who convinced me to move with him to Berlin.
Ellinor: I travelled here on and off for some years before finally deciding to move. I fell in love with the city itself, and that’s why I decided to completely relocate here.
We met here by chance. Or in fact, I met Annettas boyfriend, who kept saying I should meet his girlfriend as he thought we’d really hit it off. And here we are, so many years later.
Annetta: It’s funny, because since then we’ve followed each other from job to job. We’re both educated purchasers, and after working together in so many different business, we finally decided to start up on our own two years ago.
Ellinor: It was really lucky. Germany is a great country to start a business, but we also had a lot of luck with the timing. I guess we started just at the right time with bringing the Scandinavian feeling to Germany, which has become really big now.
The light in this apartment is amazing – how did you get your hands on this beautiful apartment?
Annetta: My boyfriend and I actually lived in another apartment in this building for five years, but on the ground floor. We had been thinking about moving, but really loved the area. Luckily, we stumbled upon a free apartment in the same building, so we were quick to jump to the opportunity of this amazing bright space.
Ellinor: We really have a thing for light. We were also just so lucky to get a new work studio for SALTY in Neukölln, which has the most amazing large windows, so every drop of sun there is, we get.
What’s important to you when decorating your home?
Annetta: I think it’s important to listen to yourself. I really believe things can scream at you and make you feel something special. That’s important to me. Also, we would never style a home just to look beautiful. For us, all things in a home also need to have some sort of function.
Ellinor: I think it has a lot to do with materials, as well. I need plants and textiles in my home, so in that way we’re not so minimalist. For instance, here the rattan set makes the home more natural. We always start with a main object like that and then add the beautiful things around it.
Annetta: Working as we do with design, we’re always on the search for new things. But we rarely do impulse buys. It’s much more about having an idea or a vision for a corner in your home, and then searching everywhere until you find just the right thing.
Ellinor: I guess it’s different for us because we work with this all day. We think and plan so many home stylings, so of course, we do the same with our homes.
How does your relationship with your own homes develop, when you do home stylings all day?
Annetta: We’re constantly changing our surroundings. Both in our work, but also at home. Our boyfriends will often come home and be like, “didn’t there use to be a rug here?” But it just comes very natural to us to change a lot. That’s also why we never use things in our stylings that are sentimental to us.
Ellinor: I guess since moving to Berlin altogether, I don’t own that many things. I don’t have a feeling that there are things in my home that I couldn’t live without. ‘
Annetta: We don’t get too attached to stuff. We’re really hard like that, if we don’t use something, we give it away.
Ellinor: This vintage dining table here was actually one that I brought with me from Sweden. But now it’s here with Annetta and in half a year, it may be somewhere else. At our studio, we have a storage room with enough furniture to several houses. I think we may have around six or seven sofas with which we change a lot.
What does the word ‘home’ mean to you?
Annetta: It’s all about the comfort. It’s where we put down our shield and don’t have to be anyone or anything.
Ellinor: Home, really, is more of a feeling than anything else.
Annetta: Definitely. I really love my daily routines. And if I have the people who are closest to me, I feel good. It has nothing to do with a cup or a duvet, it’s about feeling safe.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Ellinor: We get a lot of inspiration by simply being outside. Both personally and in our work, we take a lot from the feeling of nature. That’s also why, you’ll always find natural and raw materials in our stylings and homes. We really love materials like wood, straw, concrete, cotton, and of course, where would we be without plants and flowers?
Annetta: Each of our projects always starts with a lot of research. In fact, we’re researching all the time. That’s why we also spend a lot of time finding inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, which is basically a pretty Google.
Ellinor: In our work, we want to tell a story with everything we do. And there’s a lot of inspiration to be found everywhere we go. But in the end it comes down to our love of creating things the simple pleasure of starting from scratch with a white canvas and seeing what happens from there.
Thank you for having us, Ellinor and Annetta!
Have a listen to Ellinor and Annetta's playlist here