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Inside Danish designer Malene Birger’s Lake Como home

Inveterate traveller and collector of beautiful things from all around the world, Danish designer Marlene Birger has filled her stunning home on the banks of Lake Como with her favourite furnishings, artworks and objets d’art.

“My style is eclectic – yet under control,” says Malene Birger. “I’m a maximalist.” Just over three years ago, the acclaimed Danish fashion designer and her husband bought an old villa with stunning views overlooking the magical ‘Lago di Como’ on a hillside near the picturesque Tremezzo. Since then, she has renovated and created an amazing home that expresses the essence of her style and design.

 

The villa contains a huge collection of antiques, vintage furniture, art and objects bought from auctions and flea markets on Birger’s many journeys around the world. During the refurbishing, Birger flew over from her London base every six to eight weeks to supervise the extensive renovations. Having fallen in love with the house’s original details, she kept them all. Only a few walls came down in order to let more modern ideas change the space carefully. The kitchen, impressive hall and the four bathrooms were all decorated with black and white marble stripes – Birger’s signature style. The chandeliers are the jewel in most of the rooms and used to hang in the By Malene Birger boutiques.

“The house was built in 1905 and has only had one owner. It had not undertaken any renovation for more than 40 years when we took over,” says Birger. “The ground floor was like stepping into a damp, dark cigar box, but that space has now become my lovely bright office, with a beautiful view to the lake from my desk.”

For the first time, Birger has all her belongings in one place, as the house is spacious enough to contain her impressive personal collections of vintage interior books from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and vintage clothing and jewellery. Her love for Syrian inlay furniture, Arabian architecture, Carlo Bugatti and ’70s collective designer furniture is mixed and matched throughout a house where modernity meets history. Indian columns, bought in Delhi in 2014, divide the dining room and the living room, as well as the wardrobe and the master bedroom on the first floor. The eclectic style spans the modern design of Italian stars including Joe Colombo, Gabriella Crespi and Willy Rizzo.

 

“My home reflects my many journeys around the globe, and expresses the extensive amount of creative cultures,” says Birger. “Every single trip inspires me. I am and will always be a nomad, travelling is running in my blood. On average, we move every second year, but for now we live in Italy. We have found peace. The house is grand and has high ceilings. The space adds freedom in one’s everyday life. We live here, I work here and I even have a studio where I will paint.

“My inspiration comes from many places. Great artists, actors, writers and personalities are always inspiring. I adore Picasso and he has a huge influence in my style and work. His talent was endless,” says Birger.

Visiting the home almost feels like being in a luxury boutique hotel. Indeed, one of Birger’s until now unfulfilled ambitions is to create a small group of boutique hotels, where she can employ her style, design and attention to detail. She is today working within interior, art and design projects as a consultant. Who knows what the next project will be or where her next move and destination will take her?

 

Bedroom essentials to promote sleep

You’re guaranteed to have a good night’s sleep if you have these items and features in your bedroom.

Soft lighting

Bedrooms should be more focussed on natural light during the day and softer, darker light during the evening. LED bulbs may be more energy-efficient, but try to keep them out of the bedroom as they can make it harder to fall into a restful mood.

Lower the lights gradually as you inch towards bedtime, ending with just a candle. Dark drapes will stop you waking up too early or throughout the night from light outside your window.

Technology-free zone

Allow yourself to switch off by removing all electronic distractions from the bedroom such as televisions, computers, radios or mobile phones. Technology like smartphones and alarm clocks emit a blue and invasive light that disrupts our natural melatonin production. If you are unable to rise with the sun, then set an alarm clock that isn’t backlit and keep it on the floor, or as far away from your head as possible.

Calming colours

Bedroom walls, decor and bedding are the most sleep-inducing and restful when they are decorated in soft and muted colours. Light blues, greys, whites and lavenders as well as simple patterns like stripes or ombres – as opposed to loud wallpapers – are all the most conducive to sleep.

Relaxing scents

Apart from being an olfactory treat, essential oils can also have numerous therapeutic benefits. It’s important to note here that it is only the essential oils that have a therapeutic effect. Oils labelled ‘fragrance oils’ or ’aroma oils’ are usually synthetic and do not contain the numerous components that enable the healing action of essential oils.

Citrus-based scents should be kept out of the bedroom at nighttime, as they act to invigorate the senses, rather than relax them. Filling your room with relaxing scents like lavender and neroli have a far more calming effect on your mood and can assist in quieting the brain. A vase of fresh flowers, a soothing scented candle, and calming linen sprays will all help to send you off to dreamland.

Cosy and comfy

Avoid fussy or uncomfortable details on your bedding like beading, sequins or scratchy materials. Linen sheets keep cool in summer, while flannel is warming for winter. Cotton percale is recommended if you love the feeling of crisp sheets. Opt for soothing colours for your bedding. Investing in a soft cashmere throw will keep you cosy on a winter’s night.

How to create an inviting bedroom

Suitable flooring

Consider carpet or a rug beneath the bed for that plush underfoot feeling in the morning. It also helps to muffle noise. If allergies can keep you awake at night, it’s best to avoid a carpeted bedroom.

Create a soothing environment

Appeal to the subconscious with matching pairs to create symmetry. Add plants, art or photos of nature for a calming environment. Keep clutter at bay with well-matched cabinets, draws and storage. Choosing a bedside table with closed storage will help prevent items you keep by your bed from distracting you in the night. Ensure you have a dedicated laundry basket or bin to prevent worn clothes piling up around the room.