Three Belsize Park bedsits are transformed into a colourful, Scandinavian-style home

The living area, with its colourful vintage furniture

The living area, with its colourful vintage furniture - Credit: Archant

Mia Karlsson loves projects where she can start from scratch and incorporate her client’s personal pieces.

The bookshelf is made from wires and thin metal

The bookshelf is made from wires and thin metal - Credit: Archant

When Mia’s clients’ bought this apartment in Belsize Park, it was a series of bedsits.

“It was a total mess. There was a toilet next to the kitchen, walls and doors everywhere and all the original features were hidden,” the Swedish interior designer says.

“My clients decided to relocate from their Victorian family home in Richmond after their children left home to study. They wanted to be more central and wanted to have a home for themselves, an adult space for them but also somewhere the children could return to.”

The substantial character of the Victorian building was maintained while creating a new living space which allowed a flexible approach to bedroom space in years to come.

The study, with a quirky author themed fireplace

The study, with a quirky author themed fireplace - Credit: Archant

Mia turned five bedrooms into three and created two large offices which could double up as bedrooms if needed. She opened up the whole space downstairs to incorporate a kitchen, dining and lounge area, creating a calm backdrop with a few vibrant colours.

Construction work was required and a new staircase built. Bespoke joinery was designed and installed to maximise the benefits from the uneven levels and walls typical of period homes.

Most Read

The second floor became two large office spaces with a shower room, and the top floor became an open-plan master bedroom with en suite and terrace.

The clients were keen for their interests and backgrounds to influence the room designs, says Mia.

The kitchen

The kitchen - Credit: Archant

“The husband is from an engineering background and works mainly from home and his wife is a writer and artist,” she explains.

“He is very fond of his wife’s paintings and asked me to use them on the walls. The colour palette comes from these pictures. They are also a couple that travelled a lot so we incorporated a lot of the pieces they had collected around the world into the scheme.

“The book shelf in the living room is made from wires and thin metal, so you only see their collection of books, which are mainly travel books. The whole scheme is more about accessories and fun pieces. A lot of the joinery is bespoke. We even designed and built the bed.

“They had a lot of wonderful antique pieces in their old home but they needed space around them to fully appreciate them. Selecting personal items from our clients adds weight to the design. If we fill a home with everything new it looks like a showroom. It is better to mix textures and styles and make it personal to the client.”

The wallpaper in the kitchen adds character to the otherwise simple style

The wallpaper in the kitchen adds character to the otherwise simple style - Credit: Archant

Mia works with clients seeking design input on small projects as well as major refurbishments and extensions.

Mia’s Swedish background comes through in her simple, functional and natural solutions and is complemented by many years’ experience in London to encompass traditional, elegant and modern approaches.

“My designs have Scandinavian practicality and simplicity running through them,” she says. “Even when I do traditional design, I still clean them up and simplify. I would describe this Belsize Park apartment as Scandinavia with fun. I love it, but we never design something we wouldn’t like to live in ourselves.

“We don’t have a house style though as we are so bespoke to our clients. Our clients will always enjoy the process and give a lot to it, even if they say they don’t have any style. We will get it out of them so that when we are finished they can say it’s their home.”

Mia is a first class degree BA (hons) Interior Design and Technology graduate and has worked as part of large and small design teams.

Her company based in New End, Hampstead is moving premises to Pond Square in Highgate in September.

For more information call Mia at the studio on 020 7209 1615, or on her mobile 07880 737487, email or visit

Read more

Matrushka founder Joanna Berryman explains her move from fashion to interior design

Family dining tables can be iconic, modern and collectable - if you know the right brands

Award-winning interior designers Carden Cunietti: ‘I love seeing what’s in our heads come alive’