The White Room: Sophia and Billy’s Vesterbro Apartment

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Based on Enghave Plads Vesterbro, Sophia and Billy’s 94 square meter apartment has more than a few nods towards their Skåne neighbor.

“I would say that Malmö is definitely a big influence on our apartment. We lived in Malmö for 10 years, so we have a mini shrine to Sweden,” explains Sophia, an urban anthropologist from California who relocated 9 years ago.

“We have lots of different tchotchkes from all over the world too,” says Billy, who’s lived in Scandinavia for 13 years and works in communications. “Sometimes it can be more interesting to have cultural references from places other than the city that you live in.”

Their apartment references their travels, the various spots they’ve called home, and their zest for life. “It’s fun to have an apartment on such a busy square. There’s so much life here, so many varieties of like food and different cultures in one space,” says Sophia.

When it came to designing their home, this eclectic spirit took hold:

“A lot of things we do are very haphazard. We definitely don’t sit down and talk about it and plan,” Billy says.

Sophia explains further, “but it’s mostly him doing it. I have veto power, but Billy essentially brings things into the apartment.”

“Like stools from skips…” Billy laughs.

From skip diving (we’ve all done it) to fleamarket scouring, the pair have amassed more than a few items on the Danish Interiors Bingo – a list of 16 quintessential Danish design items in every Copenhagen home. Their space perfectly balances classic Scandinavian pieces with international flavors, blending minimal Scandinavian design, like their Sonos Move, with a life well-lived.

Take a tour of the Copenhagen apartment of Sophia and Billy:


Billy’s Record Collection (Approx. 1000)

Sophia: Billy is a major collector, a connoisseur. He buys records all the time; three yesterday!

Billy: It’s an addiction. It runs in my family; my dad was a big collector of big band jazz. I probably started collecting records when I was about seven years old. I switched to CDs when I was about 11 or 12, then switched back to vinyl at some point. But some of the vinyl records are ones that I have from the age of seven or eight.

Billy: There’s a jazz section, a noise experimental section, and indie sections. Then beside the player are the ones that I got most recently or that are in heavy rotation.

Sophia: I have my own area because I don’t like noise music or jazz that much. I have my synth, pop, dance music under the record player in my own special section.



Icelandic sheep skin and Hilma af Klint Louisiana Poster

Sophie: That’s a sheepskin from Iceland.

Billy: It’s questionable that we own it [they’re vegetarians], but we were staying on a farm and the guy was telling us that he had to cull his livestock because of some kind of disease.

Sophia: He had all these skins and we felt so sad for him!

Billy: He was probably like ‘that story worked again!’

Sophie: Yeah, well, it worked on us.



Rhubarb the cat

Sophia: We have a lovely cat named Rhubarb who runs the house! This is his favorite chair. We laugh that Rhubarb uses this beautiful Wegner chair even more than we do.



Sonos Move Speaker & Amp

Sophia: Let me put this on the record: the Sonos speakers are a game changer!

Billy: The amp lets us go from analog to digital which is really cool. You can also play from your phone so you can switch from vinyl to Spotify or whatever. I’m kind of a lazy person so if I put on a record and it gets to the end of the side, but I’m sitting in the window and I don’t want to get down, I can just switch to Spotify.

Sophia: It lets us bring our wireless speaker [the Move speaker] into the kitchen so we can listen to records in different rooms. Very exciting!

Billy: Before we had a Sonos amp, when you put on a vinyl record the kitchen is too far away to hear it. The neighbors probably heard it more than we did.



Billy: Also, it’s nice that the amp is so small. We used to have a really big one, but this one means we have more space. As a system, it’s clean and unobtrusive.

Sophia: I mean, it’s great! We can watch a movie using our projector and have the sound on the Sonos. We can do so many different constellations of audio. The sound quality is fabulous and you can customise the levels. In the kitchen, the shape of the room is different, so it has an auto setting to change the sound to fit the room.

It’s way better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be cool but I had no idea it was going to be this great.

Billy: Now we want to get the Beam speaker for the projector. That’s definitely on the agenda.



Moroccan rugs

Sophia: We came back with many rugs from Morocco. When we were traveling there we were like, ‘we just need one rug’ and then we went crazy and brought back multiple… But this one is particularly cool because it’s reversible.

One side is the summer side and one side is the winter side. We have the winter side up now. When it starts getting warm, then you change it to the other side, but yet we tend to keep this side up a little longer because it’s cozy.



IKEA sofas (probably)

Billy: I bought these black sofas in a secondhand store in Värnhem, Malmö in 2010. I got the two and three-seater together for about 4000 Swedish kronor, which was super cheap at the time. I think it’s vintage IKEA? At least that’s what the guy reckoned it was when I bought it from him. He said they were from around 1967.

While I was in the store a Japanese gentleman was there, talking to the owner. The owner turned around and said “if you want the sofas you need to buy them now, because he’s just offered a sum for everything in my store.”




Sophia: Two brothers helped us with the apartment renovations and their dad is a carpenter, so he made these shelves from Billy’s design.

Billy designed them by measuring out the sizes of books that we typically have, and based it on that. So now we have room for all of our big art books and also my daily reads.



Painting above sofa by Sarah Coleman

Sophia: She’s from my hometown of Nevada City, California. I love her whimsical expressions of skyscapes. I just think she’s amazing. Billy bought me this for my birthday.

David Shrigley Artwork from the Inlay Prints of Deerhoof’s album ‘Friend Opportunity’

Sophia: These prints are from a record sleeve and are by David Shrigley. We like how dirty and crass they are, but you don’t notice until you really look at them.



Bedside tables

Billy: I bought them from an auction house in Sweden. They’re from AB Carlström.

String Shelves with a Ferm lamp

Sophia: The beckoning cat or maneki-neko [on the top shelf] is from the Gotokuji temple where supposedly the cat originally comes from. Getting to the temple involves a trek from Tokyo but once you’re there you are greeted by thousands of cats at the shrine. It’s quite the thing!



Picture in the hallway

On the wall, we have a collage of different old movie star trading cards that I found at a flea market in Malmö.



New bathroom

Sophia: We wanted the bathroom to be extravagant, so we thought let’s just go hard!

Billy: I always liked these kinds of long white subway tiles.

Sophia: The mirror was my addition though, I wanted to do something that was gaudy, you know, so tacky it’s good.



Reform kitchen

Sophia: We’ve got the Reform cabinets in teal green. It’s my favorite color. I’ve had it in every apartment I’ve ever lived in.

We cook a lot. Actually, Billy cooks a lot. I eat the food, but, I mean, I think it’s quite a comfortable kitchen to cook in.



Kitchen chairs

Billy: I bought them by chance. I was on Bukowskis auction house site 10 years ago and no one had bid on five of these amazing Danish chairs.

When I lived in Malmö I loved buying Danish furniture, so I got these for about 1000 Swedish kroner. Sometimes you just get lucky and people don’t bid on nice things. It was the same with the green Wegner chair. I bought the chair in July, and nobody bids on things in July because they’re all on holiday. It’s like the perfect time to buy online.

Harvey Guzzini Lamp

Sophia: We have this yellow lamp above the kitchen table. We were in a secondhand store in Ljubljana when Billy saw that. He bought it and left it there so that we could pick it up at the end of our trip. When we came back it was wrapped in bubble wrap, then Billy had to sit on the plane with this huge lamp on his lap.

Billy: It’s an Italian design by Harvey Guzzini, and Yugoslav produced.



Alvar Aalto Kitchen bench

Sophia: Billy refurbished it.

Billy: You should have seen it three months ago, it had quite a tallowy color. It was a bench at an architecture studio where I used to work. It’d been kicked around by students for decades but the woods in Alvar Aalto stuff is hard.

So I removed all the varnish and sanded it down, then used a lighter varnish that’s almost natural looking. The wood kind of has this silvery feel when light hits it, so I wanted to preserve that.



Kitchen shelves

Sophia: This year I’ve been getting into fermenting. We’re doing a lot of pickles and I’ve been doing kombucha. I’ve even learned how to make jam during quarantine. I just got an urban garden plot, so that’s where we’re getting a lot of the stuff to pickle because I’ve grown too much of certain things… I’m still learning how to garden. What the hell do you do with loads of spicy chilies? Pickle them!

I’ve also been taking ceramics classes and have made some of these plates and dishes.

The chicken ceramic jug came from Tbilisi, Georgia – it was… controversial. At first, I didn’t like it. I tried to veto it, then he vetoed my veto and brought it home, and now I love it!

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Sorcha McCrory

Sorcha McCrory is the Managing Editor at Scandinavia Standard. She is a British writer and content creator, writing on topics including fashion, feminism and pop culture.