Follow your gut - a conversation with Elena Ramírez
Filling her home with memories and beautiful items of sentimental value, Elena Ramírez is never afraid to experiment with forms and hues. After moving to Stockholm from Madrid in 2012, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a multidisciplinary furniture designer, started her job for H&M and settled in a cheerful 1920’s apartment on the island of Södermalm with her partner Christoffer and their dog Louie.
Ever since she’s remaining strong in her belief that home is a place where you should surround yourself with things that keep you in a good mood. Feel invited to explore Elena’s place, graced amazingly with Oly Stool and Looi Coffee Table. Get to know her inspirations, decor tips and her opinion on following the sixth sense when planning a home makeover!
Let’s start with a small warm-up: tell us about the most bizarre item in your apartment.
I would say that one of the most fun objects we own is a vintage pig pitcher. It’s one of the first second-hand pieces that my boyfriend and I bought together when we moved into our first apartment. I think that moving in with your partner makes things a bit more unexpected and fun! I guess I love it so much because it’s linked to the memory of us finding something so funny that we couldn’t leave the store without it. This thought makes me smile every time I fill the little pig’s belly with water! The jug is from Burleigh Ironstone and was made in Staffordshire, England.
Your style is playful and bold, and that’s something we adore. We’re scrolling through the photos of your apartment, admiring the delightful mix of colors and patterns, and one question comes to our minds: what’s your decorating golden rule?
I would say that the key to working well with different colors and styles is balance; I like to fill every space with textures, colorful textiles and thrifted pieces. Perhaps in our case we’ve been successful because we combined them with modern furniture that is functional and more minimalistic.
I think your apartment, your space, should encapsulate everything you’re about and that you shouldn’t be ashamed to show it! Generally, people in Scandinavia don’t like bright accents and busy walls, and in this apartment I am slowly doing the exact opposite – I fill every spare inch with something colorful. And it makes me happy.
Tell us something about the challenges of your creative work — what do you do on a day-to-day basis? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Working full-time as a creative in an agency requires careful time management, because the last thing you want is to get overwhelmed with meetings and run out of time for doing the fun stuff. Unfortunately, sometimes this is unavoidable. That’s why I continue creating even when I’m out of the office. I love to take and share photographs and consider my home another creative outlet where I can continue having fun. I find so much joy in experimenting and decorating.
But really, I am inspired by everything: good conversations with a friend, or even a stranger, nature walks or just any kind of trip to an unknown place I’ve never been to before. I love to get lost and then come home with new memories.
I consider my home as another creative outlet where I can continue having fun. I find so much joy in experimenting and decorating.
Having in mind that you have a degree in interior design, we wonder what’s your at-home styling strategy. Let’s say that strict planning and wild intuition are the two opposites on the scale — where would you place yourself?
I live with my boyfriend, and he is definitely as interested in the evolution of this apartment as I am. So, I would have to say that we test together and fail together, and our way of finding our perfect space is very intuitive!
When we moved in, we had a very different plan in mind for this home. We had this crazy idea of painting every room in bright, super saturated tones (including the ceilings). But natural light is probably the most important factor when designing or selecting colors and this apartment is bright and open; our original plan would have left the space looking dark and moody. That’s why we changed the course and finally went for very bright and soft tones on the walls and ceilings, while the furniture we chose is in bold, bright colors. We listened to our gut instinct.
I love the quality of Looi, it is sturdy but light, I can see the attention to detail. The pieces are assembled together neatly, and have much more tactility than I expected. Just a 10!
In the last months we’ve learned that our closest surroundings have huge impact on our emotional well-being. Do you agree with that statement? Did the way you treat your home change at all?
Absolutely! At the start of the pandemic, we were still living in an apartment where we didn’t get sun during the day. We had huge computer screens in the living area and I couldn’t fully disconnect from my work. Once we moved into our new home, we totally decluttered and sold most of our mid-century, dark teak furniture and started from scratch. Emotionally I really needed to start over.
I am also starting to value things that surround me. My favorite items are those that were made or designed by my friends, or those we collected during our travels. I like to surround myself with things that make me smile.