A Copenhagen apartment belonging to architects Justine Bell and Jonas Diernes, has been restored with the kind of care and curiosity one might expect from archaeologists looking for tales from the past. It showcases pair’s attention to the small yet crucial details and the interaction between origins, functionality and aesthetics.

The Mayor sofa was designed by Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen in 1939

Set in the suburb of Frederiksberg, Justine and Jonas saw an opportunity and a professional challenge to create a home from the run-down apartment.The couple did most of the work themselves – from retrieving the perfect stones for the bathroom from a quarry in England to designing the copper lamps for the kitchen, they were able to control every detail of the project.

The composition of colours along with the choice of materials and surfaces are the essential elements of the interior design

‘Our philosophy in regards to the restoration process was to treat the original parts by the old architectural rules, while all the new, present-day additions should stand out as an understated, but strong contrast. We would consistently use natural, honest materials such as wood, stone or copper,’ – Justine.

The couple also incorporated their own stories and heritage as  Justine’s South African roots can be seen in details such as the choice of fabrics and lithographs created by artists such as her aunt, South African artist Deborah Bell. By bringing in a number of delicate heirlooms, Jonas’s Danish upbringing is also evident in their home, showcasing their personal stories. See their full restoration in Elle Decoration’s Big Ideas issue on shelf now.

The bed is built of construction materials. The picture was sourced from a Cape Town School of Art exhibition. The nightstand is a cork stool designed by Ilse Crawford for Ikea

‘As architects, we are used to searching for a compelling story, a place to start, to give the work a sense of direction.’ – Justine.

Original Text and Styling Marie Monrad Graunbøl / Revolver Photographs Mikkel Tjellesen / Living Inside