Blog / Journal / Pia Ulin

In my shelf

Pia Ulin

She’s lived in New York, built a house in Portugal, and renovated another one in Dalarna. After ten years of world exploration, photographer and ceramicist Pia Ulin is back in Stockholm. In her new rental apartment in Midsommarkransen, there’s a Portal shelf in every room – the drawers move up on the wall and a new clothes rail turns the bookshelf into a perfect match for the hallway and closet. Welcome!

Buy Pia's shelf

Who lives here?

– Pia Ulin does. I live across the courtyard from one of my daughters and my other daughter lives 100 meters down the same street. It’s so nice! We also share two dogs, so we can easily stop by and leave a dog or borrow some milk. The last ten years have been great fun, an amazing and exciting journey, but now I am completely in love with Stockholm. I have lived here for so long; my children grew up here and my work was here for many years. Coming back and reliving old encounters is great. My new boyfriend, who lives in Kungsholmen, is a third generation Stockholmer and lets me experience the city in a completely new way. It feels so good to be able to rediscover it with him. But I still have my house in Dalarna, it will always be my safe place.

You have the Portal system in every room, tell us more!

– I am relatively new in my newly built apartment building. The flat was completely stripped down, there were no hat racks or closets, nothing. So instead of buying standard wardrobes, I got the idea to talk to Josefine at TÔNN. Can we come up with something else? I had seen the Portal shelf at my best friend Cilla Ramnek’s house and loved it. It’s like a building kit, you can adapt it to your needs.

Pia Ulin living room with a large shelf from TÔNN Furniture in Off-white.
Pia Ulin decorated her shelf with ceramics, art and books.

And now it’s moving into two of the home’s most difficult-to-furnish rooms: the hallway and the wardrobe. What was your thoughts?

– There’s a new clothes rail that’s attached between the ends, which means that a bookshelf can easily be turned into a hat shelf or become a wardrobe solution, after your needs or when your life changes. I really like this open solution. This applies to the wardrobe too; it becomes like a small walk-in closet. It also means I’ll be good at folding my sweaters nicely, to keep it look stylish. In the wardrobe we had to cut the ends to adjust the shelf a bit, I like that you can think freely around the measurements.

The drawers on top of each other, directly on the wall, becomes a brand-new piece of furniture. How was that idea born?

– I was looking for a new chest with a strong expression but couldn’t find one. Then I got it! The drawers are wall-hung, so if you put them together three by three, it becomes a chest of drawers. Josefine thought it was a great idea! And in a small apartment, it will give you a little more floor space and make it feel bigger. That’s where I store all the boring stuff; paperwork, batteries, chargers, glasses, shoehorns… Even the bedside tables are wall-mounted drawers. The possibilities are endless! It has me thinking about the kitchen too…

What are you most happy with?

– The overall feeling. The Portal system frames my apartment with an exclusive feeling in such a great way. I have so many personal things of both private and creative nature and in a smaller home with so many different impressions, it’s nice to have a red thread, which the Portal system now becomes. I hope that especially everyone who lives in a newly produced home can get some inspiration from this solution.


What do you have in your bookshelf?

– I use it both for books and my job. I have all my hard drives there and my ceramics. I have been doing clay for probably 20 years, but 3 years ago I moved up to Leksand to take classes. It was wonderful.

It’s interesting, because when you do ceramics, you often stand in the workshop, open the oven, and feel ”that didn’t turn out so well”. But as soon as you take it home and put it among your other things, it usually touches down nicely. So, the shelf is like a floodgate, the pieces must stay there for a while before I pass them on or sell them.

You’ve lived in New York, Los Angeles, Portugal, Skåne, Dalarna… Has it affected your interior style?

– Since I’ve worked with interior photography for 25 years and seen so many amazing places and homes, I’ve been affected by that. In every place I’ve lived I’ve tried something new. But I’ll honestly say that it’s had more to do with a style that was modern at the time, not with the place. Now, when I’m starting to boil it down, I’ve noticed that it becomes more and more me. The house in Dalarna looks like Villa Villekulla, with both colors and patterns. I thought this apartment would be completely minimalist and white, but I’ve realized that I have more color in me than what is kosher for the interior design police. Like the new, green mirror Pang from TÔNN in the hall, which is so nice. Or the blanket from Magniberg that matches my orange hard drives. The curtains from Astrid I brought from the houses in Portugal and Skåne. Now I’m starting to feel like I can be myself.

Our friend's shelves

  • Viola Bergström large bookshelf at home.

    Viola’s shelf

  • Ida Laugas white Portal shelf from TÔNN.

    Ida’s first shelf

Blog / Journal / Pia Ulin

Portal shelving system

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