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The colour purple | Milkbottle

The colour purple

Helle

“I tend to go through phases where I have one colour on my brain. . .”, muses Danish designer and boutique owner Helle Høgsbro, “at the moment, everything in my life seems to be lavender. . .” At home, one look at the contents of her washing basket confirms her passion for the colour, then there’s the fabulously retro lavender-coloured pram from the 70s and a 1950s wooden cot, both of which she bought for her eight-month old daughter Betty. Meanwhile, at work, where Helle sells exquisite childrens’ knitwear and accessories in her shop, The Crème de la Crème ala Edgar, there are lavender coloured scarves, ponchos and beautiful little cardigans to be found. “Not just lavender-coloured things, though,” stresses Helle, “Basically, I do all kinds of colours and designs as long as they’re traditional – we specialise in the kind of pieces and styles it’s just getting harder to find. I guess you could say it’s the sort of shop where mothers drop in, pick up something for the children, but also leave with something like a scarf that they just couldn’t resist for themselves.” The shop opened some two and a half years ago, and such has been it’s popularity that Helle now has a team of four women knitting for her. “My youngest knitter is 21 and the oldest is 89, and we work together in the back of the shop. With such a diversity of experiences between us, we certainly have some great conversations while we’re working.”

A shade that manages to be both restful and funky at one and the same time would seem an ideal choice for someone who combines motherhood with a busy career. Though juggling the two sides of her life takes careful organisation, things have got easier in the past few months as Helle and her record-producer husband Jonas Krag have taken over his mother’s house just ten minute’s walk away from Helle’s shop. “In fact, this is the house in which Jonas grew up,” says Helle. “It’s one of what we call the kartoffelrækkerne [potato rows]: a hundred years or so ago the whole area was rural, and this is where the potato harvesters used to live, cheek by jowl. These days, the properties are very hard to come by, so we’re certainly lucky to have ended up with one. There’s a sense of tradition and a quieter pace of life here, yet you’re still in the thick of the city.”

The house runs to four floors, including a basement, so it definitely falls into the ‘tall and thin’ category – the sort of place you could easily imagining featuring in a story by Denmark’s Hans Christian Andersen. Because the house has been in the family for so long, many of its original features – such as floors, sash windows and the blue back door – remain in tact and, miraculously for a city house, it also boasts tiny gardens to both the front and the back of the house. “It’s great to have a bit of space where the children can play,” says Helle, “And in summer when the weather’s fine, it’s lovely just to unwind out here with a cool beer.”

Because the family have only been in their new home for a couple of months, they’ve yet to make any great changes to the place, “Let’s just say it’s a work in progress,” laughs Helle. “I’m not sure we’ll want to do anything too drastic too soon – we’d rather let things evolve around us. One thing I will say, though, is that I’m quite happy with all these white walls. I may love my lavender accessories – but I think living in a lavender-coloured cocoon would be beyond even me!”

The back door of the house is still stained its original blue colour. The living room on the first floor. Pictures on the wall are by Gilbert, by the Danish artist William Scott Olsen, whose work always features a duck, and there's an old Russian picture painted on glass. The vase on the table is Royal Copenhagen and a family heirloom.
left The back door of the house is still stained its original blue colour.
right The living room on the first floor. Pictures on the wall are by Gilbert, by the Danish artist William Scott Olsen, whose work always features a duck, and there's an old Russian picture painted on glass. The vase on the table is Royal Copenhagen and a family heirloom.
Helle The chandelier - a local find - is presumably designed to be portable as its 'arms' can be folded away.
left Helle
right The chandelier - a local find - is presumably designed to be portable as its 'arms' can be folded away.

Images: Hotze Eisma and Ulrika Lundgren via Taverne Agency

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