Books + Magazines, Inspiration

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

November 19, 2009

Let’s talk about design, some common stereotypes and other things that were on my mind when I hopped out of bed this morning. First of all, I decided yesterday that I seriously need to go back to Sweden again for vacation because I love to shop there and find so many things that appeal to me. I am inspired by Swedish magazines too because whenever I look at them I’m reminded of why I love certain elements of Scandinavian design so much. Of course, like any country, the rooms featured in magazines are not entirely representative of the average family home and how all people live in Sweden, or any other country for that matter. When you look at Elle Decor in the U.S. do you think of your friends house? Most likely not. But the design found in magazines is representative of what the “ideal” home may be in the minds of the majority living in that particular part of the world — based on culture, available products, local architecture, what people use, don’t use, etc. And so from the homes I see in Swedish magazines, I take it that there is a more relaxed mentality when it comes to decorating and though the design is thought about and well edited, comfort is more important than perfection. Do you mind if together we spend a moment to consider this topic as we examine a few rooms that I found in Hus & Hem, a popular Swedish decorating magazine? Oh good, I was hoping you’d say yes!

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

I’d like to share something with you that I feel is important to consider. I had the chance a few years back to visit Stockholm where I met a number of bloggers, one who stood out was Emma who authors Emmas Designblogg because she asks a lot of good questions and is as bold as she is charming and fun to be with. I would define her as a hot ticket. :) She’s also a gracious host, she gave my travel partner, Danielle, and I a great run around her city. That is why when Emma recently wrote about Swedish design on her blog, I took note. I’ll quote part of what she said, “I’ve received quite a lot of comments and emails lately about Swedish style, that it is so wonderful and everybody here must be born with a great sense of aesthetics and so on. Well, that is not the case. The pictures I show here are in no way representative of what an average Swedish home looks like! If I were to show average homes, no one would want to read this blog. Most people live in common boring apartments and haven’t changed their sofas since 1998. They have curtains with ugly flowery prints, apricot walls and IKEA posters on their walls.”

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

Interesting point she makes, right? What she said makes us all feel a little better because often we think design in this or that country is so amazing and often we assume that the majority who live there have these slick, high fashion homes. Partly this comes from the magazines we read but also the film industry. Whenever you think of NYC you imagine the massive industrial loft or classic brownstone architecture, right? I do. But let me assure you because I’ve visited many apartments in Manhattan in my lifetime, the average person does not live in million dollar property. Lots of my friends in Germany have this impression of Manhattan that doesn’t fit what it really is. I mean, how many single journalists could ever live (and shop) like Carrie Bradshaw? And how many live in an apartment like those kids had in that film Cloverfield? And Will Smith and his monster-size brownstone in I Am Legend or Meg Ryan and her flat in You’ve Got Mail. Those are the dream apartments but they are not the way most New Yorkers live because spaces like that are either not available and privately owned by the super rich or if they are available, they run in the thousands per month to rent and who in the world has that kind of money in your social circle, right?

Then again, not even celebs have massive flats in New York. Remember Nate Berkus’ apartment featured in Oprah magazine a few years back? It was a two room apartment. Or even Lisa Loeb in that reality show she once had (that I loved) — she’s loaded and yet she did not live in a massive townhouse. Of course, some do live large in cities all over the world and I’m not saying otherwise, but the norm in films or the norm in magazines is not the norm in real life. It’s a lifestyle, a dream, smoke and mirrors, not a reflection of daily life lived by the entire population. So the next time you look at a foreign decorating magazine keep in mind that those living there aren’t all design aficionados who have posh flats. (pop pop bubbles are bursting, I hear them!) Even the posh flats you see were styled to perfection and given a thorough cleaning before the crew arrived to shoot. These homeowners weren’t caught with their pants down in other words – preparations were made. I try to remember this whenever I’m standing in my own tiny apartment flipping through my mass loads of glossies thinking my home doesn’t even compare. Ring! Ring! Reality calls!

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

But overall, the design that comes out of each country is coming out for a reason so it’s not that it doesn’t exist. There is a background — history, culture, art schools and artists all influence it, the designers coming out of that country influence it and the average homeowner and their tastes and needs influence it. And of course, the super rich influence it as well as the most stylish apartment and home owners who have their spaces featured in magazines, on television, etc. So there is something to the design we are seeing — there is a reality to it all though it’s not how every single person decorates or lives. It’s interesting to think about all of this and to discuss it, don’t you think?

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

So back to these lovely rooms and what we know as Swedish modern design. I really like how each of these spaces shown above feel accessible and within reach. And is it just me, or does black seem to be part of nearly every room shown above? I read once that there is design rule that states to always add a shot of black somewhere in a room and though I don’t believe that is necessary, I do see the value in it when I look at these rooms and see that black certainly gives a certain something to them, don’t you think? I also notice a trend with stripes and how they appear to be a pattern used in home decor in Sweden.

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

Each of these spaces shown within the pages of Hus & Hem have something I appreciate, and you must have noticed to as you were inspecting them. They are lived in but also design matters to those dwelling in the space — and there is a feeling of positivity, creativity, individuality and a cozy comfort without over accessorizing. It’s clean and balanced living that I think is a hallmark of modern Swedish design, don’t you? And I like this because it supports how I like to live. So while not every home may look like something from a magazine, there is definitely a striving for it that makes the whole obsession with decorating more fun.

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

Let me turn the table now. What about you? Out of all of the design you’ve observed in the world – from Australia to France to America and beyond, which one, or combination of, speak to you the loudest and the clearest? How is design presented in your part of the world – what are common elements and such that seem to be what your country is known for?

(images: hus & hem)


  • Reply ishtar November 19, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Great post holly! I totally agree with you! seems like everybody “out there” owns these houses, but in reality, really, WHO does? But it is hard when ,with out really thinking about it, we always tend to compare our own homes and thats never good. We should focus on the things we have and feel grateful, but also this doesnt mean we can´t improve our homes in the best way we can, right? we should read this magazines just as sources of inspiration and creativity.
    .-= ishtar´s last blog ..Japanese goods =-.

  • Reply kristi November 19, 2009 at 9:50 am

    you made such fabulous points! We all need to be conscious of the barrage of smoke and mirrors that come our way daily in all facets of life. I am going to be certain to have my two daughters read this post, because I think it so relates in many, many areas. Thanks!

  • Reply Jillian November 19, 2009 at 10:07 am

    What I appreciate most about the images you posted is that they are pretty streamlined and simple – as in, you don’t have to have a ton of “stuff” to create a beautiful space. But, yet, they still feel comfortable and livable. I feel like I could exist in any one of those rooms pictured.
    .-= Jillian´s last blog ..Etsy Inspiration =-.

  • Reply Lamirose November 19, 2009 at 10:14 am


    I read your blog everyday, but this is the first time I leave a comment. I live in Paris but I’m from Morocco…I dream of decorating my home sweet home with useful and confortable things and furniture that reminds me of my trips and my Country …I love the confort of Moroccan living rooms, the simple design of Scandinavian homes and the
    A traditionnal Moroccan living room usually have 3 (or more) benches covered with precious and colourfull fabrics, there is always a table in the middle of the room…example

    Have a nice day.

  • Reply Mrs. M November 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

    you did burst my bubble Holly, but I’m glad you did!!
    I hadn’t really considered this in regards to Scandanavian design (which I ADORE) but you’re totally right. your comparision to US mags really drives the point home: how many of us have homes that look like Martha Stewart’s? definitely not me or anyone I know! but I think that’s why I do love Scandanavian design — it employs a mix of modern and vintage, bright punches of color and has this effortless coziness which makes it seem a lot more realistic than what you see here in the US.

    thanks for the insightful read this morning :)
    .-= Mrs. M´s last blog ..monday, monday… =-.

  • Reply trish November 19, 2009 at 10:21 am

    holly- thanks- luv hus & hem. funny this post came before me today. i have been spending a lot of time lately focusing on my surroundings and what feels good to me. The wonderful part about most of the images from above is that the objects resinate- there’s a story behind me. there is a sole to a home with objects of age, and not necessarily 18th c. museum pieces, but those carefully chosen or received, that mean something to the person living with them. then place them next to a new born piece and they become friends. I so appreciate that look. not sure what to categorize it, but- clean, earthy, ethnic meets scandinavian sole.
    I live at the beach in new york. most of the posh homes here get press. the mc mansions with perfect matchy-matchy decor get photographed in the big publisher mags. here much focus is on the elite, that is grand in size, and overdone. note, one thing i miss, domino. i place no judgement on that lifestyle, it just doesn’t move me. i just rather be surrounded in a space that speaks to me, rather than a huge space that a decorator corralled and put their stamp of approval on. I know many people with means to have the cookie cutter mc mansion, but chose a home that tells their own story instead. like- look a space and ask- would i like to break bread with the person that lives here? One rule that i love regarding home- there are no rules. the unexpected is always welcome. so stay open and listen to your heart and good always seems to follow, like golden bread crumbs. have a happy day. :)
    ox t
    .-= trish´s last blog ..Susan Hornbeak Ortiz =-.

  • Reply Karen M. Andersen November 19, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Hi Holly – this is a really interesting topic and I thought I would chime in and give my opinions on homes from a regional Australian (state of Queensland) point-of-view :)

    I definitely adhere to the style of decorating that you show in your first few photos. I have a large blue corner lounge suite in the same cobalt blue as in Photo 4, too! I have an artwork/inspiration assemblage started on a large red canvas on the wall above it. I like to use a lot of colour in my decor, thrifted pieces of furniture, and my own artwork. I rent and have the standard “renter’s white” walls that we are not permitted to touch with paint, so it really helps to brighten up my home and makes me feel inspired and alive!

    I tend to use textiles to add warmth and a homely vibe. I have a couple of pieces of old furniture painted in a beautiful teal/aqua blue like the piece in photo 1. I have made a feature of this colour in my home and pair it with quilts and cushions I have made myself in bright colours. Photos 1 and 2 in this post of yours are how I like to decorate, and I am currently rearranging and adding to my home. I have finished my studio and have photos of it on my Flickr and blog so if you wanna see what I am talking about feel free to browse. I also love brightly painted chairs…I have two in my studio that we bought for $AU5 each which we reglued, painted, and reulpholstered.

    I am really thrilled that the thrifting trend is starting to take off in Australia. Major magazines like “Real Living” and “Better Homes and Gardens” are full of ways to re-use and update thrifted pieces of furniture. These magazines are not the typical Aussie home though – Doilies and crochet have not been so quick to take off though. Many still view these, and crafts like sewing, quilting, and knitting as old-fashioned. I get some pretty strange looks from other Mums at my children’s school if I tell them that I craft and that it is “in” again! Most that I know are into very sleek, modern furniture and home design. Give it another 6 months and maybe thrifting and renovating older furniture will be catching on more!

    Most new Australian homes, especially in Queensland where I live, are one storey (sitting on a concrete slab on the ground), brick, and have a tiled or Colourbond roof. Inside they have largely open-plan living spaces, usually tiled or sometimes polished wood floors throughout, with carpet in the bedrooms. Windows are sliding and large with flyscreens or security screens. Rendered homes are becoming quite popular also and outward design sleeker. Most have a large covered patio/entertainment area out the backyard and modern shrub-style drought-tolerant plants are a big trend in gardening/landscaping. These styles are so popular as they allow airflow around the interior and exterior to cool us down in our hot, humid climate.

    Older homes are being renovated in ever-increasing numbers as an alternative to people buying or building new with the global financial crisis. In Queensland, our “typical” “Queenslander” homes usually high-blocked with a long set of stairs leading to the front door. These homes usually feature high ceilings, tounge-and-groove walls and verandahs around the outer. BEAUTIFUL homes…many in my local area. I must take photos of some and post on my blog to show you!

    How about Australians out there in other states? What is home design/architecture/decorating like your part of the country?

    Thanks for reading my humble opinions Holly!

    Karen xx
    .-= Karen M. Andersen´s last blog ..Inspiration Monday =-.

  • Reply juliette November 19, 2009 at 10:48 am

    When I think of my life in the US, the big themes that pop in my head are the antiquey/country and Pottery Barn looks and the younger/modern crowd at Crate and Barrel and that whole look. These vary between east/west coasts, as well as north- and southeast (all of which I’ve lived in), but I really feel those 2 styles envelop a huge percentage of American homes. But just b/c it seems to be the majority, doesn’t mean it’s my style.

    Here in Germany I feel like I see a lot of Ikea and a lot of old 80’s/90’s ‘contemporary’ styles. I will say that regardless of income, the older generations (50+) have some really great, timeless looks. Lots of antiques mixed with ultra modern mixed with classic shapes that you could have purchased yesterday or 40 years ago. I walk in these homes and think – could there be some updating? yes, but mainly just cosmetic things – nothing major.

    It’s this latter style that I really like – one that meshes my geographic history and one that matches my husband’s geographic history.
    .-= juliette´s last blog ..wool = cozy decor =-.

  • Reply Karen M. Andersen November 19, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Holly, I also want to add that I think a lot of us seem to get too caught up in keeping up with modern home and lifestyles; the same can definitely be said of Australians.

    I love that old, thrifted, and handmade is becoming fashionable again, and I think it is SO vitally important in this day and age for us to think of new ways that we can reuse or update what we DO have, both for environmental AND financial reasons.

    There is too much wastage and we have become a “throw-away” society, if you know what I mean? If you don’t have the latest style in dining settings or lounge suites, why not update what you do have instead of throwing it out, or buy secondhand pieces? Furniture built 30 or 40 or 50 years ago is often solid timber and only needs regluing, some new nails or screws, and a lick of paint. Recovering lounges with a new slipcover or a pretty home-made quilt is cheaper and better for the environment than jumping on the mass-produced bandwagon, also.

    I just wish that more Australians thought the same way. Just my humble opinion :)

    Karen xx
    .-= Karen M. Andersen´s last blog ..Inspiration Monday =-.

  • Reply thedoodlegirl November 19, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Divine living spaces! It’s so fun to see these pictures!
    .-= thedoodlegirl´s last blog ..Illustration Friday: Unbalanced =-.

  • Reply Lori November 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Great post! It’s good to think about these points, and remind ourselves not to compare our own homes so much.

    I personally am really drawn to Swedish design as well. I think it’s the clean, but paired down look. The spaces look lived in, simple, and attainable. When I look at American design magazines as a comparison, a lot of the homes featured are extravagant, and out of reach.

    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Current favourite =-.

  • Reply Victoria Klein November 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Personally, Swedish design speaks the strongest to me. Part creative, part casual, yet 100% charming. It is the perfect combo of everyday & upscale, which is so very hard to create, but the Swedes – or at least the Swedish magazines, make it look very easy. You get a strong impression of a country from what THEY see as ideal (and show in their home magazines). A person’s home is a strong reflection of their personality – rich, poor, young, old. If the pics from Hus & Hem are what Swedes strive for, then I would be in darn good company. :) (My goal is to live in Sweden within the next 10 years.)

  • Reply julie November 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Dear Holly- fabulous post. The two points of view in style I have come across are suburban and urban in Northern California. I have been to all kinds of shops and have seen other people’s interiors- thanks to trick or treating with my kids. I think there is a disconnect in the suburbs with finding your own style in general. But the same could be said of busy people living in the city. I had always thought people in the city could all have funky, eclectic homes with original pieces that suburban stores knock-off. This is not the case. I guess authenticity and color would be the most important to me. This is not to say I don’t enjoy magazines- they offer the hope that these beautiful things do exist, and that we can incorporate them into a vibrant, living household.

  • Reply SoNotedDesigns November 19, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I love, love, love the candle stick holders. Any thoughts on where one might find the yellow and blue ceramic ones?


  • Reply fiorella castro November 19, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Holly, your blog is amazing! I read it everyday, what an interesting post, I always think about design and how it’s seen all over the world, we all have our oun perspective.

    I live in Brazil in a city called Fortaleza, But I’m actually fron Uruguay, so I have a bit of an outsiders view on design out here, and I’m a student of interior design.
    Its incredible how rich and unique this country is.. when we think of Brazil, we think of beautiful beaches, rainforests, carnaval and lovely people, and I have to say, I was a bit shocked when I saw that brazilians didn’t liked the way foreigners saw their country! Ok, I know it’s a bit narrow-minded, but it’s quite a positive view! Dont you think?

    So many people here take for granted how beautiful their country is.. in design, people tend to repel everything they’re known for and look up on what europe is doing and saying, copying what famous foreign designers are making, which is a bit disappointing, because I don’t think Brazil needs it, it has all the elements to make a design explosion, it only needs a bit of a self-esteem boost, I think.

    But!!!!! Not all is bad! To my joy, there are people who think differently, specially when looking at it with a design eye, yes there’s the “tropical design” which I love and Brazil’s most known for, a mix of native indian, african and portuguese elements, that when combined, it can be a feast for the eyes and mind! But there’s also the evolution of that Brazilian design, so rich and diverse like the people who live here.
    Pure lines, made to work and last in hot climate and always eco-friendly, putting comfort first, but always beautiful, and most importantly never ever forgetting that it’s brazilian.. to me, that’s design at it’s best.. made for the people who are going to use it. A fresh take on the “tropical design” we’re used to.

  • Reply marisa November 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    my inspiration doesn’t come from a specific location but from that movement karen m. andersen referred to, of thrifting and restoring and (most important) making by hand. i think if we pull together the things we love, it allows our own style to develop. it’s attainable for anyone, and it can fit any home. no, it’s not found in the average home in my town – they’re filled with beige walls, living room sets from hom furniture or slumberland, and decor from tj maxx or pier one. however, it’s found in my home and the homes of my friends – and the great thing about it is, even though i can think of 10 homes in my town that share this aesthetic, they’re each unique, reflecting the people who live there. we don’t have to worry about bringing home the same coffee table from the thrift store or making the same quilt. i love that.

    (a couple examples, from the blogosphere, not my real-life friends!): (soulemama) (delight)
    .-= marisa´s last blog hat: finished =-.

  • Reply diana strinati baur November 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Oh no, I can see from Juliette’s comment that I am in the “older generation” which kind of freaked me out. Oh well.

    Nice post, Holly! Here in Italy, I am amazed at the amount of bad living design. I mean, you would expect just the opposite, right? Hence, your point, Holly, is perfect. We see Italian design in magazines and consider it the zenith, but in reality people live with ALOT of fluorescent lighting and fake wood cabinetry. It’s just the way it is. After moving here, I was pining for design from the rest of Europe. Italy is beautiful but can be hit or miss when it comes to lifestyle and design, which I found surprising.

    Swedish design is what I still consider to be the most livable and attractive (my years working at IKEA might have had some influence, but it is more all the trips to Sweden I have made and the many homes there that I have seen). I think it is simple, down to earth, clean and in a way, precious and sweet.

    I would not want to live in Sweden, as much as I love it … my best memories are of midsommar by the sea with friends, with 22 hours of sun— but the winters are too long and dark for me! Having said that, I am heading to Stockholm in a few weeks to visit friends, enjoy some Scandinavian Advent cheer and to stop by and see Karen Eriksson at her shop Manos. YAY!
    .-= diana strinati baur´s last blog art =-.

  • Reply Lauryn November 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    When I go to the bookstore they usually only have UK or US magazines and I almost never buy US magazines anymore. I love all the UK decorating magazines and so wish I could move to England some day. Whenever I’m in California visiting family I always go to Japanese bookstores and pick up an armful of Japanese decorating mooks. Although right now I’m very much into vintage decor and so I typically look to flickr groups for inspiration.

  • Reply S November 19, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Thoughtful post. So glad you pointed out the gap btwn staged decor magazine images vs. real life spaces. This is why blogs like Apartment Therapy that feature living spaces of real people are so enjoyable. They are often just as inspiring/creative/lovely to look at as high end glossies. The “house tours” provide a glimpse of what works for everyday living.

  • Reply Reeve November 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Ahhhhhh. Thank you, Holly. This post came at just the right time. My family and I just moved into an old house in Maine that we have been renovating. I’m currently a bit overwhelmed with all the setting up we need to do–due to budget constraints, we haven’t even finished the trim on the windows and doors yet, nor do we have kitchen cupboards! And I’m frustrated to think that our home may never look as beautiful as I’d been envisioning it could all these months while we’ve been renovating. This is a great reminder that the homes you see in magazines are the ideal, but rarely the reality. Thank you for brightening my day!

    Oh, and I absolutely covet the type of Swedish design you highlight in this post. That is the look we are ultimately going for–which brings up another question: how to do Swedish modern on an Ikea budget without looking like an Ikea catalog?

  • Reply Maria Helena November 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm


    This post made me think about this new trend of showing our house as it really is, with its faults , it´s traces of the daily life. The Selby, for example, it´s a trully succefull blog ( and now a book ) showing real people in their real homes. It´s quite a new trend going on. There´s also Apartamento Magazine, from Spain, also taking pictures of houses and their owners as if they are not there, just trying to capture the real thing, no styling, no perfect photo.

    Have you notice this too?

    Are we tired of perfect images?
    Well, i for once love them, i think their purpose is making us dream of beautifull spaces, pure eye candy, at the same time beeing a important source of inspiration and ideas.

    And of course i love the swedish style, it´s gorgeous! It´s easy to think all swedish people live in houses like that! What strikes me the most it’s the attention to details and the light, the white light all around – in the walls and floor – maybe it´s because they don’t have so much sunlight ( i’m lucky, i live in Portugal ) that they persue all this whiteness. Anyway, we all love it.

    I also adore the french flea market style…don’t we all?

    In Portugal i don’t think we have a style that i can rebember of, and if we have most of them are not very entusiastic. We have great old houses everywhere, beautifull ceramic tiles, but not an interiour style. The seaside houses can also be inspiring!

  • Reply HELLO TIGER! November 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I think it kind of funny that a big part of the world think that we swedes has got great taste in design. ^.^ But the pictures shown in magazines like Hus & Hem (I’ve worked with that maganzine) doesn’t show you a normal swedish home. It’s a stylish home that’s been staged for hours!
    .-= HELLO TIGER!´s last blog ..Kaffe kaffe kaffe! Coffee coffee coffee! =-.

  • Reply Helen November 19, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Holly,

    I live in Vancouver Canada now, but I grew up in Beijing. Growing up material things are not really the focus of life. But the more modest way of life did effect the way I decorate now. Also, I like to include part of my root in my current home. Not in obvious ways demonstrated in a lot of the American magazines (such as old Chinese furniture, or artifacts from the cultural revolution). In fact, I’m 80’s generation, so to me those things does not represent my culture fully.

    I feel the most comfortable with Scandinavian style. It’s clean, comfortable, modern and functional, also very lively with hits of color. How I incorporates my Chinese root is through art and craft. I have little pieces of things from my childhood and my family that’s not “Chinese” looking. By that I mean old photographs, stamp collections, etc. I also enjoy paper cutting, which is a traditional Chinese craft, but instead of bright color paper, I use neutral color paper which appeals to me more.

    Thank you for share with us your thoughts about design in such a beautiful post! It’s a good reminder to think of why we do things and why these particular things appeals to us!


  • Reply andreasweets November 19, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Hey holly, can you please individualize your posted images and NOT make a photo collage… when you click on a single image, the whole grid enlarges and it is hard to see each space seperately! (we all love details!) Also, you can’t save images when you click & enlarge! Please fix by adjusting your flickr options. It’s very simple, and your fans will appreciate greatly! Thank you!

    • Reply decor8 November 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

      andreasweets – I live to make collages so I’m sorry but I think I’ll keep them if that’s okay! But all you have to do is this when you click on an image.

      Click on the image
      You will be brought to Flickr
      Click on “all sizes” above the image
      Select a smaller size so that you can fit it on your screen, maybe you have a small monitor which could be the problem, I have a huge one.

  • Reply Karin A November 19, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Such an interesting topic! I definitely believe that different aspects of culture and living (not just decorating and interior) are connected with each other. I (I’m from Sweden myself) love the homes above but would not say that they look typical Swedish (if there is something typical Swedish!?). In my opinion most of us Swedes are not brave (we are a bit afraid) when it comes to decorating our homes. We prefer light and white and seldom choose something unique in style. The simple way of decorating somehow feels Swedish and much people like there homes to be clean, and not overdecorated and maybe we need the cozy comfort due to the cold(er) climate and long winters. ;) My wish is that more Swedes would have the courage to do something different so our homes really would be individualized…I believe that in other countries styles are more diverse but this might be just something I think…!

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this interesting topic!
    .-= Karin A´s last blog .. =-.

  • Reply nina November 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I am a big fan of your blog… you always inspire me:)

  • Reply Amy November 19, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks for this post! As a New Yorker living in one of those less-than-glam apartments that don’t usually appear in movies or TV shows, I appreciate many of your thoughts on the issue.

    I’m a big fan of Swedish design, and your post made me think a lot about Swedish artist Carl Larsson (you inspired me–just posted about it myself…shameless plug: I love how he captured the everyday-ness of the interiors of his turn-of-the-century Sweden. His work looked amazing, but it also looked real (well, mostly real). And sometimes, real is even more beautiful than the smoke and mirrors of the mags we all read.

    Appreciate the great read!

  • Reply Emilia November 20, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Very interesting discussion.

    Being Swedish myself, I totally agree with blogger Emmas comment and I am finding it rather funny that people seem to believe that all the lovely things that we can see in these pictures are the “normal”, “standard” way of decorating here in Sweden. I am doing something similar in my home even though it is tiny (white walls in combination with colourful textiles, vintage and modern things in a mix etc.), and I am considered to be something of an eccentric among my circle of friends :-)

    When it comes to the stripes, I think these may be modern representations of Swedish folklore, i.e. traditional patterns used in textiles.

  • Reply Karin Johansson November 20, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I’m Swedish, and I think that our attention to our homes is vital because of the climate here.

    Without a well built home, we would freeze in the winter. (If I lived in a house built like most English ones, but in our climate, I would wake up an icicle! Absolutely frozen from the draughtiness and lack of double glazing.) We stay indoors a lot during the winter months. Without the light white decor, the winter would feel even darker. Without the joy of adding cheeky twists, we would probably get a bit down..

    That might explain why I find that Swedes love their homes much more than the people I have known when I’ve lived in England and France. We love them for protecting us from minus 20 degree cold and 20 hours a day darkness!


  • Reply Lucia November 20, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I live in Uruguay, you can find some Uruguayan houses in this Argentinian magazine:
    They show houses at the country side or at the cost mostly. We Uruguay and Argentina share the same design style in a general point of view, but they have much more developed their design production. I particularly love when they show old houses that have been updated to fulfill modern life requirements. That combination of old, functional and cozy is the most I like.

    I´m a big fan of Swedish design, I am fascinated by their houses!!! they look so simple!! sometimes I notice the small storage places they show … is that true in real life ? here you always find big closets and similar things even in the magazines … people like to keep things I think but how is that in Sweden ?!!!

  • Reply Kathryn November 20, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I loved this post and I loved the link to emmas blog. Like Karen I am also from Australia and the thing i like about scandinavian style is that it always seems really naturally put together. They grasp the concept of collecting treasures and coupling it with clean lines making their places really cosy. In Australia the thrift stores and vintage is pretty crap. Unless you inherit from an old relative, your chances of finding something cool and old is slim (or you need to pay top dollar for it). I guess in Europe old furniture items are easier to come by and they really spruce up a home. Thanks for this blog post.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Karen M. Andersen: Studio Tour – part 1 =-.

  • Reply Merri Cvetan, The Design Coach November 20, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Then there is the HGTV influence. People seem to think you can redo an entire room for as little as $500 and in a single day!

  • Reply Elizabeth E. November 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    As a fan, I always like your challenges back to us, the readers, so today I will comment. In the area I live in–desert about an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles–the Tuscany/Italy vibes are most often seen in decor and shops. Is that because Italy is such a great place to travel to, or is it because I’ve traveled to Italy and my filter has changed to see those things?

    But when I really take off the filters, I think mostly I would agree with your post that we have old sofas, tired decor, weary paint because our lives are lived at turbo-max and we don’t take time to slow down and enjoy (and spruce up) our surroundings.

    I also think I’ll be forever “in the middle” of doing my rooms–I get the big stuff down, and then it takes forever to pull in the little touches that change it from a room in the magazine, to MY room. (I have to read your blog to really try and absorb what you post, because I’m just a Regular Person and not a decorator).

  • Reply A Sort Of Fairy Tale November 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    great post! i live in the midwest (Chicago) and i definitely feel like it is
    so over saturated here with Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel style! it’s like midwesterners have no idea that there is anything else out there. of course there are exceptions, but it seems to me this is the prevailing style in this part of the U.S.
    sadly for me, i love the likes of English country, Scandanavian, and French country style. it’s just so hard it seems to find a great representation of these styles where i live….wah, wah, wah :(
    one positive is that i do enjoy farmhouse style, so that is a bit easier to come by here!
    .-= A Sort Of Fairy Tale´s last blog ..What I Want Wednesday 11/18/09 =-.

  • Reply Alanna November 21, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I completely agree with Maria Helena…I`m bored with all of the images of “perfection” innundating the major Canadian and American design magazines. I think that the style that appeals most to me is less “geographic” and more “demographic”…that is, I love the homes I see of the twenty and thirty-something creative types with some budget constraints. To me, designing or redecorating is not a challenge with a limitless budget. It`s when the budget is tight (but realistic, of course) that a person really has to use his or her innovation and creativity. For me, that`s what really defines a space.

  • Reply Penny Patten November 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Yes, I could say I like swedish style, nice post!
    .-= Penny Patten´s last blog ..Decorating For The Holidays =-.

  • Reply Isabel November 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Im from Sweden and study design. Right now Im doing a course in Swedish furniture design so it was very interesting for me to read all the coments about what people outside Sweden percieve is Swedish design. In this course weve studied Carl and Karin Larsson and their home. How most you describe Swedish design is sort of the essence of the Larssons philosophy about design and life. About spaces made for living and the personal mix. Maybe this is sort of a Swedish (or Scandinavian) mentality. Even though far from every home looks like the pictures. There are lots of cases with pine panel everywhere, big leather sofas from the 80s and knicknacks scattered around the place. But I do think that Hollys is right in that the magazines show the ideal of the country.

    Sometimes I dont really know what Swedish design is until I go abroad and see what Swedish design is not. But if i would define it with some frew words i would say functional, light, natural materials and not overdecorated.

  • Reply Imogen November 24, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I am a quarter Swedish, my mother’s mother was born there and only moved to this country in her twenties, so consequently I have a fair bit of family on my mother’s side still living in Sweden. I have visited it twice in the last year or so (I have been when I was younger but then I wasn’t very aware of style & design!). I love it there so much! And it is true about the aesthetics of people there being very well developed! I don’t know if it is just compared to where I live where aesthetic niceties are only really thought about by people with a lot of money, but I do find that everything in Sweden is much more beautiful.

    For example, not only in Stockholm where my family members (who are all creative people) have wonderful apartments, but up in the north in a tiny village, my great aunt and great uncle live in the most lovely home I’ve ever seen, even though most of it is based around comfort and practicalness. I wish I had a picture to show you, but it’s more than just the look of it, it’s the smell of coffee and rubber boots and cooking and old central heating. They also have a flat in the nearest town to stay in when the weather gets frightful and that is also lovely, even though it probably hasn’t changed since the 70s very much. I agree with someone up there who said it’s because of the winters that people love their homes so much.

    And honestly I can say that I have been in people’s homes that would not be out of place in a magazine or a design blog. With lovely people in them as well. Maybe its a Swedish atmosphere and spirit that makes it special. I know that every time I have been in Stockholm and we visit the Skansen open-air museum I want to buy the whole (expensive!) gift shop of artisan and traditional Swedish home-wares. Sigh!

    Here interior design I think is still focussed on an image of the traditional upper classes and has an air of poshness and elitism. Things are nice if they cost a lot, or if they are an imitation of something that costs a lot. People don’t really have much new ideas. This is just mainstream design for the mass of people, of course, I don’t know what goes on with people who actually know about it!

  • Reply Idee in gocce November 23, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I really really love your blog!

  • Reply Maciej Kowalski March 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    I love your blog too!
    I like Swedish design but there are not many opportunities in Poland te see things designed in Sweden.

    If you want to see products designed in Poland please visit my page when I offer wall mounted coat rack in powder-coated steel

  • Reply profizorka April 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I love your blog….is great this lamps!!!:))

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