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!
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.”
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!
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?
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.
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.
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)
I’m always on the look out for laptop bags and covers because I receive so many emails from people looking for stylist ones and I rarely know where to send them. And of course I love coming across cute bags for traveling as I’m sure I’ll eventually need to replace my Orla Kiely luggage. That’s why I’m going to remember Amy Butler the next time I need any of these things. She has just released a new line for Kalencom with her signature bright hues and lush patterns.
Gorgeous colors! The line uses organic cotton, low impact dyes, the highest grade leather accents, zippers, & trims, and bulletproof construction — you know, in case you forget to get off the bus at your stop and end up on the wrong side of the tracks (ha ha).
Looking for beautiful fabric to make your own bags and things for the home? Check out Amy’s new Love line!
(images: amy butler design)
It’s time to update the blog of the week so I searched high and low to see who I could introduce that may be fresh and new to your eyes. This week meet Paper Flower Girl who is Isis Sturtewagen — a young jewelry designer + artist living in Belgium with her husband and she authors a beautiful blog, etsy shop, dawanda store and takes the most stunning images of her home! What a gifted person she is. Like me and many of you, she loves natural tones and homes with lovely bones… she also loves to cook. I’ve included a recipe to this lovely compote shown below, so scroll to the end of this post to scribble it down in your notes.
What I love about these corners is that they’re all lovingly curated and much attention went into the details. I also enjoyed reading that most of Isis’s finds are thrifted and/or handmade. It demonstrates a real sense of self and style to be able to decorate in a way that so expertly highlights cherished possessions in a personal way – making the item fit you and not the other way around. And now, for the recipe from Paper Flower Girl that I promised earlier. It’s delicious, I know because it’s the same recipe my cousin shared with me recently. You can also modify it using pears instead of apples…
Apple Compote Recipe:
4 big apples
the juice of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon cinnamon
honey to taste
Peel and slice the apples. Put everything in a pot and bring to boil. Leave to simmer until tender. Bring to a boil again and pour everything in glass containers.
(images: paper flower girl)
I recently shared a home tour with you from Jan in Germany but today I came across some of the things that she is selling in her etsy shop along with more photos of her home and former apartment in Greece. I find her decorative style very soothing, don’t you? The first photo is my favorite because I love the simplicity of it. You can build an entire story in your head as you look at it. And of the course the image that follows is one of her current goodies stocked in her little etsy store, New Ivy Style. The other photos simply show views of how she lives currently and in the past.
Don’t you love glimpsing into the little worlds of others? I’m a huge fan of Corners of My Home, a flickr group I’ve been enjoying for a long time now. If you are new to Flickr please consider joining the group so you can see corners of inspirational spaces worldwide. It’s like taking a walk at night down a beautiful street and everyone just happens to have their shades open, lights on, and they don’t mind if you walk right up and look inside.
On a side note, you know what is a very popular flower in my city? Orchids. I don’t know if this is all over Germany but I can’t get over the obsession with orchids — nearly every home I enter has them of all varieties, on their windowsills. It’s beautiful and a very unexpected surprise as most people don’t associate Germany with orchids but it’s true!
(images: new ivy style)