What Everybody Ought To Know About Real Swedish Home Style

To some, Swedish home style means something like these below. Seats? I’m not sure.

The Grandes Dames among us might dream more grandly. Maybe of Swedish gilt.

In fact, as lived, Swedish home design is above all endearing. Made for smiling. Some things are fuzzy, some anthropomorphic. White for dark winters, and color for long summers – woven, or bended, or carved. But little seems to be made without thought, or placed without care.

The Swedish interiors I have experienced are places of comfort. Where each detail warms your heart. Sort of like one long wedding, of family to itself. Even in summer, when the interior is, well, outside.

This is my stepfamily’s house on Ingmarso, in the Stockholm Archipelago, taken early one morning as everyone else lay sleeping.

Being infinitely wise about people living in close quarters, they have also built an attached little house, known as, The Little House.

My stepfather acquired this land almost 50 years ago. Recently his daughter remodeled the main kitchen, beautifully. The counters, I believe, are teak, the cabinets stainless steel, all from Ikea. This should surprise no one.

When you wake up early, pull open a drawer and find pastry from the local bakery. The plastic bag closes with a miniature clothes pin, decorated with what appears to be a sailing flag. I want 65, please, since I’m sure I would lose many and feel sad if I could not return immediately to Sweden for replacements.

As you can see, the kitchen is now part of the living room. And, other than four small bedrooms and one bathroom, that’s it for the main house. Can you see the red-painted wood chairs? My favorites.

There’s little need for space in vacation cottages. You live outside. You shower outside. You eat outside.The first night, we had salmon, salad, and potatoes. This should surprise no one. Potatoes are to Swedes as snow, mythically, is said to be for the Inuit. They have even invented special potato-poking tools to assess doneness. Often decorated with a carved wooden moose head. See the printed napkin on the right? Blue, white, gold, and paper. Oh boy.

Warmth, humor, and detail carry out past the home and into restaurants. One day we all got into a large boat, owned by my stepsister’s colleague, and went to Sandhamn. Another island. One with a delicious restaurant. Where they serve chilled water in glass bottles decorated with a rope braid collar. My sister held the bottle and poured. Thanks, sister.

The napkin ornamentation was nice too. I love a monogram and chain stitch.The kind restaurant owners had painted the ceiling a gorgeous cerulean blue, and mounted cobalt chandeliers for contrast. A gorgeousness overdose, really.


The brass hinge on the window next to my seat. They had me at cerulean, hinges were unnecessary.

What appears to be Libby’s Corned Beef Hash, below, is in fact a dish called Pytt i Panna. Cubes of beef, ham, potato, onion and beets. While my tongue craved a crayfish stew, Pytt i Panna is what my stepfather wanted me to cook when he first got out of the hospital so I felt that fate was saying this needed to be my lunch. It was pretty good. Jamie Oliver agrees with me.

Even the most casual of places cater to aesthetic sensibilities. Later in the week we ate at the Ingmarso harbor cafe. This place used to be called something like Armadillo Willy’s but came to its senses for the most part and reverted to cultural roots. Except the nachos but we will gloss over those quickly. A blue metal pail full of utensils and napkins. Sigh.

To say nothing of something called Planka, meaning “board.” An aquavit and sealife taster. For my brothers-in-law.

I had beer and fried Baltic herring, or strumming. I can’t eat pickled herrings, no matter how they pickle those poor critters, but fried in batter and nestled into some mashed potatoes and melted butter? Oh boy. Oh boy.
Finally, the stairs leading from the inlet dock up to the house. Whether the builder knew that the top landing would make a perfect place to sit, mug in hand, and watch the sun play on the water, I do not know. In a Swedish summer, home style includes skylight. And I love the way unfinished wood smells when it gets warm. Especially when it’s old enough that you don’t have to worry about splinters.

I can’t forget my manners. The only Swedish word I know is thank you, but it’s the most important here. “Tack,” Swedish family, “Tack sa mycket.”Images:
Bended thingies from life is carbon, all about Scandinavian design
Mirrors from Cupboards & Roses, specializing in Swedish antiques
All others by me
Note: The scenery is yet to come. I haven’t forgotten that all these home goods sat in the middle of the sky on some water.

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  • I love these details that you captured! I'm also a huge fan of Swedish folk art. It's so charming and yet crisp at the same time.

  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! You have a great eye for seeing and capturing those charming details. I'm ready to move there, at least for the summer.

  • What a beautiful house, I love Swedish style, my dining table and chairs are Swedish- on the more simple side of Gustavian. I love all of the little details, like the hinges that you picked out to show to us.

  • Oh, that looks fabulous. I think you may have inspired me to take the plunge on a set of red chairs.

  • Sort of like one long wedding, of family to itself.

    i'm just going to put this phrase in my pocket and carry it around. beautiful.

  • The warmth and hospitality shine through in your photos and post.

    Similar, yet different from a New England seaside vacation.

  • Stunning.
    I am craving a beautiful brass hinge on a pretty wood window, a comfort potato dish, sunlight and family near water. And, things cerulean.

    Tack, min vän

  • ohmygod that *porch*

  • Everything in this post is gorgeous…not sure whether I like the house, the food, or the landscape more!

    What a "relaxing-looking" trip.

    ps I know IKEA does stainless cabinets, but these look like their white ones on my monitor….

  • I adore that mosaic kitchen situation! Amazing!

  • Okay, I really want to go there right now! What a great vacation home – love that kitchen! And the little touches are great. Why a braided rope around the neck of the bottle? Not sure, but it looks lovely!

  • Oh boy, indeed! Gorgeous post.

    And still, my happy place.

  • What a gorgeous beach house! I am totally obsessed with Scandinavian interiors – love the cerulean ceiling and the chandelier. We took a summer holiday in Sweden last year, Stockholm and then over to Gotland – absolutely loved it though obviously the Baltic's not warm!

  • Lovely photographs. When we were in Sweden, it was the loveliness of the people that impressed me – both exterior and interior. With regard to vacation homes, this one reminds me of my husband's grandparents' cottage in Michigan – one big room plus six bedrooms, no closets, two bathrooms. As you say, life is to be lived outdoors for the most part. Isn't summer wonderful?

  • Wonderful pictures! Every little detail seems to count, and it all seems like such a peaceful haven.

  • We have countertops (kitchen and bath) from Ikea! I'm feeling very Swedish :-)

    Braided rope = turk's head. Probably to give some 'grip' on a slippery bottleneck, as well as to just look pretty.

    I love all the blue and white.

  • Oh, how lovely! Thanks for sharing! A much more attractive view of Sweden than I've gleaned from Stieg Larsson.

  • I just got back from Sweden a couple of weeks ago. The first week was spent in Stockholm and the second in Grisslehamn and Vaxholm. I love your photos, especially of the pastry. One thing that I was struck by as I wandered around various Swedish towns was how neat everyone's homes looked. All the yards were well kept, with not a chair out of place. Anyway, thank you for sharing these gorgeous images.

  • Maggie – Thanks! I like the folk art too.

    Deja- Thank you. Me too:).

    Tabitha – Have we seen your dining table? I will have to look.

    Charlotte – Thank you. Dive on in and let us know?

    Lauren – Thank you. I am honored.

  • DocP – Thank you. I thought the same thing about New England. I believe that's one of the things my mother and stepfather have in common, she with summers on the Cape, him with Ingmarso.

    Dana – You're welcome. And thank you so much.

    Jamie – I know, right?

    Vix – Thanks. I know, the cabinets are white, but I think they are metal underneath to deal with the marine environement.

    Pink Julep – Thank you. It's so cozy IRL.

  • JMV – Thank you. And I really want to go back:).

    agirl – Yay.

    That's Not My Age – It's not warm, but it's better in the archipelago than the open sea.

    Sewing – Yes to both, the lovely people and the wonderfulness of summer.

    VA Gal – Exactly. It did feel like a haven.

  • Those hinges, those hinges… I am going to find them when I go to heaven, aren't I? Thank you hugely for sharing this marvelous experience.

  • Me want to go there.

  • Oh, that cerulean ceiling. How amazing. Oh, and I also like that you opened the drawer and found a pastry!

  • I love the open plan – living area and kitchen all together. Beloved and I want to retire and build a house like that. With one bedroom. So the kids can't boomerang back.

    Potatoes and pastry. Really. *sigh* I'd heard low carb was taking off over there…

  • Patsy – Turk's head? That's the name of braided rope? Who knew?

    Mater – I know, although I love those books, I don't recognize the Sweden he writes about.

    Two Chicks – My pleasure. I see you lived in Sweden as a little girl. Those photos are adorable.

    Duchesse – Ha! Yes, I bet you will.

    Loretta – Ha. Well put.

  • Town and Country – I found I liked the system of storing food in drawers. Well, that and pastries.

    Jan – I think all the Omega-3s in the herring counteracts the potatoes. And cream and butter.

  • What lovely photos of a country house with a certain city style, especialy in those monogramed napkins, glassware and chandelier. Really lovely.

  • Splendid post! So many lovely details to marvel at. The cerulean ceiling is my favorite.

  • The houses in Ingmarso, fit nicely to the surrounding nature. Is it reachable in the winter time? I have never understood IKEA´s success. We do have the "Lack" shelf, two of them, in the mudroom, because we needed the extra space. Every time I drive past an Ikea, the parking place is full of cars. I assume they belong to the potential customers.

  • I definitely had a marvelous trip via you vicariously- What a great time! Thanks so much!

  • I love absolutely EVERYTHING about the Swedish home here….
    so love the relaxed holiday atmosphere….
    absolute perfection Lisa.
    Salivating for those dinners too…yummers.

  • Great photos! Love the summer house and all the exquisite detail you captured. You have a very good eye for photography.

  • Privilege's photographs and lovely descriptions make Miss J want to hop on a boat and, if need be, paddle all the way to Sweden. It looks like heaven.

  • Looks as if you had a relaxing atmosphere. How lovely for you. :) xoxo

  • I would not leave this island until late august.
    btw: have you got bitten by mosquitos?
    ah, Pytt i Panna, they once served this at IKEA in the check out area in the show-kitchen. mmmh.

  • Your Step-Home is DIVINE. My doll's house furniture as a child was from Sweden. It was a brand called I think Lumby or Lumley and it was the LAST WORD in doll's house furniture in the late 1970s. Love that Kitchen and that chandelier!

  • I love all the Swedish blue, like the chairs on the porch and the monogrammed napkins. I just saw "The Girl with the Dragon Tatto" which was filmed in Sweden. Such pretty scenery.

  • Too many comments to read, but in case nobody said it before, I think those veneer thingies are magazine stands.

    Ikea kitchens are supposed to be of stellar quality, especially compared to the price. And they come with a 10 or 20 year guarantee. My parents have the same door design at our country cottage, but with cast-iron handles. :c)

    Nice to read you enjoyed your visit. And you did seem to capture a whole lot of blue!