Create Rustic Scandinavian Style

4 tips to bring a fresh Scandinavian look into your home, no matter the actual age of the house.

The northern location of Sweden results in summers that are drenched in sunlight during the long days. Natural light is an integral part of the culture and homes throughout the region work this into their design using colors and textures that reflect it well. Sara Normann teaches us how to achieve the airy, yet traditional feel of a Swedish home in her the new edition of her book Simply Scandinavian. Even if your house is newer construction, you can still get that time-touched look we all love here at Romantic Homes.

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Let The Light In. Get rid of curtains all together if possible. “Not having curtains is important in a culture that adores light. Houses in Sweden tend to be well set apart, which means privacy is maintained.” Natural light instantly adds a sense of openness and vitality to any space. If you need some coverage, choose white curtains in a sheer fabric. This will still allow light to pour in but shield the interior from outside.

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Distress Tables. Making a kitchen or coffee table look worn is easier than it seems. Simply paint any wood piece with your favorite shade of white, allow to dry and rub sandpaper on areas that would experience wear naturally. The wood underneath will show through and give the furniture a charming rustic look.

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Contrasting Metallics. “Materials like the rough, powder-coated steel of the classic Tolix chairs and stools break up the whiteness of the room and give it depth.” Find Tolix chairs at affordable prices online, where many vendors offer them.

Wide Floorboards. Emulate the locally sourced wood flooring of older Scandinavin homes using wide, pale floorboards. Normann notes that doing this adds a rural feel to the room and makes your home appear much older than it may actually be, giving it a sense of history.

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Simply Scandinavian by Sara Normann
Ryland Peters & Small, $29.95; www.rylandpeters.com



House Tour: Brought to Life


Since only a few windows allow natural light, the living room soaks it in with neutral tones.
Since only a few windows allow natural light, the living room soaks it in with neutral tones. A pop of color here and there keeps the design from becoming monochromatic.

When you move into a new home, each room proves to be a challenge. Some of your furniture settles in perfectly, and some of it will never feel at home there. Instead of being daunted by this challenge, Carey Karlan, founder of Last Detail Interior Design, approached her move to a small cottage built in 1926 as an opportunity to redefine her style.

As a large family living in a small space, Carey and her five children had to make a major adjustment, putting Carey’s stylistic flexibility to the test. Though she loves color, she opted for minimalism instead.

“In a small space, I prefer to live with less color, as it is more soothing,” Carey says. A simple design proved key to avoiding rooms that appeared busy.

The small cottage’s Cotswold architecture provides visual interest. Large portraits span across walls, and a few pops of color enliven the house. “I’m not afraid of a few bold elements,” Carey says. Using architecture and ambience as her guides, Carey was able to turn a small space into a bright home full of natural style.

Taking advantage of the lofted ceiling and bright windows, Carey captures the light with white tones.
Taking advantage of the lofted ceiling and bright windows, Carey captures the light with white tones. She capitalizes on the room’s best quality by emphasizing the serene mood.

Embrace the Mood
Discover the key to a simple design by focusing first on windows and lighting.
A room with few windows has a naturally heavier mood, which is why Carey selected a bright-orange hue for the walls of a windowless bathroom. In the cozy living room, however, she matched the meditative atmosphere with beige and natural wood.

Instead of fighting against your home’s characteristics, work with them to bring harmony. Lofted ceilings and large windows in the master suite give a naturally airy atmosphere. White paint and soft accent tones help to highlight these details and enhance the fresh feel of the space.

Natural wood beams create a rich sense of history in the cottage’s modern kitchen.
Natural wood beams create a rich sense of history in the cottage’s modern kitchen. Throughout the house, Carey has respected the original 1926 architecture while making the space work for a modern family.

Follow Architectural Clues
In a small space, following the natural guide of architecture is key. In the kitchen, old ceiling beams nicely juxtapose the modern appliances, while glass walls give the conservatory a garden-like feel.

The home’s previous owners, however, chose to subdue the ceiling beams in the living room rather than highlight them. The pleasant outcome was a brighter, more open space. “Even though you listen to the architecture, don’t be a slave to it,” Carey says.

A pop of green bursts from the back of the bookcase.
A pop of green bursts from the back of the bookcase. Instead of tucking bits of color here and there, Carey uses bold strokes to brighten the whole room.

Remember to be Flexible
Colorful artwork and bold accents find their way into the cottage’s design, adding personal style to the home. Though Carey holds onto memories through portraits, her style is flexible. “Nothing is forever,” she says. With each home she designs for clients, she listens to the architecture and looks for the light. Every challenge
is simply a new opportunity to create balance and harmony.

Carey’s enthusiasm for portraits extends even to the family pets.
Carey’s enthusiasm for portraits extends even to the family pets. Boxers, known to be good family dogs, are a constant presence in her house. Immortalized by paint, Buster looks over the family, while Buckley basks in their love.