How to Bring Swedish Design Into Your Home

Gustavian Table Statue Decor

“People love the Swedish look because it combines a clean, bright fulfilling visual aesthetic with a timelessness that fits both traditional and modern interiors – Gustavian, Biedermeier or Art Deco Swedish pieces are equally at home in an ‘antique setting’ or recovered with a modern fabric can look very cool in an ultra modern setting,” notes Jo Lee of UK-based Swedish Interior Design. “There’s a restrained elegance to the Swedish look that [can in fact] last a lifetime.”

In developing a sense of style that adds the elements of form and function, European interior design within Swedish trends marries a little of the old and new; mixing traditional and contemporary elements in creating a light and airy feel to one’s personal space and sanctuary – a necessity that stems from the country’s northern latitude and minimal daylight hours. Swedish home design with its rather clean, simplistic and ultra-chic minimalist elegance has taken fashionable tastes gaining esteem around the world; often incorporating oversized furniture pieces, colors reflective of the sea and an abundance of natural lighting. So, whether it is utilizing the more modern and angular shapes of designs to the more traditional, handcrafted antique wood textures painted in white [inspired from the 18th Century Gustavian period], here are a few tips in creating signature looks of the Scandinavian lifestyle.  

Living Room with Mirror and Mora Clock Details FINE magazine OctoberAntique Sleigh FINE magazine October 

Utilization of Color [Setting & Backdrop]

In establishing the look of Swedish interior design, begin with coloring the walls white, off-white, pale yellow or dove grey as your canvas to provide a rather clean and crisp look; thus creating a backdrop for the space, and allowing spots of color for accent. Additional shades of color to consider would be the ‘earthier’ and neutral tones to complement the white-washed walls. The Swedish are known for embracing the natural tranquil surroundings of their lovely landscape; taupe, beige, brown and sage green are colors of choice when creating a more serene interior environment.

Bold accented colors – reflecting current seasons with splashes of interest, explore shades of red, blue, or navy, reminiscent of the warm winter knit patterns – inviting a more traditional theme of the winter season with the joys of fireside living. Blue, in particular, emits the feeling of a clear, fresh day and coordinates easily with other traditional tones of the Swedish color palette.


In designing a more customary Swedish-inspired look, furniture selections should emphasize the craftsmanship and integrity of the design. This can include traditional wooden furniture with curved ladder-backed chairs painted in white, along with the antique carved-legged table pieces. And while these selections can be either country-inspired or minimally-modern, they demonstrate functionality of Scandinavian living, and can offer a narrative of what once was.

FINE magazine October

“Swedish home design with its rather clean, simplistic and ultra-chic minimalist elegance has taken fashionable tastes gaining esteem arund the world; often incorporating oversized furniture pieces, colors reflective of the sea and an abundance of natural lighting.”

Furniture pieces with natural wood finishes as well as neutral tones and pale upholstery [having chrome accents and details] are classic looks in contemporary modern Swedish design. Distressing the wood or even utilizing cherry-wood furniture can create a more timeless ambiance. However, current trends primarily implement the use of white-painted furniture.

handmade bespoke antique pine settle FINE magazine October

Swedish design would be remiss without mention of the ever-famed Mora clock. With a unique design and style, the long case Mora clock holds great charm and appeal as traditional Swedish folk art and lore; its heritage spans the course of three centuries. When shopping for these timeless works of art, look for its original color, or one that has been taken down to its original pigment; while newer productions of the clock hold the same design, older antiques offer a mystique and integrity to the time piece.

Fabrics & Accessories

Authentic fabrics of Swedish interiors employ rustic and vintage-style patterns with the use of prints - an effective way to add a touch of color and texture to a room; including: stripes and checks; nature-inspired designs and leaf prints; along with old fashioned rose and flower prints. Fabrics can also be utilized as throws or bedspreads; cushions as wall hangings and décor pieces also add interest while creating contrast to the pale and subdued white-washed walls. 

The Mora Clock

Signature accents to enhance the walls implement artwork with more natural settings such as botanical prints, beautiful landscapes and picturesque scenery with snow. Select Swedish folk art displaying the vibrant blues, reds, and whites along with authentic wood carvings and figurines such as the ‘Dala’ wooden horse or animal ornaments (of roosters, pigs, and reindeer) tie in traditional elements to a room; rustic pottery and Swedish crystal glassware for display or to use as daily ware has become a recent trend as well.

Lighting is also really important in Swedish design when combining the modern with the traditional, reflecting the country’s dark winter months and minimal daylight hours. Incorporating lamps and lighting accessories with glass, ‘fishermen-style’ lights and lanterns are often used to accentuate the colors and flow of a given space; as do ultra-modern glass fixtures and white paper lampshades on sleek chrome fittings.

The Mora Clock Honoring Tradition and Fine Craftsmanship The Mora Clock FINE magazine October Set along England’s southeastern coast, Swedish Interior Design – offering a wide selection and expertise of Swedish Gustavian and Biedermeier furniture, as well as an impressive array of antique Mora clocks – celebrates the simple luxury and tradition of fine craftsmanship from Mother Svea. With a network of contacts in Sweden, and strong family ties, Madeleine and Jo Lee, proprietors of the boutique, hone a deep-seeded passion for the Swedish lifestyle. Aside from their in-house authentic collection from the north, the pair also handcrafts one-of-a-kind bespoke items (including furniture, mirrors and hand stitched rugs) from antique woods, lace and hemp linens sourced from Sweden for clientele worldwide. According to the Lee’s, “We love the look and feel of the Swedish way of life; [from] the calmness and tranquility of the colors, [to] the sensuality and eloquent design of the hand carved profiles, the usability and practicality of the handmade artisan furniture.”

Q: Can you explain the tradition of Mora Clock?

Lee: The ubiquitous sexy hourglass Swedish ‘Mora’ clocks that we all know and love originally came from around the town of Mora in the Dalarna region of central Sweden. As agriculture and mining failed in the mid 1700s, the locals turned to clock making to make ends meet with families specializing in making or painting different parts of the clock, the movement or the face and incorporating them into other furniture [such as] cabinets and even beds. It is said that in the 1800s nearly 100 families were involved at the height of ‘Mora’ production, although taxation and labor costs eventually curtailed production. They differ in their curved shape from the previous squarer 1700s baroque clocks that have a more familiar ‘clock ‘ shape. They are almost always made from pine and each one was a unique combination of features, decorations, adornments, crowns and finishes - at the whim of the maker. One of the most famous makers was Anders Andersson who built clocks in the late 1700s and known by his initials on the clock faces as ‘A A S Mora’.

Q: What is their appeal?

Lee: Most people think of grandfather clocks as the dark, heavy somber clocks of their grandparent’s generation with a somber tick shrouded in Victorian gloom. Mora clocks, on the other hand, have a lightness of being and an anthropomorphic shape that gives them the feel of a living person; our clients always end up giving them ‘names’ and feeling like they have a new friend to talk to in the house. The classic enhanced belly curve of the Mora clock (which probably hails right back to the mother earth pagan shapes of prehistory) are intensely satisfying to look at [and] be around; each clock is handmade [and] has a unique mixture of features creating a unique personality – we find that clients are emotionally drawn to a particular clock because it has a resonance for them. In design terms, they make a very strong visual statement and become a real talking point and focus in a room.

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