On a lush island hill in the archipelago outside Stockholm, the soul of an old building shines through its crisp Scandinavian update. Mari Strenghielm, an interior stylist, layers vintage decor atop clean, modern finishes at her restored 1884 Swedish sanctuary. Along with her husband Christian, a digital strategist, the pair have renovated this 2,000-square-foot home entirely on their own. The work is still not complete after a decade spent here thus far. The ever-changing interiors are an occupational hazard and a labor of love. Although the family lives in the archipelago on a small island called Dalarö with 1,900 other inhabitants, it only takes them about 40 minutes to drive into the city center.
Besides close proximity to Stockholm, the location offers nearby ocean and forest landscapes. Valle the Rhodesian Ridgeback gets to run in the woods everyday, and Frithof and Carmensita, the cats, live both indoors and out. The children, son Dante and daughter Juno, enjoy a five-minute bike ride to school. Even the interiors revel in nature with their exclusively neutral tones. Mari has attempted to bring brighter hues into the space, but they don’t suit her mood. She looks to tranquil colors to balance out her hectic life. With two kids living here, the parents can’t afford to stress about their beloved vintage items. “If something breaks,” she says, “well, then at least we used it first!” To her, the most important consideration in interior design is personality, and even when she styles a shoot, she conjures the human presence in her pictures.
Though Mari has ongoing plans for the house, she strives to enjoy the present conditions and not always think of next steps. A deep appreciation of the home’s proximity to nature, the sound of the ocean, and the fresh air are most helpful in this pursuit above all else. Since most of the houses on the island were built in the late 1800s, taking a stroll to daydream about life there in another era is a favorite pasttime. “My home was built with solid wood over 130 years ago, and it will probably stand here for another 130 years,” she shares. “I like that thought.” —Annie
Photography by Mari Strenghielm