Interiorssneak peeks

A Stylist’s Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago

by Annie Werbler

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

A Stylist's Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago, on Design*Sponge
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Mari experimented with neutral colors in the living room by painting its floor grey, the lower two-thirds of the wall in a slightly more greenish tint, and the uppers a yellowy-beige.
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A hanging lamp from Vietnam and wall numbers from the trams in Gothenburg are all vintage decorative finds.
A Stylist's Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago, on Design*Sponge
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Christian built a bookshelf around the library entrance for the family's large collection.
A Stylist's Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago, on Design*Sponge
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The wall opening between the living room and library was enlarged for better flow.
A Stylist's Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago, on Design*Sponge
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Christian, a skilled pianist, plays both classical and Fender Rhodes.
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Classic Thonet bentwood chairs were an antique find for the contemporary dining room.
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"We use my vintage finds in our everyday life." - Mari Strenghielm
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Mari recently removed the shelves over her sink and installed this hanging rack instead.
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Light greenish-grey kitchen cabinetry contrasts softly with the creamy Smeg dishwasher, fridge, and freezer.
A Stylist's Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago, on Design*Sponge
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Kitchen details and accessories in natural tones.
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Fritjof the cat claims the kitchen table Mari purchased in Denmark.
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The homeowners added a late 1800s fireplace to the ground-floor hallway. Mari also painted a subtle checked pattern on the hardwoods.
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The spacious master bedroom has a sea view.
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Natural colors, textures, and personal details.
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Detail of Mari's wallhanging arrangement in the bedroom. She found the hat in Pantelleria, Italy, and made the arrows for a GANT photoshoot last year.
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The cupboard in the bedroom houses important paper memories like the kids' drawings and family photos.
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Juno loves the color pink, dolls, and books.
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Christian and Mari recently designed and built this cozy bed nook for Dante. Juno has ordered one for her room!
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Dante's desk is a woodworking table found in the house when the family arrived.
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These double doors were put in by the couple a few years ago because Mari had always wanted them, but much of the renovated facade maintains its original wooden decoration.
A Stylist's Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago, on Design*Sponge
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Dante, Christian, Mari, Valle the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Juno hang out at her garden studio, which is also used for parties and guests.
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Ground and first floor plans for Mari and Christian's island home outside Stockholm, Sweden.

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