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Interiorssneak peeks

A Colorful House In Sweden That Grew to Welcome Family

by Rebekah Carey

Åsa Nordlöf and her partner Ludvig Svartz live in Skåne, Sweden with their two children. Åsa and Ludvig each work at advertising agencies — she as a production manager, and he as an art director. Åsa also loves photography and jokingly refers to herself as a “professional amateur photographer.” Before the couple began to look for houses that would one day accommodate a family, they lived in a stunning apartment they were in love with. “We rented a fantastic apartment in Malmö. A beautiful, centuries-old apartment with high ceilings and stucco. We probably had a little separation anxiety to move. But living in a rental apartment had its limitations — we did not dare to paint or renovate. We could not make the apartment fully our own style and design. As well as the fact that there [were] three long levels up without an elevator, I did not see any future for baby prams and heavy food bags. We dreamed of something special with a garden, something we owned, something we could decorate, something we could form a family in. We wanted to take the step to a family life.”

Åsa and Ludvig found just what they had been dreaming of with their home in Skåne, “Our little village is close to the sea but also close to the train and the highway, which makes it easy to travel to larger cities, like Helsingborg, Malmö or Copenhagen. The village is both cute, old and scenic,” they share. The home was a charming brick house from the 30s (which Åsa instantly felt was theirs upon walking in the door), but it was a little small. When the couple bought the house six years ago, they were beginning to plan their future and thinking about a home for children — but little did they know, their daughter was already in attendance. In fact, after their daughter was born they actually debated buying a larger home, and toured 76 other homes, to be exact. None gave them the feeling their own home did, so they decided to build an addition to give them some more room to expand. It took a year just to get the permits and finalize the house plans. When the building began, their goal was first for the children to have bedrooms and more room to play, then to incorporate a more natural integration of the garden with the house for better entertaining options, and lastly to meld the new addition with the original house structure. “The architect borrowed lines from the brick house. Raw, natural materials, stone and brick, met with the wood. Vertical and thinner width on the boards would provide a tight and elegant line play,” Åsa notes.

Their original home was built in 1935, and their major addition began in 2015. Much like the home itself, Åsa and Ludvig each join classic and modern with retro and color-filled details with their personal style. “It makes the home exciting and something else,” Åsa says. “Perhaps a bit unpredictable and fun? In our home you can find many styles, from minimalist, industrial, modern, retro, stylish, colorful and calm. We have the new, the old and the something in between, but we work hard toward keeping it cohesive.” Åsa is also a firm believer in going deeper and not adopting a style just because it’s a trend. “I feel it’s important to go into oneself and find your own style. There is a lot of inspiration out there, but the fun is finding yourself and not picking one style straight away.”

Six years after Åsa and Ludvig bought their home, three years after their renovation, and two kids later, their home is so much of what they dreamed about living in their old apartment in Malmö. And while there are still a number of projects they’re looking forward to completing when budgets allow, it is a home with endless love, where they laugh, play, and enjoy “the couch potato life” — when they’re not running around their beautiful garden! Rebekah 

Photography by Åsa Nordlöf  

Image above: “This is the lounge part of the room. The table and chairs are from Johanson Design, 60s. Could be one of our favorite pieces of furniture. It has a long history from when we wanted to buy them in an antique shop in Sweden but they were only a display, not for sale. We, however, got to sign an interest list along with a thousand other people,” Åsa explains. “Some years later [a woman called us and asked if we] wanted to buy it. We drove directly from Skåne to Stockholm with a trailer. Love at first sight. Here we enjoy drinks, ‘fikar,’ and the kids draw and play games. Round tables are amazingly sociable.”

A Swedish Family In Their Skåne Home Full Tour On Design*Sponge
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Åsa Nordlöf and her partner Ludvig Svartz with their five-year-old daughter Dorotea and their two-year-old son Sigismund. “The photo was taken in the dining room in the entrance from the newly built part to the old brick house part. The plant stand is from Sting Furniture (Nisse Strinning 50s).”

Åsa's Little Corner Office Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“A detail of my little creative corner. I photograph and film a lot at a hobby level and I do a lot of editing here. The kids like to watch YouTube here too, as you can see in the opening picture,” Åsa jokes.

A Collection Of Vintage Records In This Colorful Swedish Home On Design*Sponge
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Åsa shares their love of records, “We love retro music. Our new LP player is often playing something old. We like music a lot. Ludvig is a bit of a sound nerd and combining old, cool electronics with new ones.”

Indoor Outdoor Living In Sweden Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“Summertime and the children are playing in the dining room,” Åsa notes. “Running in and out from the garden. Who doesn’t love the free feeling of being outside?”

A Light-Filled Dining Room In Sweden On Design*Sponge
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“Probably our favorite room, the cozy dining room. Here you can gaze out into the garden and in the summer open up and be one with the green outside. We have made the expansion of the house ourselves (with help) and this room was a big reason why we needed to expand. We needed larger living and social areas. The house has many small rooms and lacked a bigger dining room,” Åsa explains. “We love to have get-togethers here. It’s also a nice, airy room where you can sit for hours and socialize. The joiner bench had been in the garage — which we had to tear down to make room for the expansion of the house. It feels good to have the soul from the older things.”

Pastel Chairs With Beautiful Form Add Charm To The Dining Room On Design*Sponge
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“A detail from inside. The Finnish Muuto chairs love this room, I believe. They fit like a glove,” Åsa admits.

An Open Air Dining Room From The Backyard On Design*Sponge
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Åsa shares the work-in-progress of their back deck, “The dining room from outside, it’s an ongoing project. Need to get more money to finish it. For now, we have older outside furniture and flea market finds.”

A Modernized Swedish Exterior Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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The lush backyard and peek of the updated exterior of the home.

Simple Swedish Kitchen Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“The kitchen is rustic and it’s nice that it fits the house. If we could have afforded it we would switch the kitchen cupboards. But, if you ignore these we love the kitchen. Open plan layout is nice but we can at least hide dirty dishes; that’s really good,” Åsa admits.

A Kitchen Shelf And Bar-In-One In Sweden Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“The kitchen shelf. Holds things you need when you get or mix a good drink. We love to do both,” Åsa shares.

Fresh Flowers From The Garden Adorn The Kitchen Table In Sweden Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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Åsa takes advantage of her lovely yard: “We have a relatively big garden and I love to pick fresh flowers and to place them here and there. It brings joy and life to the house.”

A Petite Kitchen Table Perfect For Family Breakfast In Sweden On Design*Sponge
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“Here we spend our breakfast and often do our ‘fika’ as it’s called in Sweden. We drink coffee and eat cinnamon buns,” Åsa explains. “The children’s chair was a painted over IKEA chair, which drove Ludvig kind of crazy because it needed about five layers and painting all of these spindles was a long project.”

A Very Steep Staircase Is One Of The Lasting Original Details From The Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“This was the old entrance to the house, and a steep and dangerous staircase — but very cute and completely original from the 1930s. It has a very rural and romantic entrance reminiscent of the house’s history and soul.”

A Flea Market Find Has Become A Favorite In This Swedish Home On Design*Sponge
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“This is a flea market bargain. Ludvig, my partner, thought it was the ugliest cabinet he had ever seen. But, when I painted it in a dusty pink I think he kind of changed his mind a little…” Åsa says. “The mirror is from my grandpa, who has passed away, and I love to use things that have sentimental memories. I can still remember myself as a small girl visiting him and watching myself in the mirror. I loved it then, too.”

Style And Whimsy Reign In This Swedish Living Room On Design*Sponge
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Åsa offers a little insight into her decor style, “Another view of the dusty mint part of the room. I tend to match a little too much sometimes. But, when you do this you can use many colors, which I love, and not get a too-cluttered feeling. (I hope.)”

Joy-Filled Decor In This Swedish Living Room On Design*Sponge
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“Here’s the Netflix couch,” Åsa teases. “We love the couch potato life. A little too big of a couch for the room, but it moved from our old apartment (where it fit better). We dream of getting a new one but Lord how expensive a nice couch is…”

A Bright Corner That Reflects Åsa's Favorite Things Tour On Design*Sponge
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“My precious corner. I begged Ludvig to get this [hand painted] flea market bargain shelf here. He did not at first agree on painting, now he loves it,” Åsa admits.

The Children's Play Room And Lounge Area Is Functional And Charming Tour On Design*Sponge
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“This is the kids’ living room. Here we watch movies and get cozy eating potato chips and popcorn. We also play with Legos, dolls, build forts and so on. It’s okay to be a little bit messy here,” Åsa shares. “A peek of the retro old sofa, which is sticky and tears your skin, but is good looking and has a history. The sofa likes this room and vice versa so we try to keep it.”

A Room For Child's Play On Design*Sponge
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“The table is a perfect play table for the kids. Ludvig did the painting, we love it. It’s called ‘The Owl Women.’ Playful and nice and fits the room perfectly,” Åsa shares.

One Of The First Vintage Pieces Åsa Ever Invested In Is Prominent In The Master Bedroom Tour On Design*Sponge
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“The dressing table is an antique purchase. I totally lost it when I saw these pieces, fell deeply in love. Needed to buy it. I practically did eat bread and air for a couple of months to afford it. It was that time when I was young and studying (read: no money),” Åsa recalls. “It’s a 1960/70s classic from Fröseke in Sweden. Called Roulette and made in hard cardboard with a seat cushion in black manchester.”

Most Of The Occupants Of The Bed In The Master Bedroom Most Nights Swedish Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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Åsa shares that she loves the high ceilings in their master bedroom, the bed that can fit their whole family, and the special piece of art above their bed. “The big sheep picture is a textile printing that Ludvig made (counting sheep until you fall asleep…). I love the silence and airy feeling in here. We try to get the kids to sleep in their own beds but they always end up walking to our bed in the night.”

A Cheerful View In The Master Bedroom On Design*Sponge
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“More storage is in this lovely dusty pink flea market cabinet. Also, a display of the possible dress for an upcoming event. At Halloween you can see my Halloween outfit hanging there, at Christmas time my red Christmas dress, and so on,” Åsa explains.

The Closet Is Adorned With Beautiful Vintage Dresses In This Swedish Home On Design*Sponge
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Åsa shares that they built IKEA wardrobes to be flush with the wall. “I love storage and these extra high wardrobes hold lots of nice clothes. For example, I have a thing for vintage dresses and tend to collect too many. My favorite dresses are rotated and hung on display.”

Cheerful Details Run Rampant In This Swedish Girls Room On Design*Sponge
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“This is big sister Dorotea’s room. It’s sooooo adorable to decorate children’s rooms,” Åsa admits. “Many of the things we’ve collected during our many years of flea market shopping, which we totally love.”

A Kids Room That Breeds Creativity On Design*Sponge
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“We like reading books. Collecting them and reading them at bedtime.”

Playful Colors Fill This Little Girls' Room In Sweden Full Tour On Design*Sponge
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“This room is for playing. The entrance has a measuring stick in the form of a giraffe from the Swedish brand Littlephant on the door. We totally love it and the kids want to be measured all the time to see if they have gotten any bigger,” Åsa shares with us.

A Calming Children's Sleeping Corner Even Just In Theory Full Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“This is little brother, Sigismund’s room. A growing boy who just got rid of his crib and now has a bed. However, he likes to sleep more in the other kids’ room, and his sister normally sleeps here. Then, they both end up in mummy and dad’s bed. So, we walk from bed to bed. Not knowing where to wake up.”

A Sweet Play Area In This Swedish Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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“A low picture on the wall at eye level for a little boy. It’s nice to think low so the kids can enjoy it. The little cute chair is what Sigismund uses to be hazardous and climb on everything,” Åsa says.

The Adorable Occupant Of This Sweet Room Tour On Design*Sponge
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“This is the little brother himself. He loves his Pippi Longstocking doll.”

What I Love Most Is Family In This Swedish Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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Åsa shares how grateful she is for their house and family: “I love my home. My home is really my castle. And going away is good but home is best. I am totally a homebody. I think we have created a welcoming home that is personal, happy, kind and fun. I’m lucky to be in my home and therefore I also want to spend my time here. I like different places in the house for different occasions. I have difficulty pointing out the best place. It is unfair to all of the other rooms. But I’m a bit of a couch potato so I often end up on the couch streaming a series in the evenings when the kids have gone to bed. And I am most thankful that my family fills the home with happiness and joy. Family means everything.”

A House Plan For Swedish Home That Joined The Older Original With The New And Modern Addition Tour On Design*Sponge
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Åsa and Ludvig’s house plans showing the joining of the original and newer addition.

SOURCES

Master Bedroom
Sheep picture- textile printing made by Ludvig
Lamps- flea market
Duvet- H&M Home
Dresses- vintage
Bedside table- flea market
Pink Dresser- flea market
Gold Lamp- flea market
Dressing Table- antique purchase, 1960/70s classic from Fröseke in Sweden as well as the chairs

Dining Room
Work Bench- was in the house when the couple moved in, nearly 100 years old
Chairs- Muuto and Muuto
Table- Master & Master
Carpet- Ellos, (no longer available)
Lamps- Åhlens, (no longer available)
Paintings/Illustrations- made by Ludvig
Plastic Armchair- old antique/retro

Hallway
Carpet- Ellos (no longer available)
Pink Cabinet- flea
Sofa- can’t remember
Pillow- and pad sewn by Asa
Mug- Littlephant
Candlestick- H&M Home (no longer available)
Vase- H&M Home

Daughter’s Room 
Carpet-H&M Home (no longer available)
Curtains- flea
Lamp- Ellos (no longer available)
Bed- flea
Desk and chair- flea
Cabinet- flea
Duvets- Ellos (no longer available)
Pillow- Ellos (no longer available)
Yellow stool- flea
Lamp- Flying Tiger (no longer available)
Poster- Littlephant
Giraffe- Littlephant
Dresses- Lindex (no longer available)

Son’s Room
Duvets- H&M Home (no longer available)
Moon And Star Pillow- H&M Home (no longer available)
Chair- flea
Boxes- Jox, (no longer available)
Picture- Littlephant
Bunny Lamp- Rice
Globe Lamp Stand- Lagerhaus (no longer available)
Globe Lamp- Blue Wire (no longer available)
Carpet- H&M Home (no longer available)
Yellow chair- IKEA, from flea (no longer available)
Bird- Micki Toys (no longer available)
Talk Ballon Lamp- Karlsson (no longer available)

Kitchen
Refrigerator- Smeg (no longer available)
Highchair- painted in Alcro design paint, IKEA (from a flea market, no longer available)
White Chairs- flea
Table- IKEA (no longer available)
Coffee Pot- Broarne
Coffee Cup- House of Rym
Milk Pitcher- House of Rym

Main Living Room
Couch- Not sure of brand
Coffee Table- Not sure of brand
Plaid Rug- H&M Home
Pineapple Pillow- H&M Home (no longer available)
Rainbow Pillow- H&M Home
Green Lamp- Flea
Shelf- String from flea, painted in Alcro design color
Mint Carpet- H&M Home (no longer available)
Pink/Red Carpet- Hemtex (no longer available)
Painting- Ida Våg/Våg Design
Vase- Rörstrand, antique
Gold Apple and Pear- H&M Home (no longer available)
Ceramic Bird- Curt Addin, antique

Second Living Room/Children’s Play Room
Yellow Lamp- Bumling ateljé Lyktan, antique
Table- not sure of brand
Gray Sofa- not sure of brand
Green Sofa- possibly IKEA from the 60s
Pillow- JOX (no longer available)
Black and White Carpet- H&M Home (no longer available)
Yellow Carpet- Ellos (no longer available)
Painting- made by Ludvig
Black and White Pillow- Karlsson (no longer available)
Pillow Badger- H&M Home (no longer available)

Lounge
Chairs and Table- Johanson Design, Markaryd antique/retro
Vase- Elme glasbruk, antique
Retro painting- Designedbyjepson textile print on a frame
Shelf- String
Gold lamp- antique, Bumling ateljé Lyktan
LP player- Pro-Ject Audio Systems
Amplifier Quad- retro, old

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Comments

  • I adore all the colors and charm in their place! So many fun patterns and colors and no fear of things being matchy-matchy!

    I’ve never seen furniture like her Roulette pieces. They are so interesting and add a lot to the room.

  • this was refreshing to see! sometimes this trend of opening up kitchens which ends up just creating these ginormous floor plans with no coziness , it makes the spaces feel so impersonal and clinical, almost like hotels with restaurant style kitchens!

    I also love her honesty! They are couch potatoes who eat chips! ha! love it. I also love the matching! Again, it’s just different from today’s mainstream! Very lovely home.

    • I was just thinking about this! We are retaining the walls in our original kitchen, just putting a pass through window into the dining room and big French doors to the backyard for light/openness. I am an introvert, and sometimes I just need my kitchen to be a safe haven while I do my baking.

      I especially get up in arms re: poorly renovated old houses that just tear out as many walls as possible. I wonder if 10 years later everyone is going to be putting back a few walls when they get tired of their restaurant/hotel style spaces.

  • I adore the house base in white and then the pop of color in objects! So beautiful and funny! This house has a lot of personality!

  • I got such a good vibe from this house tour. Nice to see a house a little bit in progress and not totally “done”. I really enjoyed how honest she was about being able to afford/not afford items and whether an item liked a room or if the room liked it back. The mix of styles was great, I did quite the double take on that gold and black vanity set, wow!

  • This is probably the best older house + extension I’ve ever seen! Everything is just so cohesive and well thought-out to be exactly what this family needs from their house. I’m quite jealous of those who have the possibility of extending their houses as someone who just bought a row home with a tiny yard :)

    How many square feet total is their home? I’m also a little confused about the flow/layout with the kids’ rooms and kids’ living room: does Sigismund’s room really not have a wall to separate it from the walkspace to the other bedrooms? I would be worried about noise carrying and waking the little cutie up!

  • Hi Sarah! And thank you! :)
    Here is my answer: our house is about 165 square meters + 60 square meters in the basement. (Just know the measuring in meters.)
    And we are planing to built a wall and divide Sigismunds room from the livingroom area but it will make the rooms so small and dark so we will wait intill we really need to do it. ( When he is older and wants to be alone.) And we just use the livingrom/playroom area when the kids are awake. When its bedtime we adults use the livingroom downstairs so its all quiet and still in the room for sleeping upstairs. We have a door towards the hallway with the stairs. Out house is still a bit under construction….. :)

    And thanks everyone for all the lovely comments. It makes me soooooooo happy to read.

  • I am in love with this house and would love to stay there. It looks really cozy an full with positive energy. I have no words to say how much I like it. :)

  • I love this! I live in a stone octagon house from the 1850s in New Jersey and have been dreaming about building an addition that would offer all the things our quirky, small-roomed, beloved house doesn’t! This addition is a total inspiration… One day when we need the room to grow :)

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