Another Swedish style house from House Beautiful......I just loved them all and had to share!.....also sharing some of the interview.....
CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS: A house that is such an utter valentine to classic Swedish style must be a first for Houston.
CAROL GLASSER: It's a primer in how the pure, luminous look of 18th-century Swedish interiors can be modernized and made more comfortable and user-friendly for the kind of all-American family that cuddles up and watches TV together. I had done this same house, a 3,500-square-foot English Tudor, for the same clients in the early nineties. The house then had a very English country house feel.
How was it decided to take it in a Swedish direction?
CG: The owners were tired of living with clutter, and hungry for change. The brief was to do something clean, pared-down, and romantic. We started nearly from scratch.
Did the changes go beyond furniture, paint, and fabric?
KATRIN CARGILL: Enfilades [room-to-room views] are a hallmark of Swedish style, and we took out a number of doors on the ground floor to create one. Interior shutters that tuck in to the window reveals were added, and wide Canadian pine-plank flooring with a lovely, chalky limed finish. The floors were a particular challenge — we couldn't find anyone in Houston who had ever done them like this before! The family room got a beautiful antique French fireplace, flaking paint and all, as well as simple paneling that is nothing more than thin rustic boards. By the way, the hairline space between each board you see here and in the hall is intentional.
The family room is a tour de force.
KC: The great thing about it is that the kids — two high school girls — can watch TV at the informal end of the room on the modern sectional while the parents use the period Swedish settee at the other, formal end. A homey cotton check is not the kind of fabric you typically see on an up-to-date B&B Italia sectional, but I've always wanted to try it, and I think it's a great success. The four pairs of French doors giving on to the garden have traditional unlined Swedish roller shades in specially dyed vintage linen.
And the breakfast room is so light and fresh.
KC: The key is not having any heavy upholstery. Instead you've got air passing freely under the seating and table and light flooding across bare floors. The mullions would be slightly thinner in a real Swedish house, but everything else is absolutely right: the casement windows, the delicate crystal chandelier, the banquettes, the legginess of the furniture. Antique French linen bed sheets were stitched into floppy Roman blinds. The monogram is somebody else's, but nobody minds.
Where did you find the botanicals that paper the sunroom?
CG: Believe it or not, right here in Houston. They're Dutch, from the 18th century. We wanted the continuity of using them in two places, but not in exactly the same way. So we had the ones in the sunroom hand-colored, then used them to cover the walls from floor to ceiling. The ones in the master bedroom are in the original black and white, and framed.
Simple checks like those you used in the family room and bedroom are shorthand for Swedish style.
KC: By upholstering the bedroom walls in a cream-and-mossy-green check we were able to evoke Sweden without having to do very much else. You don't have to break the bank to get the look. Some of the best, most affordable reproduction furniture on the market is Swedish—Nordic Style and the Country Swedish collection have wonderful things. The main point is to keep the floor plan simple, the window treatments as plain as possible, and to edit, edit, edit.
What explains the similarity you often see in French and Swedish furniture?
KC: It came from the Swedes traveling to France and soaking up the styles of Louis This and Louis That. The bed in the eldest girl's room happens to be French, and yet you just might also mistake it for Swedish. The chests are in the Gustavian style, named for the king who ruled Sweden in the late 18th century. We decided to do chests for night tables, because we had a huge amount of space to fill.
At first glance, it's hard to distinguish between what's real in the dining room and what's pretending to be.
KC: Below the chair rail there's raised wooden paneling; above, deliberately naive, almost primitive trompe-l'oeil paintwork. The room is full of the devices—mirrors, crystal chandeliers, wall lights, gilding—the Swedes use to battle the fact that it's pitch-black in their country five months of the year.
CG: The chairs are Gustavian reproductions — one of five or six styles that are used over and over in Sweden. It's hard to get antique ones that are high and sturdy enough for Texas men.
The longcase clock in the hall is a beauty.
CG: To a large extent the antique Swedish pieces in their original gray and soft bluey-green paint determined the colors we used throughout the house. The kitchen was done in a blackened white that could not be more Gustavian.
Interior design by Katrin Cargill and Carol Glasser
Interview by Christopher Petkanas
Produced by Samantha Emmerling and Lisa McGee