Friday, November 18, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things - Gustavian Furniture

Seven years ago, during a trip to Norway, I had a decorating epiphany while shopping with my sister to furnish her new home in Oslo. I was totally entranced by the neutral color palettes and painted furniture we saw, the mix of formal and informal elements, and with the liberal deploying of candles.

 photo Living With Light

Interiors were conceived to be free of clutter, spare and perfectly serene.

 
photo Living With Light

I also sensed kindred spirits in the Norwegians in their embrace of nature and a life lived outdoors. Even in mid-November the sidewalk tables outside of cafes were filled with locals enjoying their coffee in the fresh air (warmed by nearby heaters.) Whenever possible, the outdoors is brought in.

 photo Swedish Country Interiors

Soaking up the atmosphere I was struck by how similar the climate and light, and lack of it in winter, were to that at home.  I had found my people and they were living my life - only better. It seemed to me the Scandinavian aesthetic would translate perfectly to Vermont. 

photo Swedish Interiors

photo Swedish Country Interiors

When I got back I bought every book on Scandinavian style I could find. Within a few weeks I was painting everything shades of grey and beige, ordering linen by the mile, and buying votive candles in bulk. I also cleared out every closet, cabinet and drawer, shelf and tabletop, getting rid of anything I did not use regularly. And soon my general crush on all things Nordic crystallized into a full-blown love affair with Swedish Gustavian furniture.

Photo Classic Swedish Interiors

The passion hasn't died.

photo Swedish Interiors

photo Swedish Interiors

photo Swedish Interiors

designer Katrin Cargill

designer Katrin Cargill


What in my past, you might ask, rendered me susceptible to developing total adoration for a period of furniture design? In Gustavian style I see the French and neo-classical furniture I admired in the houses I grew up in, but without the fussiness and distilled to the most pleasing form. I can have beautiful furniture that is suitable to how I live and where I live.

                    
My Grandmother's chair
My chair


This palatial dining room was the inspiration for my own. Of course, it had to be translated to a room of much smaller proportions in a modest, 100-year-old house in a Vermont village.


Here is how I interpreted the look at home. The dining table comes from my favorite source for reproduction Gustavian furniture, Country Swedish. The painted cupboard was inherited; it belonged to my great-grandmother and is a late 19th-century French reproduction. The chandelier is from Bella Figura. The chairs are upholstered in a Brunschwig & Fils check.


To find some inspiration of your own, a reading list: Living with Light: Decorating the Scandinavian Way by Gail Abbott, Classic Swedish Interiors by Lars Sjoberg, and both Swedish Interiors and Swedish Country Interiors by  Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems.

1 comment:

  1. Phyllis
    I so enjoyed reading this old post. It is fascinating reading how all our senses of style have evolved. I still have a room in my house filled with too much fabric...it needs some attention!!

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