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Hang Out Here: A Dreamy Rustic Loft Under Swaying Palms!

I mentioned yesterday that the weather in Sweden is not great right now - at least, not what you would call 'summer' (a high of 16 degrees (60 Fahrenheit) today - and we live in the South!). The first response tends to be to batten down the hatches at the summer cottage and scurry back to the city. The second for some, if the rain really persists, is to book a last-minute summer holiday abroad! No easy feat this year. So, instead, I'll be dreaming of days at this luxury loft for two, a few steps from a pristine, white sandy beach on the island of Holbox, Quintana Too, Mexico. If the dreamy, cool white interior with boho touches of wood and rattan doesn't grab you - the double bed on the terrace surrounded by swaying palms is sure to seal the deal. The question is, what book to take?! 

At Casa Impala, it's natural all the way - from the concrete floors to the handwoven lighting. We might not all be able to travel right now, but I for one, will be stealing a few ideas to bring a touch of the tropics to my own home!


The mattress stands on a simple wooden structure and a simple cotton beige throw with a pom pom fringe* helps to break up the sea of white and add balance to the room. 

I love this white blanket with pom poms* too (just saying!). 



I'd happily work away from this spot by the window - although I have to admit it would be hard to concentrate with the waves beckoning in the distance!



I love that this loft has two outdoor spaces - one for lounging, another for an evening drink!

The stool reminds me of the ones I use as a bedside table (these vintage stools* are similar).



Those stairs! 

I'd happily hang out here for a loooong time. It could even prompt me to write another book (it would make an amazing writer's retreat, don't you think?!). 

Could you imagine hanging out here under the swaying palms too? 

Read more about Casa Impala onAirbnb! 

Did you get any ideas for your own home? In the advent of the current 'staycation' climate, I've been adding basket bags, straw hats and any other tropical vibes I can think of to my My own home! 

Oh, and in case you're putting together a holiday folder for 2021 or simply looking for some 'tropical' inspiration for your own home - you'll love the holiday home rental and design hotel archives. Perfect for a little dreaming until the sun decides to shine again! 

Niki

Photography courtesy of Casa Impala / Airbnb

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A Beautiful Stockholm Pad In Calming Green and Grey Tones

Why, hello there! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I'm not sure what's happened to the Swedish summer - it seems to have disappeared!! We've all retreated from the bathing platforms back into our homes and spending summer holiday days (it's not unusual to take up to 4 weeks off and 'staycate' here) cooking, reading and meeting friends for a 'fika' (coffee and a cake) - which, thinking about it, doesn't sound so bad! Some of my friends have actually shut down their summer cottages for the week and reappeared in the city. In honour of the occasion, I thought it would be nice to share a beautiful, calm turn-of-the-century Stockholm apartment with you! Located a stone's throw from Mariatorget ('Maria Square') in the relaxed Södermalm district, Emilie and Fredrik Camén have decorated their living space in calming, earthy tones of green and grey. I particularly love the kitchen, it may be small, but it makes up for it in style and ceiling height! Enjoy the tour! 





What a difference the William Morris wallpaper makes in the hallway! I love the way it matches the kitchen cabinets.

Is there anything that stands out to you about this home?

Incidentally, the word on the street is that Emilie and Fredrick have since moved - and their new place has also been captured by Jonas Gustavsson and Charlotte Frey Svidén. I can't wait to share their new home with you next week - keep your eyes peeled! 

In the meantime, do you fancy taking a nose around a few other Stockholm homes today? 


Wishing you a great start to the week! Hope you're having better weather than us! 

Niki

Photography: Jonas Gustavsson
Shared with kind permission. 

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Before and After - My Swedish Home Makeover!

Last night I was clearing out a cupboard and came across the estate agent pamphlet for our house from when we bought it. I knew we'd made some changes over the 12 years but looking back at the pictures made me realise just how far we'd come! At the time, we were living in a small apartment just down the road and when the house came on the market, we knew it would be perfect for us, but it was over budget. And then we had a stroke of luck. No one wanted it!! Being a consistently 'hot' house market, this was incredibly unusual in Malmö, particularly in a popular area by the sea - where homes tend to sell within weeks, if not days. The estate agent explained that potential buyers had turned their noses up at it, saying it 'didn't have the right feeling'. 

When Per and I went to view the property, we understood what they meant. No one lived there (it was used as an occasional city bolthole by a businessman who had a permanent abode in the countryside) and the living space lacked soul. In addition, it featured some pretty questionable decor choices.... and the dark wood wall and floors made the entire space really dark. It felt gloomy and somewhat depressing - hardly a home to aspire to! The price dropped dramatically and became within reach (although still a stretch!). Despite the appearance, we could see its potential, and would be mainly cosmetic. Plus, it meant acquiring a house in the area we so loved! We jumped at it! 

I'll never forget finally getting the keys in our hands and our first night in the house. I simply couldn't believe it was ours! Twelve years, two children and multiple interior changes later, we're still just as happy in our home today.  

Here's how it has changed over time:

Kitchen / Dining  Before 

Kitchen / Dining After

The very first thing we did was give the entire house a lick of fresh white matt paint (with the help of parents Father and Stepmother!). It would serve as a blank canvas until we decided which way to go in terms of colour. Many of the walls remain white today, although we've added some deeper, earthy shades in some parts of the house. 

We also got someone in to sand down and whitewash the oak floors which immediately lightened up the entire living space. 

We loved the existing Marbodal kitchen units and backsplash - they've served us well over time. We kept them and instead focused our attention on installing better appliances such as an induction hob and new fridge and freezer. 


The kitchen lacked work surfaces, so we added a new kitchen island (there was one when we arrived but it was tiny - you can see a glimpse of it here). The unit is just from IKEA but one of those pieces that fell into place and felt like it had always been there!). It's become a popular gathering place (not only for people - but also the daily post, keys and even sports equipment as the kids fly in through the door - yes, it drives me insane!). But it DOES look lovely on the occasional times it's clear (or better still, has a G+T on it!).


Per has owned the wooden dining table for years. it's made of solid wood so can be sanded down and restored whenever the need arises. It's a really timeless piece and something I can imagine always having in our home. There's no marking on it sadly, so we're not sure of the brand. 

We transformed the corner into a reading nook, which has become one of the most popular places in the home - and means we can all relax in the same room, while doing our own thing! At Christmas the daybed is placed in the attic and replaced with a tree! Years back, we even had a bubble chair hanging in that corner

All the storage was in place when we moved in, and as a family of hoarders, we're still grateful for it. We're unsure what they had planned for the recess - maybe a TV? But it serves as a great, cosy dining seat nook today! 

Sitting Room Before





Sitting Room After


I'm not opposed to dark wood walls - they can look fab in a 50's style residence. But since the house is overshadowed by an apartment block, it can get really dark in the afternoons. Painting the wood white immediately lifted the entire living room area. 

For the first few years it looked like this - and then later we changed the sofa (the cover of which is constantly updated thanks to Bemz - you can check out the many transformations here and here) and added a gallery wall. 



 Open plan space on middle floor (before)

Open plan space on middle floor (after)

Confused?! As much as we'd loved to have had a second sitting room, we needed the extra bedroom. So, Per and a friend built a wall (on the opposite side of the wall from the pillow end of the bed are the stairs) - creating an extra bedroom for my teenage stepson. We removed the shelves to make room for the bed and painted the wall a cosy dark blue! See the complete make-over here

Second bedroom before

Second Bedroom After



Allie's bedroom has changed many times over the year - and will no doubt change countless times more as she grows! The original blue shade felt really cold in a North facing room. The first change we made was to paint them a fresh white (as seen here when the girls shared the room when they were small). We later painted the walls a more earthy, warm shade to add a cosy feel when Liv moved into her own room. I shared the DIY make-over here

Top floor sitting room before

That sofa! 

After

The top floor was originally a sitting room - and we kept it as such for the first few years. But slowly we realised no one was using it - which was a real waste as it's one of the most beautiful, light-filled rooms in the house. So, we transformed it into our master bedroom and home office. And never looked back! 

When we first moved up there the walls were white - as seen here

It's been various shades over the years. For now, we've settled on 'blushing peach' by Jotun Lady, which has a wonderful, calm and cosy feel.


We painted the wood floor 'strong white' by Farrow & Ball (which is actually more of a pale grey). Per designed and built the shelves using planks, wire and nuts and bolts from a local hardware store. 

I sometimes use the corner of the bedroom as my home office when I'm not at the studio (seen below). Today the wall is dark brown ('Norwegian Wood' by Jotun Lady) but it has also been white (you might recognise it from the front cover of interior book 'Everything In Its Place'!). 

We also transformed the nook (above) into a home office for Per during the pandemic - here's a glimpse

The entire room has become a real haven - and like a mini apartment within a house. We love it! 

I have to say, it's been so much fun to take this trip down memory lane, thank you for humouring me! 

When I have days when I wonder why the progress in our house is so slow (there's a reason I've never shown our bathrooms! - potential project for Autumn, perhaps? Don't tell Per just yet...!), I'll look back at these and see how far we've actually come! 

Our house buying decision also taught me an important lesson. At a viewing, take into account the basic bones of the property (the shape, the era etc.). Don't let the 'feeling' or 'soul' put you off. That's something you can add once you move in!   

If in doubt, check out the before and after archive, it's quite incredible how much you can change a property with a little vision, time, effort and money. And some homes, like mine - might just need a lick of paint! 

Don't believe me? Here are some of my favourite 'before and afters' of all time:


I'd love to hear the story about your home - how you found it, how it felt to finally get the keys in your hand (whether as a renter or homeowner), and any changes you've made! 

Niki

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A Small Relaxed Bohemian Home Filled With Plants

"Your light will always be too bright for someone." I read this quote recently and it really resonated with me. It's definitely true for people - but also for interior design! That's why I love to shake things up a little and try to feature a variety of different Scandi-inspired styles - so there's something for everyone! While yesterday's white Danish summer cottage was about a simple, pared-back way of life with an interior designed to take a back stage to the great outdoors, today's home tour is about bringing nature indoors, and creating a wonderful, relaxed, oasis in the heart of the city!  

Lifestyle photographer Caroline Reichel lives in the greenest district of Berlin with her partner and two cats. Her apartment may be small but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for it in plants! 

As someone who wishes they had more plants, I couldn't resist catching up with Caroline for some green-fingered tips! 

How would you describe your home?
We have a small, two room apartment in an old building with over 100 plants - a small urban jungle! 

What do you love most about filling your home with greenery?
I love to surround myself with plants - they calm me down. Plants grow with me and it's like one big green family. Also, I love the jungle. When I travel, I always go where it is especially green. Now I have my personal little jungle at home and I love it. 

Do they require a lot of care? 
I look after my plants two to three times a week. It's part of my morning routine. I find it very relaxing and a bit like meditating.  

I love how this climber has been trained up and around a mirror! 

Do you have any tips for anyone looking to acquire more house plants?
There are some plants that are very easy to care for and grow quickly - like Devils Ivy. In general, I can say it's better to water plants too little than too much. 

That's so interesting! I've found that the plants I've given up on and just shove out in the back yard to fend for themselves, always seem to thrive ! It makes sense now. 

Do you have a favourite plant?
I love all of them, but my favourite ones are climbing plants (philodendron) and one of my most beautiful plants, I think, is the Anthurium Crystallinum

Finally, your cats seem very happy at home! How do you manage your plants to ensure they do not cause any harm? 
I pay a lot of attention to where I place my plants - and whether or not my cats show an interest in them (particularly if they are poisonous). With my cats, it works wonders to position the plants a little higher. 

I am especially careful with plants that have smaller leaves, for example some ficus plants. They arouse more interest in our cats than plants with larger leaves. The Dragon tree (palm-like) is out of the question for us because our cats confuse it with cat grass because of its narrow leaves - and it's poisonous. 

Thank you Caroline! 

I need to head straight out to a nursery this afternoon and pick out some new house plants. Seeing Caroline's home makes me realise just how much greenery is missing from my own. Do you feel the same?

Even though I don't have a pet (actually that's not strictly true - we do have a hamster named Dexter), I was really interested in what Caroline had to say about how to manage plants around cats. So important, don't you think?

If you'd love to look at more plant inspiration today, you might like to check out more pictures of Caroline's Berlin home here. And there's a ton more 'green' inspiration to be found in the plant archive!

For something a little more permanent - I can also recommend the coffee table books Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants by Igor Josif and Judith De Graaf and Wild At Home by Hilton Carter. 

Speaking of greenery, I spent the day photographing a brunch setting in my small back garden yesterday for Danish brand Georg Jensen. It was so much fun - but being more of an interior photographer I always forget the challenges of outdoor photography - from the changing light and insects to rain showers and pigeon pooh! Even so, I can't wait to share the results with you soon!

Niki

Photography: Caroline Reichel

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