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God Jul / Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 

It's a difficult time, with many of us missing our family this year. Even so, I hope you can find joy in the small things - A Zoom call with a loved one, a great book, a glimpse of sunshine or a slither of cake. You might also take comfort (along with the cake!) as I do from the words in the chorus of a very famous Swedish Christmas song:

Tänd ett ljus och låt det brinna, 
låt aldrig hoppet försvinna,
det är mörkt nu, 
men det blir ljusare igen. 

Light a candle and let it burn
Never let hope fade away,
It's dark now,
But it will be brighter again. 

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas friends!

Niki

PS You can listen to 'Tändet Ljus' here sung completely a cappella!) - and find the full lyrics in English here

PPS I'll be back for a few days in between Christmas and new year! See you then!

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Our Home - All Ready for Christmas!


Hej hej! I hope you had a lovely weekend! In our house, it's been a hive of activity - decorating, watching family films,  and even a little baking (yes, us - baking!). And of course, a healthy dose of the normal (albeit infuriating) - kids fighting, the tree nearly toppling over (gaaah!) and general Christmas chaos.... Even so, when you stop and look around once in a while, everything feels so cosy - and sometimes, especially now, you get the feeling that being safe and sound in our homes really is not a bad place to be, even if we all do desperately miss friends and family from afar. So, in celebration of the winter solstice today - and the home in general, I thought I'd share a few snapshots from our little place in Malmö, all decorated for Christmas! 

We love to use as natural decorations as possible - including paper flowers, dried oranges, alder cones and sprigs of pine, they add such a cosy touch and smell wonderful!


No Christmas in Sweden would be complete without the sweet smell of Pepparkaka. And they are so simple to make. I mean, even I manage occasionally - and we all know how bad I am at baking! There's a good recipe here

And my little elves love to decorate them too! 

And then we sprinkle them with fairy dust (icing sugar), just to make sure they're sweet enough (!!). 

We love our Snöblomma ('Snow Flower' lantern) in the kitchen window - it glows from morning to night and helps us to pretend the sun is shining outside. 


What are they plotting I wonder? I've been the subject to at least three pranks already this week already. FYI I receive the faux fur blanket (pic doesn't do the colour justice) that they're cosying under as a present from Apparis - along with two sparkly face masks (fab!) - it's the softest, most cosy blanket I've EVER touched, and I'm honestly not just saying that. Needless to say, I've barely had a look in since it arrived.  

And even Per got to relax a little - and in the top spot too! 

Roll on Christmas, the Brantmarks are ready for you (and those Zoom calls!). 

***

I hope you are having a cosy time at home too. 

With only a few days to go until the holidays I've planned a 'My Scandinavian Home Best of 2020' post for tomorrow. I always think it's so exciting to see which posts have resonated the most with everyone - and this year has an extra special mix - as you can imagine. Make sure you stop by to take a peek! 

Niki 

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Dreaming of a Cosy and Calm White Christmas In Johanna's Home

'Twas the last Friday before Christmas, and somewhere in Hamburg, Germany Johanna Wiemann's apartment is lit with the warm glow of candlelight. There may not be snow outside, but there sure is a lot of white inside - not to mention beautiful natural wood and soft, muted tones. Look closely and you'll also spot festive branches hung over the table, dripping with pretty ornaments, a simple sprig of pine displayed in a vase, star garlands and little houses lit with tea lights - and of course candles, lots of cosy candles! Ready for a tour of a dreamy, Scandinavian-inspired home at Christmas time? 

How lovely - the calmness, the warm glow that emits from every room, the magical display over the dining table - simply everything! 

Could you imagine spending the weekend here? 

See more pictures of Johanna's beautiful home over at @scandinavian.interior.

Feel like looking at other homes to give you that 'Jul' spirit? here are a few of my favourites: 


And if you feel like crafting this weekend - don't miss this decoration made from loo roll which I shared earlier this week! Could there be a more apt decoration for 2020? 

Wishing you a wonderful couple of days!

Niki

Photography: Johanna Wiemann, shared with kind permission. 

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11 Swedish Christmas Decorating Essentials (From Mari's Festive Home)

We're nearing the winter solstice, and I have to say, it's very dark here in Sweden right now. In fact, in the far North, the sun set a few days ago and will not reappear again for 24 days. Can you imagine? This is why the Scandinavians love to brighten up the darkness with levande ljus (candlelight) and delight the senses with the sweet smell off pepparkaka (gingerbread). Nature also plays a starring role - with moss, pine and fir, which is readily available in the forest - being a firm favourite.  In Mari Magnusson's home in Enköping, North West of Stockholm, candles light up her tables and sideboards and pine tree branches have been transformed into garlands, wreaths and simple yet pretty table displays. Welcome to Mari's mysigt (cosy) Christmas wonderland - and discover 11 swedish Jul essentials! 

1. Pepparkakshus: No Christmas in Sweden would be complete without a gingerbread house. Some buy kits, others go for their own handmade creation. Either way, they look pretty, smell divine, are fun to make and will likely leave you with burnt fingers (from the hot melted sugar 'glue'). You've been warned! Recipe available here

2. Pepparkaka hearts: all across the country children and adults alike will be rolling out gingerbread dough and cutting it into hearts (and other shapes). The sweet-smelling biscuits will then be hung from the tree, in the window, or arranged into a garland (or best of all, eaten!). 


3. Amaryllis: No Swedish home would be complete at an amaryllis - usually red but you also see white, and even a peach variety. 

4. Hyacinths: Whether planted in soil or wrapped in moss, these sweet smelling flowers are Jul staples! 

5. The pine (or fir) tree sapling: When you have little Christmas tree saplings going in your garden, it's just to go out and pick one and place it in water - and they look as pretty as can be. Plus, they can be re-planted once Christmas is over! Slightly tricker if you don't.  But little potted trees can look equally pretty and are more widely available. 

6. Sprigs of pine and alder cones: who needs expensive bouquets when a little sprig from a pine tree and alder tree cones can look equally pretty? Don't live next to a forest? Cut a few sprigs off the back of your Christmas - no one will ever notice! 

7. The wreath: Hung on the door, hanging from the ceiling, on the wall, in the window... there is no end to the different ways a Swede uses a wreath at Christmas! 

8. Candles: all hail the levande ljus. An essential element to any Scandinavian home in any shape or form - and the perfect way to brighten up the darkness!*

9. The Christmas flower and star: On the first Sunday of advent, pretty Christmas star lanterns appear in the window. Inside, paper flowers have become popular - and they're super simple to make

10. Adventsljusstakar: Not featured here (although, I'm sure Mari has one somewhere in the house!), these electric V-shaped candelabra have been placed in the windows of homes, schools and offices for centuries - and light up the windows throughout cities, towns and hamlets. 

11. The Christmas tree! No home would be complete without a Julgran - in whichever shape or size. Traditionally Swedes used real candles on a tree - and very occasionally still do**. But it's way more popular, practical and safe to use electric lights these days! 

So simply and so pretty! I love the essential Swedish Christmas decorations. 

Do you have any of these in your home?

I'd love to hear about the essential Christmas ingredients in your country too. 

See more pictures from Mari's home over on her lovely interior instagram feed @anangelinmyhome and baking feed: @anangelatmytable

Wishing you a cosy day!

Niki

Photography: Mari Magnusson 

*Important note with regards to candles: always place candles well away from anything flammable. Never leave a lit candle unattended (always blow them out before leaving a room). 

**Important note with regards to real Christmas tree candles: please be aware that using real candles on a tree requires a huge amount of vigilance. Only ever use real candles on a fresh tree (i.e. bring it in the day before Christmas). Place the candles well away from other branches. Never ever leave candles unattended, and always have sand or another type of fire extinguisher nearby. In all honesty, real candles look pretty but I would advise sticking to electric candles!  

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Before And After: Two Dated Apartments Are Transformed Into One Beautiful Home

2020 has been all about the home. It's been a place to live, a school, an office, a gym and above all else, a safe haven. Little wonder so many have decided to carry out home updates and make it their homes an even more cosy and personal place to be. But there can't be many who have taken on such a huge project as Izabella

Formerly owned by the Royal Marine, this beautiful building on the north coast of Germany dates back to 1870. Sadly, the previous owner had ripped out many of the period features, and what remained was buried under layers of tiles, wall-to-wall carpets and wallpaper. Even so, Izabella and her boyfriend could see its potential and decided to restore it to its former glory - room by room. Just in time for Christmas! 

Before:

"We love old houses, and it has always been our dream to renovate one. We fell in love with the high ceilings and the history. We also liked the road, it had an English feel," Izabella shares. "Unfortunately, the previous owner had removed some of the historic elements, but we could see its potential."


The renovation
Izabella and her boyfriend had a vision to turn the two apartments into one house. They were also keen to  restore the original details and add stucco, moldings, wooden floors as well as replace the windows and doors. It was a massive undertaking and involved completely gutting the place and starting again from scratch. Their vision and hard work completely paid off, as they peeled back the layers to reveal beautiful exposed brick and beautiful, high ceilings. 

"Our plan was to connect the two apartments. Downstairs we were looking to add a kitchen, dining room, living room and a small bathroom, and upstairs a master bedroom, dressing room, bathroom, workspace and guest room. To achieve this, we removed walls and changed the entire plan of the house," Izabella explains. 


"We did a lot ourselves since our budget wasn't very big," Izabella tells me. "We also lived on site during the construction. It was definitely more work than we thought, and we still haven't finished! Our philosophy was just to go for it, which worked out well, as I'm not sure that we would have taken the project on otherwise - it was a vast undertaking! Nevertheless, we are very happy that we did!"

The results
Needless to say, the pair have done an incredible job. Small, musty, dated rooms have been transformed into vast, spacious open-plan living spaces. And the house has been furnished with a wonderful blend of old and new.  The result is a calm, minimalist home which oozes elegance and character - and it's ready just in time for Christmas! 

"I think we are most happy with the wooden windows that open outwards," Izabella tells me. "They also have the most beautiful handles with gorgeous details. And you know, the beauty is in the detail! "We also love the herringbone flooring and all the stucco details and holdings. We are happy that we have been able to give the house back its historical flair!"


Kitchen cabinets from IKEA

"To be more sustainable, we chose natural materials and lime wash paint, which is marvellous!"


"For Christmas, I like to decorate with natural materials, foliage and greens with touches of gold and red. It's classic with a modern touch. I also love paper ornaments and light lots of candles."

Wooden Christmas tree from byWirth

Limewash paint from Bauwerk ColourDrift vase* by Cooee

Limewash paint from Bauwerk Colour


"If we hadn't done so much ourselves, the renovation wouldn't have been possible - so we are very pleased with this decision, even though it has been tough at times!"


Thank you so much for sharing your incredible renovation with us Izabella! I salute you for taking on such a huge project - your hard work has certainly paid off! 

What do you guys think? Would you consider taking on a project like this? 

And just how beautiful is Izabella's home?!*

You can see more pictures over @gruenderzeit_zeit

Having renovated the summer cottage kitchen by hand last year I can vouch for the sheer amount of work that goes into a renovation (and that was only the tip of an iceberg). Sometimes it's so nice to see what goes on behind the scenes, you somehow appreciate its beauty even more! 

Fancy taking a look at a few more before and after features? Here are a few incredible transformations: 


And perhaps the most mind-blowing of all: an industrial welding plant becomes a family home and wedding venue

Who knows, perhaps this will be you in 2021! 

Niki

Photography: @gruenderzeit_zeit

This post contains affiliate links marked with *

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A White Swedish Apartment in Stockholm In Winter Time

Not many cities are as beautiful as Stockholm in winter. And there to enjoy it is Marta Vargas, her fiancé Graeme and their English springer spaniel Summer. Located in Midsommarkransen (I love this name - it means 'Midsummer wreath'), the family of three (soon to be four!), live in a little apartment overlooking "a tiny forest, with deer, beautiful sunsets and many types of birds." Originally from Barcelona, Marta is a graphic designer, photographer and art director and combines her position in the design team at Spotify with other freelance endeavours. The one bedroom flat offers a pared-back yet warm and inviting base from which to explore the city and its surroundings. Here are some snapshots from Marta's wonderful snowy world in the Swedish capital! 




Marta and Graeme used their time during the pandemic to renovate their kitchen - investing in cabinets from Skandinaviska Shakerkök.  

Source a similar wooden clothes dryer* from River Bend Roes. 

A 'snöblomma' advent star* lights up the window, and you can catch a glimpse of the small forest beyond. 

A small space between the open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting room area provides the perfect spot for a Christmas tree, simply decorated in tones of off-white, gold and brown.



A cot from Baby Bay has been set up beside a Jotex headboard for the imminent arrival. 


How lovely! 

It makes me want to relocate to Stockholm, how about you? 

FYI the last picture is actually in Undersåker, 7 hours North of Stockholm. It was taken during a stay at a cottage overlooking a frozen lake for Marta's 30th birthday. Imagine! 

Feel inspired by more photos over at @imartavargas and www.martavargas.com today. 

And here are a few other lovely Stockholm homes: 


On another note, I mentioned that things have sort of piled up my end. I hope you don't mind that I skip tomorrow's post in order to catch up (and breath again!). I figured that Marta's lovely home and the landscape surrounding it offers enough dreamy Scandinavian inspiration to carry us through to Monday, what do you think?

If you're doing some final touches to your Christmas decorating (or just getting started), take a peek at the My Scandinavian Home Christmas archive - there are thousand of Scandi 'Jul' ideas in there! 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend! 

Niki

Photography: Marta Vargas, shared with kind permission.  
*This post contains affiliate links

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