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A Beautiful Midsummer's Eve Table

On Friday it's time for one of the biggest celebrations in Sweden - Midsummer's Eve. It's an event so entrenched in the Swedish culture that it's considered as important as Christmas. It's become my favourite celebration of the year. Put simply, it's magical. Think crowns weaved from wildflowers, dancing around a maypole and playing silly games. Tables are laden with a spread of pickled herrings, new potatoes, quiches, boiled eggs, sour cream, dill, salmon, strawberries, and crisp bread, washed down with beer and schnapps. It's a day spent outdoors no matter the weather (thankfully it looks like the sun will be shining on Friday!) and a time for friends and families to come together and chat and sing and dance under the midnight sun. 

Why not join the celebrations from afar? Here's a beautiful Midsummer tablescape by Linnea on the Swedish island of Gotland (who's beautiful home I featured recently) to inspire you! 

So pretty! 

Looking to join in the celebrations? Here are 5 simple steps for hosting a Swedish midsummer

Single? Swedish tradition says if you pluck 7 different wild flowers and lay them under your pillow on Midsummers Eve, you'll dream of your true love! 

Glad midsommar! 

Niki

PS since I will be busy doing preparations for the big day on Friday, there'll be no post tomorrow. I look forward to blogging again on Monday. Vi ses!

Photography: @leintosinspiration - shared with kind permission.

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18 Ideas to Create a Swedish Summer Oasis - From Basic to Blowout!

The Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea is a true summer paradise. It's a place where wild flowers sway in the wind, and the pin sharp light catches the rocks on the rugged coastline and glistens on the blue of the Baltic Sea. 

Swedes flock there in July and August to relax and catch up with family and old friends while soaking up the long hours of daylight.  

There are many beautiful houses dotted around the island - some basic, some luxurious and everything in between! Today I stumbled across this contemporary oasis on the North east of the island which is currently for sale (I know!) - and I couldn't resist sharing it with you.

Why? Firstly, it had me dreaming of wiling a way a summer here with family and friends. Secondly, more importantly, because although we might not all have the space / budget for everything this wonderful house to offer - there are lots of ideas to steal - both big and small to channel that wonderful Swedish summer house vibe! 

Ready to take a look? 

1. A covered outdoor dining and barbecue area: Summer is all about spending as much time outside as possible and making the most of the abundance of daylight hours. An outdoor  dining / BBQ area is essential. The trouble is, the Swedish weather gods aren't always on our side so a pergola, with fabric to draw across on rainy days is ideal!

2. Solar powered lanterns: who needs to be faffing around with turning on and off outdoor lighting when the sun can do the job for you?  IKEA sells solar lamps like these. They look beautiful hung in the trees at dusk (as seen in yesterday's home tour). 

3. Outdoor kitchen: If you can't take the heat, create an outdoor kitchen (if you only have a small outdoor space or balcony, mini versions are possible with some creativity!). A perfect way to prolong your time outdoors and save from shuttling everything to and fro on trays! 

See more outdoor kitchen inspiration here and here

4. The double sun lounger: there's something luxurious about a double lounger, don't you think? Pick one that can lay flat or prop up so you can enjoy a book or a siesta at whim! 

Note, bamboo is not very weather resistance so best kept under a covered terrace. 

5. Permanent Cover: let's just say the weather in Northern Europe doesn't always do what we want it to do. A covered terrace is ideal for ensuring you can still enjoy the great outdoors on rainy days - and it's perfect for shade on warmer days. 

6. A sauna: On chillier summer days, a sauna is a perfect way to relax and feel some much needed warmth. But on winter days it' really comes into its own. And the health benefits are numerous!

7. An outdoor shower: why wash off in a steamy bathroom, when you can lather under an open sky? 

8. A swing: There's no better way to bring out the child in you like a swing. In my mind I'm already sitting on it overlooking the pool with a drink in hand, how about you? 

9. A comfy outdoor social area: a perfect spot for relaxing with friends and enjoying a fika (the swedish ritual of enjoying a coffee and cake) - or better still, a pre-dinner aperitif! 

10. Somewhere to take a dip: this house has a wonderful pool - and I can totally see myself drifting around on a lilo - I mean, how lovely! But if like me, you don't have the space / budget, how about a small plunge pool or wilderness bath / hot tub? Or a nice cool dip in a nearby sea / lake / stream is also a wonderful way to cool off! 

11. Sports: table tennis, badminton, darts, Kubb (a classic Swedish garden game), croquet... it doesn't really matter which you decide on, it's just fun to have some social activities to enjoy in the sunshine!

12. A relaxed indoor kitchen: At the Swedish summer house it's all about keeping life as simple as possible and the indoor kitchen should reflect this. Simple open shelves allow for a relaxed, 'grab and go' feel and natural materials like wood and stone help to bring the outdoors in. 

13. Let there be light! The Scandinavian winters are dark, so when the light returns it's important to embrace it. Glass doors help light to flow through to rooms further away from the window. A simple curtain can be pulled across for privacy. 

14. Hooks and more hooks: there's no simpler way to store your summer clothes than a rail of hooks. Besides, all you'll be needing (with any luck) is a robe, bikini, kimono and sunhat! Oh, alright then, maybe a cardi / jumper for the evenings. And a raincoat.... but let's not get bogged down in the details! 

15. A simple dressing room area: a mirror, hooks and chest-of-drawers = a basic walk-in-wardrobe, Swedish style! 

16. A space to work: A quiet place by the window will help you to feel connected with the great outdoors and keep that holiday feel alive while you work! 

17. A simple outhouse for guests: when it comes to the Swedish summerhouse, it's about accommodating as many people as possible - whether that's extended family or friends passing through for the night. I for one, would be perfectly happy to wake up in this little poolside cabana! But I've also seen garden sheds transformed into wonderful little guest houses (size permitting of course!). 

18. Bring your own bedding: In Sweden, it's customary for guests to bring their own sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases and you provide the bed, pillow and duvet. Which means less work for everyone, and more time catching up! 

So many ideas - I for one would love a table tennis to have outside at our little cabin this summer - so fun! I might just have my eye on a double sun lounger too.

Is there anything that stood out to you?  

For more ideas on how to spice up your outdoor space, Scandi style, see: 


Kram! 

Niki

Photography courtesy of Bertwig with thanks 




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A Charming and idyllic Swedish Country Home in Summertime

The Swedish country house of interior stylist Anna Furbacken would look perfectly at home in an Astrid Lindgren tale. It's so idyllic! Nestled in the countryside in central Sweden, the historic croft is made up of one larger house and several outhouses positioned astound a central lawn - making it a perfect venue for parties like midsummer this Friday! 

Anna has been renovating the house over time to create a home where she and her family can relax and be themselves, both outdoors and in. The interior offers a refreshing respite from the 'perfect' living spaces we're so used to seeing these days, offering a wonderful glimpse into family life on the farm. Look out for antique furniture, an array of vintage lights and soft, earthy, muted tones - as well as refreshing glimpses of laptops, cables, messy cushions and the odd margarine tub. 

Outdoors, there's plenty of seating to go around with a chilled bamboo sitting room area, hammocks and a long table with a mix match of chairs. It's the kind of place, you'd be happy to pull up a seat and stay for a while under the midnight sun. 

Note the choice of panelling in the kitchen (I'm all into panelling having installed it in our cabin. See my panelling guide here) - Anna has opted for a traditional bead panelling which perfectly matches the history and style of the house. 

The pendant you can catch a glimpse of in the picture above has become really popular in Sweden among the boho living aficionados, it's from HK Living

I'm sure many happy childhood memories will be made at this beautiful house. And what a glorious place to spend midsummer's eve! 

Could you imagine wiling away your summer days here? 

See more of Anna's home over at @annfurbacken and more about her work as an interior stylist here

Here's a peek inside a few other Scandinavian country homes this bright and sunny Monday: 


Kram! 

Niki

Photography: @annfurbacken shared with kind permission

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City Guide: 30 Things to do in Malmö For Design-Lovers

In paid partnership with @malmötown. All words, pictures and recommendations are my own. 

Having lived in Malmö, Sweden for over eighteen Years, I'm so proud of Sweden's third largest city. Last December I wrote a winter guide, and today I thought I'd share 30 great things to do the city for design-lovers all year round! Here's the complete lowdown on all my favourite design shops, galleries, studios, architecture, cafes, restaurants and more! I hope it will inspire you to visit this great city some day soon. 


1. Stroll or cycle through the old cobbled streets of Gamla Väster  - the 19th century old town between Lilla Torg and Kungsparken, and discover small independent galleries, ateliers and handicraft stores. 

2. Discover the cities modern architecture which juxtaposes with historic buildings to create a fascinating skyline! Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects' Malmö Live Towers and the jagged glass and aluminium extension to the World Maritime University by architect firms Terrior and Kim Utzon (both seen above) are a couple of my favourites.

3. Stroll around the little lanes in Västra Hamnen (Western harbour) for more fascinating architecture including the famous skyscraper Turning Torso - the symbol of Malmö, and enjoy a dip in the sea while looking out over the famous Öresund bridge. 

4. Pull up a seat by the window at Atrium for brunch in beautiful surroundings. I can vouch for the eggs bennie! 

5. Or combine brunch and design shopping at Geijersgatan 53, owned by my friend Josephine - who has impeccable taste for design and flowers! 

6. Visit the Malmö public library: the award-winning modern extension by Henning Larsen is a wonderful place to sit in 'lugn och ro' (peace and quiet) while leafing through a book and taking in the view over Kungsparken ('The Kings Park').

7. Shop for contemporary Scandinavian design at Miloii, Norrgavel, Olsson & Gerthel, Svenssons, Grandpa, Design Torget and Bolia.  For Scandinavian-style inspiration on how to organise your home and pick up storage pieces, head to Elfa Studio in Hansa. 


6. Shop for items by highly acclaimed local designers and see one of the exhibitions at Form Design Centre - a meeting place for architecture, design and crafts. 

7. Pop into Beyond Us: an urban market for clothes and homeware, cafe & bar and workspace. 

8. Shop for antiques and second hand homeware at AB Småland (it's a great place for a swedish fika - coffee and cake / lunch - too!). You'll also find a row of antique shops on Kärleksgatan ('love street')

9. Pick up locally made ceramics at Artibus (open the first weekend of every month) and Formagruppen

10. Buy jewellery from a local silversmith at Atom 47 in Limhamn. 

11. Source Scandi retro furniture at Yesterday Retro Form and Möbeldepan

12. Shop for local handicrafts including butterknives, wool socks and clogs in one of the little boutiques on historical Lilla Torg. 

13. And then enjoy a drink and light lunch on the square, or head round the corner to local favourite Noir vin & Kaffe.

14. Or tuck into the best pizza in town by the water at Mastio in Limhamn. You'll love the constantly changing menu, interior and local vibe!

15. If you prefer vegan, I can recommend Jord or Farm2Table (both with great food and beautiful design) or the new plant-based cafe Sansa

16. Visit independent art galleries including Cowgirl Gallery in Möllan (where you can also enjoy a coffee and attend events) and the Nordic Art Agency, owned by my friend Juliet, a fellow Brit. 

17. Make an appointment with a local artist to visit their showroom. Malmö Open Studios is a helpful resource. 

18. Pay a visit to Malmö Konsthallen or Moderna Museet for modern art. 

19. Hang out with locals in St Knuts Torg: pull up a seat at one of the cafes on the square, visit the antique bookstore, treat yourself to fresh cut blooms in the flower shop, and stock up on groceries from the independent package-free, zero waste store Gram

20. Stroll through an ocean of flowers at ecological Slottsträdgården - the public flower garden behind Malmö Hus, and then pull up a seat by the canal at Slottsträdgården cafe

21. Pick up blooms, plants, cards and vases from truly inspiring flower shops Blomster Pigan and Wallflower

22. Visit Malmö during the Southern Sweden Design Days - an annual international design festival showcasing a range of design disciplines, seminars, workshops and exhibitions all over town. Don't miss the main hub at Lokstallerna - an incredible converted train workshop.  

23. While you're in Kirseberg, treat yourself to a relaxed lunch inside at the industrial street food restaurant Matverskstad.  

24. Travelling with children? Check-in to a circus wagon at the nearby Grand Circus Hotel!  

25. Enjoy a pre-supper aperitif of champagne and oysters - or tuck into a relaxed lunch or evening meal - at Malmö Saluhallen - a former train depot converted into an incredible food hall, with a modern extension by architect firm Wingårdhs

26. L'Enoteca's outdoor space is also a cool place for pre-dinner drinks. I love their cosy bar over the road on colder days too. 


27. Book a table in advance and dine out in style at one of my favourite restaurants: Ruths (above), Aster, Atmosfär or Mutantur

28. Head up to Malmö skybar for a post-dinner drink with a view over Malmö (you can also eat supper from the heady heights of Kitchen & Table). 

29. Finish the night with a cocktail to two at tiny local favourite Care Of by the canal. If you're looking for somewhere lively, the eclectic hangout MJs is always fun on a saturday night. For clubs - Plan B is the place to go. 

30. Rest your weary head at the newly renovated boutique Hotel Duxiana with impeccably designed rooms and lovely views over central Malmö and the canal (above and below). Other great hotels include Clarion Malmö Live and MJs

I hope this guide has given you lots of design ideas for your next trip to Malmö! 

Välkommen! 

Niki

PS feel free to add your own tips below! 

Photography: Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home

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