photos and text by Jo Lee for Inspire Ma
When we bought our 1886 apartment on the seafront in Hove (UK) that now doubles as Swedish Interior Design HQ, we instantly fell in love with the 14’ ceilings, huge double sash windows overlooking the sea and wonderful original period features. The light pours in off the sea creating stunning shadows in the south-facing rooms and it changes by the minute as the sun shifts across the sky. Our aim for our bedroom (which faces north and so gets slightly less light) was to create a sensitive quiet soothing holistic womb-like sanctuary in the classic Swedish style we both love using a Swedish colour palette that would react to changing light.
So first to the painting.
After a complete but sympathetic renovation of the apartment, we decided to use an organic non toxic and “super chalky” wallpaint in a custom colour from Ecos that shifts from off white thru light grey into almost blue at night – making use of the available light tumbling through the huge bedroom windows to create the soothing ambience that would ‘hold’ the bedroom space.
We then accented the walls with a dado rail in a special darker ‘Jo Lee’ custom grey and painted trompe l’oeil bows around the upper walls copied from a Swedish manor house we had visited near the town of Trosa in Sweden. So far so good.
Now we like to spend time in bed, so it was very important that the bed was exactly what we wanted and that the view from the bed of the rest of the room needed to be equally satisfying as we would spend lots of time looking at it enthroned in bed. So we looked for an antique bed but couldn’t find one large enough, so we took a 4’ 6” antique bed with lovely carved detail on the footboard and took it to pieces in our bespoke workshop. We extended to 6’ wide and then made a new headboard for it and repainted in cornflower white and antiqued it. Just lovely.
Then we added the must have TEMPUR mattress – we recommend them to all the clients we handmake bespoke beds for. It’s the ultimate in comfort. (Don’t be fooled by other cheaper memory foam mattresses. TEMPUR is the only way to go).
We also had an old 6’ Swedish carving lying around and we thought – lets make a half tester for fun that we can drape with a lovely fabric to create a cocooning effect for us.
So that’s the sleeping sorted. But what about the rest of the room? We had specific requirements re storage and usage that needed to work within our classic design – so we had to do some serious thinking about what goes where for ease of use while still looking amazing.
First off Madeleine (Creative Director of Swedish Interior Design) is also the UK ambassador for Swedish fashion label Ewa I Walla and so has lots (and I do mean LOTS) of amazing dresses to accommodate. As usual we couldn’t find an armoire big enough to house her collection, so we designed and handmade this bespoke armoire from antique oak from old church pews. It’s about 10’ wide x 8’ high and has a great combination of hanging and shelving. That’s why it’s so good to make a bespoke piece – you get exactly the dimensions and storage that you need.
It also needed to look amazing with lots of detail as we would see it every day so we installed mirrors in the doors which really opens out the bed room and used another original Swedish carving from our collection on the cornice.
For other storage we made a gentleman’s wardrobe also from antique oak in gustavian style with gilt detailing to stay in keeping with the main armoire and also a handmade heavily carved settle with massive underseat storage to sit under the windows.
Next to the armoire there’s one of our own bespoke server tables made from antique pine and finished in an off white 50% wash to allow the lovely grain to show thru standing next to a completely OTT freestanding mirror. We had various carvings lying around and thought – lets see if we can get all this delicious carving into a single piece with antique bevelled glass. We did and it looks great in an antiqued cornforth white.
For comfort, we handmade a bespoke 20’ square antique hemp linen striped rug for the floor with lots of foam padding underneath to make it really squishy to stand on and the blue stripes in the linen are in sympathy with the wall colours as day turns to night.
Finally we turned to the big bedroom windows. To soften the light, we handmade 16’ double drop muslin curtains which give a very intimate feel to the bedroom and for sleeping we matched them with handmade antique oak 12’ decorated blackout shutters again from the Swedish Interior Design bespoke workshop.
Of course, no bedroom is complete without an original mora clock – we have about 60 mora clocks for sale so there were lots to choose from- and decided on a very early 1790s mora clock to stand guard over us while we sleep!
Overall I think we succeeded in creating a wonderful relaxing space that is physically super comfy, emotionally supportive, visually engaging and practical to live in. I hope you think so too.
Jo Lee is director of Swedish Interior Design.
We have Europe’s largest selection of Swedish antiques, over 60 antique mora clocks and our bespoke furniture at www.swedishinteriordesign.co.uk or do follow our blog at www.swedishinteriordesign.co.uk/blog
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Absolutely exquisite workmanship – thanks Jo Lee for the history behind these wonderful pieces.