Pretty Papers

It seems that whenever a person looks at a house to buy, one of the first things she wants to do is take down the wallpaper. They contain such beautiful patterns and colors, though! Now there are such unique papers that are trompe l’oeil, paintable and even ones that have texture. Graham & Brown is certainly a personal favorite. Below are some images that caught my eye. My wheels are now turning and I’m getting great ideas for my home! Do you find pretty papers inspiring?

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Swedish Interior Design – Creating a Bedroom from Heaven

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 or do follow our blog at
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Colorful Mondays {lime green}

Yesterday, my husband called our three children outside to the patio to watch a bright green caterpillar cross the stone patio. I ran out to check out the colorful bug as well and could not get over the bright, wonderful color! It’s amazing to see colors from nature be incredibly vibrant. It reminded me of my son’s wall color but where else could I use such an intense color in my home. Have you ever been inspired by an insect?! I hate bugs but this time, I was in awe of its beauty!

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A Dog on the Formal Sofa!

The intricate frame of the sofa with the luxurious fabric is stunning. The antique piece filled with books in the background adds warmth to an otherwise formal room. Wait, do I see a dog?! Not only is he in the formal room, but he is sitting on the opulent piece of furniture! It’s so cool to see this. I must admit, I’m not sure I could allow this. My formal sofa is not nearly this gorgeous and I get nervous when I see my children run into the living room with Nutella fingers and mustaches. Do you find this inspiring? It is inspiring to me to let loose a little! Maybe the formal room could be a bit more relaxed. I love this picture. The dog might add the most warmth here.

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Welcome Door

When a person visits another, they are found standing on the front porch knocking on the front door. As he waits for the door to open and be welcomed, he stands there staring at the door. This is the first impression. My door is bright red with a few windows along the top. It is in need of a wreath. A wreath would add the special, warm touch to welcome a visitor at the door, before I have the chance to do so first-hand. Is your door decorated to welcome visitors?

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The Private Oasis

Recently, I spent a day in the Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. They are so pretty and gave me so many ideas. I have been wanting to transform a corner of my backyard to a quiet, private oasis were I can read my design magazines, daydream and watch my children play in the rest of the yard. First I need the furniture, which I have. An iron rocker, love seat and table are waiting to be put to use while sitting between my fire pit and flowerpot full of bright orange New Guinea Impatiens. My next step is to create a brick patio on which these beautiful items to rest. Along with this step, I would like to add gorgeous trellises which would be a fantastic place for wisteria to grow. The trellises not only create privacy but beauty, as well. Would you find a private oasis inspiring? As far as the images below, the first one is certainly an ideal for me!

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The Beauty of the Farmhouse Sink

There is something about the farmhouse sink that I’m resisting. Then again, every single time I see one, I think how wonderful it looks. Perhaps I’m afraid of it being just another trend but it does have such a clean look and the deep size makes washing pots and plans easier. I believe it is something to go for, not just for the beauty but also for the functionality. What do you think of the farmhouse sink?

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Gazing at Old Travel Pics

Sometimes I just like to look at my old travel photos for inspiration. Looking at them takes me back to that particular time and place. I love that feeling of excitement and not knowing what to expect is around the corner. Each day is an adventure and full of curiosity and findings. The photos bring that feeling back. I took this one in Lisbon while on our honeymoon. Do you find it inspiring to look at old travel photos?

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Friday Find(s) [kitchen]

What a fabulous find on! I’m loving reclaimed wood and to find something so beautiful with history, well, this is truly a fabulous Friday find! This lovely piece is made by Great Lakes Reclaimed from reclaimed barn wood, fencing and pallet lumber.  The owners, Jim and Lisa Millen, work and live out of Colorado. Their items can be found on their etsy shop as well as shops in Denver and Aspen. I love this piece! Does this wine rack inspire you to redecorate the kitchen a bit?

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Happy in the Hammock

Today is such a steamy day with breaks of rainy downpours. It’s very comfortable to sit in my air-conditioned home but I’d rather be daydreaming in a hammock in one of the beautiful locations below! Does the thought of gazing into the sky while in a hammock inspire you, too?

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