Contemporary abodes that blend current design sensibility with a reverence for the past
What started out as a bit of light renovation work for interior designer Birgitta Örne on a 17th-century villa outside Stockholm turned into a complete revamp—in the process, making it the ideal family abode for a couple with two young children.
To give the couple an idea of how a 17th-century villa could be transformed into a modern home, Örne had the opportunity to show the family around a property that belonged to a former client. “I had a picture in my head of how it could be done, but it was difficult to convey to the owners. Being able to show them the house was very helpful for the process,” says Örne. “They were very open to my ideas and placed a lot of trust in me. They went along with all my suggestions, so it was a smooth project in that sense.”
The couple wanted a home that was elegant yet comfortable, decorated in a palette of muted and neutral tones. While Örne decided to change just about everything inside the 2,800sqft villa, she was careful to take into account the charming character of the 17th-century building in the decor. With this in mind, she kept the beautiful blue murals that adorn the walls of the dining room, as well as the vintage cast-iron stoves that were constructed in both the dining room and the kitchen.
On the ground floor is the entrance hall, followed by a guest toilet, lounge area and dining room, as well as a kitchen with an additional casual dining area. Black and white marble floors replaced the brown brick floor in the entrance hall, while a low foreclosure by the stairs down to the basement was removed. To match the marble, the oak staircase leading to the upper floor was painted in black and white, and partially covered with a sisal carpet to make it slip-resistant—a much-needed feature for a family with two growing children. The walls were painted white and decorated with panelling.
The living room features a palette of black, white and soft grey, punctuated by pieces of antique furniture, with splashes of colour provided by the boldly patterned cushions on the sofa and a display of blue-and-white Chinese porcelain on the mantelpiece. In contrast, the adjacent dining room is decorated in shades of cream and blue, matching the detailed murals lining the walls and one of the vintage stoves that takes up a corner of the room. To this, Örne added a modern element that maintained the 17th-century charm of the room—the iconic 2097 chandelier by Italian designer Gino Sarfatti for Flos.
The second floor includes the children’s rooms, the master bedroom and walk-in closet, the guest bedrooms, a large bathroom, and a TV room with a library; the wall between the latter two was removed to make space for a built-in bookcase. Some standout features include the black-and-white wallpaper, featuring a detailed chinoiserie design by Braquenié named Delft, which was used for the upper hallway. In addition, Örne also added beautiful Carrara marble on the walls and floors of the bathrooms, and used mirrors to make it look more spacious.
The renovations were so extensive that the family decided to postpone moving into the house. “I always advise clients to move out of their home while it is being renovated,” says Örne. “It’s better to bite the bullet and get it all done at once, so that you can live in peace.”
Örne also gets the added benefit of being able to see her clients enjoy their new residence to the fullest. “It’s wonderful to inspire my clients and see them satisfied with their new home,” she says. “That’s the best thing about my job.”
quiet retreat Several of Örne’s furniture designs are featured throughout the home, such as the chic headboard used in one of the bedrooms