In­spired by the Gus­ta­vian style of the 18th cen­tury, Swedish clas­sic in­te­ri­ors com­bine el­e­gance and sim­plic­ity.

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Clas­sic Swedish Style

Orig­i­nat­ing from the Swedish royal palaces of the 18th cen­tury, Gus­ta­vian style is a pop­u­lar clas­sic style that com­bines the el­e­gance of Ver­sailles with the sim­plic­ity and pale colours of the North. This is what has made it so pop­u­lar in re­cent years as it can be eas­ily adapted to our mod­ern en­vi­ron­ments. This style is beau­ti­ful in both city and coun­try homes. So how can you cre­ate your own Gus­ta­vian home?

Painted wood

Wood has al­ways been a ma­jor el­e­ment in Scan­di­na­vian 18th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­ri­ors. It is usu­ally nec­es­sary for the wood to be painted in white or pale colours be­cause the long dark winters would oth­er­wise make the rooms far too gloomy. The beauty of painted wood pan­elled walls and floors is that they give the rooms a coun­try look that mixes well with the more lux­u­ri­ous feel of the chan­de­liers and or­nate mirrors. Floor­boards are also of­ten painted in white or grey or in a che­quered pat­tern de­sign that com­bines both colours.


Swedish crys­tal chan­de­liers are al­ways pop­u­lar and es­sen­tial to cre­ate the lux­u­ri­ous feel of a clas­sic home spe­cially in din­ing rooms but they can be used in any room of the house in­clud­ing the kitchen over a rus­tic ta­ble. A safe choice is the Em­pire style – ei­ther bas­ket or oc­tagon - which was orig­i­nally de­signed for can­dles, since can­dles are such a fix­ture of Scan­di­na­vian in­te­ri­ors. Owing to the lack of light, the tra­di­tional Swedish homes would also have can­dles on wall sconces. The mod­ern de­signs of chan­de­liers, based on the orig­i­nals, now al­low for elec­tric bulb fit­ments but they can also be used with can­dles.

Fur­ni­ture and an­tiques

Swedish an­tiques lend a time­less look and ex­ude a sim­ple el­e­gance. In­spired by the French Ro­coco style of the 18th cen­tury, Gus­ta­vian style (that takes its name from Gus­tav III of Swe­den who fell in love with French fur­nish­ings and was de­ter­mined to cre­ate a “Paris of the North”) in­cor­po­rated many of the el­e­ments of that style but the de­sign is much less or­nate and fan­ci­ful.

The beauty of the soft patina of chipped old paint in milky and grey­ish tones, the wood tex­ture and the sim­ple grace­ful shapes of the de­signs are al­ways

beau­ti­ful. Mora clocks (named af­ter the town where they were first made), benches, din­ing chairs and ta­bles, as well as dressers, are some of the pieces that crop up. Since Swedish an­tiques are nor­mally very ex­pen­sive, you may want to opt for re­pro­duc­tions. For ex­am­ple, Sol­går­den (www. sol­gar­ is a Swedish com­pany that spe­cialises in pro­duc­ing repli­cas of Gus­ta­vian fur­ni­ture and they have been in busi­ness since the 1990s in Salt­sjöbaden, out­side of Stock­holm. The busi­ness was named Sol­går­den (Sun­gar­den) from the yel­low villa where ev­ery­thing started. The fur­ni­ture is Swedish-made and is in keep­ing with the old tra­di­tions. The fur­ni­ture is painted by hand to get the fine and pati­nated Gus­ta­vian feel­ing. They do na­tional and in­ter­na­tional in­te­rior as­sign­ments for pri­vate homes, of­fices and restau­rants. An­other brand, also from Swe­den, is Garbo In­te­ri­ors (www. gar­boin­t­e­ri­ a Stock­holm-based in­te­rior de­sign com­pany that since 2002 of­fers de­signs and man­u­fac­tures their own prod­ucts, both in con­tem­po­rary and clas­sic styles.

Wood burn­ers The ce­ramic wood burn­ers are a must in a tra­di­tional Swedish home. Not only are they ex­tremely dec­o­ra­tive, but they are also an ex­cel­lent and eco­nomic source of heat.


Blue and white is a clas­sic com­bi­na­tion in Swedish in­te­ri­ors. The blue el­e­ments are in­tro­duced in fab­rics, ce­ram­ics and other de­tails on white or pale grey back­grounds. Red is also a very pop­u­lar colour as an ac­cent colour as it is rem­i­nis­cent of the red sum­mer cot­tages that you find all over Swe­den. Red or blue are com­bined with white in Ging­ham fab­rics on chairs, so­fas, cush­ions and kitchen linens. Grey is also a pop­u­lar colour and, even though some say it is not true Gus­ta­vian, it is one of the pre­ferred colours in the mod­ern ver­sion of this clas­sic style.

Black is used spar­ingly but dra­mat­i­cally to con­trast with the mostly white colour scheme. It can be used on fur­ni­ture and not just on painted on wood but also with the use of iron items. Black also in­tro­duces a more aus­tere look that can tone down the ‘pret­ti­ness’ of the room.


Swe­den has a great and var­ied wall­pa­per tra­di­tion from the 1500s to the 1930s. Wall­pa­per de­signs from both from the Ro­coco pe­riod and the Gus­ta­vian pe­riod are avail­able as com­pa­nies look to re­pro­duce an­tique pat­terns that are still found in the many manors and es­tately homes through­out Swe­den.


Swedish botanist Carl Lin­naeus (1707-78) was known as the fa­ther of tax­on­omy as he was the first to clas­sify species of or­gan­isms (plants, an­i­mals, bac­te­ria, fungi, etc.). In­spired by his work, herbal pressed botan­i­cals framed un­der glass with in­di­vid­ual tax­on­omy cards be­came pop­u­lar and make truly dec­o­ra­tive work of arts to adorn the walls of a clas­sic Swedish in­spired in­te­rior.

(Above) An an­tique cabi­net (Above right) Kitchen project de­signed by Sol­gar­den (Be­low) A fine Gus­ta­vian chair by Garbo In­te­ri­ors

(Above) A ward­brobe by Garbo In­te­ri­ors (Above right) A pair of Gus­ta­vian style chairs painted in Swedish red by Garbo In­te­ri­ors (Be­low) Arm­chair by Garbo In­te­ri­ors

(Above) An el­e­gant liv­ing room by Garbo In­te­ri­ors (Pre­vi­ous page) 'Wilma' wall­pa­per by Sand­berg

(Be­low) A wardrobe filled with lay­ers of hemp fabric, by Garbo In­te­ri­ors

A bed­room de­signed by Sol­gar­den for a US based home.

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