Swedish interiors are famed for delicate, layered, neutral color palettes. “Swedish country color palette” make me think of soft, natural color palettes incorporating wood, white walls, bright but light colors. These seem to be the province of Scandinavian interior design.
Carl Larsson painted hundreds of pictures of his beautiful Scandinavian home, painted and decorated by himself and his wife, Karin, who was also a gifted artist and artisan. I think Larsson’s paintings of his Swedish country home are a trove of inspiration for Swedish interior design, Swedish country interiors, Scandinavian decor, farmhouse style, painted furniture, Gustavian furniture, Scandinavian furniture, Swedish style and design.
If you love Swedish Country style, Karin Larsson is an interior designer you want to follow! And happily, her husband Carl left us a gorgeous record of her creativity.
Please enjoy the video I made for you about creating a Swedish Country paint color palette from a gorgeous piece of classic art.
If you prefer to read, I’ve posted the transcript right after the video.
Hi, this is Kathleen from oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I wanted to take a Carl Larsson painting and pull out a beautiful Swedish Country color palette based on the colors in the painting. In Farrow and Ball paints and also in Sherwin-Williams. So here it is. I hope you enjoy.
So we’ve got this beautiful painting, At home in Solsidan, by Carl Larsson. It’s a painting of his home and it’s got a beautiful color palette. I pulled out a white and a gray and a red and a blue and a green.
Sherwin-Williams Swedish Country Color Palette
In Sherwin-Williams, I matched the colors to the following. I’ve linked each color here for easy reference.
Swedish Country Interiors have a distinct look. They are Gustavian style simplified. The Swedish interior is a Scandinavian style that works well for casual, hi / low decorating. It is a farmhouse style with a color palette of delicate blues and greens, reds, whites, and greys, clean lines, and Gustavian furniture.
I find Swedish interior design for country living and country houses to be some of the most beautiful and inspirational. I wanted to share ideas with you from three Swedish interior design experts. First, Carl Larsson, the painter, and his wife, Karin. Karin was also an artist. Together they designed an iconic family home. Second, Carol Glasser, an interior designer whose take on Swedish Country house design, and decor, will give you inspiration for a lifetime of decorating.
Here is the video I made for you about getting Swedish Country Style into your home. If you prefer to read, the transcript follows right after the video.
So I thought what I’d do is take two really inspirational people that have wonderful ideas that you could incorporate for Swedish Country Style. I wanted to show you the paintings of Carl Larsson and the interior design of Carol Glasser. These are two artists who really inspire me and I think they have a lot of amazing ideas for Swedish Country Style. So Carl Larsson first.
Two Icons of Swedish Country Style: Karin & Carl Larsson
Carl Larson was a Swedish painter and he lived in the late 1800s and he and his wife Karin – Karin was also an artist – and in 1888 they got a home. I think Karin’s dad gave it to them and it was a country house in Sweden. They had six or seven children and they lived in this house and they decorated it themselves in a very beautiful and artistic way and incorporating traditional Swedish style along with anything else that they found artistically interesting.
And Carl painted his family and his wife and the interiors of their home and he left tons of these paintings and they are a trove of ideas for Swedish Country Style. So I wanted to show you some of those and pull out the elements that make it so Swedish, and things that we can take and do in our house, and then all of a sudden you’re like, wow, Swedish Country Style in my house!
Swedish Country Interiors: Carol Glasser
And then also, intermixed with these Carl Larsson paintings, I want to show you some of the work of Carol Glasser.
Carol Glasser is an interior designer based in Houston, Texas. I find everything that I have ever seen her do to be the utmost in perfection. She seems to love the European country style. I’ve seen a lot of her French Country Style work via Joni Webb’s blog, Cote de Texas. I’ll link in the description below. Joni has three or four really great articles about Carol Glasser. I’ve linked them here:
And then Carol was gracious enough to give me permission to use some of the photographs from her website so that I can show you her Swedish Country Style. I wish that she had a book so I could look at it every day. I think everything she does is brilliant and if you are in love with French Country Style, Scandinavian Country Style, European Country Style generally, she is the interior designer for you.
13 Ways to the Get Swedish Country Style Look
13 elements that you could put one or all 13 into your home and add some Swedish Country Style.
Swedish Country Fabric
The first one is fabric. Checked fabric, striped fabric instantly give a Swedish look. tTere’s this, um, you can do any color of checks, like these gorgeous red and white ones here on this armchair in Carol Glasser’s home.
Here are some blue and white checks and a painting by Carl Larsson
Blue and white stripes. I would say blue green and white or blue and white stripes or checks would be quintessentially Swedish.
Here, though, you see yellow stripes, as well, so really any color. Here’s some more pictures of Carl Larsson’s house. These beautiful chairs covered with these little slip covers, some red stripes and red checks from Carol Glasser.
Sofas & Settees
Okay the second thing is the sofa or the settee. Get a sofa or sette with wooden carved legs that you can see and a very simple clean silhouette on top, just kind of like a straight line across.
Here’s one from a beautiful country house that’s a museum now in Sweden.
Swedish Country Chairs, Carved & Painted
Painted and carved woodwork. Just get any chair and paint it. You could add gilding.
Paint them white, paint them warm gray, and then, you know, cover the seat with a chair cover and checks. I have a tutorial on my blog about a tie on chair cover I am the worst most beginning sewer and I could do this project so you could too. Dining chairs all wooden, painted or not painted. This is one of the Swedish Royal Family’s historic palaces, Stromsholm. Note the beautiful weathered wood on the chairs.
And here is the drawing room of the Crown Prince’s bedchamber at Stromsholm Palace. It looks like the same type of chairs from the ballroom, above, but this time, painted yellow with gorgeous teal green upholstery.
Instead of a coffee table that is low kind of even or lower than your couch or chair, these tea tables that the Swedish tend to like to use come up higher. I tried this in my own living room after being inspired by this. I just dragged a table I had that was, you know, standard table height, over to my love seat just kind of like this here, and it is awesome, especially if you’re serving food. It’s easier than the coffee table actually and I really like how it looks because it looks a little different.
Half Moon Tables
Demilune, half moon tables that you can push up against the wall when they’re not in use.
Or bring out into the middle of the room like in this painting here. Fit them together to make one full table.
Blond Wood Floors
Bleached blonde wood floors. So very light wood. Paint it light or bleach it, or just get it finished in a light light stain or get it pickled somehow.
But I think traditionally in these old houses they wouldn’t put anything on the floor, they just put the boards down and left them to weather. Now you can see here this has a light stain on it, or you know there are different ways to finish the floors in this blonde look, but that is a quintessential Swedish look, the blonde floors. I think this is Svindersvik, if I’m saying it right. You can see the silvery floors. This is Stromsholm, another palace in Sweden. You can see the floors aren’t finished at all. I don’t even know if they oil them, or if they’re just left the way they are but the boards turn silvery over time.
Classic Swedish Flat Weave Rugs
Okay, flat weave rugs. The Swedish are really known for these.
I think it might have started because they didn’t have the money for the plush rugs with pile and they would make these flat weave rugs and they would traditionally be a runner like you can see here in Carl Larsson’s home.
And then if they wanted it to move around the room they just folded it over, you can see there and in this picture over by the shoes it’s just folded and then it goes on its way horizontal, they want to go vertical they folded it, and on it goes.
There it is again, so I think that’s a pretty cool idea. And then here’s just a beautiful striped larger flat weave rug in Carol Glasser’s home.
For beds, a canopy bed or a four poster bed. Painted wood with some carving, that would be a great way to add some Swedish style into your home as well.
Here’s a green – very simple bed painted green at Carl Larsson’s home ,and you can see through to his room with the canopy bed there.
Swedish Country Furniture Style
Okay, and then for the rest of your furniture, paint it. Look for furniture with little channels in it, like the Swedish cupboard carved and then with simple tapered legs.
So with channeled carving, or any other kind of carving, painted white or a light color and then tapered legs like you see that little blue night table, a little green, and this very simple bench with just this light greenish white color and simple tapered legs here. Again the settee, and there’s a little dresser in the corner with the little tapered legs and painted white. The channeled carving I’m talking about like on these chairs.
Crystal chandeliers are a very Swedish look. Here’s an example of a few. You obviously – you know you can buy antique chandeliers for really relatively cheap if you get lucky. You can also just go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and they’ve got tons of really nice ones, but it’s a nice pretty way to add some Swedish Country Style to your house. And there’s another one.
Swedish Country Window Treatments
What do you put on the windows? Swags, panels, or Swedish blinds.
So here you see some beautiful Swedish blinds, they’re so sheer.
Here’s some Roman shades which are not exactly the same as a Swedish blind.
Simple paneled curtains that go all the way to the floor, but nothing fussy, just a simple panel.
And then here are just like a swag that’s just simply – looks like tacked up over the window, or you could drape it over a curtain rod.
There’s some long simple panel curtains again.
Decoratively Painted Walls
You could paint or stencil your walls. Obviously Carl and Karin Larsson were artists and they probably, you know, they had all the skill, they used these beautiful paintings and swags and flowers on the walls.
There’s a little saying painted over that door, the door is obviously very painted.
Painted faux paneling, you can see here they’ve, at Carol Glasser’s home she’s just painted the wall in dark gray and a lighter gray and it looks like paneling.
Or this beautiful, I had to include this, this is another museum in Sweden, that beautiful painted kitchen.
And then here’s another example, some other examples of more elaborate, probably painted on a canvas and then tacked up to the wall or something like that.
But stencils will give that Swedish look for sure.
And then just a couple bonus ones. If you could afford to get a tile stove. Obviously it’s very cold in Sweden and at a certain point in time this technology came in and what happens is the the fire in there heats up these tiles and the tiles turn around and heat up the room and it’s more efficient than an open fireplace and also very beautiful. You can see all these decorative tiles so if you can get something like that somehow sourced for your house. Carol Glasser seems to have one in her house. I don’t know what her source is, maybe I’ll do another video on that in the future.
And then last but not least, the Mora Clock. I think if you are around Swedish Country Style at all, you’ve seen these clocks. Again, you can get reproductions pretty easily. You can also get the real antiques pretty easily – relatively easily. They’re kind of expensive. But a great beautiful shape there, and quintessentially Swedish.
Thank you so much for watching my video about 13 elements of Swedish Country Style. If you liked this video, would you mind giving me a thumbs up below? I’m so excited to keep making more videos about Swedish Country Style, French Country Style, and English Country Style and I am at oldworldfarmhouse.com. Thank you so much!
After that initial coat, a great way to add dimension and interest to painted furniture is to subtly layer another color or two on top. But please, no sanding! It’s too much work. In this YouTube video, linked right below here, I’ll show you how to get that layered look, no sanding necessary.
If you don’t want to watch the video, the transcript follows right here below.
Hey this is Kathleen from the blog oldworldfarmhouse.com and we’re back with our Gustavian Swedish style table. So I have covered the whole thing in one coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint in Duck Egg Blue and now I’m going to go back over and dry brush in some highlights.
Using a paper plate as a palette
So I like to put my paint on a plate when I’m brushing on the highlights or if I want to mix colors. I’m going to brush on some highlights of Paris Grey into this Duck Egg Blue. And I’m going to do that for a couple reasons.
One is, one coat – come over here and I’ll show you – one coat doesn’t fully – fully cover. You can still use brush marks still where you could touch up, and instead of going over that again with another coat of Duck Egg Blue I’m going to take this opportunity and touch up or brush on highlights in Paris Grey to give it some more interest. But I also have a little Duck Egg Blue on my plate, and obviously my brush is full of Duck Egg Blue paint.
Dry brushing highlights and lowlights
And I’m – I’m just gonna blend them together on the plate and then kind of touch up my piece. and I am just, doing this um, just by instinct and just kind of what I want as far as what I would imagine I want it to be, a little shadowy or have a little highlight.
I learned this technique from this wonderful blogger who sadly doesn’t blog anymore, Leslie Stocker, um she still keeps her blog up though, I believe, and she taught me this.
Sanding technique for highlights and lowlights
Instead of – Annie Sloan recommends painting in two colors and then sanding back so that you see, um, the base color underneath the top coat and then maybe some of the wood if you like, as well, but the sanding is – is very time consuming and then of course you end up wasting your paint and then you sand the paint off and it’s kind of frustrating especially because her paint’s kind of expensive.
Leslie Stocker, her method is just to dry brush on highlights and just avoid sanding all together and I love that because it saves me time, saves me money, and I – I do think the effect is pretty much the same, having done both I – I really think the effect is the same. So I just wanted, I want to kind of highlight these rosettes because they’re interesting and then back here I missed some spots so the brown is poking through so I’m just gonna stipple with my brush, get some gray in there and I’m just gonna go around the whole piece with my plate and just use it as a palette and get some green in with the gray. So I don’t want it to be, you know, really blaringly obvious, “hey hey here’s a highlight!” But just, you know, just a little bit of subtle variation and change and that’s what I’m going to do around the whole piece.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.See my full disclosure.
The final step when using chalk paint is to seal your paint work with furniture wax. In this YouTube video linked right below here, I show you how to get a nice, thin coat that dries properly and will give your piece that irresistible hand-rubbed patina.
If you don’t want to watch the video, the transcript follows right here below.
Hey this is Kathleen again from oldworldfarmhouse.com and I’m going to show you how to seal your chalk painted furniture with a coat of clear wax.
Wax brush options
This is chalk paint wax in clear by Annie Sloan and I have a round wax brush from Waxwell that I’m using. I got years ago. If you do not have a round wax brush you can use an old rag um and that works fine. The wax brush just helps it go a little faster. I’ll link to some places to find wax brushes. Annie now makes her own wax brushes, which she didn’t back in the day when I got this one. You can also get them at Walmart. Waverly has some and other places.
Sources for wax brushes and wax* (*affiliate links)
Waxing, when I first started I tended to way over do the wax. The key to wax is thin coats and the bad news is, in my opinion two coats or three coats are better than one, and it’s bad news because it is a little tedious, but the brush helps it go fast and it seals your piece and it gives it a beautiful patina especially after you rub it and buff it when you’re done.
So I just barely touch my brush into the wax get some on there, and then just go and rub it in, kind of like I am rubbing hand lotion into my hands and you want it to absorb to that point. You don’t want it to be really greasy because if you lay it on real thick and you think, oh it’s just going to dry or something, uh-uh it doesn’t really work that way. You just want to put on the thinnest of coats and really work it into the paint with your brush.
How long to let it dry in between coats
Then you’re going to want to let it dry overnight at least, so we’re talking like, I would say 12 to 24 hours depending on the kind of weather and humidity where you are. 12 to 24 hours in between wax coats, and if you have the patience to put on two or three it’ll really go much better towards the sturdiness and durability of your paint job as well, as there is this – in my opinion – this ineffable charm that comes from the patina of a hand rubbed painted piece of furniture. So as you can see I’m just – I’m not being shy about really pushing it into the paint. And that is that!