Get the Swedish country Look With Chalk Paint

grey and white kitten sitting on blue green neoclassical table

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Swedish Country Style Color Palette

If you love the Swedish Country / Gustavian style, one of the best ways to get it is to use typical Swedish paint colors on your furniture. In this video I give a little background on how the Gustavian style developed from the 18th century French Neoclassical Style King Gustav III of Sweden fell in love with at the court of King Louis XVI of France.

It’s pretty easy to find second hand furniture at thrift shops and yard sales with Neoclassical shapes like fluted legs that is just waiting for the right paint job to transform into Gustavian furniture . I’ll show you a Gustavian Swedish paint palette from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to use to get the Gustavian / Swedish Country look with paint color by transforming an old, beat-up table into a cheerful, light-catching Swedish antique with ASCP Duck Egg Blue and Paris Grey. Other ASCP paint colors for a Gustavian/Swedish Country palette look include: Aubusson Blue, Svenska Blue, Swedish Pink, Old White, Pure, Original, Arles, Chicago Grey, Antibes, French Linen, and Chateau Grey.

Check out my YouTube video, linked right below here, for a brief history of the Gustavian Style and a guide for getting the look with chalk paint.

If you don’t want to watch the video, the transcript follows right here below.

Transcript

Hey this is Kathleen from oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I’m going to show you how to get a Swedish Gustavian, Swedish Country, Scandi country look with chalk paint. So let’s get started.

What is the Swedish/Gustavian Look?

The Swedish look, if you’re not familiar with it, or the Gustavian Style,
what does that mean exactly. So King Gustav III of Sweden, he was king in like seven, in the 1770s kind of when we were having a revolution here and he went over to France and visited Louis XVI over at Versailles and he just fell in love with that French neoclassical style and when he went back home he wanted the same kind of furniture and the same kind of look. But he didn’t have as much cash as the French so he didn’t gild everything the way they did.

oil portrait of King Gustav the Third of Sweden
King Gustav III of Sweden

Um, they ended up using a lot of paint and in Sweden, they used a lot of light colored paint because it’s so dark there for so much of the year that a lot of their interior decorating is is designed to catch as much light as possible. And um, so that was how they refined that French neoclassical style. Lighter colors, and more paint and less gilding, um some even cleaner and more paired back lines.

light green wall cream doors bare wood floors yellow chair
Per Oof Forsberg, Stromsholm Castle


And also um when it got out into you know wider circulation in Sweden, not these fancy, uh fabrics as much as like, a simple check. And so, putting like a checked homespun fabric style, something like this, with um a gilded or painted chair sort of, it gives the Swedish country style or Gustavian style, uh, this high / low look which really fits so well with how we like to decorate today, how we live.

green gingham upholstered chairs, blue tiled stove, pink flower wallpaper
Ellgaard Holger, Parade Bedchamber, Svindersvik

Get Furniture with the Right Shape

So I had this old set, it was actually my great-grandmother’s. The shape – if you can find furniture, old furniture that, you know, obviously this is really beat up. I do not want to refinish it. It’s got all kinds of water stains and marks, and the veneer is chipping in spots, but the shape is great. It’s got this neoclassical shape.

What does Neoclassical Style Mean?

They would make the legs like this to imitate, you know, the Grecian columns. What is the neoclassical style? The neoclassical style got started in France and then spread out. It was because
they had discovered Pompeii and then other place in Italy, um, buried under that volcanic ash and so the world just went -people just went crazy, and they wanted to imitate everything that they saw,
from furniture to fresco to you – just that look – the neo- the classical look, hence neoclassical style.

watercolor of Pompeii atrium painted light green, red, and blue
Pompeii Atrium

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Colors for Swedish Country Style

Um today what I’m going to show you is duck egg blue. This is the color, it’s a green blue, exactly like a duck egg. This would have been a very typical color that they would have used, um in the Gustavian period. And then I’m also going to be adding some highlights with Annie’s Paris Grey. Right here, um, to this table, which is exactly how I did the chairs.

These are all of Annie’s colors and her other sort of Swedish colors would be Aubusson Blue right there, and Scandinavian pink, which is a great pink because it doesn’t have any of that baby pink in it. It’s a real earthy pink. Primer Red – no girly pink – Old Ochre, and then of course Pure, Original or Old White, maybe especially Old White. A lot of Scandinavian furniture is simply painted white. And she also has this new color which is close to Duck Egg but it’s bluer, whereas duck egg is greener, and that’s Svenska Blue.

List of colors good for a Swedish Country look
Swedish Country Color Palette

How to paint with Chalk Paint

Alright the first thing I’m going to do is paint this entire table in a coat of duck egg blue and then I’m going to highlight, go over and brush on, dry brush some highlights with Paris Grey.

I’ve got here Waverly Inspirations chalk paint brush and I got it because I really want Annie Sloan’s oval brush, but I just don’t want to spend that much money. This is about half the cost and it works pretty well if you want to see brush marks in your paint work. I’ve got a big one and then I’ve got this smaller one as well. They’re both fine really.
And then if you want a smoother finish, then I would use these Purdy brushes. This is a two and a half inch and this is a two inch and these are some of my favorites.

Purdy brushes are outstanding. They’re a little more expensive than the cheap brushes, but they give a really nice finish and I think I’m planning on using these for the legs because I want a very smooth look, so we’re going to get started with that.

Normally if I painted a chair or something I would turn the thing upside down. I just don’t want to turn this table upside down.
It’s too big and heavy so I’m just going to paint it from the legs up. Just
a little bit and I want to – I’m just going to cover the whole thing in a solid coat like so just brush it on. This paint has very good coverage. I don’t think it’s going to take more than a coat, especially since I’m going to go back and brush in some gray highlights.

This brush is really really great for getting into all of these
carved areas and just making sure the paint gets in there nice into the rosette and into these channels.

Oval chalk paint brush vs. 2-in Brush

I want to show you the difference in how it’s going to look. This is the oval Waverly chalk paint brush and you can see I’m brushing it on and I’m just going to paint in every which direction and you can see that you get a lot of texture. With my two-inch Purdy brush, painting in all directions, it’s a little bit smoother, there’s not as much chunk to it,
so it’s just going to be, I guess the word would be more refined.

I’ve linked some paint brushes here that I’ve found to be great tools for furniture painting (affiliate links).

More DIY resources for Swedish Country Style

f you’d like more on getting the Swedish Country look, I’ve made a video on how to add character and layers to your furniture pieces by dry brushing highlights and lowlights here. I’ve also got a video on how to get the perfect thin layer of wax over your chalk paint for that charming handmade look.

If you find yourself starting to be obsessed with all things Scandinavian, go even farther toward the Gustavian Swedish Country Style by going to my tutorial for making some gingham slipcovers for your dining room chairs.

Swedish Country Style Removable Chair Covers

blue and green Swedish Country style chairs

Make removable, washable, tie-on slipcovers for your dining room chairs, Swedish Country Style.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure.

Below here is my video tutorial on making these very beginner-friendly slipcovers.

If you don’t want to watch the video, the transcript is right here below.

Transcript


Hi this is Kathleen from oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I’m going to show you how to make one of these tie on slip covers for a Swedish style dining room chair, so let’s get started.

Why make chair covers

This is the finished product and I’m just gonna take it off. I made these so that I could have something after meals when my kids like to use these as napkins. They still use the chair cover as a napkin. I can just throw this in the washing machine and it’s as good as new.

Cutting the fabric – no pattern needed

So the first thing you’re going to want to do is cut your fabric and pin it and then sew it and that’s really all there is to it.


I have a piece of fabric here that I’m just going to lay on a chair.
So if you have a fabric – this one is the same on both sides so it really doesn’t matter – if your fabric is only printed on one side put the – put that side face down to the chair so you’re looking at the inside out part when you’re pinning.

First thing I’m going to do is pull this material through the back because I want the back of the chair to have – I want there to be just a little plain skirt that ends just about here and so I – I know I’ve got enough back here to do that now and allow some for the hem. We’re gonna leave that there, go around the rest of the chair and kind of
pat into place and make sure I have enough fabric everywhere I need it in order to pin.

Let’s see, the front, I’m going to actually pull a little bit more through the back because I think this is enough for it to just cover it up a little bit back it up to here and then I’ll have it so it just comes to the edge of the chair. You can make this as long or as short as you want to, of course. I just wanted mine to come just to the end of where the actual chair seat goes.

Cutting Around the Chair Back

Okay so it’s kind of in good shape there and then here is the part – get a little bit closer, there we go – this is the tricky part. Is to get it so it’s cut – it wraps around both of the – let me call these – I don’t know what this part of the chair is called, but, uh, poles, okay, yeah, we’ll call it a pole. You want to do that and there has to be just a little bit so that you can fold it over and make a hem, but it can’t really be a very generous hem because then it doesn’t lay right on the chair so this part you just kind of have – to just kind of have to work it a little bit.

And this is really the trickiest part. If you are using a check fabric it makes it much, much easier in a way because you can always, always know you’re cutting on a straight line, which is really nice. But I’m just going to go ahead and take a look and see. So some of the fabric has to go on this side and some of it has to go this side and it all has to lay flat and I also need to leave just a little bit that will wrap around here that I can fold back and hem so we don’t have a raw edge right there.

Use bias tape instead of hemming

Another option which I didn’t do but I – I saw after I had made these.
Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone made a cover for a bench. She used
bias tape for these little tricky areas to contain the raw edge. And I thought, oh that’s what I should have done.

Or make a very narrow hem

But I don’t have any bias tape at the moment and so I’m going to show you – I’m just going to do it the way I did it with all the other ones and it worked fine. They’ve been through the wash several dozens of times by now and the hem has not unraveled. Even though it is a little bit of a narrow hem. So here we go. I’m going to make a cut I think right here. I’m just going to take my scissors and I’m not going to worry once I know where I can just keep following that line. Of course if you don’t have, you know, fabric with the handy-dandy lines then just do your best to eyeball it.

My kids have lost interest and have left the room. Okay I’m gonna push that through and see, okay, how am I doing I can cut a little more but I want to keep in mind that I need my hem and just, you want to just get it so it’s laying nicely and doesn’t have any, you know so it’s laying the way you want it to lay when you’re finished.

Okay so that’s – that’s you know that’s pretty good. I’m gonna fold, I’m gonna fold back my hem right now the way I want it to be.

Just kind of work that with my fingers and I might do just another millimeter. Like I said had I even been aware that you could do this with bias tape I probably would have done that from the get-go.

Because then I think you could just make the cut and not even worry about it. But here, okay so I’ve got that side cut that’s okay. So now I’m going to do this side of the chair and again I’m just going to kind of figure out. I need some of the fabric to go on this side of this little pole and some of it to go on the other side and I think a good place to cut is here. And I’m just, I am eyeballing it and I’m going to push it through
and I’m going to keep going. I need a little more to make it lay the way I want. I’ve got quite a bit of fabric here. I’m going to cut like another check down, maybe one more.

Push that through, yeah that’s pretty good, that’s laying pretty much how I want it to lay and then I have just the teeniest, I should have got plenty for a hem which means I need to cut more because the thing about it is, it just doesn’t really lay right unless you’ve got quite a bit of it going one way and then the other. But like I said, bias tape might be a really good option. I have to try that on another project and see. On this side I’ve got it laying pretty good and then here it’s still a little bunchy so I’m gonna – I’m gonna cut just a tad more and see what that does for me.

Okay come to the back and see. All right, okay so I got that and now I’m gonna cut again I just, I want it to just end real simple here at the end of the chair. But I need to make a nice hem which – a nice hem could either be two rows or maybe three rows of these because I’m gonna fold over twice so I’m gonna go ahead and cut my fabric. I like this very simple, sort of modest no-frills chair cover look.

I got the idea from pictures of Lars Sjoberg’s home in Sweden. He had some chair covers like this in a picture of his dining room that I saw and I just loved how they, you know, they just – weren’t just – kind of
just – no frills. Literally no ruffles, and I liked that look, and it makes them – so okay, so there we go, I’ve got that pretty much cut. I’ve got enough and now I’m gonna pin this fabric for my hem. Now I’ve got a big piece here and I’m gonna – I don’t need all of that so I’m gonna, again I’m gonna go about three squares out and then, um, you know this part here, where we cut around the poles it is, like I said, it’s tricky and if you do it with bias tape it might be better. I’m not doing it, I’m just going to sew a very, very narrow hem, like I was saying, but um, when when you put the ties on the back that will hide a multitude of sins as well. So when we get into talking about that I’ll show you
how that works, but for now I’m just, so I’m gonna pin this here, I’m gonna fold it once and then I’m gonna fold it twice and that way the raw edge is really in there and I’m just gonna pin it into place and then once I have the entire thing hemmed and pinned then.

Hemming the Sides

Okay so then I’m going to hem up the side and I just roll it once
and then twice and again with the check fabric it’s very easy
to keep a straight line on your hem because you just follow the line of the check.

I highly recommend using these kind of pins with the big plastic
bulb on the end because then it’s easy to see them when you go to take them out.

Pinning the Darts

Okay so that’s that and then we get to the other tricky parts of the chair cover, which is the corner. You get to the corner here and you get – you have all this extra fabric.

All right, go ahead to the corner edge of the chair, and this part is a little tricky.

You’re going to want to put a dart in here to accommodate this corner so you don’t have all this extra fabric. So what you want to do is, you know, put a pin here and then when you go to sew, mark it with chalk so you know where the end of your dart line is. I had no idea how to sew a dart before this project. I had to look up a couple YouTube videos and it it makes no sense to me like how it works, but I just followed the directions and on blind faith and it – and it did turn out. So but I’ll show you how to do it, for now I’m just gonna pin it. This is where we want our dart and I might draw the lines a little bit. We’ll do more of this upstairs when I get to sew. So we want to pin the dart there.

Pinning the front and side hems

And then we’re going to come around the front and pin up our front hem. Again, we have figure out how long you want it. You know you could have it, oh, you know, all the way here. I like mine – I like mine to be all the way up here, because I want this little decorative element of the chair to show, so I’m going to cut, I’m going to make, I’m going to cut here so I have a nice -okay I’ve got enough for my hem. Before I pin up that hem I’m gonna go ahead and cut the rest of this fabric over here because it’s getting in the way.

So here we are at the side of the chair and again I’m just gonna say, okay I want it to go to here, give myself a nice one-and-a-half to two inch extra fabric to pull in for a hem so that none of the raw edges are showing and I have a nice sturdy hem that will withstand lots of washings.

I wash these after every meal pretty much, but it’s better than living with dirty chairs that are an embarrassment when you have company
come over. And then this this piece here I’m also gonna cut to allow for a nice hem.

All these extra pieces of fabric I might turn into napkins, who knows who knows, who knows. Okay, so then again we’re just going to take this and we’re going to do a another fold, another fold for a nice hem.

Pin it with my plastic-tipped pins so I can always see them and don’t accidentally run them through the sewing machine. Then I want this side to be folded up once and fold it to just here and pin it and pin.

Why checked (gingham) fabric is so great


And again, once you’ve got it started with a check fabric it’s very easy to make sure that you’re still going in a straight line, but you can do this with any fabric at all. I love these checked fabrics because they – they just give that Swedish look that I’m currently obsessed with. If you look at any kind of Swedish traditional d├ęcor they use a lot of checked fabrics and a really fun thing that they did back in the 1700s, late 1700s when they had their Gustavian style, which was like a riff on French neoclassical style.

They didn’t – they weren’t as cash uh heavy, cash rich over there in Sweden so you’d see they would have um these -they would paint their chairs in these light colors and then often the seats instead of being a fancy brocade or something, they would put on this checked fabric and then you have this like high /
low juxtaposition that I just love and just works really well for today when we when we all, well, like things more casual and unfussy unstudied and unfancy. But it gives this, like sort of a little gilding and then like a plain homespun style check seat it’s – it’s just – I just love that look. And as that Gustavian style filtered down to the countryside and less out of – out of the court you see that. And if you see, if you look at pictures where you see simpler fabrics but with these quite neoclassical shapes and maybe even, you know, painted gilding,
not real gilding but painted. Okay, so here’s my other dart and that’s our history class for today.

Making the second dart


And I’m going to make a chalk line, which I might have to redo, but I’m just going to mark it up here so these are – I think they’re called the legs of the dart and then, you know how to sew there just so we don’t lose it. Okay and then now we’re gonna turn around and do this front hem which because of our dart stuff is also a little tricky.

So I’m just going to take this whole thing and I’m gonna again fold up and up and I’m gonna pin and then I’m gonna deal with this extra fabric in a minute on the corner here after I’ve pinned my hem.

Alright so the last thing we’re going to do is deal with all of this business. I guess we just cut it off though, yeah, we’re gonna cut a little bit of that because we really don’t need that extra fabric and then we’re gonna, again, just make a hem.

You can pin, okay and then again I’m just gonna – I’m gonna cut off this scraggly pointy tail and I’m gonna pin that one so I know that’s what I want it to be.

Pinning on the ties


Now it’s right side out so you can see how it’s going to look.

I’m pretty pleased with it. So now I’ve got this right side out and I can figure out, I want my um, my tie I want it to come out like this. Okay, so I’m going to put it there and pin.

Okay, and then I don’t really like long ties and I don’t really like bows that much I just kind of want a nice little square knot. if you want a big bow, whatever, totally up to you, but I’m just gonna eyeball it here and cut down to the end of the chair.

And then I’m gonna take the rest of it and I’m gonna take my pin
and I want this one to come out from here so I’m gonna, you know, pin it up like so.

And is that is it how I want it to lie, yes it is, and then I can just kind of figure out. Nothing too long, just pin the – pin on the other side of the chair. And then you see how that just lays really nice and comes out like so and like so.

Ironing the hems


Okay so the next step is to iron our pinned hems. I’m actually going to take out the pins as I steam iron them flat because that makes it much easier. When you go to sew you don’t have to remember to take out the pins. I’m sure that if you’re more experienced sewer maybe you wouldn’t have to.

I’m gonna press the dart which is the real pesky part of this project. Oh what is the dart?

This corner area so I’m – I’m going to – I’ve got my little chalk line I’m actually going to leave my pin – my pin there in case the chalk fades but I – I am going to press that so that I – I know that that’s the corner I want to do.

Sewing the dart

Okay, so we are going to sew the dart first, which is just a question of taking out the pins and then sewing right along the line that we drew with the chalk downstairs all the way up to the pin that we didn’t take out, so here we go.

Until you get to the pin, and that’s when you know that you need to take the pin out real quick and you need to stop right there if that is your point. So you just want to cut that away and leave a little bit so that you can hand tie since you’re not going back -um, you don’t want that little point to come – just tie it, you know, once or twice. So you have some kind of security there and then there is your dart. To me making those is always such a leap of faith, but yeah, basically if you draw that chalk line when you’re downstairs doing -or wherever you are – you know, pinning it under your chair it should work great.

Hemming the rest

Cameraman wants to know if we’re done, and the short answer is, no. Sew the hem along the rest of the chair, but that’s very straightforward. But that is just, you know sewing in a straight line.

Start out do a couple back stitches, yeah, just sew all your hems that you pressed and ironed, until everything is sewn together, and that is that.

Checked/Gingham Fabric

If you’re looking for some checked, gingham fabric, I’ve linked some below (affiliate links).

More ways to get Swedish Country Style

I taught myself to sew just so that I could make these chair covers – and if I, a total non-sewer and absolute klutz, can do it, well, so can you!

Check out Marion over at Miss Mustard Seed’s tutorial on making chair slipcovers.

She has great details about making ruffles and ties that are beyond the scope of my simpler tutorial.

And, if you’re a total novice to sewing, check out Lisa over at Farmhouse on Boone’s Simple Sewing Series. She will have you going from not being able to thread the machine to making 6 chair covers in a week! Take it from me!

If you find yourself starting to be obsessed with all things Scandinavian, go even farther toward the Gustavian Swedish Country Style by chalk painting some furniture. I’ve got three videos about how to pick chalk paint colors and paint, how to add highlights and lowlights to your piece, and best practices for waxing over chalk paint.