Hallmarks of Swedish Style


+ enlarge image The Gustavian style is light, bright, and airy.

Are you in love with white linen and a pale color palette? Do you adore light woods, clean design, and hints of glamour? If so, Swedish style might be for you.

The roots of the style go back over 200 years when King Gustav of Sweden redecorated his Stockholm palace in a pared-down version of Louis XIV furnishings all the rage in Paris. Not surprisingly, the furnishings became known as Gustavian -- a term that is still used today.

Since Swedish winters are dark, the style had major appeal for its soft, light colors and wood tones which served to lighten interiors even on the darkest of days. Added sparkle in mirrors, chandeliers, and touches of gilt give this style a hint of glamour as well.

Learn more about the elements of Swedish style on the next page.

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  • A light color palette creates a sense of space, simplicity, and elegance. Delicate blues, aquas, yellows, neutrals (including a full range of whites), and pale pinks and greens abound.
  • White-painted moldings give a feeling of ethereal elegance, and ceilings are kept pale cream or soft blue.
  • Fabrics with simple patterns and natural fibers are favored. Checks and stripes in all scales provide the background, and toiles and embroidered fabrics add a subtle punch.
  • Unobtrusive window treatments, often in sheer fabrics, make the most of natural light. Soft swags and panels and simple Roman shades frame windows and the views of nature they offer.
  • Reflective surfaces on lighting and accessories add sparkle. Crystal chandeliers, mirrors, and candles make light-color interiors even brighter.
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  • Furniture is generally painted white and is usually slightly distressed. Natural-pine pieces are used as accents, and small tables and chairs placed around the perimeter of the room serve multiple uses.
  • Painted panels adorn walls. In Swedish design, decorative painting stands in for the elaborate carved moldings of period French and Italian design.
  • Slipcovers and loosely fitted cushions cover furniture. Simple pillows feature pleating or soft gathers around corners, and embroidery adorns many upholstery fabrics.
  • Decorative carvings, such as fluted legs, corner rosettes, and scrolled moldings, embellish the furniture.
  • Weathered wood floors are accented with pale-color or striped rugs with flat or short piles.
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