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A Swedish summerhouse elegantly updated

A 1940s-built Swedish summerhouse is elegantly updated with a bold Frida Kahlo colour palette.

A 1940s-built Swedish summerhouse

After aeons spent dreaming about their future home, Jessica Folcker and Daniel Heckscher finally found it in Algo in the Stockholm archipelago, a cluster of 30,000 islands in Sweden’s Baltic Sea.

The house was designed by Swedish architect Tore Axén in the 1940s as his family’s summerhouse. Jessica immediately fell in love with the home’s Mediterranean vibe. For years she had been dreaming of a place Frida Kahlo might have lived, with the forest and the sea not far from view.

The sheer beauty of the island and the house meant Daniel, an interior architect, and Jessica, a singer, missed its leaking roof and rotting floors. The ensuing renovation became a bit of an ordeal, taking six months to complete, but Daniel’s experience and Jessica’s style savvy meant their new home was beautifully transformed, created by the combination of their two philosophies.

1. Blue mood

Jessica chose various shades of blue and cyan for the floors and the walls to magnify the feeling of being near the sea. The effect is like walking on the ocean. With the home’s blue-painted interior, sitting on a hill, on an island near the ocean – it all starts to become one. For Jessica, blue is the colour of “happiness and curiosity”.

Blue mood

2. Kitchen code

Daniel, who studied at the Institute of Design in Milan, designed the kitchen for his graduation project – which was to create a mobile kitchen that could be transplanted into an old (or brand new) house. He has used brass, marble and plywood and accented it with yellow, which is evident in the tapware from Vola and in the kitchen island’s frame.

 Kitchen code

3. Colour splash

The couple’s different approaches to design have melded together well in this home, where minimalism rubs shoulders with bold colour. The bright white dining table is teamed with a green stool from the Salvation Army and yellow Easy Chairs by Jerszy Seymour. The poster is from an exhibition at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen.

Colour splash

4. Him vs. her

“We are absolutely not in sync with our taste or style. Jessica chooses pieces with history and soul, whereas I like to invent and create new things,” says Daniel. But looking at Daniel’s inventions, such as the kitchen and the lighting throughout, they feel both brand new and full of history at the same time. Together with Jessica’s auction finds, which she often transforms with a coat of paint, this house has been coaxed back to its pure modernist origins.

Him vs. her

5. Room with a view

The bleak colours and sometimes snowy view outside the window in the living area make the large white sofa by Jasper Morrison look even cosier. The uneven division of the windows was Daniel’s idea. A small Eames rocking chair rounds out the seating arrangements. The brass bars (leaning against the wall above) are a leftover piece from Daniel’s kitchen project and the painting beside it is by Jessica’s grandma.

6. Old and new

“Everything is new,” says Jessica. “The doors, the floors, the windows, the interior, everything. But it’s still the same building. The house will always speak of the past, it’s just received new makeup. It is about knowing what you have and respecting it.”

Old and new

7. Lessons learned

The renovation took longer than expected. What Jessica and Daniel thought would take about three weeks took at least half a year. The house is classified as a building of cultural interest and because of this the couple were limited in the changes they could make. Plus the state of the building was worse than they initially thought. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice [some of the issues]. I have designed about 20 homes, and taken an active part in renovating a lot of them. I should have seen it,” says Daniel. But after the six months spent in a temporary, small apartment they won the battle and could move in to their dream home.

Lessons learned

8. Hallway/entry 

Lights designed by Daniel illuminate the otherwise dark hallway and entryway. The framed picture is a weaving from India and the silver roller skate is a doorstop/bookend from Areaware. In the bedroom at the end of the hall is a cloud chair designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro called Lilla Molnet (the little cloud), made for Avarte.


9. Sleeping space

The ply wall behind the bed becomes a floor-to-ceiling bedhead. From the ceiling to the floor, this pared-back material appears to grow down, encapsulating the Scandinavian aesthetic and reflecting the forest outside. The bedside lamps are Galax by Jonas Bohlin. The Mezzadro stool is by Achille Castiglioni, and
the bedlinen is from Hay.

 Sleeping space

10. Bathroom

The pink Corian sink was painted by Daniel and made by CG-Interior, Stockholm. A commode made of birch plywood is covered with lacquer. The chair under the window is by Magis and the cork vase is a prototype from Marginal Notes. The cork stool is from The Conran Shop. The walls and floors are covered in mosaic tiles called Mosaico Porcelanico produced by the Swedish company Höganäs.

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