Helen Olsen’s Rungstedlund Home Revealed In Gods & Gardar Magazine

Karen Blixen’s Danish Farm godsochgardar.se

After 17 years in Kenya, Danish author Karen Blixen returned to her childhood home in Rungstedlund, Denmark ‎. The magazine Gods & Gardar reveal the history behind this magnificent property, where Danish elegance meets the drama of Africa.

“It was Karen’s father, Captain and author Wilhelm Dinesen who bought the property in 1879.
Two years later, after his marriage to Ingeborg Westenholz, the couple moved there and had five children, three daughters and two sons. Karen came to stay at Rungstedlund until age 28, except for two periods. The first period was the year the family had to leave Rungstedlund when the farm was restored after a fire in 1898. The second time Karen did Rungstedlund for a long time was when she studied art in Paris.”

“What makes Karen Blixen Rungstedlund so fascinating to visit is that the different rooms reflects two distinct phases of her life. For just as Karen packed some things from Rungstedlund before his trip to Africa, silver candelabras, English porcelain, Bohemian crystal and mahogany furniture, so she brought her most prized possessions, the essence of her Afrikaår, when she moved back to Denmark. On Rungstedlund intermingled memories of Africa still with antique family heirlooms, large carpets, delicate lace curtains, mahogany tables and furniture in the Louis Seize style and a Norwegian Rococo stove from in 1760.”

How To Combine African Elements Into Your Swedish Style

1.  Keep the Architecture Nordic.

It is remarkable that Karen Blixen’s home looks both Scandinavian, and African at the same time.  How did she pull it off?  One of the ways the Scandinavian feel is so clearly evident is in the architecture.  The framed walls are one of the hallmarks of the Nordic style.  You don’t need several thousand dollars to get this look.  One way of doing this is simply by adding some wood trim on the walls.  To get Blixen’s look, spray paint your wood trim with gold paint, and finish it off with gold leaf.

Easy Gold Leafing- French Style Authority

Another way of adding architectural detail to your walls is to paint lines in shapes of boxes.  A post that clearly shows this idea is Lars Sjoberg’s Swedish Gustavian Decorated House.  In this post, you can clearly see lines painted on the walls, which gives the appearance of architectural trim.  Where to start?  If there is a door in the room, or windows, start with the box above the window or door.

2.  Include A Few Moroccan Textures

In the dining area, Karen Blixen uses an area rug with a strong pattern.  In this photo, moroccan floor tiles are used to create an entry way.  The photo is quite close to Nordic design.  A simple white is used on the walls, and the flooring gives this room the edge it needs.  The gilt wood mirror gives this room a polished touch.  An inexpensive way off adding the pattern into the room is to use throw pillows and tablecloths.

Royal Design Studio sells a moroccan stencil in a star diamond pattern.  Consider stenciling your walls in a bright color found in Africa.  Consider placing simple painted furniture with this pattern such as white furniture, or black painted furniture.  With a white and orange pattern, white furniture can still work quite elegantly.  Incorporate pine flooring, and add texture to the walls in natural wood, or metal such as what Karen did with her study.


3.  Avoid Clutter.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is  have too many accessories.   Showcase your art, and draw attention to your furniture by having less accessories, and an open floor space.  Even if you jam pack the furniture in, be sure that table tops don’t have dozens of ornaments.  Reduce them, pair down, and donate pieces that simply just don’t work with the overall theme.

4.  Incorporate The Colors Of Africa

The colors of Africa central around earth tones, such as  brown, cream, rich greens, oranges, and reds.  For example, you can work with these colors on the walls such Karen did for her home.  If the dominant colors are the richer colors, consider toning down the room with a few natural wood pieces.  White furniture would provide a rich contrast to the vibrant hues on the walls.  If you choose to go with white walls, consider working with painted furniture, or heavily distressed furniture with the richer colors in the upholstery.  Can you imagine, raw pine wood floors, with a white settee, gold accents, with burgundy upholstery?  Perhaps throw in a rich red chest, and the room can take on the African flavor quickly.  To include the Swedish style, pick upholstery fabrics with sweeping vertical lines, stripes or florals, or a combination of both.

6.  Create A Wall Collection

Karen’s study is an excellent example of a collection that reflects the African culture.  Collect African hand-made pottery, baskets, rugs, swords, plates, knives, but stay away from the masks, or statues which are involved in the ceremonial worship.  Woven baskets are an ancient form of art in African culture. Typically crafted with simple geometric designs, African baskets will vary in design, making them great to decorate with.

Space is one of the main considerations when planning a wall based around objects or collections.  Avoid a crowded or crammed look when using African wall decor, a little can go a long way.  Placing too many items together can look messy, and give the idea that the look isn’t well thought out.  Spacing your pieces, or collecting like objects, like a collection of baskets, or knives pays special attention to individual pieces.

Another designer trick is to place even tones together. Working with the color wheel will give you a great idea of the colors to work with, and those to avoid.  Try to place the same colors, hues or tones together to give a more organized presentation.  Metal, woods, and natural materials work with practically every color, although when working with china, or pottery, it helps to work with the color wheel, when placing items on a painted wall.

The Scottish Country House by James Knox (The Vendome Press, November 2012)

Here we see a look of a rich satured green on the walls, with fishing gear displayed

The Scottish Country House by James Knox

A Swedish tall clock of the Gustavian period which has been professionally scraped to its original blue finish. The movement has been professionally restored and is in working order with both time and strike.

Early 19th Century Painted Swedish Mora Clock- Dated 1827- A Rich Blue Colour which is Original- Beautiful Details

A nice small scaled Danish grandmother’s clock in the 18th century style made during the 1950’s

Swedish Style Traditional Home Magazine

Swedish Style Traditional Home Magazine

African Designer Catherine Raphaely

Medieval Strong Box Ottoman $406

British Plantation Chair $361

Floral Bouquet Pedestal Table $185

Medieval Cross Frame Arm Chair$350

Grand Medallion Crescent Console Table $455

African Designer Karen Roos

Camellia Wall Console Table $229

Chateau Marquee Occasional Fabric Arm Chair $588

Mademoiselle Cezanne’s French Slipper Chair $244

The Beaufort End Table $310

African Designer Maira Koutsoudakis