Washington, D.C., interior designer Darryl Carter certainly has made a memorable mark on the color white. Fifteen years ago he had a busy career as a lawyer when he decided to change course and open his own interior-design firm. He made a name for himself by transforming rooms that were grounded in a neutral palettes with an appreciation for showcasing art and antiques. Swedish interiors have always been known for their white based interiors. In an interview by Veranda, designer Darryl Carter gives his best tips for using the color white in your home.
1. Pick Your Paint First
“It’s not a cop out,” he insists. “It’s a way to harmonize a house in its entirety.” Once you’ve chosen your paint, select textiles next—preferably a hue that closely matches the walls. “Navigate the drapery into the wall color so that you are not so aware of the window treatment,” he suggests.
2. Paint Your Architecture In White
He says that architecture looks best in white. He gives an example pointing to a bookshelf cabinet in a Virginia townhouse which was painted to blend into the walls. The coffered ceiling was also painted the same color, which added a subtle architectural element to the space.
3. Don’t Shy Away From White Or Cream Around Kids
He tells Veranda, that you don’t have to sacrifice style and serenity because there’s a toddler in the house. “There is a presumption that neutral cannot be kid-friendly,” says Carter.
“Instead of shying away from softer shades, he suggests changing the materials. Try enamel finishes and high-gloss paint in high-traffic areas, as well as durable faux leather and outdoor fabrics for upholstered pieces that withstand the wear and tear of young children”
4. Unite Your Kids Rooms Into The Rest Of The House
Carter encourages parents to integrate their child’s room into the larger experience of the home.
“You don’t want to open the door and suddenly wonder where you’ve landed,” he says.
In one family home, Carter created a space in the child’s room which matched the overall modern style of the family’s home. Over time, parents can adjust the space with different pillows and textiles as the child matures.
Paint And Paper In Decoration – David Oliver
Swedish furniture has been sensationally popular the last 10 years as a style that is fresh for decorating the upscale home. Gustavian style has appeared in some of the more prominent decorating magazines in the US such as Veranda, Architectural Digest, World of Interiors and even more frequent in European magazines such as Campagne Decoration.
The casual appearance of lighter colored painted furniture has been popular for centuries. France was credited with the influence of the Swedish furniture in the 17th and 18th century. Many of the formal pieces found in the palace of Versailles were made over in the same shape and form, but painted instead of stained wood. The decadence of the French furniture couldn’t be copied because it was too costly for Sweden at the time, as well as Sweden has their own taste in mind.
In France, side tables were constructed from the most costliest woods, with decoration that took hours if not weeks to complete. French cabinet makers through the 17th century used techniques such as inlay, (pictures cut from ivory or wood, and set into wood), or marquetry, ( veneer composed of numerous woods, and stained which produced a pictorial mosaic), lacquering and japanning, (the application of numerous layers of varnish) were all costly, and time consuming.
While France had the best of the best, some say Sweden did a better job of re-interpreting the design elements seen in France such as the furniture by scaling down the formality. Linen was used instead of silk, paint was used instead of the stained wood, and faux painting replaced marble walls.
Borrow Interior Design Elements From Sweden For Your Own Home
Marks Of The Swedish Style
1. The Use of Paneled Walls (But In A Different Way)
The French were known for their paneled walls. Paneled walls are well known to be the most expensive and rich form of all wall treatments. Originally they were hand carved out of wood, as labor was inexpensive in the 1700′s. Today much of the decorative baroque looking ornaments are made from plaster. Wood panels once served to insulate a room from the cold stone frame of a building. It is also quite apparent that paneling was installed for decorative purposes as well.
Boiserie is the term used to define ornate and intricately carved wood panelling seen in some of the well-to-do French estates. The earliest known examples of boiseries were unpainted, but later the raised mouldings were often painted or gilded. For a great example of painted paneled walls, look at Charles Spada’s Country Home, which gives some great examples of 18th century color combinations. Martha Stewart shows a wonderful example in a green palette. A very formal dining room is done up in blue, and arches painted in oranges and pastel blush tones.
The Gallery, designed by Geoffrey Bradfield
Boiseries were popular in seventeenth and eighteenth century French interior design and the Palace of Versailles. The panels not only appeared on the walls, but were also used to decorate doors, frames, cupboards and armoires as well. Often pictures would be set into the boiseries, the carving framing the picture rather like a conventional frame.
Decorating With Paint -Get This Look For Less….
Many of the wealthier Swedish people borrowed this look for their estate homes. Costly wood paneled walls were a far stretch for many of the Swedish people in that day, as it is for many people today. Paneled walls can cost thousands, and be tremendously time consuming.
Why not fake it with paint?
The Belvedere in the park of the Petit Trianon shows a fine example of what a person could do with paint to simulate the heavy ornamented look of the French style.
In Lars Sjoberg’s house featured in Country Style by Judith and Martin Miller featured walls with blue frames around them. Using two painted frames simulates the look of framed walls. Further in the post, you can see many more frames painted on the wall which do a beautiful job of showcasing furniture placed in front of it.
Picture Featured in Campagne Décoration
In the USA we have a chain of stores called Habitat For Humanity – Re-stores which carry all sorts of architectural elements from wood screens, to paint, sinks, and so forth, which are heavily discounted.
Here we see the paneled wall idea made from doors which are positioned side buy side. Consider purchasing similar styled doors in sets of 3, 5, or 7 which can be linked together using door hinges. As you can see here, it works!
Here are some companies to keep in mind:
1. Decorators Supply– They have over 13,000 designs in their carving library. For over 100 years they have specialized in creating finely detailed composite replicas of the hand carved wood ornaments found in the most extravagant homes.
2. Bailey Interiors.com – Decorative Plaster Ornaments and Claws
3. Beaux-Artes offer decorative wall panels which can be used on walls and ceilings. Their products are cast from historic ornamentation and are available in over 20 different Finishes.
4. Victoria Larsen offers a number of ornamental frame molds which allow you to make dozens of your own molds in the privacy of your home. She also offers raised plaster stencils for the wall in a variety of patterns.
Remember this home?
Look at the detail in the background…..
Check out Classic Swedish Interiors for more photos to get a better view of the far room
Picture Credit DEG Furniture Designs On Ebay
Picture Credit DEG Furniture Designs On Ebay
As we discussed in Part 1, Paneled walls can bring the Swedish flavor into your home and give you the Gustavian appeal you are after.
Another element that we see in Swedish historical homes are sitting areas using what we call today as “accent furniture”. It was common to find a number of sitting areas around the home using accent chairs, and tea tables.
2. Accent Furniture
Today accent furniture has become more popular again. We have been used to over-sized sofas, and forgotten what side chairs and tables can do for a room.
Swedish design is based around symmetrical looks. In the living room above, we see two white painted chairs in a Gustavian buffalo check paired with a black painted Swedish bench. In other photos of this room the black bench is paired with a Rococo table and the furniture seen in the rest of the home is moved around. Here we see a round white painted tripod tea table. Using accent furniture allows you to move the furniture around the house like they have done with Barbro’s home.
Smaller accent furniture became popular in France in the 17th & 18th centuries, and caught on in Sweden. The Accordion Side Table is one example of smaller scale furniture that existed in France. The accordion table itself wasn’t something seen in Sweden, but the idea of smaller tables became popular, or functional at the time.
Tables didn’t just look pretty, they served a purpose in the home. Side tables were practical for playing cards, having tea, and doing fine needlework. Writing tables were one of the most common uses for tables in this time. Tables with folding leaves were extremely popular in Sweden. Tables were pushed against the wall, and were then brought out for dinners, crafts, and schooling.
Sofa tables were designed to appear before sofas. These tables were long and narrow, and often had folding leaves which enabled the person to sit at the sofa and use the surface of the table without having to move the table closer to them. Consider adding a table paired with a sofa instead of a modern day lower “coffee table” that is seen in most homes. Or add a set of upholstered benches in front of your sofa to tie in matching upholstery.
Picture Credit Habitania Work Rooms
As we discussed in Part 2, Accent furniture, such as Gustavian chairs, smaller tables, drop leaf tables, stools, and benches can be brought into the home, and used instead of the larger scaled furniture that we are used to today to achieve that Swedish Gustavian look.
Another element that draws people to the historical Swedish look is the painted furniture. There is an art to getting the rich patina that is seen on true antique furniture found in Sweden. Almost anyone can find vintage French furniture in their area which can be distressed using a number of techniques to give it a historical appeal.
In this early post I wrote, I describe some of the paint techniques I have used to achieve great white painted furniture.
Here are some of my best tips to getting realistic Swedish painted finishes……
1. Work with colors that are muted. If you have ever mixed paint before, think about the colors that are produced when black or white paint has been added to a color. In the 17th and 18th century, there was a limited color palette available, so black and white paint was added to an existing color to produce a shade that was darker or lighter. On one of my pinterest boards, I compile some colors that will give you ideas of ranges of hues that are very appropriate. Annie Sloan has a wonderful range of colors which all are muted, yet vibrant paint shades which I suspect were based off the French style that she is so attracted to. She has put together a fabulous palette of colors which would work in any French or Swedish styled home.
Don’t ever work with colors with really bright pigments. I cannot blame anyone for being confused as there are thousands of shades of paint to pick from. The furniture should look aged, and color appropriate for the century you are after. I guarantee you, getting a really nice finish on a piece of furniture doesn’t have to be complicated.
2. Strip Or Sand To Get Down To Bare Wood.
A raw wood piece of furniture is always the best to work with. Although finding a piece of furniture that is untouched with paint rarely happens. Starting off with a piece of furniture that is not painted is ideal, but if it does have paint, consider comparing the the color you have picked out to the color the furniture is painted in currently.
Would you mind having the original color showing through?
If not, consider spending the time stripping off the paint. A perfect strip job isn’t necessarily if you plan on re-painting it, but enough of the paint removed will give you a new wood surface to work off of.
I have seen black painted furniture with distressing showing white beneath, and it doesn’t look great. A base color of red looks terrific with black painted furniture, or just plain wood. If you don’t want to strip the furniture, (as it is a lot of work) consider giving a good deep sanding to the furniture, especially to the areas you plan on distressing.
Often times if stripping the furniture is something I don’t wish to do, I sand the furniture quite well as a first step, paint it in the color I plan on working with, and then sanding it again as a third step. This allows me to touch up the original paint color that shows through, while leaving some of the distressed areas that show off the wood. It is a lazy way of getting the finish, but the results are quite nice.
If you plan on doing multiple shades such as the chest below, consider colors that work really nicely together. White works nicely as a top color.
Swedish Distressed Chest From Atelier September
Distressing gives your piece of furniture a depth, which is often seen in Swedish antiques. I am not afraid of roughing up my furniture, and I am not afraid of altering an antique. Many antique dealers caution people from painting furniture, because it does loose the natural patina, and because of that, it often looses the value. This is a wise piece of advice to those people who are looking to “invest” in heirlooms for the value.
If you always wanted a white distressed cabinet, paint it, and don’t be afraid to do so. My motto is that you have to first love the piece, because after all, it is in YOUR home. Your children may have a totally different style in mind for their own home, so do what makes you happy, rather than looking at furniture as items to pass down to family.
I used to sell used furniture for a hobby, and always ran into the problems with paint sticking properly. Either you tore off your arm by sanding the heck out of every piece, or you ran the risk of the paint peeling later on, which lead me to use oil paint. Not every oil paint brand is the same. Some brands are so hard to work with, that they will make you pull your hair out. It is almost impossible to find oil paint in a finish that is either flat or eggshell. You won’t find glossy Swedish antique furniture, so don’t use it on your furniture. The look should either be eggshell, or satin.
Cover Stain By Zinsser is a fantastic oil primer which I discovered by accident, and almost was beside myself when I discovered how well it performs. You can buy this at Home Depot and almost every Hardware Store, and the best part of this paint is that it is TINTABLE in almost all the lighter shades of paint samples such as Behr, Martha Stewart, and so forth.
I bought the paint, because I couldn’t send out a piece of furniture which would later peel. I wanted a paint that could stick to anything and not scratch. Oil based paints are not environmentally friendly. The trade off with this paint is that it has a heavy smell which disappears after it has dried. You will need to use a paint respirator, and I emphasize that recommendation.
The most surprising aspect to Zinsser’s Coverstain Primer is that it is not a thick paint. It is rather thin, and goes on like spreadable butter. You rarely need an additional layer of paint, because it is oil after all, and isn’t like water based paints. Oil paints tend to self level as they dry, leaving almost no brush marks. Oil paints do cover well, and hold up wonderful. Unlike other oil paints, which can take up to a week to cure, this Coverstain dries to the touch in 3 hours, and cures over night.
The other reason why I recommend this product, is that it is sand-able. Almost every other oil paint brand I have tried doesn’t sand very well, and often leaves the finish needing an extra coat. Because Zinsser’s Coverstain dries flat (matte) sanding blends in rather nicely. In the past, I often added two coats of the tinted primer, and then sealed it with a Polycrylic water-based sealer.
Polycrylic is one of the best finishes to use on white based furniture, because it doesn’t yellow over time, like polyurethane does. With the polycrylic, I would apply it with a brush, and then with a damp white cotton wash rag, I would just wash it off. This would give me a seal to the paint color, while at the same time, maintain the flat, or eggshell finish that I enjoyed.
Another tip I would recommend is to buy a good quality angle paint brush for water based paints. I have used these with my oil paints, and my brush sits in paint thinner for weeks, and it is still not damaged. Regular chip brushes are ok, and inexpensive enough to throw out, but a good quality brush won’t leave paint strokes. Someone suggested to me to invest in an expensive brush, and I pass on those words of wisdom.
Swedish Accent Chair With A Fabulous Paint Finish $506
18th Century Buffet, circa 1760 Jane Moore Interiors in Houston
Picture Originally Featured on Indulge Decor Blog
Neoclassical Swedish Styled Accent Chairs Sold In Pairs $983
3. Glaze Your Furniture With Brown Glaze…..
Glazing is so easy, it takes minutes. If you can wipe your table after dinner, you have the skills to glaze! It is that easy. A glaze is a translucent binder which paint pigment is added to the mixture to produce a translucent color. You can buy glaze mixed together at your local hardware much like ordering paint, or you can buy glaze alone and mix in paint yourself.
Buying brown glaze already mixed will go a far way if you paint furniture for a living. I used it on all my painted pieces, including my white furniture.
I have discovered that glaze can be applied in two ways. You can apply it with a paint brush, let it stand for 3 minutes, and take it off with a slightly damp rag. With white furniture, even though you may feel you removed a lot of the glaze, the little bit that is left gives your furniture that slight change in color.
With flat finished white furniture, I give some wise words of wisdom. Add a coat of polycrlic before you glaze. You could even dilute the polycrylic with a slight bit of water, OR, just brush on a very small amount on to your furniture, such as dry brushing techniques. The reason for this, is that your furniture can turn a shade of brown, which is not what you are after. White furniture will have a hue of brown, but you don’t want the glaze to STAIN the paint.
Another trick is to work with a creamy white, not a bright modern white. Your whites should always have undertones of brown or green in them. When glazing white furniture, if the finish is flat or eggshell, you will need to work fast in pulling off that glaze. If the finish is satin, you will have a bit more time.
For painted furniture such as blue, or darker paint colors, glaze can be added, and it makes a world of difference. Often times I just paint on the glaze, such as you would just dry brushing the furniture. I use the term “dry brushing” as your paint brush isn’t loaded with paint. A small amount is necessary to make a dramatic difference. A brighter colored blue, will be muted when brown glaze is added, so experiment with brighter paint shades with brown glaze, you might be surprised what beautiful finishes can be achieved.
Look how nice white upholstery looks with gray paint.
Originally featured on Romantiskahem.blog
Tara Shaw Swedish Chest- Coach Barn Now Sells Tara Shaw’s Collection
Reproduction Swedish Tub Chairs From Amazon $775
Swedish Distressed Chest From Atelier September
A Stunning Trumeau Mirror From Tone on Tone Antiques,
Featured on Henhurst Interior Blog
Swedish Aged Paint Finishes From Antiqbr Blog
An extravagant painted sofa in terrific blue gray paint with painted ormolu
From Tone on Tone Antiques Featured on Featured on Henhurst Interior Blog
Swedish Aged Paint Finishes From Antiqbr Blog
A Few Previous Articles Of Interest
– White Painted French Furniture– The French Provincial Furniture
–25 Ideas Of How To Incorporate Orange, Pink and Coral Into Your Home- The French Provincial Furniture
– Ideas For Embellishing Painted Furniture– The French Provincial Furniture
–French Provence Red Check Textiles– The French Provincial Furniture
–Distressing Painted French Provincial Furniture
Mora Clock in Salmon Paint Sweden, Circa 1820, Tall case clock signed “Matts Jonson/Mora”, Sweden circa 1820. Wonderful salmon paint with gilded detail, all having an exceptional patina. Original clockworks have been newly cleaned and adjusted
Swedish Mora Clock Painted In A Soft Blue With Cream Painted Carved Accents From A Tyner Antiques
Sweden Circa 1790 Early Mora clock, Sweden circa 1790, in original pale salmon paint. The bonnet features beaded detail around the face and the crown, as well as oval glass panels on either side for viewing the clockworks. Both the bonnet and case retain their early, rounded glass. All original with newly cleaned and regulated clockworks Cupboards and Roses
1. Swedish Painted Pine Tall Case Clock, C. 1780, of the Rococo Style with carved and polychromed case detail. Mora movement and original paint decoration – Lillian August Designs
2. A Swedish tall clock in a rare pillar design with and original faux painting resembling marble. The face is an unusual combination of metal exterior with a gilded center echoing the gilt paint on the feet. The clock is in working order with the added feature of a calendar. Sweden, circa 1800. Dawn Hill Antiques
3. Swedish tall case clock, c.1780-1800, of the Gustavian period, the rococo case carved with neoclassic gilded motifs and retaining traces or its original paint. Mora movement. Lillian August Designs
1. Mora clock, Sweden circa 1820, with dial signed “P. Svensson / Rageröd.” Scandinavian pine case with reeded panels and dentil molding under the bonnet. The original clockworks have been newly cleaned and regulated. Sold By Cupboards & Roses
2.Sweden Circa 1848 “Mora” clock, Sweden dated 1848, with a beautifully carved case retaining its original painted decoration including the two sets of initials commemorating a marriage. Inside the case is a record of the clock’s provenance which reads,”Carl Nilsson, 1786-1850. Worked as a clockmaker in Northern Slätthult, Jönköping County. Buried in the cemetery of Villstad. This clock was purchased June 13, 1964 by Emil Johansson.” Sold By Cupboards & Roses
3.Antique Black Swedish Mora Grandfather Clock, circa 1850, Antique Swedish Black Painted Grandfather Clock. The lovely curves of this clock are typical of the Mora grandfather clocks, famous from Sweden. Sold by Scandinavian Antiques
Swedish Mora Clock From swedishinteriordesign.co.uk
Shannon Bowers Home, Swedish Design- Painted Blue Mora Clock
Eric Pike is Creative Director of Martha Stewart Living. Stefan Steil is an interior designer and founder of Stelish. Some of his design work can be found at Stefan Steil. Portraits taken at their townhouse in Manhattan.
There are very few Gustavian styled homes photographed that are truly ALL Swedish inspired. After looking at thousands of photographs, I KNOW it is rare to come across a home that is decorated or renovated all around the Swedish styles. Even if a home isn’t decorated to look centuries old, I find it rare to come across a person passionate for a particular period design that is pigeon-holed into a particular category. It is thrilling to say the least to see a home that is based entirely around a theme, such as Georgian, Egyptian, Early American, or my favorite Gustavian. When a designer sticks to a particular style of antiques, and thinks through the architectural elements and paint colors carefully, a story emerges that allows you to walk back in time.
Not everyone has thousands of dollars to spend on antiques, or money to change the architecture, flooring, cabinetry or fixtures, so many of us have to start somewhere with one bench here, and a chair there. Building up a home that is entirely from one period and time frame can be incredibly exhilarating, and also quite expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to have ALL genuine antiques to get the Gustavian appearance in your home. In this blog, I have put together dozens of posts with decor and furniture that look Swedish and aren’t. Some are costly, and others aren’t. My own home is filled with a ton of vintage furniture that is made over to look Gustavian. Incorporating a few genuine pieces sure help! Your home should be what makes you happy, and not what a blog or a magazine tells you it should be.
It is truly rare to come across a home that is based entirely around the Gustavian look, and not exist in Sweden, and that is the case with Martha Stewart’s creative director Eric Pike. His townhouse in downtown NYC is one of these rare homes where the entire house is designed around a Gustavian palette.
Eric Pike And Stefan Steil’s New York Gustavian Styled Townhouse- Photo Credit An Afternoon With Blog
Eric Pike And Stefan Steil’s New York Gustavian Styled Townhouse
Eric Pike And Stefan Steil’s New York Gustavian Styled Townhouse
The Blog,….. An Afternoon With posted some incredible pictures of the home giving you extra ordinary angles that allowed you a better glimpse into the rooms.
In one of the pictures a stunning oil painting hangs in the bedroom of Daniel Webster, a Massachusetts senator in the mid-1800s and an ancestor of Eric’s.
While the whole townhouse looks like it is within one color, several tones are used. In the bedroom, and the office, the ceiling is a light blue. A light beige is used in the office with storage in a coordinating color. Vibrant colors are used in the closets, keeping the overall palette neutral.
Martha Stewart’s Creative Director- Erik Pike’s Gustavian Townhouse In New York Part 1
Pike tells Martha Stewart Magazine that he faced a challenge that we all face: the need to maximize storage. He sacrificed a few feet in every room to allow for deep doorways that contain hidden, paneled closets, each devoted to specific belongings. “I’ve been collecting for years, and I’ve made everything work in this space,” he says.
Many Gustavian styled homes aren’t cluttered, and here you will see an excellent example of a paired down look. Collectibles are grouped together much like the closet featuring Pikes tableware and silver urns, or grouped on side tables. The look is very much clean and organized.
Look at the impressive storage in the above three photos. Boxes are used in closets for odds and ends keeping everything in place. In any home, there needs to be a lot of attention paid to storage if you want an uncluttered appearance. This is especially true for smaller sized apartments. For my own home, I have used the over-sized boxes that come with Crate and Barrel for my blankets which sit in the closet. When I go into my closets, they look clean and organized even if they are in boxes.
In this post I show where you can buy large boxes with lids for as little as $3 Paint the boxes with flat paint, and customize your closets by painting the interior and the boxes so both match. If you have a home that is based around gray, white or beige, consider doing something extra special for the closets. In my storage room in my garage, I am going with a Alpine green with boxes to match. Why not! Consider a bold blue or even a baby blue for your closets. Pantry and linen closets can be one of the most creative areas to experiment with color.