Investing In Mora Clocks – Expert Advice From Jo From Swedish Interior Design specializes in Swedish Antique Gustavian, Biedermeier, Rococo and Country Painted, Veneer and Natural Wood Furniture.

In the Homes and Antiques April 2014 Issue, Swedish Interior Design was asked to spill about Mora Clocks.  Here is what they had to say:

A grandfather clock by another name?

A Mora clock is specifically a longcase clock made in the town of Mora in central Sweden during the l8th and 19th centuries.

Why there and and why then?

Bad harvests in the 1700s meant that the farmers of Mora, which was a largely rural community,
had to come up with a way to supplement their income. The pendulum clock had been invented by Dutch scientist Christian Muygens in 1656 using the sketches of Galileo so there was already something of a tradition for making clocks of this sort in Scandinavia and the cottage industry quickly developed. Each family in Mora look responsibility for making a certain part: the pendulums, the faces, the brass mechanics and so on.

Tell us about the clock’s defining features…

They are known (or their curvaceous hourglass shapes and are more often than not painted in pale greys, whites or blues as these colours reflected candlelight better on long dark evenings. Sometimes they will have ‘kurbits’ folk art designs – a form of bold, painterly decoration most
recognizable from wooden Dala horses that originate from Dalarnia, the same region that
Mora clocks come from.

How easy are they to come by? 

Oddly the largest collection of Mora clocks is here in the UK. It is owned by Jo and Madeleine
Lee who run Swedish Intorior Design and have just moved their business to an old granary near Shoreham where you can find over 50 of the clocks in stock. Look out for ones marked ‘AAS’. They may well be made by the first Mora clockmaker Krang Anders Andersson whose oldest known clock dates to 1792. Be wary though, the moniker has been copied onto later clocks so check for documentary evidence of his craftsmanship.

Swedish Mora Clocks

Jo spills some of his secrets of how he goes about refreshing Swedish antiques that need a facelift.

He discovered this Mora clock about many years ago, and it was one of the first pieces he found in Sweden.   He loved the clock but wanted the overall look to fit into their 1886 apartment which was decorated around whites and greys.

The clock was found painted in a “Kirbits Folk Art Style…..

“It was statuesque, superbly proportioned, elegant and painted in reproduction Kurbits Folk Art style. The repaint was probably done in the early 1900s and the colours they had used and the painting style were rather garish. The original Kurbits Folk Art Style was prominent in Sweden in the early part of the 1800s and was a freehand style using feather shapes, swirls and subtle earth tome colors (reds, ochres, yellows, oranges) to create a visually sumptuous but definitely country style. You can see examples of the kurbits painting from the early 1800s by looking at the 360 degree view of the Swedish Interior Design Kitchen where we have freestanding cabinets from 1799, 1803 and so on with the original Kurbits paint.”

Jo tells us how he made this clock look antique with paint:

Step 1 – “Key the entire clock with medium sandpaper (180 grit) to allow the paint to grip and look it over to decide whether there were any bits that needed gluing or fixing. Generally I prefer to leave pieces ‘as is’ if possible rather than fix them up to much as the life they have undergone is part of their character and makes them real”

Step 2 – “Prepare The Tools In this case a variety of brushes of different sizes to allow me to get a fine coat on to the clock without filling up the wonderful crenulations and shapes on the body with excess paint. You can get very carried away with special brushes but actually we generally use pretty standard ones – my brush heads don’t have to include virgin yak tails from Mongolia! In this case I used a Craig and Rose acrylic paint (I used Regency White in the Chalky Emulsion finish), which dries nice and quick and that goes on very smoothly with a nice chalky texture. I didn’t use a primer in this case but you can if you want. Alternatively, any chalk-like paint such as Farrow and Ball’s Estate Emulsion, Chalk or Milk Paint could be used. With Chalk and Milk Paint, you would have to wax the piece and not glaze it as I did, which I will talk about a bit later.”

Step 3 – Base Coat “A nice smooth stroke with a larger headed brush to keep an even spread and smaller headed brushes or ones where I’ve cut them to an angle for getting in and under things! Always be careful not to let the paint pool or drip and consider it from several angles to make sure the coverage is good. Once I’d built up the base coat, I added 2 further coats at a slightly watered down consistency until I liked the visual texture

Step 4  Sand “Light sand to matte the paint down a bit with 320 sandpaper and then some judicious distressing either in the right places where you would naturally get a lot of use (like the handle in the pendulum door) or for effect (to highlight a special feature). I also use a razor blade too sometimes for a different look”

Step 5  Antiquing. “Now that I like the basic color and the level of distress, I decide how and if I should antique it. When well done, antiquing really adds to the feel of a piece and can highlight its decorative mouldings, giving them a 3D effect. But if overdone or clumsily applied..awful! Many people like to use wax but I prefer to make up my own antiquing fluid using an acrylic glaze as a base. I mix the acrylic glaze with a dark brown, grey, red or yellow paint so I can create an antiquing color that matches the color tones I want to effect and it still looks like the real ‘dirt of ages’. So sometimes it’s greyer, browner, more yellow, ochre or red – whatever you need for a special job. The key is “think” where naturally dirt would accumulate and build it up in layers and once that’s done to see if you want to use it as a special effect to highlight any feature.  Another light dusting with 320 sandpaper in places and then stand back and admire the handiwork”

Jo And Madeleine Swedish Interior DesignJo and his wife Madeleine, in the left picture

You can see their unique collection of antique mora clocks, and other Swedish furniture by viewing by private appointment 7 days a week.

Call +44 1273734371 or visit the website at

Also, look up at Swedish Interior Design blog for more tips of how to decorate with Swedish furniture.

Follow Jo on Facebook, follow his wife’s blog Madeleine

 Madeleine Lee Swedish Interior Design

Madeleine In their Swedish Home

Picture Credit- Swedish Interior Design

Swedish Interior Design

Beautiful creamy whites and golds seen in their home

Swedish Interior Design. Bellakotakphotography

Pictures taken in their home for a fashion editorial in Coco Indie Magazine, see more at

Swedish Interior Design

Swedish Interior Design

Mora Clocks From Swedish Interior Design

Clock 1: Unique Early 1800s antique Swedish mora clock with an incredible original trompe l’oieil wreath motif and a very unusual larger head with stunning roman numeral clock face

Clock 2: Early 1800s antique Swedish mora clock in original  white paint.The mora clock is in good condition and features the makers name ‘Roth of Norkoping’ and elaborate beautiful handpanted gold curlicue designs.

Clock 3: Very early 1800s Swedish mora clock in original paint. Incredible ribbed crown motif on the hood and very distressed but structurally sound.

Mora Clocks From Swedish Interior Design

An Amazing Design Secret That Professional Designers Use All The Time

Watch Jeffree Turney of Lone Ranger Antiques on Martha Stewart

Jeffree Turney from Lone Ranger is one biggest dealers who specialize in Gustavian antiques, and also happened to be on Martha Stewart and revealed some of his  refinishing secrets.  He recommends after initially painting and distressing your piece using milk paint, mixing 20 percent “Howard’s Feed ‘n’ Wax” furniture wax to 80 percent “Dark Walnut” Minwax. Wearing latex or rubber gloves covered with socks, apply wax, and use a paint brush for tight spots. Rub off excess wax immediately with a long plastic-bristled scrub brush.  The overall faux finish gives you an antique effect.

I always found this picture from Martha Stewart captivating. Matching furniture up with the wall color is a very interesting design concept. Adding a dark wax to your piece will allow your furniture to stand out from your wall color.

Here are some unique examples:

In this kids room wall storage is painted a bright red.  The design look appears minimal.

This room is painted a vibrant teal blue.  Wall letters on the wall and furniture is painted in the same paint color.

A matching set of Swedish chests are placed in a room where the wall color and drapes are designed to match.

In one of my favorite pictures a kitchen is painted in a mute blue.  The walls and the kitchen island and cabinets are painted in almost the exact shades.   The walls are 5 shades lighter and brighter than the cabinets.  It is one of the best kitchens I have seen.

Gustavian Designed Interior From

Gustavian Decorating – Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart always seems to get color right. I believe she has an eye for historical colors palettes. In this photo we see a console table that is matched up to the wall color. The look is absolute perfection. See additional Martha Stewart interiors based on Gustavian influences.

Gray Paint Tones

A series of gray tones are paired together in this dark interior.  The bar table is painted in a lighter shade of gray with glass cloche’s are paired together.  Limed wood add to the gray appearance without loosing the detail of the wood.  Stainless steel also works with the gray interiors like no other metal.  The metal adds a richness and some light to dark room.  If you love this appearance, but find it too dark, consider the same elements with lighter paint tones.

Matching Wall Paint and Furniture

This photo takes the concept to the extreme, where everything is painted in the same shade except for the stool, and the accessories.  Furniture that may be an eyesore, could be given a face lift using this concept.  It allows the furniture to disappear into the room, giving other pieces the spot light.  This concept also gives a minimal look to a room, allowing a busy room to appear less cluttered.

Matching Wall Paint Up With Furniture

In this photo, we see a very interesting effect using two paint colors instead of one shade for the entire room.  We see a chair rail used to divide the wall.  A brighter paint color is used on the bottom of the wall, and the furniture is painted in the exact same color.  Using this idea, adding a brown glaze to the furniture which can be painted on and wiped off would give the furniture a bit of a distinction and less of a newly painted appearance.

How To Get This Look

-Use the same shade as your wall color on your furniture.  After your piece has been distressed (and dried), consider painting a thin coat of brown glaze to give it an antique appearance.  Ralph Lauren glaze works terrific.  You simply mix one third paint to glaze, or half glaze/ half paint in a cup. (The glaze is white, but dries clear with what ever paint you mix with it) Add brown paint to your glaze, and simply paint a thin coat on to your furniture.  You can either paint on a thin coat, and call it done, or you can wipe off some of the glaze with a rag leaving some of the glaze behind.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have discovered this secret for brighter paint colors.  Brighter paint colors automatically look antique when a translucent brown is added.  Bright blues become muted, everything looks better.

-Heavily distress your furniture to give your furniture more depth.  The natural wood will give more warmth in your room, and add to the overall look of the furniture.

– Add furniture ornaments to your furniture painted in white or in gold to add some detail to your painted furniture.  Cake molds often have beautiful designs that would look just as beautiful on furniture.  These designs can be made easily with plaster, concrete, or resin inexpensively.

Gustavian Swedish Decorating Ideas

Gustavian Pedestal- Neoclassical Decorating From Gift & Home Today

Eighteenth century Neoclassical style had made its way into Swedish style when King Gustav III of Sweden corresponded with Marie Antoinette about his decorating projects.  Scandinavia responded to the French style with even more elegance and sophistication.  While Sweden wouldn’t be able to duplicate the vast wealth of the French, The Swedes made it better with less to work with.

Swedish decorating is based around wood.  In order to get the look, consider basing your entire interior around wood.  Painted wood furniture, distressed wood floors, wood paneling, and painted wood accessories are all key elements to Swedish style.  If you have just one of those elements you are on your way to attaining the elegant Gustavian interior looks.

Pearl grey was the universally popular shade, and often accompanied by carved flourishes, ribbons, florals and bows.  These elegant carved details were very neoclassical in nature and often ornamented mirror frames, chairs and furniture alike.

One of the most common draws to Swedish furniture is the paint shades that were used.  Muted tones were used, and the pastel family was at the height of fashion through the 18th century.  Common shades found in Sweden were blues. pinks, pale green, and straw yellow.   Gold leaf was used less than in the rococo period, but were still used to add richness to furniture and decorating.

  • The lines of the Rococo period were still in style, yet more streamlined designs came into play.  Splayed legs become more straight, though finely tapered. 
  •  Fluted legs had the sophistication of something more classy while the tapered legs played to the country side of Swedish decorating. 
  • Chairs were designed with straight backs instead of curved, and long narrow sofas became very fashionable. 
  • Mirrors were a must have in the 17th and 18th century, and this was especially true for Sweden, as their interiors became darker earlier because of the early sun sets.
  • Candles were often placed in front of mirrors to magnify the reflective light.  for Mirrors became longer and rectangular instead of round or oval.

Gustavian Swedish Decorating IdeasSwedish Style Decorating Ideas From Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart has such a good eye for style and her impeccable taste shows in these photographs.  Here she uses her own paint- Drabware on the walls. One of the highlights of this room is the Wedgwood china on the wall.  Do you see how well they match with the wall color?  You have to wonder if the entire room was decided with those few pieces?  The china is a few shades darker than the wall color.  The Swedish check is chosen for the chairs, again matching perfectly with the wall color.  The white in the check pattern gives depth to these chairs.

In the next room, the perfect shade of blue is used on the walls in a saturated shade.  Look how blue is chosen for the ceilings instead of white. The floors are painted a darker hue than the walls.

These series of photographs has remained some of my all time favorite photographs out of the thousands I have looked at and compiled for our many blogs.
Swedish Gustavian DecoratingSwedish Gustavian Decorating Ideas From Martha Stewart

Again, another perfect example of classic Swedish style.  Orange has to be one of my favorite colors, and here you can see how that hue comes alive in this room.  The doors are stripped back so you can appreciate their details and patina.

In the past I have taken all natural wood (or faux painted) and painted an entire piece with plain light gray paint.  After letting the piece dry for 5 to 7 minutes I have washed with a hose (for bigger furniture) or running water (for smaller pieces) to reveal a more distressed look than pickling or white washing.  The overall effect leaves a very rustic painted appearance than your typical clean look of white washing.

Here, the floors are bare and rustic which is a classic Gustavian must have.  One of the best features in this room is the demilune tapered leg console table.  Look how the paint shade is within the same color family as the wall except darker?

Swedish Gustavian DecoratingSwedish Gustavian Decorating Ideas From Martha Stewart

Here you see in the picture above extremely elegant neoclassical chairs.  The right period style can really make a room look distinctively Swedish.  This room is very simple yet the architectural features are incredibly ornate.