New Research Suggests Swedish Furniture In The 1700’s May Have Had Strong Colors

Gottlieb Iwerssons bureau

The computer-generated image shows how Gottlieb Iwerssons bureau was
color set from the beginning with stained inlays.

Furniture with inlay from the 1700s tend to be in a moderate brown color scale. But new research suggests that Gottlieb Iwerssons and the other Masters furniture had strong colors when they were new.

Elise Andersson at Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies presented his essay in Varying Shades of Brown where she runs the thesis that several of the 1700s masterful intarsiamöbler had a rich and expressive colors.

It is exciting to imagine how old things looked like when they were new, says Elise.
After a symposium in the Netherlands on stained wood Elise was inspired to investigate a bureau of master carpenter Gottlieb Iwersson (1750-1813). The bureau was a gift to King Gustav III and is currently banked in the Royal Collections.

Elise has looked closely at the paint residue on the furniture, studied the original drawing, examined sekretärens surface with UV light and read old beet recipes.
Emerges is a picture of a piece of furniture where the motifs were originally colored in blue, green, red and yellow against a light gray background – all framed by rosewood and amaranth, two popular woods for furniture production in the late 1700s.

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A Brand New Swedish Book From Swedish Antique Dealer Karin Laserow

Alternative Book Cover-Antiques In A Modern Settings

Laserow Antiques has just come out with a new book called Antiques In A Modern Settings.  This NEW Swedish book features 222 color photographs and sells on amazon for just under $20 dollars.  You cannot beat the price, considering many other new decorating books ask  double or triple that!  For all you who struggle with incorporating your modern day necessities such as your computer printer, flat screen tv with dvd player with your aged furniture, this book is for you.  Laserow antiques shows you how to incorporate antique furniture and art into a modern home with class.

This book gives you plenty to look at.  We all enjoy looking at the rich distressed 18th century Swedish furniture, and this book will have plenty of that!  They begin by explaining the basics of antique furniture, from Baroque, to Rococo, Empire, and Gustavian periods.   Readers are shown how how to tell the difference between old and new, how to evaluate antiques, and how to determine whether repairing, repainting, and refinishing are worthwhile decisions for protecting antique investments.  The topics are interesting and relevant to the collector and decorator who lives in the 21st century.

Laserow antiques mentions that there is a lack of information that is available to the collector with a modern home who still wants to enjoy the beauty and history of antiques. How do you mix antiques with the new? It sure is challenging!  From furniture, to collections, all these questions are explored through this  inspirational guide.

Liza Laserow, part owner of Laserow Antiques has been stealing the spotlight these days.  An article was shown in Architectural Digest showing off the companies fresh face, and fashion forward approach.   Trained to be lawyer, Liza’s business skills combined with her knowledge of Scandinavian antiques makes her more than capable to run her mothers successful established business.  Karin, founded a showroom in Sweden 30 years ago and, in 2009, Liza helped launch a Laserow Antiques outpost in the New York Design Center in Manhattan. If you haven’t subscribed to Liza’s blog, check it out, and get connected. The company features furniture curated from Sweden’s most significant periods—Baroque, Rococo, Gustavian, and Empire—spanning from 1650 to 1820.  I ordered the book today!  You should too!

Buy the Book on Amazon- Swedish Antiques: Traditional Furniture and Objets d’Art in Modern Settings Karin Laserow (Author), Britt Berg (Author), Niklas Lundstrom (Photographer) Amazon


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Book Review: Swedish Interiors By Rhonda Eleish & Edie Van Breems

 Q&A with Edie Van Breems and Rhonda Eleish of Eleish Van Breems

Authors Rhonda Eleish and Edie Bernhard van Breems are the owners of Eleish Van Breems Antiques Swedish antique stores in Connecticut. Swedish Interiors was published in 2007, (affiliate link) and brings about years of expertise, experience, and passion for creating the very best of Swedish-inspired interiors. Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems live in Woodbury, Connecticut, and opened the doors to Eleish Van Breems Antiques in 1998, and specialize in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Swedish antiques. Eleish reveals that Swedish antique dealing runs in her family, as her great aunt Ittan Gullers has been a well known dealer in Sweden, so her paths in creating their business was easier than most she admits.

Swedish Interiors focuses on the Swedish influence in American Design from the perspective of both the modern and primitive design.  Immigrants who came to America brought along their heritage and customs as well as the decorative and architectural arts of their homeland. Swedish Interiors represents the best of Swedish design in America, and shows a viewpoint of Swedish style from an American Perspective.

Swedish Interiors documents 14 American houses each with their own interpretation of Swedish style extends beyond the familiar 18th-century Gustavian look.  A 1795 Colonial house in Rhode Island is a classical take on Gustavian style while a log ranch in Montana is also Swedish in style but gives us a peak into what it may be like to be an average humble Swede living in the American country side in the 18th century. A 1923 bungalow in Los Angeles and a Manhattan apartment showcases sleek modern interpretation of the luxury side of interiors influenced by Swedish design in the mid 20th century. Swedish Interiors also included photographs of competitive dealers: Lars Bolander of Palm Beach and, in Manhattan’s Paul Sigenlaub of Evergreen Antiques and Lena Kaplan of White on White.

With so few Swedish Furnishing books on the market, Swedish Interiors By Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems is a little bit different offering interpretations on the Swedish influence. Swedish citizens themselves find themselves wondering why Americans are so enamored with 17th century Swedish antiques that often try to reinforce the idea that there is more to Swedish design than the 17th century.

The book roughly showcases three distinct Swedish styles, that being:

A: Primitive Country Swedish Design

B: Classic 17th century Gustavian Swedish Design

C.Modern 20th & 21st Century Swedish Design

The Contents of the Book are divided up as showcases of Several Homes:

A: Country Swedish

1. Wisconsin Ranch of Loran Nordgren- features a home painted in country Swedish colors typically found in the arts and crafts movement. A classic mustard painted home is framed with white window casings, and a primitive red colored roof and green accents. If you are after a country primitive look with Swedish underpinnings, this review is for you. The home features decor typically known as folk decor, and is made up of walls painted in lime yellow with light blue trim, and stencils which outline the room. Reproduced Gripsholm chairs in a red check cotton center the room while folk primitive antiques show off classic Swedish looks. A Dalarna wood settee dated 1825 painted in Falun red with blue detailing is one of my favorites of this layout.

2. Interior Designer Diana Beatties Montana home is REAL authentic Swedish timber homestead which was restored to its former glory and serves as a second guest home on Beatties property. The design features classic looks often found in Montana, with Swedish country folk decor mixed in. Rustic stone and log walls, and painted Swedish country cabinets in dark blue and red make the decor a comfortable home you would find in the mountains. Beatties gives a fresh perspective on what a country Swedish peasant would live like, but also includes stainless steel appliances in the kitchen which goes hand in hand with the distressed cabinetry.


B: Classic 17th century Gustavian Swedish Design

From the distressed beige and blue-hued furniture many people are familiar with, and the Gustavian gold accents luxurious primitive patterns found in the Swedish Baroque, Rococo, and Biedermeier periods, Swedish Interiors by Van Breems and Eleish review the secrets to achieving that classical Swedish design. Pickled hardwood floors, lighter interior colors, window treatments, and classic Swedish decor is an elegant upscale style that can be incorporated into any home. 7 homes are showcased in Swedish Interiors that fall into the 17th and 18th century take on Swedish design.

1. Libby Holsten’s 1760 Rhode Island Colonial- Holsten’s reception room graces the books cover. After stumbling across some Swedish photographs she fell in love with the period furniture, and began collecting Swedish furniture which she began furnishing her homes in Newport and Boston. Some of the outstanding features of her home besides the Swedish furniture is the hand painted chinoiserie faux wallpaper painted in taupe and brown. The painting extends to the entrance hall and stairwell. The home went through an extensive restoration and was brought from a dark cold palette to one which featured ivories, grays and hues of blues. French doors were installed bringing in more light, as well as the rotted wood flooring was replaced with pickled oak. Antique Swedish furniture was mixed in with French, and a alluring collection of musical instruments. Some of the highlights of her home is the outstanding faux finishing on the walls. The Swedish antiques are beautiful to look at. The Rococo bench on page 23 is painted in a yellow ochre, and a gold gilt clock hangs above a stairwell on page 24. Gustavian lyre side chairs line the sitting room. Authentic paint distressed colors such as on the Swedish table on page 27 , and the 1780’s gilt Swedish clock on page 29 are incredibly inspiring to a painter like myself. A set of unusually heavily distressed Gustavian chairs gather around a trestle table in the kitchen. This showcase is for me is worth purchasing the book, as the Swedish paint finishes show a variety of furniture in green washes, blue and yellow washes, distressed cream finished and gray faux finishes in their very best.

2. Linda & Lindsay Kennedy- A couple which owns Chloe Decor – A Swedish antiques business in LA. Their California bungalow was restored by designer Nancy Fishelson. Linda , a Swedish native focuses her time on her thriving interior design business, while Lindsay spends his time on the retail side of the business. They frequent Sweden for buying trips to fill their LA store. The highlight is A late eighteenth century clock secretary featured on page (52-53)was one of the most beautiful pieces in their home, made from a combination of a Swedish Mora clock and a classic Swedish secretary put together as one.

3. The highlight of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne’s home was the hand painted wall murals (pages 61-65) by designer Claggett Wilson and decoupage in orange, blue and gold. Hand painted murals were often featured in high end Swedish manor houses and castles in the 1740’s to the 1780’s.

4. Lars Bolander and Nadine Kalachnikoff’s Palm Beach Home features a collection of Swedish and French eighteen century antiques. The home features painted paneled walls which are lined with classic black portraits. Sisal rugs are found in each room along side painted gray Swedish antiques

5. John Rabalasis’s New Orleans Home. Louisiana interior designer fell hard for Swedish furniture. His classic home is decorated in 17th century painted Swedish furniture and decor. Sea foam greens and blues sweep his classical home. The home is one of the features of the book because the authentic Swedish looks provide so much to admire. One of the key features are the classic Gustavian Swedish chairs that gather around a French walnut wine tasting table. The floors under the table are made of brick which is quite rustic in every sense. Natural jute rugs line the floors in the sitting rooms, while the beige and cream interior walls pull everything together. Klismos chairs sit at the entrance of his home, while stuffed bergere chairs corner the rooms. His home is in every sense a beautiful rendition of classic Swedish decorating.

6. Elish Van Breems Antiques – Features his unique Woodbury Connecticut antiques store which was a Nationally registered 1760 Thompson House. The home was built in 1760 by the first lawyer and magistrate of Woodbury, Connecticut. The home at the time was considered a mansion at the time it was built and was then restored by the previous property owners after it fell into neglect. The owners choose Falun red and white the most common color of Swedish farmhouses. A lack of window treatments and floor coverings create a sense of simplicity. The pine floors were striped, bleached and pickled to add an authentic Swedish Gustavian feel. The intent was to create more of a residential feeling than a business type of atmosphere.

7. Lena Biorck Kaplan’s Swedish Studio- Owner of Swedish design shop White on White originally was inspired by Stockholm’s Martine Collianders shop which featured beautiful Swedish gray and white interiors. Lena’s home features a reproduction Gustavian dining table and chairs and a nineteenth century Gustavian bed settee. White on White opened its doors in 1999 and grew exponentially allowing renovations 3 to 4 years after opening. She installed moldings,ragged the walls, and pickled the floors. They now expanded their business offering products on a national stage.

C.The Modern Swedish

The modern take on Swedish design is all about luxury. Hollywood regency is a comparable style in the 20th century, but Swedish modern has a slightly different angle. Swedish modern interiors still gravitate towards the lighter hues, such as white, gray, but incorporate natural materials such as wood, marble, and stone. For those who were inspired by Sweden have melded the very best concepts of Swedish design into their American homes but with modern furnishings

1. The primary residence of the Consulate General of Sweden is showcased on page 87. The residence is located at the corner of Park Avenue and Sixty-Fourth street in New York and was extensively renovated under the direction of architect Lennart Jansson. The furnishings of Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn which is known widely as the best of Swedish design. The consulate is decorated in contemporary Swedish furniture pieces against contrasting antique Swedish architecture. For example, in the dining room, black and white tile has always been the staple of luxury in castles but they add a modern twist by layering a gray and black fur hide under the contemporary modern white leather Danish dining chairs. The ornate curved arched doorways are grand to look at on pg 86, and the gray marble or stone fireplace on page 93 is of supreme luxury. No everyone has such deep pockets to pull off this style, but in my opinion is the best example in this book of the Swedish influences in the modern home.

2. Martina Arfwidson & David Weiss- Arfwidson founder of Face Stockholm, and Restaurateur Weiss – bought a property they had admired for years which was close to their home they lived to for years. While their home is filled generously with Swedish antiques, it has a modern underpinnings of modern aesthetics. Their home is bright and sunny while incorporating the natural Swedish palette.

3. Paul & Suzanne Sigenlaub – Although Antique dealer Paul Sigenlaub’s uptown Manhattan’s Evergreen Antiques features classic Scandinavian and Baltic Antiques, surprisingly his home features modern furniture. Their New York home is featured with a mix of classic Swedish 17th century furniture such as an 1830 Swedish demilune table with Eames leather dining chairs. The 1790’s Klismos settee is a rare find, is positioned opposite a contrasting Danish Kaare Klint 1930’s leather chair, and an Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair. Suzanne is Danish and their homes antiques were passed down through her family, and it was her heritage which sparked Paul’s curiosity into Swedish furniture. The walls were painted a diluted limestone, and the floors were given a white wash finish. Colorful contemporary art updated the home to 21st century style. The most impressive furnishings are the Klismos settee and side chair, along with the claw foot Gustavian bench and collection of Scandinavian wood folk art horses.

4. Aquavit Hakan & Catherine Swahn- Restaurateurs of modern Swedish cuisine sit at home in modern luxury with Swedish minimalism. Hakan’s father was a successful Swedish antiques dealer and was aquatinted with the best of Swedish furniture, and perhaps explains why the modern furnishings are showcased instead of the antiques of his heritage. They have a remarkable collection of designers such as Hans Wegner, Bruno Mathsson, and Piet Hein. Their home was renovated by architect Michel Franck, as well as their restaurant was designed around Nordic concepts. Their large 12,000 square feet restaurant on Fifty-fifth street is featured showing 20th century Scandinavian furnishings.

5. JoAnn Barwick’s Vermont Studio- Editor in Chief of Home Beautiful Magazine for more than a decade, Barwick fell in love with the elegance of classic Swedish furniture after visiting several locations throughout Norway of her families heritage. Barwick, herself published a book called Scandinavian Country, published by Clarkson Potter. Also since leaving Home Beautiful she has developed numerous lines for major furniture manufactures with classic Swedish and Gustavian lines. JoAnn and her husband Fred Berger spend their summer and fall in Vermont, and venture down to Florida in the winter and spring. Both homes have a New England style with underpinnings of Swedish decor. Shades of blue and white run though their home with both antique Swedish furniture and contemporary pieces work together to make their space fresh and balanced. JoAnne has designed for Drexel Heritage as well as a line of Scandinavian lighting for the Frederick Cooper Company.

6. Steve & Katie Hyen’s Connecticut Home is uniquely reconstructed from a traditional dairy barn. The massive 15,000 square feet barn is elegantly polished with marble and stone and has vast space with elegant modern furniture. The vast space, and light walls, and beautiful flooring serves as a great inspiration to anyone who wants the rustic feel of a barn but is drawn to the elegant modern looks of city living.

Swedish Interiors by Rhonda Eleish and Edie Bernhard van Breems is a must have for any person who is looking to decorate in Swedish style.   The book on Amazon has 12 honest customer reviews.  Amazon sells its copies from around 30 dollars American, but you can also buy the book on Amazon for around 5 dollars!!! What a bargain for a book with a large amount of  beautiful inspiring interiors.  10 people give it 5 (5 out of 5) stars, 1 person ranks it 4 stars, and one person ranks it 3 stars.

One customer ranks it 3 stars saying:

The cover of the book leads one to think that this will be a volume of traditional or “antique” Swedish style, but this is not the case. I was personally looking for a book of traditional and old fashioned Swedish interior and exterior styles and this book is not that, thus I gave it three stars. The book is nicely written and there are plenty of photographs and there is a bit of traditional style but the book focuses largely on the modern takes on Swedish style and many of the photos are of places in the United States that have somewhat Swedish flavored styles and definitely very modern styles.”

Granted, the cover does give the perception that the book features entirely 17th and 18th century Swedish interiors, so it is surprising to see it also lays the ground for designs that also focus on country and modern. Like the comment that is forever in my mind from a Swedish resident that claims “there is more to Swedish style than 17th century“, this book does just that. It throws aside just one form of Swedish design and covers a wider range of the style. Swedish Interiors has been featured on Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, House Beautiful, Travel & Leisure, the New York Times, Traditional Home, Better Homes and Gardens, Victoria, and Yankee.

Swedish Furniture & Decor -Linda and Lindsay Kennedy 18th century Black Painted Rococo Writing desk

Swedish Furniture & Decor -Libby Holsten’s Pool House Swedish Living Room

Swedish Furniture & Decor – Eleish Van Breems Antiques Woodbury Connecticut





7 Secrets From Suzanne Rheinstein To Pull Off A European Decorated Home

Suzanne Rheinstein

Suzanne RheinsteinThe photos above and below were taken in a room designed by Suzanne Rheinstein at the Greystone Estate, the site of Veranda’s annual showhouse Picture seen on

Architectural Digest & House Beautiful magazines both publish annual lists of current successful designers, and Suzanne Rheinstein always is noted as one of the top designers in the LA area.   Other established designers such as Michael Smith, Thomas Beeton, Kathryn Ireland, Barbara Barry, and Waldo Fernandez also are all noted to be the best in Los Angeles.

Suzanne Rheinstein is owner of Los Angeles renowned Hollyhock, an extravagant LA Antiques Store.  Rheinstein is known for her relaxed, elegant style, and special attention to luxuries.  Beyond her store, and her book, Rheinstein also has a fabric line with Lee Jofa.

Rheinstein’s Manhattan Home made the cover of Elle Decor for the month of November 2010 featuring an upscale Gustavian designed residence in New York.   After her daughter Kate got married, and grandchildren were too hard to resist being away from, her husband Fred relented and the couple finally found the perfect corner space in the upper east side of New York.  Rheinstein tells Elle

We adore our house in L.A.,” she says. “It’s very forgiving and full of wonderful family treasures. But for New York, I wanted something a little more city, a little more stylized. And I wanted the palette to be a little more calm.”

The Gustavian styled home is filled with hues of grays, creams, taupes and soft greeny blues which is known to be classic Swedish style.    “There’s color, she adds, but “it’s just very offbeat, like the pale ochre pillow on the chaise…….”

Beyond the beautiful extravagant 18th century antiques Rheinstein owns, is a stunning mural which has captured the publics attention.  Bob Christian, a decorative painter and artist created a gorgeous mural that surrounded the room. The overall effect was a large scale toile look.   The room wouldn’t be the same without it.

Her current book At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past,  features six distinctive homes that express Rheinstein sophisticated elegant style.  The book also features both of her own homes in Los Angeles and New York.  Rheinstein’s book is beautifully photographed, and shows an inspiring volume of her own work, in which she mixes Gustavian with Edwardian and Regency with ease.  The book shows a range of styles including a brick farmhouse in the Virginia countryside to a  Beach in Newport Bay.

She has been quoted saying it is better to buy quality one-of-a-kind pieces, and decorate around them “Fewer but better things, painted surfaces, a mixture of furniture styles, a personal art collection and attention to comfort, colors, textures, details and light.”

We couldn’t agree with her more.

This 18th century Antique Swedish Gustavian Painted Bench is the epitome of Swedish furniture.  They are almost impossible to find in America, and quite expensive to purchase.  Rheinstein’s Swedish bench is upholstered in a dark  beige with undertones of olive and grey.  The bench perfectly sets the stage to match the paint on the walls which also governs the paint colors on the hand painted floors.

  • The secret to design is precisely as Rheinstein suggests- Designing around a few pieces of fabulous furniture.
  • Period antiques are well made and often have features that are very hard to come by in today furnishings.
  • A great antique usually has one of these qualities
  • Great Bones, and Style such as the curvature of Louis XV furniture, or the straight appeal of the Directoire styles of Louis XVI.
  • Fantastic aged patina– Gustavian furniture has incredible painted finishes with beautiful ornate painted motifs.
  • Quality wood like Empire Furniture , or Lavish wood veneers such as Regency furniture.
  • Well made statement pieces truly are show stoppers on their own that all that is needed is a few well chosen accent pieces to finish a look to get a magazine quality highly-decorated home.

See the November issue of Elle Decor For More Pictures of Her home.

Visit Hollyhock’s web site to see antiques, upholstery and decor items for sale


Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 4 Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 5 Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 6 Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 7 Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 8 Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 9

Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs Suzanne Rheinstein's Designs 2

Suzanne Rheinstein’s  Designs on Style Compass


These classic Louis XVI Style FauteuilDining Chairs are often found featured with classic Swedish decor.  Note the chairs are painted in a classic gray and washed in a fauxfinish and upholstered with a a red Ticking stripe.

Joni from Cote De Texas has an in depth article on Suzanne Rheinstein’sGeorgian home which is worth viewing.  It has been hard to locate any of Suzanne Rheinstein’s work, and Joni seemingly has went out of her way to gather some of the previous rare pictures of her amazing home through the transformations.  We borrowed a few of her pictures that really show the Swedish style in its best!

Compare her New York apartment with her LA Home, and you will see so many beautiful painted floors.  Paint can completely transform a room.  The colors on the floor in the above picture create a calming atmosphere.   The detail on the console is exquisite!  You would want to float a piece like this in the center of the room.  –  Picture from Cote De Texas