Tour a Stockholm Apartment With a Strikingly Bold Interpretation of Scandinavian Minimalism


“In Sweden, we have this concept called Jantelagen,” says Joanna Laven. “It means that you should not think that you are better at something than anyone else.” Because of this, Swedes are not likely to outsource parts of their lives with nannies, cleaning support, and, notably, interior designers. To the Swedish, it is hard to be proud of something you did not design yourself. Luckily for designers Laven and David Walgren, citizens of the Scandinavian nation are beginning to realize that designers can help a space reach its full potential.

Walgren and Laven collaborated on this late 19th-century Stockholm apartment on Strandvägen, a sought-after waterfront boulevard. Typically, Swedish design is not too showy, with a focus on simplicity and minimalism. These clients, however, had a penchant for grand interiors, albeit ones with clear taste. Because of their busy work lives, they wanted space to unwind in, and a space that felt like home. Zeroing in on what exactly is the clients’ vision is “almost like being a shrink,” comments Laven. Often, she finds herself asking: “What do you like? How can we channel that throughout the space?” The result of her collaborative mindset are interiors that often appear more warm and striking than what one might expect.

“We always start with vintage pieces,” Laven notes. And ultimately, reupholstered antique furniture blended with modern pieces creates a timeless, and artfully curated, look. The designers carefully select each piece so as to avoid the appearance that their clients “walked into a shop and bought everything at one time,” says Walgren.

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As for this particular space, it maintains the Swedish sensibility for functionality and clean lines. To accommodate the homeowners’ taste for texture and organization, hidden soft-blue millwork storage was included in the hallway. In the living room, Laven and Walgren designed a wooden storage unit in order to conceal clutter and optimize sound quality.

Before Laven and Walgren got to it, the apartment lacked the open social space that the clients were looking for. Instead, it had a dated floor plan with a crowded kitchen. Laven and Walgren gave the new space a fluid layout with French influences including elegant parquet floors and high ceilings. The end result, which has both Swedish and broadly European design influences, is a testament to a globalizing design culture. And yet, at the same time, it’s entirely unique.

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