Carl Larsson and the Swedish home

You’ve heard of Scandi-chic – but have you heard of Carl Larsson, the original Swedish interior designer?

Carl Larsson was a 19th century artist, best known for his watercolour paintings of Lilla Hyttnäs, the home he lived in with his wife Karin and their 8 children. Karin was also an artist, and although she stopped painting after their marriage, she poured all her talents into interior design, choosing colour schemes and weaving tapestries for the walls.

Detail from Blomsterfönstret by Carl Larsson

Together Carl and Karin transformed Lilla Hyttnäs into an airy, light-filled, and beautifully comfortable home, which has become one of the most famous artist's residences in the world. You can still visit the house today and it has changed very little from the interiors depicted in the paintings.

Carl Larsson Skamvrån (in the corner)

The Larssons were ahead of their time. Influenced by William Morris, they rejected the heavy formality of the Victorian era, filling their home with simple wooden furniture, patterned textiles, bare floors, and lots and lots of light.

Today, you can see their influence everywhere. The image below could almost have come straight from an Elle Deco shoot (perhaps without the huge pipe!). I love the mixed stripes on the sofa and rug, and the soft colours on the wall.

Detail from Lathörnet (Cosy Corner) by Karl Larsson, 1894

My favourite thing about these paintings is their illustration of a space for living in. This is most definitely not a show-home. Each scene is scattered with domestic objects and depicts Carl's wife and children in everyday tasks. The rooms look so lived in and comfortable - something we can all take inspiration from when decorating our own homes.

Detail from När barnen lagt sig (When The Children Have Gone To Bed) by Carl Larsson, 1894

All images are from Wikimedia Commons