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Interview

Niki Brantmark’s Scandinavian Home

For a lesson on Scandinavian design 101, dive into our conversation with the influential Londoner-turned-Swede author and lifestyle expert.

Your home is your grandest form of self-expression. This is particularly true in Nordic countries where some qualities of the home have become uniquely Scandinavian. However, the Nordic love for tranquility, cleanliness, and the natural world has also become somewhat universal. As such, Scandinavian design has expanded into homes far beyond Nordic countries.

For a lesson on Scandinavian design 101, dive into our conversation with Niki Brantmark. This influential Londoner-turned-Swede author and lifestyle expert has organized her own abode in Swedish style. If you’re still curious to learn more about the Scandinavian aesthetic and way of life, you can check out some of Brantmark’s books (Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life, The Scandinavian Home, and Modern Pastoral) or follow along on her blog!

Bedroom | Sovrum 

What are some basic characteristics of a Scandinavian home? 

Pared-back, simple and functional with a clean aesthetic. There is also a strong emphasis on light and natural materials – as well as combining form with function.

How do you keep your space warm and bright during the winter months? 

I have deliberately used very light colours in our home throughout – including off-whites and soft, muted, earthy tones. In the winter, I love to add lots of really soft, warm blankets—Apparis sent me an amazingly soft faux-fur one as a gift before Christmas and the whole family has been fighting over it ever since!. And of course, plenty of candles. I have also stepped up the lighting with many different types in one room – all of which are on dimmers for a soft, warm glow!

What are some of your favorite online places to shop for the home?

I love to seek out small independent shops, including ceramicists, galleries and vintage stores. Etsy is a great online directory for similar items. I naturally gravitate to shops that sell Scandinavian design, such as Nordic Nest. I have to confess, I much prefer shopping in physical stores – I love to feel the materials!

What are three essentials on your nightstand currently?

Right now, I have the book I’m reading (A Gentleman in Moscow), Skog Handcream by Skandinavisk, and a cup of coffee that my husband brings me every morning!

Beauty | Skönhet

Go-to skincare and makeup products for your everyday look? 

Your skin can really dry out in the wintertime in Scandinavia. I swear by Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, Dermalogica Super Rich Repair Moisturizer, and Skandinavisk Skog (meaning ‘forest’) hand cream (which I swap for Hav or ‘sea’ in the summer!). If I’m going out in the evening, I love to wear MAC Strobe Cream. It helps to instantly brighten dull looking skin!

In your opinion, how does the Swedish approach to beauty differ from the English? 

That’s a tricky one! I guess, Swedes generally seem to lead a healthy lifestyle, using bikes to get around and eating a healthy diet. I would say the concept of ‘lagom’ applies to beauty (meaning ‘not too much, not too little, just right’).

One really interesting thing I have learnt from my Swedish friends is that if you’re spending the day outdoors in freezing weather (skiing, etc.), you should never wash your face in the morning, as your natural oils help to protect and shield your skin from the cold.

If Sweden could be defined by one beauty trend, what would it be? 

Understated and natural.

Balance | Balans

What do you do to stay healthy? 

I love sports! Since my children are a little older now, I have time to do more. I run 20 km a week and play tennis once or twice a week. I also love to do something with the girls like cross country ski, play badminton, or go swimming with them.

A favorite Swedish dinnertime meal?

Easy one: The Brantmark Family fish stew! It’s been in the Brantmark family for generations and is really delicious!

How do you unwind at the end of a long day?

I often go for a run. Or in the summer – an evening dip straight after work. After that, most of my evenings are spent running around like a crazy person taking my children to their various activities! It can be fun to watch, but even so, I do love to have a glass of wine with my husband or head out for an evening with friends!

UK vs Sweden

Riding the tube or biking?

Biking

Afternoon tea or fika?

Fika

Carpet or tile?

Can I go for wood floor?!

Photo Credit: Niki Brantmark

Alicia Zhang

Originally from Los Angeles, Alicia lived in Shanghai for 11 years before moving back to the states to attend the University of Miami, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and minors in art and philosophy. Currently residing in New York City, Alicia applies her knowledge of strategic communication and design in her career. She enjoys painting, rugby, exploring, and more often than not, you’ll find her petting someone’s dog.

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