Stockholm Fashion Week – Day 1

Stockholm Fashion Week kicked off in my old hometown yesterday and in between working and looking after two sick children I have been watching the live stream from the shows. Clean lines and a monochrome colour scheme dominated the catwalks and while some may deem the lack of colour and flamboyance boring, I think the muted palette makes the clothes infinitely more wearable. As most of you probably know by now, I love the Scandinavian design aesthetic both when it comes to fashion and interior. A peek into my wardrobe would reveal that, if my budget allowed it, most of these creations could hang there quite comfortably. And it was not ALL black, white and grey – there were flashes of yellow at Carine Wester and a pretty combo of pastel pink and leopard print at Ida Sjöstedt .

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Whyred

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Whyred

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Carin Wester

Carin Wester

Carin Wester

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Stylein

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Stylein

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Ida Sjöstedt

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Ida Sjöstedt

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Ida Sjöstedt

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Filippa K

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Filippa K

Interior Inspiration: A City Chic Apartment

City living has many benefits – I’m an urbanite at heart and the proximity to shops, restaurants, museums and other amenities is a major draw for me. Before we had children, my husband and I lived in Notting Hill in West London and I have to admit that I was reluctant to decamp to the suburbs when we first decided to by a house. However, the thought of living in central London with three young children is less than appealing – all that traffic, pollution and general noise and stress. But if we ever decided to up sticks and move to Sweden I would happily settle for an apartment in central Stockholm. The city is much smaller than London with plenty of greenery and water surrounding it. If I had also won the lottery, this four bedroom flat in the ultra posh area of  Östermalm would be top of my list of dream homes. It belongs to TV presenter and journalist Ebba von Sydow and is currently up for sale (view the details here). With big, airy rooms, lots of original features and a separate entrance with a lift that takes you straight to the front door, it is the ultimate in city chic luxury.

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{I love the windows and wooden parquet floor}

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{Oh, to have the space for a bookcase like this!}

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{The rooms flow seamlessly into one another, creating an open and inviting living space}

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{A white kitchen has been on my wishlist for a long time}

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{More beautiful flooring and the white paneling adds a sense of calm}

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{I. Want. That. Lamp}

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{A traditional Swedish kakelugn in one of the bedrooms}

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{And finally a balcony with views over one of Stockholm’s loveliest neighbourhoods}

 

 

Interior Inspiration: Scandi Chic

Small but perfectly formed, I love the colour scheme in this Stockholm apartment. The furniture has been kept in black, white and grey tones and beautiful pastels are added through cushions, pictures and books. Framed posters are a great way to incorporate stunning art works into your interior design scheme without breaking the bank. And the Swedish ‘kakelugn’ (fireplace) in the last picture is the Pièce de résistance in my humble opinion.

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Source: Alvhem

Home Sweet Home ♥ (So why do I still feel homesick?)

After all the yummy but not necessarily healthy food I've been indulging in over the last two weeks it was nice to start the day with a healthy breakfast of low carb muesli (recipe here), yoghurt and fresh strawberries

After all the yummy but not necessarily healthy food I’ve been indulging in over the last two weeks it was nice to start the day with a breakfast of low carb muesli (recipe here), yoghurt and fresh strawberries

We’re back from our holiday and while it’s nice to be home (despite the mountain of washing and sorry state of our cloakroom – see here), as always I feel like I’ve left a part of me behind. There is a saying in Sweden which roughly translates to ‘Away is good but home is best’, meaning that it’s good to go on holiday but the nicest part is often returning to your home and familiar routine. But what if the place you go away to is also your home or at least used to be?

I was ten years old when my dad was transferred from Stockholm to London and apart from a couple of years in the US and Ireland I have lived in the UK ever since. We were only meant to stay here for 2-3 years but once they were settled my parents didn’t want to leave and despite my father now being retired they still have no plans to move back.

When I was a teenager I had no desire whatsoever to return to Sweden as I thought (rightly or wrongly) that London’s fashion and music scenes where infinitely cooler than anything my home country had to offer. Now that I am older and have children of my own I find myself appreciating my childhood more and more – the fresh air and open spaces, being able to go ice skating and cross country skiing in the winter and swimming in the lakes in the summer.

In an ideal world I would like us to live in Sweden for a year or two so that the children learn to read and write in Swedish and, perhaps most importantly, really embrace the country and culture as part of their own identity. At the moment they definitely think of themselves as more English than Swedish which is hardly surprising as they were born here and have never lived anywhere else. And while they all understand Swedish it is a struggle to get the boys to speak it unless they’re with their cousins who haven’t learned English yet. One of the hardest things is that my sister and I have lived in different countries for the past 18 years as she moved back to attend university and ended up staying. We keep in touch via Skype and email but often talk about how nice it would be if we lived closer, especially now that we both have children.

For now, however, such a big move is not possible as my husband’s work necessitates him being near London. While that may change at some point in the future, I imagine that as the kids get older it will be more difficult to uproot them from their friends, not to mention disrupting their schooling at a crucial stage. I don’t want to relocate permanently though as I love our life here – our friends, our house and our lovely village with its great sense of community.

And it’s not that I want to impose my own nationality on my children but I would like them to feel that they could choose to study or work in Sweden when they get older (there are some benefits over the UK: further education is free and property prices are generally lower). At the same time I like the idea of putting down roots and creating a family home to encompass all their childhood memories from toddlers to teenagers. We have been in our current house for just over six years now and it’s the longest time I’ve lived in one property since I left Sweden.

There are no easy answers but for now I’ve resolved to carry on speaking Swedish to the children, even if they insist on answering back in English, and upholding traditions such as St Lucia and Midsummer. It would be great to visit more often but for a family of five plane tickets are not exactly cheap so at the moment two or three trips a year is probably all we can manage.

Maybe one day we can get our own holiday home somewhere on the coast of Sweden. Something like this would be amazing (a girl can dream can’t she?):

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Things that made me smile this week

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Seeing my daughter playing with her cousins

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Revisiting my hometown of Stockholm and being treated to some lovely summer weather

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Visiting the Odd Molly shop in central Stockholm where there was temptation on every rail. Unfortunately most pieces from the current collection were out of stock in my size.

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Staying at the fantastic Scandic Anglais Hotel

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Finding a gorgeous summer dress for only £30. Bring on the sunshine!

Heading for Stockholm ♥

A few of my Mateus pieces: I love the grey and pale pink colour combination

A few of my Mateus pieces: I love the grey and pale pink colour combination

I hate flying even more than I loathe packing but I love going on holiday so sometimes both are necessary. Today I have been rushing around packing a suitcase for me and Clemmie as we are going to Sweden tomorrow together with my mum. We are staying with my sister and her children who are aged two and four. I’m looking forward to seeing Clemmie playing with her little cousins although I will miss my boys who have to stay home to go to school. But I’m sure they will have a brilliant time with Daddy and they have a some exciting plans for the weekend (including Father’s Day on Sunday which I had completely forgotten about when I booked the trip. Whoops!).

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Although the main objective of the trip is to see family and friends, we are also spending two nights at the Hotel Scandic Anglais in Stockholm where I’m hoping a spot of shopping will be on the agenda. Unfortunately the exchange rate is not stacked in our favour so I won’t go mad (and with a two-year-old in tow you have to be fairly speedy as her patience quickly wears off). I collect china by a brand called Mateus (designed in Sweden and made in Portugal) and will definitely add a few pieces to my collection. They used to sell it in the Stockholm Design House concession in Selfridges but stopped about a year ago – I have no idea why as it is all gorgeous. I also plan to buy couple of posters by Vee Speers from photography gallery Fotografiska. At around £15 each they are extremely good value and will look gorgeous framed in our newly decorated bedroom.

Vee Speers Collage

Princess Madeleine of Sweden’s stunning wedding dress

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Yesterday was a big day in Sweden as Princess Madeleine, the younger sister of Crown Princess Victoria, married US financier Christopher O’Neill. Her stunning dress was designed by Valentino who came out of retirement to create the gown. Made from silk organdies with applications of ivory Chantilly lace,  the dress featured a full skirt trailed by a statement-making 4-meter long train.

Over 400 guests attended the wedding in Stockholm with Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, representing the UK’s Royal family. The 30-year-old princess has been based in New York since 2010 and the newlyweds were expected to return to the US this week.

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