On first stepping into the oval entrance hall of this grand Stockholm apartment, visitors may think they’ve stumbled into a Swedish folktale by mistake. With walls smothered in a dense thicket of leaves illuminated by globes of light, the effect is that of walking through a moonlit forest. This enchanting scene is the work of Joanna Lavén and David Wahlgren of Studio Lawahl.
‘We picture each home as a book and each room a chapter,’ explains Joanna. ‘We really wanted to make a statement when you arrive, so that people want to explore.’ They chose a De Gournay wallpaper called ‘Hippolyta’s Forest’ on silk for the curved lobby walls, sketching precisely how they wanted the illustrated trees to frame the doorways and sourcing the perfect vintage wall lights by Luigi Caccia Dominioni.
The 300-square-metre apartment is in a 1914 building designed by Rudolf Arborelius in Stockholm’s Östermalm district – an elegant neighbourhood of 19th-century blocks housing museums and embassies. The clients wanted a home to suit their needs as a family of five (plus a small dog), with plenty of social spaces and a separate private area for their bedrooms and bathrooms. Studio Lawahl created a cosy, intimate feel within the building’s daunting proportions by layering vintage furniture, tactile rugs, mid-century lighting and ceramics by local artisans.
Some standout pieces, like an Arne Jacobsen ‘Egg’ chair, came from the clients’ previous home, while others were auction finds. Using vintage is an easy way to make a new interior seem homely, as if it’s evolved organically over the years, says Joanna, who also points out that it’s a more environmentally sustainable approach.
Colour is deployed subtly to define the spaces and create contrast and balance between them. For example, calm white kitchen walls bring out the rich teak of the bespoke cabinetry while offsetting the darker hallway beyond. Similarly, the pink dining-room walls create a pleasing vista from the TV room, with its green details. ‘Pink is said to be a really good colour for a social room because it tends to make people speak and interact more,’ explains Joanna. ‘The blue in the main bedroom, however, is a very calming hue.’
With its understated blend of form and function, this apartment is innately Swedish – but there’s something else going on here too, with Italian and Brazilian influences adding richness and depth. This is a signature of Studio Lawahl’s work, explains Joanna: ‘In the US, they think we are quite Scandi because we have a clean style, but in Sweden, we are perceived as quite the opposite – probably because we are not drawn to the light woods and super-minimalistic style that a lot of designers use here.’
Calm and refined with just a touch of mischief and mystery, this home is a folktale worth telling. studiolawahl.com