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My Design Inspirations: Tjolöholm Workers' Village in Sweden

Creatives like us need to refuel occasionally. We can't constantly work with the business side of our brains and then expect ourselves to craft the most exquisite rooms and spaces without some inspiration! Just won't happen! Travel is THE most important way that I find inspiration for everything that I do. As you know, I've been lucky enough to live as an expat in several international destinations while keeping up with my U.S.-based business. Right now I'm in Budapest, Hungary, which means that fabulous European countries are just a short trip away! 

Refueling in Sweden

Recently I took an amazing bike trip with my husband and two boys (men?!), cruising up the coast of Sweden. It was a workout and a half. (Perhaps that was because I was desperately thinking I was 20 by trying to keep up with my 2 boys 😂.) But, the great thing about biking is that you can visit some beautiful castles, gardens, and towns, that are not on a short-trip itinerary. I fell more in love with Sweden's colors, history, and textures.

Tjolöholm Castle and Workers' Village

One of the biggest surprises was my visit to Tjolöholm Castle. I went to see a castle and formal gardens, but fell in love with the village leading up to the castle. Tjolöholm Village was designed for and filled with the workers who supported both the castle and the Dickson family who built it. 

Blanche Dickson, the matriarch of the family, believed that "beauty refines a person." She was guided by the idea that, "Beautiful homes would help to create contented people, who would in turn go on to make a better society." (That's what I read on an adorable little wooden sign.) With that philosophy, from 1902-1904, she had architect Lars Israel Wahlman (1870-1952) design and build a small hospital, a village hall, a church and six homes.

The Outside and Gardens 

Look at the pretty folk architecture. The style is actually called Swedish “National Romantic,” which is based on Art Nouveau. The cottages are set in these pretty gardens that the households had personal use of. The setting is also close to farmland, beaches and coastline.

Did you know that country houses in Sweden are painted a very specific red, known as Falu röda? The minerals in this natural color preserve the wood and it help it to last longer- and make maintenance easy. You just dry brush it off and repaint. That red is also the perfect backdrop for pink climbing roses. Isn't that just so darn sweet?!

Inside the Cottages

Let's go into those cottages! I was ready to move in when I opened the door! The rooms had built ins all around. In the central room the benches turned into extra beds and the cupboards contained all of their hand loomed textiles. You can see the little gated nook by the stove where the mistress of the house could cook, or keep warm when using the loom. The gate allowed her to work without worrying that tiny fingers were getting burned on the oven. Literally everything was thought through!

Here is a short video of the entire room. (Yes, that's my son in the background in awe of the beauty. We were both ready to move in!)

Tjolöholm Workers' Village in Sweden by Kathleen DiPaolo

Just take a scroll...The clean lined, handmade furnishings, the painted details, the colors- all incredible.  I just wanted to pack everything up on my bike and head the nearest shipping place! Haha.

You can see that the interior color palette of the homes was inspired by the gardens and the colors you could see out the windows. Everything was made by hand from the structure, to the textiles, the furnishings and even the tin sconces that reflected candle light. The warmth and coziness invites you immediately as you enter. What a joy to be a worker that lived in these conditions!

The simplicity and handmade everything is something I want to remember for future projects - including my own home! I hope you enjoyed the tour and are able to use some of these images as inspiration.

What do you think about my inspiring trip through Sweden? I plan to let you see inside my travels each month to get a taste of where I'm going and what I'm seeing! Next month we'll take on the colors of India! Stay tuned!



PS. Here we are at the end of the trip from Helsingborg to Gothenburg along the Kattegat Coastal Trail. Lots of laughs, great memories and LOTS of inspiration.

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