A BLANK CANVAS

Helene and Sven Follin bought their house in Stockholm as a temporary measure, but it’s been their home for the past 17 years. ‘I think we’ll probably grow old here,’ confirms Helene, an interior designer, whose now-grown-up children were still small when the family relocated.

‘When we decided to move here from a town in the south of Sweden, there was hardly any choice of properties on the market.

So we plumped for this rather mundane-looking 1970s villa, which we thought would do while we took our time to find a house that was more to our liking. Nearly two decades later, we’re still living here, and it’s proved to be a very happy home indeed,’ says Helene.

Although the outside of the house may look quite ordinary; inside it’s anything but. Helene and Sven have brought a sense of brightness and flow to the interior and created the perfect setting for their collection of contemporary art, allowing pieces to receive the attention they deserve. The works displayed throughout the house are beautiful and intriguing souvenirs of the couple’s travels across Europe, visiting galleries and soaking up the creative atmosphere. ‘Art has become very important to us,’ explains Helene. ‘Going to exhibitions opens our eyes to interesting ideas and gives us a new perspective on life.’

As well as interesting artworks, the couple are keen on colourful textiles and have punctuated their sleek white home with patterned fabrics and cushions in rich, bold tones. ‘We’ve chosen bright hues, but we feel they’re natural and welcoming, and not jarring,’ says Helene.

The pair are in agreement that their white kitchen and its integral conservatory, opening onto a terrace, is their favourite area of the house and where they spend the most time. ‘This is our dream room,’ says Helene. ‘We love cooking and create simple Swedish dishes, using organic ingredients, and Sven is an excellent sourdough bread-baker. Entertaining guests is another passion — Christmas get-togethers for our neighbours, student parties with our children and crayfish suppers in the conservatory. We try different wines and talk about art.’

With the house now to themselves, Helene and Sven continue to enjoy it. ‘We’ve come to terms with the fact that we’re staying here, so we’re going to build a spa off the terrace. And now the children have left home, we have more space to expand our art collection,’ says Helene.

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